It has been nearly two years since we bought our property in the country. We had a two year plan. The first year was to bring the property up to standard by clearing the land where it should be cleared, by cleaning up the trash dumped on the property (eight dump trucks worth!), and by landscaping and getting ready to build the new house. The second year entailed improvements and building the house. That process is pretty much all done. Landscaping is still ongoing but the bones are in place and now all we need is to let Mother Nature do her work. I thought I'd take the opportunity to show some before and after pictures to help you through the process. It is a very long and arduous process taking an unimproved/vacant/overgrown/fallow piece of property and 'improving' it for Mr. Fix-it and I. I say improving it for humans because perhaps the wildlife and some humans liked it the way it was but we did not.
Our field is in the woods off from a gravel road. The field (I use the term lightly since it was so overgrown) was a mess. Just look at the first picture. It took us buying a tractor and working many long hours in all sorts of weather and conditions to clear the land. Even after the land was cleared I spent many an hour spraying trees that kept growing back in the field, mowing the grass and those same trees (mainly sassafras, elms, locust, and hickories), as well as liming the grass areas and seeding about 300 pounds of fescue as well as millions of wildflower seeds. The lawn areas are still not finished because the building process destroyed all grass that was located around the house and the weather has not been conducive to getting a good stand of grass growing. That should be remedied with the onset of warmer weather.
This stand of cedars is a key part of our design. We wanted a little cedar grove for privacy and for the wildlife. While there are lots of deciduous trees behind the cedars we simply love this little grove. The house is quite close to it as you can see from the below picture. What a difference!
You can also see what I mean about no grass. We simply have mud. It is a problem. While we (the humans) can and do take off our shoes prior to entering the house, the dogs do not. They bring in a lot of mud with them. What a mess.
This is the northern side of the field looking west. We cleared the area, mowed, and thinned out some of the trees leading down to our pond.
The same area now. The lawn is leveled, trees and gardens are planted, the start of the large vegetable garden is in place, and someday a small patio and other improvements will join the area.
This was the view from the front of the house to be looking west down the field.
This is the same view today. It will change once the grass finally grows in. Not having grass has been quite the bane. Mud, and erosion is a problem when we have rain; which we often do in the winter. Just past the vegetable garden in the distance is the orchard with its chicken coop. This area does have grass because it was not disturbed during the build process.
This part of the 700 foot long driveway looking from the road toward the field. While there was a semblance of a road there, it was mainly a dirt path.
Now it is improved. We excavated several inches and removed the topsoil, laid a geotextile fabric down, then trucked in ten trucks of varying sized gravel ranging from large, medium, and crush and run. The driveway is as solid as an asphalt road and very easy to drive and walk on. We do have to occasionally grade it but eventually it will settle out nicely. The great news is we can easily get to the house without getting stuck or dragging mud.
The driveway again looking west from the field. The rusty bucket is a memento leftover from the dumping. To the left was an old couch someone was too lazy to dispose of properly, or perhaps people used to come up here and hang out on it. Judging by the thousands of beer bottles we picked up that is most likely too.
Here is it mostly cleaned up. The teeter totter thing on the left needs to be disposed of and was left over from all the trash.
Speaking of trash, in addition to dumping inside of the property gate (which my neighbor installed after the owner of the property realized other locals were dumping on his land) dumping took place across from the gate once the gate was installed. This is a public road not well traveled but traveled enough that three full dump trucks of trash including household trash as well as some mattresses, toliets, and other unmentionables accumulated here--even after we purchased the property. I have proof of that. The berms were all trash the county graded up into the area. Fortunately, the county did help with some of the clean up and took out one dump truck full. I think the workers were quite stunned at the amount of trash here but some locals seem to think it is normal. Really?
The area now fairly cleaned. There still remains a lot of handpicking of trash because the backhoe simply could not get it all. But wow, what a difference and my o my how our view has changed when we exit our driveway. So far as we can tell the dumping has stopped. Littering continues but we try to deal with that and are hopeful that neighbors will take note and try to help with policing the area because after all, we all live or drive here and have to look at it and isn't it nice to look at the native flora and fauna and not someone's trash? I think so anyhow....
in the garden....still working.