An In-Progress Backyard Update

So, I’ve had plans for oh, I don’t know, about a month now to finish up this project and actually share it with you guys. But every time I think I’m almost done, another problem pops up, and I’m finally at the point of throwing my hands in the air and calling it quits.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

So, I’m sharing this project today even though it is oh-so-far from completion, partially because I’m just sick of waiting around to finish it, and partially just for the sake of keeping it real – things don’t always go perfectly for us, and sometimes we have tiny little projects that we think are no big deal that end up taking us months (and months and months) without ever getting completed.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve absolutely hated the ivy that grows on either side of the back door. It takes over the plants back there, it grows so quickly and so widespread that it seems to be invading every inch of my backyard, and I’ve even seen it try to grow into the house on more than one occasion (I’m not joking).

This ivy was ugly, annoying, and I finally reached my tipping point with it one day this summer, shortly before we left on our cruise. So, I pulled it all up. I had tried this many times before in the year that we’ve lived here, but this time I was determined, so I pulled it up from the roots as well as I could and figured that surely the ivy couldn’t survive how roughly I’d treated it and it wouldn’t grow back.

Hah.

When our vacation was over I came home and stepped outside, only to immediately be assaulted by a mass of ivy that had grown back with a vengeance.

Y’all – that was after a week and a half. SERIOUSLY. It had even grown out into the patio and was threatening to strangle one of our chairs. This stuff was angry.

At this point, I finally decided if I couldn’t get rid of the ivy, I was going to embrace it. It obviously wasn’t going anywhere, so I might as well make it look pretty, right? So, Corey and I headed out to Lowe’s in search of a trellis to give the ivy somewhere productive to grow. We found this great, super cheap wire trellis for about $3.00 a pop, and we figured it was exactly what we needed. We could make it in the exact size and configuration we wanted, and it was way cheaper than the (admittedly prettier, but not adjustable) wooden trellises. Plus, we figured that our ivy was so thick that once it grew up the wall you wouldn’t be able to see the trellis anyways! While we were there, we grabbed a couple of extra little ivy plants so that we could fill in the areas that didn’t already have ivy – the plan was to cover this entire window with a trellis and ivy, as well as a small section on the other side of our back door.

The trellis itself was incredibly easy to install – we just screwed the posts into the wall and wrapped the wire around them in a a grid pattern. In about 20 minutes we were completely done with it!

Annnnnnd….this is where I run out of pictures of the process. Why? Well, when we got to the side of the door with all of the boxwoods, we decided that it was going to be too tough to get the trellis installed and then get the ivy behind the boxwoods (it was all planted in front of the plants, right next to the concrete) without just pulling them up, and we hated them anyways, so we decided to get rid of them. Only…as I finished cutting down the last one and was getting ready to dig up the roots, this happened.

….Yeah. Apparently we had a leak (our sprinkler system controls are right there) and we had no idea. Guess it was a good thing we were digging up the boxwoods? We had to call someone from the company who makes our sprinkler system to come out and fix it (and since it was a Saturday evening we got to pay a super fun “emergency” fee), and we figured that would be the end of our problems.

Yeah right.

About a week later, all of the mud had finally dried out enough for us to deal with it again, so Corey headed outside to dig up all of the roots from the boxwoods so that we could finally get our ivy planted. Since we had completely demolished the ivy that was already planted there in the process of dealing with the first leak (or so we thought) we also picked up a couple more ivy plants, since we had already spent so much time and effort on this project. We weren’t about to give up now!

Well, while Corey was outside digging up roots….another leak happened. I won’t point any fingers or say it was anyone’s fault, but let’s just say I’m pretty sure that leak wasn’t there before Corey started digging. So…we got to put in another emergency call! The guy came out, fixed the leak, and we, once again, thought that was the end of it.

Until I went outside the next morning and found MORE WATER in the hole where the “fixed” leak was. Apparently there was a THIRD LEAK due to an improperly installed faucet on the side of our house. We were determined not to pay any more insane fees, and Corey was pretty sure we could fix this one ourselves, so we had my dad come out to the house and help Corey seal it up (there were two faucets side-by-side, which seemed a bit overkill to us, anyways).

And that’s where we are right now. The hole from the third leak hasn’t been filled in yet because it’s still dripping ever-so-slightly, and we want to make sure to get it completely under control before we fill the hole back in and plant the rest of the ivy. And, yes, I realize that our dog-chewed blinds look completely trashy and ridiculous, we just haven’t gotten around to replacing them yet. Ranger gets a bit…anxious while we’re outside mowing the lawn.

The ivy that we bought from Lowe’s seems to be much more high-maintenance than the stuff we already had growing, and we’re having a hard time getting it to actually…grow. It’s still pretty much the exact same size it was when we planted it about a month ago, but we’re hoping with some patience it will actually start climbing. The ivy that was already there (that we were sure would never come back after that first leak) has started to pop back up, so we plan on trying to transplant it while it’s still manageable enough to move.

On the other side, we’ve got another Lowe’s ivy that isn’t growing, as well as some transplanted ivy that seems to be doing okay. It’s not growing as well as it was before, but it’s also not taking over the little bush (and my chairs) anymore, so I won’t complain.

Another little update back here is that we got rid of the hibiscus trees we picked up on clearance from Lowe’s a few months back. We could never get them to stand up straight, and they required daily watering, or else they got cranky. Frankly, I get along much better with plants that thrive on neglect, so we finally realized that it just wasn’t a good match and decided to replace them. We picked up some little succulents from our local grocery store (hopefully they’ll grow a bit and fill out the planter!) and a sage bush, both of which need lots of sun and very little water – perfect for us!

So, that’s where we are in our backyard right now. It’s still looking like a hot mess, but I have hopes that we’ll get everything sorted out soon and it can start more like a backyard and less like a construction zone. On the bright side, the back patio is much less crowded without those big, imposing boxwoods!

Have you ever had one of those projects that just goes wrong at every turn? Any suggestions on how to make our ivy grow? Anyone else have a million leaks in their yard?

12 comments

  1. Mandy says:

    haha that ivy seems like a nightmare! I’ve never had to deal with it, but I hear all the time about how impossible it is to get rid of. And I couldn’t help but giggle that you prefer plants that thrive on neglect. ;)

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  2. Katie says:

    wow this is the project that just won’t quit huh? Sounds like there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you guys though!

    For the ivy, it’s been my experience with Ivy that it takes a while to get started (has to establish a firm root system) but once it gets going it just won’t stop! Don’t be tempted to water it a lot either, too much water can deprive the roots of oxygen and stunt the growth. It will get going, just give it time!

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    Amanda Reply:

    Thanks so much for the advice! That’s so helpful – and good to know! :)

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  3. Morgan says:

    Wow, such a pain! It’s going to look beautiful once it all gets sorted out and the ivy grows up the trellis though! I was wondering if you guys did anything to seal/waterproof the trellis screws into your siding? Or maybe you don’t get enough rain in Texas to have to worry about that?

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  4. Andrea says:

    Hi Amanda :)

    Just thought I’d chime in since we have the same plant in our yard (in MN!). It’s called morning glory, because the flowers bloom in the cooler morning temperature, and close back up when it gets hot and sunny. It’s actually an annual plant, meaning that if you yank it all out – yes, over and over – this summer, the flowers won’t go to seed and you shouldn’t see it next year. Just thought you might like to know! We do have a fence and trellis it likes to climb, but because it’s a late summer season grower, it doesn’t get to far. Maybe in TX it will, though, with the longer warmer season?

    Andrea

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    Amanda Reply:

    Good to know! It started really going crazy at the beginning of summer, and it’s starting to slow a bit now, so I guess the heat is helpful, haha.

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  5. Audrey says:

    Did you get a Texas Sage? If so, they are really cool plants! We have one and it blooms a few days before it rains! So, we always know when rain is coming because our sage blooms pretty purple flowers!

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    Amanda Reply:

    Yes! It is a Texas Sage – and it just bloomed yesterday, so I’m hoping maybe that means we’ll get some rain.

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