Ever since we got home (is it really nearly three months ago already?), I have been disgraced by the state of the front yard. Never really an attractive space to begin with, a year of neglect and our neighbor’s efforts to clear the dirt out from under our shared fence rendered it hideous. Every time someone comes over, even a complete stranger, I feel it necessary to apologize for the state of the garden and explain that we’ve been gone for a year. But that excuse only lasts so long.

I promised myself that after our conference in October was over, the front yard would be the first thing to go. I came up with a relatively simple plan, one that I didn’t think would require much of Gabe’s time and effort right away, since he’s so busy teaching this quarter. I thought, OK I can do this on my own, he doesn’t even need to be involved.

Oh but I forgot: I am married to an engineer. And the reason we don’t do more on our house (or that we pay other people to do it, as we did before moving home), is because he’s incapable of doing things half way. I do love him for it, but it means that things inevitably take longer and get far more involved than the original plan requires. They always turn out great, yes, and probably will outlast us all, but it can make life rather complicated. Not least of all for him.

This time was no exception. My simple berm and raised bed combination in the front has now turned into a far more elaborate project, one involving foot after foot of pressure-treated lumber, either attached directly to the fence or held up with rebar. Before we can do any of that, however, we have to dig out and raise up the existing sprinkler system so that it will reach above the new level of the soil.

We were reassured that the system, though old will still work fine — once we fix the main faucet, which was so rusted and rotten that it popped off as soon as Gabe touched it yesterday, sending gallons and gallons of water gushing down our driveway and into the yard for about half an hour before the city guy arrived to turn it off and cap the pipe. Oh well, at least the ground is nice and soft now!

This minor setback pushed our progress back quite dramatically yesterday, and Gabe ended up with only two boards notched and in the ground before sundown. These projects always take a while to get off the ground, as you have to remember which tools are where, how things work (which line means level again?), and the right order to do things in.

But our experience with redoing the side yard two years ago showed us that while slow, these projects are indeed possible, given enough time and patience. And sweat. And dirt. You can turn a pile of mud (or a concrete pit filled with disgusting brackish water) into a lovely patio and garden bed. Who knows, you might even have fun in the process.

Setbacks aside, I think both of us are excited to be starting a new project again. We went to the Home Despot on Friday to pick up supplies (lots of them!), and I found myself looking forward to the work that lies ahead of us. Of course that was before the pipe broke and our already ugly front yard turned into a huge mud puddle, but hey, it just gives us all the more to look forward to. Right? Right.

Here’s some pictures of our progress so far (such as it is):

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