Crapyard(s) To-Do List

It’s spring, so of course the Crapyard and the adjoining lots are going to be on this season’s to-do list. Just like with the attic, this list is spread over a few years. We just don’t have the time or the funds to do all of it at once.

Also I can only work out there for an hour or so right before dawn and again right after dusk. So there’s that.

Right now, the Crapyard is overgrown. It’s just a mess of blackberry bushes, thistles, mulberry trees, and junk trees. There’s a lot of debris from trees we took down a few years ago, and we have piles of reclaimed brick and concrete just sort of scattered around the yard. The back “fence” is a line of weathered pallets strung together, the driveway is choked with weeds, and the gate doesn’t close all of the way because there’s a pile of dirt pushed up by tree roots blocking the damn thing.

The front Crapyard is dominated by a crumbling planter box. The box is about 2 feet high and 25 or 30 feet long and four 20-year-old shrubs and trees are packed in there with a truly astonishing number of other plants. It’s a big green explosion that’s barely contained by approximately 500 pounds of eroding brick, mortar, and concrete.

So that’s our starting point. Here’s what we’re going to do about it:


  • Remove at least half of the blackberry bushes and donate to local community gardens.
  • Dig out at least five mulberry trees.
  • Dig out at least 3 junk trees.
  • Plant veggies in the community garden’s 3 boxes remaining box (almost done, only one to go!).
  • Plant flowers in the empty tires bordering the community garden (about half don’t have anything growing in them right now).
  • Install horse fencing along the back fence area and use that as an anchor for a proper pallet fence.
  • Add planting boxes to the pallet fence.
  • Plant strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and flowers in the pallet fence boxes.
  • Move the rest of the tires in the back yard into the community garden and plant them.
  • Expand the existing fence to enclose the first empty lot bordering the Crapyard.
  • Transplant the wildflowers and mow down the weeds.
  • Move the compost heaps to their permanent spot inside the new fence line.
  • Build a rock herb garden in the community garden.
  • Move the Tree Pile, transplant any wildflowers we want to keep, and mow down the overgrown grass.
  • Add a fourth planter box in the community garden and prep it for cold crops.
  • Plant three more redbuds in the front yard, along the new fence line.
  • Transplant or dig up all of the plants from the box in front of the house.
  • Break down the box in front of the house and build a new, stepped box from painted railroad ties.
  • Plant new plants in front of the house.
  • Weed all of the plants in the driveway and treat the cracks with salt to discourage more growth.
  • Get rid of all of the thistle and other weeds in the Crapyard.
  • Design new yard space and begin blocking out space for planters & dog play areas.
  • Clear the weeds out of the existing planters and plant new flowers where necessary.
  • Build one more box for the Crapyard and plant vegetables.
  • Plant tomatoes and peppers in the large tire planters.
  • Fix the carport gate and fencing so we can let the dogs out through the back door.
  • Grade yard at existing gate so it will close properly.
  • Clean out the carport planting box and fill with shade-tolerant plants.
  • Clean out the smaller carport garden circle and fill with shade-tolerant bulbs and ferns.
  • Clear the rest of the demolition debris from the carport area and sweep/rake around there generally.
  • Trim back the neverending arborvitae in the carport area.
  • Liberate the concrete animals and birdbath from their weedy prisons, repaint them, and give them permanent places of honor in the Crapyard.
  • Build a fire pit and a temporary outdoor seating area.


  • Remove all but three mulberry trees.
  • Install footpaths.
  • Install foundation and build permanent outdoor room and pallet shelter.
  • Build three dog kennels and large dog run.
  • Transplant scent barrier (this is a low, thick wall of lilacs and other fragrant perennials that we’re putting between our garden space and the dog run, in the hopes of breaking up the odors from their bathroom space).
  • Plant pine trees along the dog run area (pine needles are great at absorbing that hideous dog urine funk, and you can bag up the top layer every quarter or so and start fresh).
  • Install water feature.
  • Build and plant new beds: three to five decorative beds and five or six for food plants.
  • Repair driveway.
  • Build a shelter for the car along the side of the Craphome.
  • Build a retractable canopy network with UV protective screen.
  • Pull up the remaining astroturf in the carport area.
  • Transplant the entire contents of the larger carport garden space except for the tree and the arborvitae; plant two climbing roses.
  • Leave enough dirt to support the above plants, but cover the rest of that area with an inch of gravel or decorative rock.
  • A few years after moving the carport garden plants, pave over most of the carport garden space. Leave a small patch accessible for soil enrichment.
  • Replace the garage.

Just like with the attic, our first step is to clear away the debris (read: weeds) so we can see what we have to work with. We’ll also be tackling the new fence early this summer, so we can get that out of the way ASAP.

Here are some before pictures to start things off…although in the spirit of open disclosure, I should point out that these pictures were taken after we’d already put in a few hours of work in these spaces. Bonus points if you can tell where I took a bit of care with things and where I got pissed off and just started hacking at the damn jungle with a machete (yes, really) (yes, really; my machete is great fun and I love using it).

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