We have a little lot in the city, just 33 1/3'w x 100'd with no off street parking. Our bungalow is set further back from the street than the two foursquares which flank us. This allows for a nice size front yard with western exposure. This also results in a tiny postage stamp backyard. When Mr. W bought the house one of the things that sold him on it was the party deck in the backyard. It's a great size, but it also makes the yard seem even smaller. Compounding the situation was the overgrown laurel hedges on all three sides. In addition to the 50+ year old Doug fir and two maples the backyard was completely shaded.
I decided to take advantage of the situation by creating a shade garden that worked with the principles of naturescaping. I did a lot of my shopping at Bosky Dell nursery. I started by adding a few more sword ferns and introducing oxalis, which I love seeing on a forest floor and they bloom with little white flowers. On day I came home from work and discovered the property owners to the north tore out all the laurel on their lot. I although surprised, I was happy to see it gone. I was then able to add a snowberry, Oregon Grape (our state flower), huckleberry, and a purple rhododendron from Greer Gardens in Eugene. The previous homeowners had put in a sandbox which I removed since it really was just a giant litter box at that point. We went in on a picture frame fence with the neighbors, it's higher than it should be, but they wanted to accommodate the height of our deck to allow privacy for their tenants.
Several months ago we had a representative from the Backyard Habitat Program present to us out a neighborhood association meeting. Since I was already working toward a native garden I thought it would be a natural next step. It also helped that Mr. W has finally consented to me having the laurel hedge on our property removed. He isn't too keen on the idea, but either he trusts my judgment or he just got worn down. Over the years we have had arborists come out to give us estimates on the work, but we never seem to be able to fit it into the budget. One of my uncles is looking for work and already has all the equipment needed since he has a yard work business. I met with him this week and he is going to start work tomorrow. I am so, so excited!! It will be really helpful to me to get this project wrapped up before I get to large. I anticipate spending lots of time in the backyard this summer letting the boy run around while I sit in the shade trying to be cool and comfortable. My problem is that I usually can't relax in the back yard because all I see are unfinished projects.
Here is a look at our starting point: