My Bare Backyard Is a Wasteland of Dog Poop, Weeds & Sorrow

My Bare Backyard Is a Wasteland of Dog Poop, Weeds & Sorrow

Dabney Frake
Aug 2, 2017
(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Oh where to begin? My backyard is a pit of earthly despair, good for only three things really: dog waste, weeds and my own tears. I had good intentions when I first created the space, but my installation was poor to begin with, and then ongoing maintenance was not my friend. Ultimately, the grass didn't stand a chance against all the dog abuse and my own neglect, so weeds and mud moved in, choking out any chance of happiness. After years of living with it, I recently decided to rip up everything back there and start from scratch.

Jump Ahead to See the Finished Backyard "After" Photos!

Here's the overall plan and ALL the problem areas I needed to address:

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Crumbling Fence: First up, this is the fence separating my yard from the house next door. Technically, it belongs to the neighbors, but it's a rental property, and their landlord has no interest in spending money on things like privacy for his tenants. So Granny Clampett's fence is barely held up by wire in a couple of places, periodically falls down, and taunts me daily. Even better, the current tenant regularly pours their old cooking grease onto the grass, right on the other side of the fence. This sends my dog into a frenzied tantrum, both shocked and furious that he can smell, but just can't quite reach it —let alone roll around in it.

Verdict: I'm ready to block it all out so I'm building a fence that will shield our yard from neighbors, and give me a modicum of privacy on that side. And will keep Grim, my dog, away from grease.

How to Build a Privacy Fence in Half a Day

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

No Privacy: I installed this iron fence ten years ago. It's pretty and historic-looking, but we live on a fairly busy street, and there are tons of people walking by on their way to school or the grocery store, so it's a bit like hanging out in a fishbowl back there. I want no judgment when I'm lounging in my pajamas doing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sundays.

Verdict: The fence stays, but I'm looking for some sort of privacy solution that gives a little bit of a buffer between us and the neighbors.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Terrible Ground Covering: The original design was four quadrants of alternating gravel and grass, separated by a stone paver pathway from the back door to the garage. Instead of distinct areas, it's a big mottled mess: weeds with a side of gravel, and some small patchy areas of grass, interspersed with even more weeds. I also didn't bring in enough aggregate to begin with, so black landscape fabric pokes through in places. The fabric is also no match for stubborn weeds that regularly rear their ugly green heads.

Verdict: As I mentioned, maintenance and I don't go hand and hand. I want something in its place that requires little to no upkeep —which means better weed prevention. I'd also like at least two zones: one for me to hang out comfortably, and one large glorified litter box for the dog.

Check Out My Cheap + Chemical-Free Method for Preventing Weeds

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Exposed Sewer Pipe: Sticking up amongst all the grass (again, weeds), is a sewer pipe. Nickname = The PVC Periscope of Poop. It's not a huge deal but just a little tiny eyesore that bothers me every time I look at it.

Verdict: Obviously I can't get rid of my sewer line, but I can make it less noticeable.

See the Finished Backyard "After" Photos!

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