Our backyard has never been great. When we first moved in, it was a clean but unattractive gravel pit. The previous owner had 2 large dogs, so having grass never made sense.
We didn’t care much, since our efforts have been focused on the inside of the house, but now that we have a baby, we thought it would be good to have a soft surface on which he could play.
The first step was removing all the weeds from the backyard. Adam supervised.
Next, was the hard work. We had to get rid of all the gravel, which was at least a couple of inches deep. We started by shoveling as much out as we could and wheeling it our borrowed wheelbarrow to the back of the yard. We really should have removed it altogether, but without a truck, we opted for an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude.
We then went to Home Depot to pick out some plants for the flower beds and also get some mulch for around the plants.
Although my personal preference is for black mulch, I’ve learned from putting it on our front yard that it eventually looks crappy when the trees above shed their leaves. So I decided to get some brown mulch so that the leaves aren’t as visible.
After Adam went to bed we spent an hour planting our new flowers and putting down the mulch. The garden was already starting to come together!
The next morning we started bring and early and did a final shoveling of the main garden area. We didn’t manage to remove all of the gravel, but we removed enough that it shouldn’t interact with the new sod.
Once we were convinced we had dug down deep enough, it was time to put down the new soil (which we purchased the weekend before). To calculate how many bags of soil we would need, we measured the area (including the depth) and used the volume on the bags to figure it out. We purchased 25 20L bags for our yard.
We hadn’t completely removed the gravel, but it was low enough that it shouldn’t interact too much with the new sod.
It was pretty easy to empty the bags onto the ground. We just had to be careful not to stir up any of the gravel so it didn’t mix with the soil. I walked around the soil to flatten it a bit as I went. And of course we ran out of soil along the way, so we had to make another run for more.
By the end of the afternoon, we had fully laid all the soil.
Later that afternoon, Adam took his first steps, which was pretty exciting. And I managed to get it on video!
We didn’t have time to buy and lay the sod on the weekend so we went out one night during the week. It didn’t take long to lay it all down – about an hour. We also threw some grass seed down to help things along.
The next step was to roll the grass with a giant, water-filled roller. I don’t have any pictures of this because I was rolling while Alex was putting Adam to bed, but it wasn’t complicated. Filling the drum and dragging it on the grass was hard, but then I just went back and forth until I felt like the sod was really packed in.
We’re really happy with the final results! We now just have to water it a few times a week until the sod grows its roots into the dirt.