Tackling Our Yard One Baby Step at a Time

So let’s talk about our outdoor space for a second. We’ve shared a lot of our interior, but our exterior also takes up a chunk of our time and is a space we’ve been giving more thought and energy to since wrapping up some projects inside. We were very fortunate to find a house with beautiful, well-established landscaping, but since the house had been vacant for over a year, it was also a little out of control. Time mixed with an endless number of beds and some very invasive ivy is not a good recipe! Slowly but surely we’ve been trying to chip away at it and bring it back to life, but it has been a steep learning curve!

(photo of our yard before we bought the house)

In addition to our own personal pressure, we feel an extra sense of pressure trying to live up to our neighborhood’s standards. To put it in perspective, our neighborhood has the oldest garden club in all of Knoxville and is still very active to this day complete with an in-depth booklet delivered to your door when you sign up that lists every president since 1935 and details the menu and  price of dinner at a fundraiser sometime in the 1950s among other historical details. We love this about our neighborhood and how much people seem to truly love being outside caring for the plants in their yards and our boulevards. The beauty of our neighborhood in the spring was a huge selling point for us when we bought the house.

But it will likely be quite a while before we can keep up with yards like these. Until then, we’ll continue to admire our neighbors’ skills and take on our own yard piece by piece. This year, I’d really like to turn our attention to a particularly neglected corner of our backyard. By the time we got the house, most everything in this corner had been choked out except for weeds and ivy. I honestly haven’t had the energy to tackle it, but I’ve known for some time that I want to turn that corner into an vegetable garden. I’ve been monitoring this corner since we bought the house snapping photos at different times of the day in different parts of the year to see what kind of light it gets.

The light is generally pretty good with some evening shadows, but there should be enough sunny spots to grow full-sun vegetables and enough shady spots for leafy greens to flourish into the warm season. In my observations, I’ve also found some other surprises…

I love this photo so much! This is the first time I met our neighbor’s cat, Colby, who is now a regular visitor and who also likes to bust holes through to our screened in porch to takes naps. He definitely caught us by surprise, and I love that we have a photo to document it.

Some things I love about this corner. First, it’s easily in view from our screened in porch and not hidden away. (Note the hot pink in the above photo prior to us painting the porch.) I also love the that it has a fence on two sides, which can be used for trellising berries, peas, cucumbers, etc. The size is also great. From the tree to the fence is about 17 feet, which feels large enough to grow a variety without being too overwhelming. After thinking about it for over a year, I finally took advantage of the warmer days we had a few weeks ago and began yanking weeds.

The next steps involve getting a soil test and acquiring a tiller to create a usable space, but in the meantime, I’ve been searching the web for inspiration and saving it here. So much of the landscaping around our home and the neighborhood has that lush, cottage vibe that feels overgrown in the best way, and I want to incorporate that as much as possible. Through my searches, I’ve found some MAJOR inspiration (like this gem of an account), which I wanted to share with you all today! While our yard will take years for us to feel fully comfortable and in control, I’m pretty excited for this baby step and plan to share more about this little corner and other garden projects in the future. Let the inspiration commence…

I’ve seen this pinned everywhere and can’t track down the exact source. Some credited to the move It’s Complicated.











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  • Hello from a fellow Knoxvillian and old-house owner! In fact, my 1930 tudor-ish house has the same window and door trim! I’ve been debating starting a blog for my own restoration, but I have to say, you’ve made much more progress than I have and I also bought mine in 2016.

    • Hi Erin! How awesome! Nice to hear from another Knoxvillian! No matter how quick or slow the progress, it is still neat to have a place to document it all (even if just for yourself). I say go for it! 🙂