before and now…

by Michelle

As promised, after two years of work, here are the before and after shots of the patio area of our farmhouse.

All of the plant material that you can see in front of the house was salvaged by Dad.

We created garden beds around the old chicken coop.

Then I transplanted all of the shrubs and perenniels to the new garden. I added a little paint too!

In order to bring the front lawn high enough to accommodate our new low veranda,

Dad moved 2000 loads of top soil with the help of his trusty Kabota tractor.

Once the front lawn was ready to hydo-seed we moved to the south side of the shed. The driveway and house were built on a rock ledge which is great for stability but not so easy to re-landscape. I wanted a kitchen herb garden but because of the difficulty of digging down we decided to build up. We started by hand bombing seven tons of flagstone onto a rented trailer.

Dad turned the stone into a beautiful garden container. Once the raised bed was finished, we filled it with a chocolatey cake loam ready for planting! Next, Dad started the back step… Ralph and I continued to move stone.

He made templates with cardboard so that he could cut the stone to fit like a mosaic. The piece of granite under Dad’s foot is the original threshold for this doorway.

Another challenge facing us was the grade of the backyard. It ran down into the shed. Ralph and Dad used jack hammers to break the stone ledge and the tractor to lower the driveway two feet.

Once the driveway was at grade, Dad and Ralph built the forms for the walkway. Unfortunately, we scheduled our cement to arrive on the hottest day of that summer. The cement was drying before we could smooth it out which made it awkward and heavy to work with.  At one point, after being accidentally slapped in the face with wet cement, I cried. Nobody knew I was crying because I was trying my best to help. Ralph, Dad and I worked until I could no longer move my arms. We called my uncle George, who very generously came and took over for me.

He was far more effective! They finished working just as the sun went down.

Next phase – the flagstone patio.

The first thing was to place the granite threshold that we had saved from the north side of the shed.

Dad spent hours cutting then placing the stone so that it fit perfectly.



It has been a remarkable journey to work with my father and husband as we transform our simple farmhouse into a more comfortable home for our family and friends.

Learning and working together makes every step so much more meaningful to me. It’s an amazing feeling to know that many years from now my family will still be enjoying our hard work.

Next phase – the barn…

Thanks for reading