We bought our home two years ago in the dead of winter. It was a week before Christmas and the ground was covered in pristine white snow, giving the house a charming, festive appeal. There were tall evergreens in the backyard and cardinals nesting in some cedars along the fence. It was as if Father Christmas himself had wandered by, dusting winter magic all over the property. Beautiful, right?
Then spring came, and the snow thawed, and we learned the truth: our yard was a crazy mess.
It’s a natural landscape, emphasis on the word ‘natural’. As in, the yard hadn’t been maintained terribly well in the previous few years, after the longtime owners had moved out and rented the house to their adult children. Things were overgrown, under-weeded and generally wild. Can we blame them? No – it’s a HUGE amount of work, and unless you’re retired or have a large staff to tend to your garden, those weeds are unstoppable. There is no grass – just mulch, shrubs, trees, flowers and a few thousand hostas. It’s essentially a tiny forest in the middle of a lovely, well-manicured suburban neighbourhood. My neighbours all have perfect green lawns bordered by professionally-laid flower beds. I have dandelions that reach my waist.
I had plans to improve the yard over the summer, and then, the beetles struck. If you live in Halton, you’re probably familiar with the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle – they’re sort of pretty, but kill all the ash trees. I had ten mature ash on my property, and this summer, they all had to be removed.
So what did that leave us? A weed-covered wasteland that was now dusted with the remains of ten fallen ash trees. The falling trees managed to crush most of the flowers, but the weeds grew back quickly, as weeds do. Within a few weeks, our wasteland had gone from “pretty crazy” to the sort of yard you see featured on Hoarders or in a movie about serial killers. We are THAT family, despite our best intentions.
My saving grace finally came a few weeks ago, as October hit and my crazy yard was suddenly seasonally appropriate. Rather than fight the chaos, I embraced it. My yard is littered with plastic bones, tombstones and skeletons. There are demons hanging from the lone surviving tree and a giant Angel of Death seated in a planter. There are signs warning visitors to run away, a mummy sticking out of a bush and arrows directing you to “tricks” in one direction and “treats” in another. In a single afternoon, we went from having the worst landscaping on the block to the most spirited. I mean, just look at it – it’s super haunted. We’ve obviously been planning this ALL YEAR.*
*nope, we’re just making the most of it, please forgive us.
The scary yard delights my children and their friends, and allows me to pretend I’m super creative instead of super bad at landscaping. I am going to milk this until November 1st, and then pray for snow. Wish me luck, friends, and have a safe and happy Halloween.
Hey, I’m Erin. I’m a freelance writer, mom and reluctant suburbanite living outside of Toronto, Ontario. I write for The Mabelhood, UrbanMoms.ca, Our Homes Magazine, and more. Coffee is my best friend.