Want to see what 40K buys nowadays?

When we moved here to The Best House in Melbourne, there were improvements I wanted to make. However, when I had 18 months of bridging finance to get through until the old house was sold, (running at 3K/month- yikes!), things had to go on the back-burner until all of that was sorted.

Last August the deal was finally struck and the money was paid to my account. It was the end of a VERY stressful time – I defy anybody to borrow 750K to buy a house and feel totally ok with it. Seriously – I had to do this to swing the deal, but it was a huge gamble that the property market wouldn’t tank and now that it’s over – I will NEVER go into debt again. It worked beautifully for us, but I don’t want to push my luck.

I invested most of the money I received into my super and the share market, but I’ve kept around 50K to get the backyard landscaping done. It’s a huge job and while most of it has been done, I’m still not finished yet.

The original backyard was so scrappy and awful, I didn’t even take any photos of it the whole time we’ve been here. I took the following ones once work had actually commenced.

The yard is split into 2 zones – an upper and a lower. It was full of weeds; a gall-wasp-ridden lemon tree and a squat fig tree; UGLY pink pavers (why?!?), and a general air of desolation. I only went out there to hang clothes on the line.

But I had big plans for this space.

Half of the lower brick paving will be covered by a roof to make an outdoor room so I can snooze outside during school holiday times in Spring and Autumn. I haven’t built this yet. Here’s what has happened so far:

This was taken after most of the plants had been ripped out. Honestly, look at those pavers… how could anyone have thought they were a beautiful design choice? The house was built in the 80’s, but even so…!

The shed was located in the sunniest corner of the yard, which put it slap-bang into the best spot for veggie growing. It cost an extra 4 or 5K to take it apart, lay a new concrete slab and flip it onto the shady part of the yard, but it was so worth it.

We also recycled the old clothesline. I found some new clothesline cord at the local hardware marked down at $2 for the roll, so Guy, my landscaper, put it up in front of the old shed and restrung it for me.

Some genius planted a massively spiky agave tree right where people walk, so I had Guy get rid of it. It was too big to dig out so I’ll have to keep an eye on it in case it thinks about coming back to life.

One night I came home from work and the pavers were gone and the shed was in pieces. Progress!

About a week further on and things were really moving. On the last day of term 2 I came home and Guy was finishing filling up the wicking beds. He’d never made any before this job. He looked at me and said, “Frogdancer, you’re the first and the lucky last to get wicking beds from me. They take too bloody long to build!”

I laughed. I put the wicking beds together back at the old house and it was a huge job. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Here’s the bottom level, though now the screening plant, a very old and unlovely Grevillia, has since been cut down. I’m waiting till Francis, my brother-in-law, puts the roof up before I start thinking about planting things down here. I need to see where the shade will go.

This space used to flood when it rained heavily, so Guy has put in a huge drain at the front of the steps. I love it.

The upper level. No weeds for Old Lady Frogdancer to contend with.

A couple of months later and this is what it all looks like at the moment. The screen to the right is hiding the clothesline. I’ve started planting the permanent garden bed to the right, while veggies have been going into the wicking beds. I took a chance and planted my tomatoes before Cup Day weekend – I’m gambling that the frosty mornings have passed.

Against the fence, you can just make out the mini greenhouse that I got David25 to assemble for me.

Here’s the other angle.

You know, I’d forgotten about the excitement of gardening, when things start to reward you by popping up. I put some asparagus against the back fence. Completely forgot that I’d bought purple asparagus until I saw these little beauties a couple of days ago.

I’ve already spent more time in the backyard in 2 months than I spent in 2 years before the yard was remodelled. Once the roof goes in and I can go out there without fearing sunburn, I’ll be spending even more time out there. Christmases, birthdays, Mother’s Days… we’ll be using this space a lot.

I haven’t told you yet about all the little projects I have going on with this space, but I will. My brain is buzzing with ways to make this garden sing.

Forty Thousand dollars is a lot of money. But when it’s contributing to the lifestyle you dream of, then I believe it’s money well spent. 🙂





4 thoughts on “Want to see what 40K buys nowadays?

  1. Looking good. I don’t remember the clothesline screen being there when I was, but then memory as one gets older…….! The asparagus will travel. I planted mine in a certain spot and now they’re coming up all over the place and they’re big, so not first-time seedlings.

    Are you thinking of large tubs or something similar at the foot of the wooden wall? I’m doing more and more large tubs; it’s easy to get the soil nutrients and pH right . I can see a row of blueberries in tubs there. Easy to net from birds.

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