When the kids were preschoolers our front and back yards were beautiful. The backyard had wide beds around the entire perimeter, filled with edible plants - vegetables, berries and more - and fruit trees. The kids played outside happily while I worked in the garden. In spite of the very heavy clay soil we managed, digging through the rock hard soil to root out every weed as needed. It wasn't fun struggling with the soil, but the results were marvelous. I canned and froze all summer and we ate wonderful home grown food all winter.
As the kids grew up and I went back to work off and on, the back yard deteriorated little by little. I stopped canning and freezing, turned into a chauffeur and struggled to get everything done that needed doing in between work and kids activities. We worked to keep the front yard in shape - just barely - and that was it. We were so tired of struggling with the soil. Shrubs became overgrown and many years I didn't even plant annuals. I hated the way everything looked, but never found the time or energy to do anything about it.
This year we were able to do something about it. My 63 year old body can no longer do any of the heavy work, and I hated to ask Fred to do much of it as he really doesn't like yard work and he really needed the summer rest after a long, difficult school year. So I did the basic design, then hired someone to do the work. We will have a nice area for relaxing and an area for growing vegetables, roses, cutting flowers, or whatever else we want. So far we are thrilled with what has been done.
Roundup was applied everywhere, and then we waited for all the grass to die. The ancient, completely overgrown, leggy rhododendrons were removed, leaving only one compact rhodie, and apple tree, and a cherry tree. It took two weeks for the grass to die.
The ground was tilled very well, with 50 pounds of gypsum worked into the clay. Over 50 cubic yards of topsoil was then spread over the top.
The old concrete slab was demolished, and new patios and walkways of stamped concrete were installed.
It was fascinating to watch the process of turning flat, uninteresting concrete into what looks like beautiful stone - a very time consuming process that happened over the course of over a week.