Manscaping, Phase 1 : A Guest Post from Aaron

About three weeks ago, Aaron and I commenced work on the front yard. We got up early, I lathered on some sunscreen, did a few stretches and grabbed a shovel. I was READY.

Fast forward 8 hours and I’m lying in the grass, whimpering, filling a trashbag with dirt, earthworms and my soul one tiny handful at a time. Suffice it to say, I am not cut out for yard work. But we’ve made great progress, and amazingly, we haven’t even broken up ONCE since we started! No, no, I’d say this project has actually brought us closer together. Like two plane crash victims bonding over our mutual trauma. Only, I’m like the Jack and he’s the Kate, because I do all the crying.

So to save you from the whiniest, most melodramatic blog post of all time, I present to you: Aaron’s second guest blog post!

Take it away, Aaron!

As you all know (and if you do not, you haven’t been following closely) our house was lacking what those in “The Biz” like to call “curb appeal.” Some of you may know that I did a little landscaping during my college days.  So this was right in my wheel house. I mean, I’m basically like a less ripped HGTV host. At least, that’s how I like to think about it. However, unlike an HGTV show, this project was not completed in one weekend nor was there a motley mix of good natured landscapers and friends to help. No, it went on for weeks….literally….weeks.

For a little background, the previous owners left us a few struggling azaleas, four dwarf hollys, and one decent Knock-out rosebush. All of these beauties were housed in a snaky bed, lined in rusty metal, and lacking any mulch or other organic material.  We set out to right all those wrongs and maybe even add a little value in the process.

First, we decided on a shape for our new bed. I went all out and bought graph paper so that our sketches would be to scale. We decided on a symmetrical curve that would give us two larger areas at both ends of the bed. The yard also has a grade and we knew we would have to build the bed up as we got closer to our driveway to keep it level. With all this in mind, we settled on these blocks from Lowe’s to build the bed. We then laid out the rough design and I sprayed the grass with Round-up a week before we started to avoid having grass growing in our newly built bed.

Next, we pulled out all of the rusty metal edging and I set out to dig up the dead grass. This was the step that brought Rosemary to tears and left us both sore for the next week. If you have ever laid sod, we were doing that…in reverse.  I should note that this is WAY harder than laying sod.

Here are the bags of sod and metal edging we took up.  Each one of these bags weighed about 60 pounds. That’s 60 pounds of GRASS.  I apologize to the Waste Management guys that had to pick these up. I should also note that the metal was sitting on the side of the street for an hour before one of our friendly neighborhood scavengers stopped to pick it up for scrap. Remind me to put a lock on our A/C unit.

After a really long day of digging up grass and turning the soil, we put the blocks back in place.  There was really no purpose here except to give us a little glimpse of how good everything would look when we got done.  By this time, we could use any motivation we could get.

The next weekend we set out to set the blocks in place properly.  To do this, I dug a trench about 2 inches deep around the entire bed where the blocks would be.

While doing this, I unearthed a big spider that Rosemary found worth sharing. See if you can spot it. Also spotted: snakes, earthworms, grubworms and most other members of the Orthoptera order that Rosemary has only before seen in her nightmares.

Once the trench was dug, we bought this paver sand.  This material is used to provide a solid base for retaining walls and patios.  If we had put the pavers directly on the dirt in the trench, it would eventually have settled and been uneven.  The paver sand locks the blocks in place and prevents settling.

One by one Rosemary filled the trench with about an inch of sand.

She then smooths the sand to create a level base for the block.

Then she laid the block on the sand.  Once the block was in place, we use a rubber mallet to “seat” the block.  This serves to pack the sand below the block and create a tight fit with the surrounding blocks.

Here is the Western side of the bed once the blocks were in place.  This is the high side of the yard, so you can see that the blocks are almost flush with the yard.  Because this process took so long we decided to leave the plants in place until we were ready to transplant.  Here you can see the azalea looking lonely.  As a side note, we took some of the dirt from the bed and spread it on some bare spots in the yard.  I then seeded these areas with Bermuda Grass.

Here you can see the low side of the yard.  We decided to stagger the blocks so that it wouldn’t look like an imposing wall by the time it got to the driveway.  Otherwise, we would have had three feet of blocks.  Also, since this area is raised, we would have had to buy more dirt to fill the bed here.

Here is a look at the raised portion of the bed.  On the backside we were a few blocks short so we had to make do with only two.  Luckily, we had a lot of dirt to bring in and I couldn’t get the truck till the next weekend so it wasn’t a problem.

Bright and early the next Saturday I bought the first yard of dirt and got started leveling the bed. You can buy a cubic yard of dirt or mulch at nurseries such as Horticare for $20-40.

Four truckloads of dirt later and we were ready to start laying down some mulch. That brings us up to week three and the end of Manscaping : Phase 1. You’ll have to check back to see what we decided to plant and the final conclusion.

{Aaron is my boyfriend. He owns this house I’m constantly tearing apart. And sometimes he’ll write blog posts about things I do not enoy or understand, and therefore, am not qualified to blog about. Read his other guest post here.}

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15 Responses to “Manscaping, Phase 1 : A Guest Post from Aaron”


  1. 1 Nicole Hunnicutt April 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Great job! Manscaping in your college days, eh? I’d like to hear more… ha!

  2. 2 Chantelle September 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Looks great! Next time instead of digging out and hauling away that dead grass, smother it with a layer of wet newspaper or cardboard. Top with your new soil and ammendments. The newpaper will smother and kill the grass and it will all turn in to loveliness to nurture good soil. And a lot less work digging and hauling..

  3. 3 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    My wonderful husband made my large garden with a rented sod cutter then tiled it well. I can’t wait till spring! I like the stones you used.

  4. 4 snarlykins March 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I enjoyed your post, but though you should know that manscsping is the act of grooming a man through shaving, waxing, and clipping, unwanted body hair.

  5. 6 Amiee Kane April 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    What did you guys use to cement the stones on top of each other?

  6. 7 Nan June 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for this! You described the painful process of flower bed landscaping to a T. It looks great btw. I used the rock the previous owners left instead of purchasing block mainly for economical reasons. Thanks again, Nan 🙂

  7. 8 Sandy December 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Just make sure on your curves you can get your lawn mower in there


  1. 1 Manscaping, Phase 2 : A Guest Post from Aaron « rosemary on the tv Trackback on May 18, 2012 at 10:10 am
  2. 2 sunday laziness vs. sunday awesomeness « rosemary on the tv Trackback on August 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm
  3. 3 2012 : A Look Back « rosemary on the tv Trackback on January 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm
  4. 4 2012 : Top Posts and Fave Instagram Photos « rosemary on the tv Trackback on January 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm
  5. 5 Great step by step post on building a flower bed - I really want to do something like this (not this big) out front. - tomorrows adventures Trackback on September 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

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