Back-Breaking DIY aka “More Pavers?!!”


I don’t know how or why we get ourselves into some of these projects, but we do. This specific project got a little out of control. It all started last year after we endured the hottest summer on record and all but two of our bushes were scorched.

1-Beginning Landscape

Then, my parents came for a visit a couple months ago and decided to tear out all of our ivy that was growing around and up the trees.

Below are the best photos I could find of our trees. The first one is the day we moved in and the second is from this past fall. You can see how much the ivy grew and expanded in just over a year and a half.

1-Fall 2013

Once the ivy had been stripped from the trees and all the roots tilled up and sprayed with Roundup, we knew that our time table had been set to get some grass seeded and to have something around the base of the tree. Initially I wanted to plant some Astilbe and Coleus around the base and frame it all in with some paving stones.

However, after pricing out the Astilbe, Coleus, pavers and mulch, we came to about $200. Which seemed like a lot for some plants around a tree. We ultimately decided to simply pave around the trees and fill the inner circle with mulch.

Then, we looked at our current landscape situation by our neighbor’s fence, around the shed and by the house. It was pretty ugly … and out of control. We didn’t do anything to it last year since we had tunnel vision for our kitchen remodel and it was blazing hot outside. So, the more we brainstormed the longer our landscaping list became.

The first thing we needed were new plants to go along the fence row. We headed up to Beans to Blossoms and I asked their plant guru what would work best for that space. Here was my criteria:

– Need something to withstand the summer heat since it will be in full sun all day
– Needs to grow kinda tall to cover up our neighbor’s rusting chain link fence
– Something with flowers in the spring/summer and fall color too
– Not be crazy expensive and pretty easy to care for

The plant guru gave me a couple different options to think about. We ultimately decided on Henry’s Garnet Itea and Miss Kim Lilac:


Surprisingly, these two plants met all of my criteria. We bought three Lilacs and two Iteas to cover a space of 40 feet since they spread about 6 feet.

Next, we had to address what to do with the plants that survived last summer’s heat. We didn’t want to be wasteful by digging them up and throwing them out. So, we did some shifting. The two plants along the fencerow were moved to the South side of the shed and the hostas were moved to the North side of the house where our “ugly monkey grass” was holding parties for an army of slugs.

Once all these plants were moved, we decided to pave around all the garden beds in addition to the trees. We wanted something that would be easy to mow around without having to weed-eat everything. And after watching this YouTube video on laying garden pavers, we decided to go for it (or at least I did and Scott was just along for the ride).

So, on Friday night after all of our transplanting, we went and bought:

100 feet worth of pavers (these match the ones that border our patio)
Loctite Landscaping adhesive
A rubber mallet (we bought the cheaper version of this)
300 sq. ft. of landscaping fabric
Landscaping pins

On Saturday, the landscape party started early and we got about half of it finished. We also ran out of mulch. So, on Sunday I woke up early before church and worked on placing pavers and laying down the rest of the landscape fabric. That afternoon I got another truck-bed load of mulch and Scott and I sweated our butts off and finished all of it (minus one tree because we ran out of mulch … again), and even managed to mow the grass.

So, here’s the slew of before and after photos for you! Please, please DO NOT judge our ugly before photos. We all know how hideous it got. Let’s all just drink a beer to its demise. 🙂

Crepe Myrtle in front of the house

Replanted Hostas on the North side of the house

Fence Row of Iteas and Lillacs

South side of the shed
Shade Trees
*I will note and you can see below, we decided not to line the mulch area with pavers. This was the reason this project started in the first place!! The ground was a little too uneven and the circle didn’t look too great, plus we would save about $50 by foregoing this. We can always add them later if we wanted to.
And here is a before and after from the day we moved in, up until now. Look how much more monkey grass we have!!! Holy smokes!


We are totally loving our new view in the backyard. We spend so much time back there, it’s nice not to stare at all the weeds we have to kill or try to figure out why our plants are dying. It’s slowing becoming a nice outdoor retreat.

So, how much did all of this cost us? It’s a lot more affordable than you’d ever imagine. Here’s the breakdown:

50 linear ft. of pavers = $49.50
Rubber mallet = $5.00
Landscape Adhesive = $5.00
Landscape Fabric (300 sq. ft.) = $25.00
Landscape Pins = $10.00
3 scoops of mulch = $60.00
Iteas & Lilacs = $104.00
Total = $258.50

All of that for under $260!! I will even dare say that this was the cheapest, biggest transformation we’ve ever done. We are so happy with how it turned out!

Now for our back massages … that should probably be added in to the total too.

– Allie


8 thoughts on “Back-Breaking DIY aka “More Pavers?!!”

  1. I love it. The fact that you use such wonderful plant words and are growing in their knowledge so rapidly. It will just get lovelier as time goes one. Can’t wait to see it in person. That is, if you give tours. 🙂

    • I can’t wait until all the flowers start blooming. Between the hydrangeas, crepe myrtles, tiger lilies, and the new iteas and lilacs, it’s going to be pretty colorful back there!

      And of course you guys will get a tour. 🙂

  2. WOW! what a transformation, all the money you saved on the labor by doing this all yourselves. Are you coming home this weekend? Grandpa is frying fish Sunday noon, hope you can come.

    • Thanks, Grandma! We are heading up on Saturday for Lanie’s graduation, but we’ll have to be back for church on Sunday. Sorry we’ll miss the fish fry. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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