My husband has been wanting some photos of the exterior of our house for quite awhile now that it's basically finished. (yeah, there's still some actual "finishing" stuff that needs to happen, maybe it will, maybe it won't! And landscaping, not our forte, will always be a work in progress.) Our crabapple tree, which has been sort of sickly for a few years, was starting to bloom a couple of weeks ago, so I walked around across the street taking pictures and feeling sort of embarrassed about it!
The different colored patch of grass at the bottom of the photo above is where the city laid sod last year after upgrading our gas lines. Hopefully if we overseed the yard for the next couple seasons it will eventually blend in!
(can you spot the puppy watching me from the window?)
I read somewhere once that chives are a good companion plant for crabapples, so I planted some by our sick tree. Maybe I cured it?! (probably not, but I do love harvesting them for sour cream and chive baked potatoes!)
These last couple of images show some of our "green" upgrades. We have two rain barrels, one next to the front door (my husband tried to fight me on it, but I insisted, and I think it looks fine) and one off the back of the garage. This way I don't have to haul the watering cans too far. We use Save the Rain (affiliate links) diverters to allow rainwater to bypass the barrels and just go down the gutter when they are full. This happens to us a lot - if we're getting a lot of rain, there isn't much need to use the water in the barrels, so they fill up in the spring! I just keep tabs on the water level as I use it later in the summer, and when it's getting low, I just flip down the diverter and it refills with the next rainshower. We've had these for several years now, and they work great.
You can also see our retractable clothesline in that last photo of the garage. Admittedly I don't get to hang our laundry out as much as I'd like - our backyard is really shaded and clothes don't quite dry if I try to hang them out after work, which limits me to dry weekend days in the summer only. (I've tried in the winter, and again, things just don't get dry even after a whole day out there!) We have this same one in our basement which I use year round. The link above also includes the pole, which is across the yard not pictured. I just have to stretch it out, and I've got a ton of drying space! We leave the clothesline box up all year (according to Amazon I bought this in 2009 and it's holding up just fine out there!), and we bring the pole inside the garage in the winter. The base is anchored in concrete in a planting bed, and there is a plastic cover that screws on to keep it from filling up with water when the pole is not attached. Then in the summertime, we just bring the pole out and it clips onto the base. This was a compromise between us, because I wanted to be able to dry clothes outside and my husband didn't want to look at or duck under lines all year - this system has been working out very well for us!
Lastly, you can see a peek of our compost bin next to the back door. (sort of - it's black and in shadow!) We have this model through our local sewerage district. They've been doing annual one day sales for a few years, and I was happy to upgrade to this "real" bin after my makeshift "plastic bin with holes drilled into it" completely fell apart after a few years of use. Ideally I'd have a second one so I could let the compost age for another year, but this works well enough that we have enough to add to our small garden. My husband wants to build a fancy 3 bin system behind the garage, but that's been an idea for several years now, so we'll see! For now we just have this one and a large brush pile behind the garage. I do love having this right by the back door. I think we'd be pretty unlikely to use it if we had to walk behind the detached garage in the snow! Again, we've been doing this for several years, so it's a pretty road tested system for us. We don't notice any smell from it, and we probably only turn it once a year when we sift out the finished compost in the spring. I do notice some gnats, but only when I open the lid to toss stuff in a couple times a week...or if I cook lol! We sit on the patio very nearby the bin, and there definitely aren't a bunch of gnats swarming around when the lid is on.
I wasn't actually planning to go into a lot of detail about this yard stuff, but I guess I did, so I hope it's helpful!