That's not to say the past year hasn't been without issues. We've had our share of minor problems (soft spot in the floor and microwave repair among other things), a fairly major one (furnace breakdown on the coldest night of the year), and that issue with our fence. But overall we've been really happy with how things have gone so far. We dealt with a lot of stress in our mid-1950's old house worrying about what would be the next thing to break and to say it's been a relief the past year not having to worry about such things would be a huge understatement. (I will also never own another house with a septic system. Ever.)
I hate to boast but I've got to about my yard and how it's one of the nicest looking ones in our neighborhood. It's amazing what a bag of fertilizer every few months and a little weeding can do. While some of my neighbors are spending money (significant money at that) on the services of TruGreen and other lawn care companies I've simply been following the care schedule outlined in the homeowner's manual regarding feedings along with smart mowing (mulching the clippings), and periodic watering. And the results have been just as good if not better.
On that note I don't understand why people build a nice house that comes with a nice sodded lawn and irrigation, and then let it (the lawn at least) go to crap. Just do the basic maintenance on it. Everything is outlined in the aforementioned manual. Compared to the cost of the house it's a very tiny expense. At least with the size of the front yards in our neighborhood a $20 bag of lawn food or fertilizer is enough to cover it adequately.
One of my honey-do chores this spring was to build a raised bed garden a few weeks ago. Using three 2x12 pressure treated boards with sections of 2x4s at the corners I built this in about an afternoon. I also dug out the grass within the perimeter as best I could (hard to do with the amount of rocks in the yard) and lined it with landscape fabric. I'll probably add a second one next year and I also want to put install a rain barrel on one of the downspouts so it's easier to water. (Since the water spigots are on the sides of the house on the other side of the fence.) I then borrowed my dad's truck and went to the local landscaping place for a load of leaf compost to fill it. I think it turned out nicely.
Yes, that's duct tape holding the fabric to the sides.
Speaking of the rocks, our yard is littered with them. When the house was built and the French drain installed around the perimeter of the foundation there didn't seem to be much effort to contain the gravel used. (I'll give Ryan Homes the benefit of the doubt that there's probably no way around this.) I've gotten into the habit of picking a few up whenever I'm out in the yard and even paid my son a few times to go out and pick up as many as he can find. I always wear goggles when I use my weedwacker as I've been hit more than once by flying gravel.
We have some really amazing sunrises over our neighborhood. This was the latest from a few weeks ago.