I Am Getting a Yard!

About a month ago we looked at a house with a yard and about 10 minutes after the viewing I tweeted that this was the next place I wanted to live. I could envision our life there and it looked rather nice.

We didn’t get the house. Or that yard. That yard. Yard…. Sweet, sweet yard. A nicely-sized (for Toronto) empty yard with a ramshackle shed. Sounds terrible, I know. But to me….

We proceeded to mope around with a major case of the sads for a month.

And then, out of the blue, we got it! One day I will tell the story (it’s a doozy), but I don’t think it is appropriate right now. What I can say for now is that I have the keys and we are moving in. Just like that. Pretty much overnight. We are still in shock. I figure we’ll be moved in and living there for a while before the shock of it wears off.

It’s a bit late in the season and I don’t have time to jump into gardening before winter sets in. It’s too bad, but then again, it will give me time to familiarize myself with how light moves through the space, and more time to plan. And you never know, there just might be some bulbs and surprise plants lurking underneath the surface. Either that or dead bodies. The yard is the lumpiest I have ever seen!

Our hypothesis is that the yard was once used as a vegetable garden but was then neglected for years. The grass probably just seeded itself over time. Either that or I am going to find some gnarly things when I stick my shovel into the ground next spring.

I’d love to show you more but I have to get back to packing asap. In the meantime, I leave you with one more photo of one of the few plants currently living in the yard that I plan to keep. It’s a little pear tree that the former occupants put in recently.

Oh and I’ve given the yard a name: Orto. I believe this approximately translates to kitchen garden in Italian. Please correct me if I am wrong.

p.s. Sorry about the quality of the images. I took them with my camera phone. Real photos soonish.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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63 thoughts on “I Am Getting a Yard!

  1. SO excited for you! Having a yard is maybe the best thing about having a house (it competes a little with parking in a garage). I always get so sad when I have to cut everything back for the winter but living in WI that’s how it goes. Enjoy!!

  2. This is HUGE! Moving to a house with a yard, even a tiny, lumpy, sandy, midtown yard changed my life. So much for the better. I’m sad to see the roof-gardening chapter coming to an end, but SO excited about what comes next.

  3. Yes, a yard is a wonderful thing, even better if it’s a relatively blank slate. So may possibilities. Lumpy isn’t so bad — with more soil, the lumpiest areas become raised beds. It’s good you have sense enough to find some balance; I’d already be digging, with unpacking left for later.

  4. Yay!!! I am so happy for you! Congratulations — when we got our own yard 7 years ago, I was in heaven after growing in containers and borrowed plots for so long. Come to think of it, I’m still in heaven over it :-)

    Looking forward to following the evolution of Orto!

  5. Congratulations! The photos are nice, regardless if you took them with your camera phone. I’m so happy for you; I hope I can have a wonderful yard like yours someday.

  6. Fantastic, cara! Yes, orto translates to small vegetable or kitchen garden. I’m SO happy for you and Davin! I can’t tell you how much joy a yard gives me, not to mention how it maintains my sanity during the long Toronto winter, even when nothing’s growing but piles of snow. My lawn is also bigtime lumpy, no way I can move quickly in gardening clogs without the potential of major bodily injury. Your cat will definitely enjoy being able to explore outside, even if tethered to a leash. Michael was out with me yesterday while I raked leaves and he pounced on them.

    Hugs to both of you!

  7. How exciting! I can’t wait to hear about your plans.

    What are your plans for the rooftop garden? I’m assuming it will just be transferred to the new yard, but I’m still curious.

  8. Congratulations! We just bought a house with a big yard and one of the first things we did was build raised beds in anticipation of the veggie garden next year. I’m so excited to get started on it! Good luck to you guys! I’m sure it will be lovely.

  9. Megan: Yes I’ll just be moving the plants over. Some will stay in pots. I don’t have time right now so will just be digging the perennials in to overwinter and dealing with it in the spring.

    I looked at the soil and it looks decent enough… another reason why I think it was a veg garden previously. We’ll see. I haven’t checked the whole yard yet.

  10. Make sure you hit yard sales for cheap yard art. Will be looking forward to the transformation of the yard.Don’t forget to plant milkweed,I think it is so the caterpillars can feast and you’ll have beautiful monarchs.

  11. Congrats, save some money on whole home inspection part and just do intensive soil sample testing :)

    Buying a house with an overgrown vegetable garden with some great soil which is what got me into gardening to begin with.

  12. Yahoooo… this is SO exciting, and I wish you nothing but gardening bliss in your new abode. Oh, house bliss too :) Having gone through the emotional roller coaster of home-buying myself, I totally get the joy of getting the place you really, really wanted.

  13. Oh WOW! That’s great news – congratulations Gayla! I can’t wait to hear about the new gardening escapades that will undoubtedly ensue. Hooray!

  14. congratulations! happy moving days ahead, watch out for your backs, remember small boxes for moving books

    the yard looks so big and fertile, it’s lovely

    my mom really liked your new book, she’s a big veggie gardener, & she said this was the best book yet that I’ve lent her

  15. one more thing, pear trees get to be very big & tall, one nice nearboorhood person on craigslist let me borrow a ladder & pick pears from hers, it was 3 stories with a huge spread

  16. A cool name for my new garden, that’s totally what I need! Maybe I should figure out what the Songhees (First Nations in my area who used to live here before whitey kicked them off to the reservation) word for garden is.

  17. I’m glad the soul-crushing month of despair had a very happy ending! Share every step of your garden and new-home journey, I’m very happy for you both. Congratulations, you deserve it!

  18. Congrats! A yard small enough to maintain easily and large enough to grow tons!! Is that a metal chimney coming out of the little building?

  19. Congrats to the both of you! Maybe, once you’re settled and growing, we can expect a new book “Transitions – From pot to Lot” Would love to see how you handle your patio favorites.

  20. Congratulations! For many years I have wondered and wished for you to have a backgarden! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Enjoy the winter of planning! ;-)

  21. Congrats!! I have also recently gotten my first yard…how sweet it is (or will be next year anyway)! Happy planning!

  22. I understand your feeling completely. I’ve been at my little corner of the world for two years now, and I still feel like carrying around a picture. You have your own dirt! Congratulations!

  23. Congrats! So exciting. And (on an incredibly selfish note) thank goodness, because we just got our very first yard as well and it’s a little intimidating. I cannot wait to see how you take yours from blank slate to garden goodness.

  24. Tess: Yeah, we’re gonna have to move the pear tree. It’s not in a great spot based on the mature height.

    Sarah: The light has been good every time I have been there so should be great.

    Hyedie: I’m a west end girl. The east end would be like moving to another city.

    Delia: I just realized the other day that I can put art in it and no one will steal it!

    Lee: No chimney. Believe me, it’s not that fancy. But it’s still pretty great in my book.

  25. A big Congrats on the new home and great yard!! I bet you’ll have tons of fun once you can get to planting.

  26. Space, sun, soil–all right outside your back door. How wonderful! Happy to hear it worked out for you, Gayla.

  27. I just now stumbled across your website while searching for information about harvesting seeds from violas. What a joy to find your site. I can’t wait ti dig in and see what I can learn firm you. I plan to go back to the beginning and find out your story. And I’m so happy you have a yard and I am so looking forward to seeing what you do with your space

  28. Wow, great. Congrats!! Cannot wait to see what you are going to create there. A yard of your own is the best!

  29. Rock on! I am happy for you that life just so happened to unfold in a way where you got the house and a YARD! My husband and I are in the middle of trying to get this house we’ve had our eye on for a lil while… with a YARD (so important) I just stumbled on this site while lookin up info for acorn squash. I am originally from Minnesota and just moved over here to Italy 3 years ago; yes, “orto” is garden, in Italian. Gonna check more of this site! ;)

  30. I know that feeling…..something very similar happened to me – excitement – anticipation – crash-boom-bang – disappointment – and voila! next thing I knew I was making plans to move into the new house getting the little patch organised.

    I’m sure you’ll love it. Enjoy it!
    Just wondering, what might the dimensions be?

  31. So exciting! I’ve just visited your site for the first time, and it’s lovely…and I’m so happy for you to have a yard! You’ll have so much fun planning this winter–and who knows what surprises will come up in the spring? Congrats!

  32. Congragulations!!!! There is trully no feeling like having a yard of your own. Go Wild Girl, Go Wild!!!!!!

  33. Wll I don’t know you but look at your blog every now and then. Congratulations!! I never knew the therapy that gardening and landscaping provided until I bought a house last year at the ripe ol’ age of 27. Now my patio and and backyard sidewalk is filled with container plants and veggies. I hope next year to put in a “square foot garden”

    Anyway, good for you guys and again congrats on the house. I’m sure you will find a lot of happiness working in your own yard and all of the wonderful things you can do!!

  34. Whhoohhooo!!! That’s so exciting! Can’t wait to see your pics of it exactly 1 year from now too. Congrats! And enjoy…

  35. This sounds so exciting! I’m looking forward to reading all about the story of your new garden. Wishing you the best on your new adventures!

  36. Congratulations on the new home and yard!!! Here’s to all new gardening adventures in your own yard!

  37. Welcome to homeownership!

    I bought a house about a year and a half ago simply so I could have a yard to garden in during grad school. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Do you see any livestock in your future?

  38. I am so happy for both of you ! Today I was out enjoying some november sunshine in my garden, and I am always grateful for the space, and a place to grow my berries, roses, etc.

    Please put protective covering like chicken-wire around the trunk of your pear tree. I live in a town, but we have rabbits running everywhere ; they will strip a fruit tree in the winter, and kill it. Remember the snow may be deep, and they may reach far up on your trunk, and branches.

    I am so looking forward to reading about your new gardening adventures. Please send us more pictures as soon as you can, of both the house and garden.

    Best Regards,

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