Taking care of a house and a yard by yourself

It’s that time of year again, when I once again find myself standing alone in my 1/2 acre yard with a shovel, pondering just how f’n hard it is going to be do get everything done again this year.

The regular maintenance stuff is rough as it is. I have to mulch the mulched areas and keep them weeded and watered. And, while my dad very graciously mows my lawn with his new John Deere, I still have to make sure I do the trim with the push mower, do the weed eating, and make sure all the trash (stuff blows in the yard sometimes), dog toys, sticks and dog poo are picked up before he does it.

And every year there’s always some big project or 10 that needs to be done, because the yard has been neglected for the past 20 years. It always seems to involve a lot of digging and moving dirt around.

I don’t mind doing it too much, it just seems to take forEVER to get everything done, and I end up not having much time to enjoy it before fall comes. Plus, I get envious of my neighbors (one retired couple, and one family of 4 with two strong young sons) who get everything done in half the time I can. I’m not nearly ready for mulch yet, and I watched my neighbors get all of theirs down today in a few hours.

I move at a snail’s pace, trying to get out there after work for 3 or 4 hours before it gets dark, and on the weekends when I’m not otherwise busy.

I don’t really have anyone who can help, either. I don’t have an SO. My dad and uncle are both benched due to health, my mom can’t really do the heavy lifting, my brother has his own full plate and is not inclined to get too dirty, and my best friend and cousin both have their own homes with yards.

So it’s just me, with my shovel and my wheel barrow, slowly trudging through yardwork while the laundry and dishes pile up inside, the fridge stays bare and the oven stays silent all summer.

I’d totally be into paying people to do stuff for me, too, but I just don’t have the extra cash. A lot of money already goes into the yard (tools, mulch, landscaping elements, etc) and there’s no way I could afford to dump money into it. So they only way it’s going to get done is if I do it myself.

Anyone else out there tackling the complete management of a home and a yard by themselves? How do you deal with it? Want to vent?

What you need is to contact your local LETS-circle.

You bake cookies for person X, X does Y’s taxes, Y babysits Z’s kids, and Z happens to enjoy doing your yardwork. Everybody wins.

When I was a single mom, I just didn’t do any of the fancy stuff. I mowed the grass, and that was it (well, I’d hammer up a loose fence board or two here and there). Grass was all I had in the yard (no mulched areas or flower beds).

I like Maastricht’s idea, though.

I don’t have anywhere near half an acre, but I do have a lot that’s been neglected for a long time since before we moved in. It’s taken three summers of my hard work, and I mean hard work: blood, toil, and sweat (I don’t think I’ve actually cried) to get it looking like a half-way normal yard. Hours and hours of work and a lot of it being rather taxing physically. And I say “I” because I’ve done it all. My husband is a fine man, but he is not the least bit interested in gardening, or the yardwork that has to be done before I could even think about gardening. So I’m on my own and on my knees. You have my sympathies.

My philosophy is to just do what I can and feel like doing. If it’s not perfect, it’s still a thousand times better than we when we moved in. I actually enjoy being outside, playing with plants and rocks and dirt, even when it means I’m aching the next day, but if it’s not something you enjoy, that means it’s just work with not much pleasure in it. I try to find the joy in seeing things come up, sometimes unexpectedly, in the more space we have now that I’ve beaten back the jungle, and in the stuff I’ve planted. The Himalayan blackberry and the ivy… every year we battle, and I’m not afraid to say BRING it on, greendemons.

Every year it gets easier, too, as I’ve gotten things more and more under control.

Heh. ‘Greendemons’.

I am anti-yard work.
A “weed” is a plant growing where you don’t want it. So just say, “I want that crab grass there,” and BAM, its no longer a weed.

Solo here. Your rant spoke to my soul.

I revved up and blitzed the house over the weekend, got things done and clean and (oh, just don’t look at the ceilings too close, I’ll get to them) ship-shape.

Every time I passed the bay window, I looked into the garden and a part of me cringed. The grass is growing a fine crop of dandelions, the bindweed is making yet another assault on the herb garden and roses. I can’t see the vegetables - they’re there - but I can’t see them for the weeds. I’d say I’m growing the dandelion leaves for pet-food, but despite what the books say, my budgie won’t eat them and one plant would do him for a year anyway.

Like you, when I get one thing under control, something else goes to hell (taking my bloody wheelbarrow with it!) It’s like an eternal, life-sized, game of whack-a-mole. My best effort was taking out a huge garden bag full of weeds and finding my shovel underneath - I hadn’t seen it for three months and assumed my Dad had borrowed it.

I just do what I can on the day. Then do what I can the next day.

Bad weather means I can ignore the garden without feeling guilty. Wind without rain means it’s a washing day, regardless of ‘the plan’. Eventually the kid will complain of starvation and then the ‘work’ is finished and the ‘routine chores’ of cooking, dishes and kid wrangling begin.

I allow myself a pipkin of pride when either the house or the garden is briefly ‘done’, then carry on.

Some people recommend making a list of tasks, those that are done daily, and weekly, and monthly and seasonally and yearly, Keeping things organised like this, they say, means everything gets done in a timely manner and doesn’t become overwhelming.


I’m married and I do the lawn by myself, for the most part. I have long neglected issues and a neverending battle against the forest. I echo what others have said. Just do what you can do. Pick something you’re interested in working on and stay within budget. It will never be perfect, but you can have little areas of success.

I don’t get jealous of the neighbors because I can’t actually see their yards (too far away), but out here in Dogpatch, no one gives a shit. No neighborhood rules about what we can plant or when we have to mow. We just do what we can.

My next project…more hedge work! I have a near-dead one right outside my window here. I just have to figure out how to cut the death out of it without it crashing through the window!!! It’s a big 'un.

I’m also married and do 95% of the yardwork myself. My husband doesn’t care. He’ll do the push-mowing and weed-eating if I keep at him, but I do the tractor-mowing, the weeding, the planting, the watering and usually the push-mowing, too, because it’s easier to do it myself than to get him to do it.

I feel your pain. I am married but my wife is pregnant and therefore can’t do anything strenuous. We neglected the yard somewhat last year because we were having exterior work done and frankly anything we planted would get trampled.

The only thing, I had done was to put landscape fabric and pea gravel under the holly tree and level the earth there. I had also cleared some spots of the years of growth.

Last week, I cleared the mess in the front, and planted azaleas, flours, and put down landscape fabric and mulch to prevent the weeds from coming up.

This weekend, I tackled the side of the house. I pulled all the weeds and growth and laid a flagstone and gravel path. That was eight hours of heavy solo work. I still need to plant some stuff on the side but thats easy. The backyard is next but that won’t require so much work.

If I was your husband I’d definately be helping you with the yardwork!

I can sympathize. I don’t have a big yard but I have to do all the mowing. Occasionally the boyfriend comes over to help but I can’t count on it. I also have a chronic pain condition so when I feel good enough to tackle a yard project I usually end up paying for it and then don’t have the energy to do anything again until the stuff I did manage to accomplish is all undone again.

Another solo yard worker here. TheKid can help with planting, but she’s allergic to freshly mown grass, so I’ll be the mower around here again when it gets decent enough.

When we moved in a few years ago, the first “outdoors” thing I did was pull out four ugly mosquito bushes in front of the house. I have no clue what they were actually called, I just know I had tons of skeeters around them. I have plans on replanting, but haven’t come across the funds and time to do anything. So the front of my house is still naked and boring.

I figure I will take it one step at a time - since I probably won’t replant there again this year, I bought some large cheap planters and will put some annuals in for color. I will be seeding the bare spots in the sideyard and want to border/mulch around a few of my huge trees. TheKid will be able to help with some of that, but I look at what I can feasibly do alone.

Take it one project at a time. I bought the edging for around the trees (on sale last October), so I know I can get that done. Found free mulch through my county recycling. It may take a whole day to do it, leaving the mowing for a few days, but so be it.

I’m in the process of buying a house and when I was looking one of the things I had to consider was the amount of yard work I’d have to do. All of the single-family houses I looked at had lots in the quarter-acre range, and some of them needed a bit of work. The back yard of one of them had a lot of small pits scattered around, as if someone had dug up small trees (or maybe the previous owner had been burying stuff there and took it with them.

I ended up going with a duplex townhouse; the homeowner’s assessment will cover all the yard work even though I will actually own some of the land, and if I want to put a garden in the back then I’ll have to tend that. But at my age I think that’s money well spent.

I do the yard and building maintenance, and with the extra work the weather has caused I’m looking at stuff and thinking how the hell can I do all this. I came in today after getting frustrated, and pissed off. It was starting to rain anyway. I charged the battery in the ATV last night. Today I hooked up the boat trailer which took 30 minutes. The boat is sitting by the marsh and this spring the work of muskrats showed up. The area had been severely undermined. The dug out areas are a foot or more deep, with tree roots to hang the tires and axle on. I got the boat moved 4 feet before the trailer and ATV won’t move. The bonus is I can’t get the trailer off the ATV hitch. Both are parked in the rain, in the mud and water. Half the yard still hasn’t dried enough to suck up last years leaves or mow the grass which is very long in some of those areas. I’ve been switching between indoor and outdoor maintenance depending on the weather. By the way, the snow is coming down now.

I try to make any project I do result in a easier maintenance. I try to look before I work, and if you are always over burdened you have to give up something. You may have to cut out half your garden, or get rid of that wood deck you have to paint every year, replacing it with plastic you don’t like as much. I have flat out refused to do some repairs how mother wanted them, because nobody could afford the extra time to keep them maintained her way. The way I did them I can keep them repaired better. Don’t do half assed repairs either, It costs to much time in the end.

Yeah my projects are about 1/2 easier maintenance, 1/2 beautification. The thing I am tackling right now is adding a raised flower bed (or rather, boxed area of mulch and a couple plants) in an area that is near impossible to mow. Easier to get rid of the grass there instead of trying to keep the grass tidy.

I feel so bad for you guys who have spouses or SOs that live with you and just don’t want to help. And I’m still really glad that I don’t have to mow the lawn by myself, thanks to dad. I would be even more frustrated if I was out there doing stuff and someone else was sittin’ inside doing a whole heap of nothing!

Of course, if they were doing some laundry or vacuuming, that wouldn’t be so bad :stuck_out_tongue:

When work gets busy, chores pile up. I am lucky though that I really like the chores (mowing, weed-whacking, edging – lots of fun).

I’m in the same situation … have to do it all myself. And every spring, when I’m first faced with all that needs to be done … you can hear my mantra: “Why the hell didn’t I get more done in the fall?”

And the lawn has never looked worse, and neither have the hedges, and I still have to build up a large area that becomes a swamp after a heavy rain. And it won’t be long before I have to resume my hopeless battle with the morning glories that are taking over everything … and I try not to look up by the roof, where all of the wood molding and gutters have to be replaced, by professionals. And every place I turn there’s more work to be done, and nobody to help.

Not to mention my chronic back spasms, weak knees, DeQuervain’s syndrome in my left wrist, really painful left shoulder and right Achilles’ heel, tennis elbows, etc., etc., etc.

But there are rewards: right now, I’ve got a beautiful swath of pure white, lacy narcissi winding its way across the front yard, peppered with tulips in delicate shades of pink and peach, and the dogwood has never looked better, and neither has my two-year-old Japanese maple. And in the back, my beautiful 1-year-old Betty magnolia in full, gorgeous bloom, and I’ve now got some 14-foot pussy willow cuttings (all from last season’s growth!) … and I’ve just started harvesting my first crop of asparagus.

I’ve got 14 acres, and I didn’t have enough money to get any landscaping done when I built the house. I’ve got an old pickup truck, a gravel pit, and a shovel that I’m using to level the land and landscape around the house. The truck frame broke off above the rear wheel last time I used it. I’ve got a welder, but I have to re-wire a plug for it and an outlet to plug it into. My wife does little to none of the yardwork or housework, and she’s pregnant, so she’ll be doing even less this summer. I burn wood and have none cut for next winter. I have 4 pigs in a pen, and only have about half the fence posts up for their pasture. I ordered 40 chickens, and only have one brooder set up. I don’t even know where I’m building their pen. I have 50 tomato plants and several eggplants and peppers growing inside, and no garden beds ready for them. I made a list of what I have to do this spring - it was 3 pages long, and I’ve got several things I need to add to it as soon as I pause long enough to write them down. I work 9-5 and cook my own dinner before rushing outside to get things done. I don’t start to slow down until 10:00.

On the bright side, I’m losing the pot belly and getting huge arms and lats!

I feel your pain, but just remember - it could be worse.

I’ve done most of the renovations on our yard myself (with my husband’s help, but it’s mostly been me), and I have to say, I have nothing to vent about. I was working outside, getting fresh air, sunshine, and exercise, I was my own boss, I could stop and start when I wanted, and it was almost meditative to go out and shovel or weed or mow or whatever. Mostly shovel. It’s funny how most yardwork projects involve shovelling. I only work part-time, though - that’s the deal. My husband works full-time, and I work part-time and look after house stuff.

I could live the rest of my life without ever mopping another floor, though. To each their own. :slight_smile: