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Animals Farm Projects Garden Gardening Greenhouse Outdoor

Outdoor projects wish list

When we bought this place, we knew that the first year we would want to really concentrate on making the outdoor area the exact way we wanted it to be. But what exactly does that mean? I’m not even sure that we know.

With seven acres, there’s a lot of land to work with and there’s some challenges we have to figure out in order to make our dreams come true.

I’m not a patient person so for me, waiting is truly the hardest part. Moving in in the winter has been difficult because there’s so many things I want to do outside to begin to see our plans take shape. It’s all on hold while we’re living in the frozen tundra of West Michigan.

Outdoor projects wish list

However, as everyone tells me, winter is a great time to plan. We are now knee deep in planning and here’s what we are thinking.

Pond Area

Upon moving in we realized the wet spot in the middle of the yard never really goes away. We used it early in January to skate on and that was really fun for our kids. However, having this area in the middle of the yard in the middle of summer is going to be a pain. First, think mosquito breeding ground. Second, think smelly, stagnant water. Third, think overflowing into my garden when it rains. Unless we do something more with the area, or drain it completely and appropriately, then the yard isn’t going to be a pleasant place to be on a mid-summer’s night.

We are looking into having this made into a full-fledge pond area. I don’t need it overly fussy or crazy, but I do need something that’s a little more formed so we can tell where it starts and stops even of days when it rains a lot. And, I need some drainage so on those rainy days, or even days of large snow melt offs, it doesn’t flood the garden area. Additionally, adding a pump to it will keep it from being a mosquito maternity ward.

I see a lot of benefits to having it in the yard.

  1. A pond is good for wildlife that will eat the bugs, like frogs, and it can be used as a water source for the future animals we want to have here.
  2. We can skate on it in the winter.
  3. It’s pretty. Ok so maybe this isn’t a NEEDED benefit, but it’s better to have it be pretty versus an eye sore and a pain in my rear.

The Barn/Garage Situation

So, upon inspection of the property after we had an accepted offer, we learned that part of the garage wall was sort-of falling down and would need to be replaced at some point. Additionally, the roof of the garage is going bad. None of these things were huge issues to us at the time because the barn also had a garage component to it.

The bad news is that the barn is sort of sitting on the garage. In fact, the previous, previous owners used the garage as one “wall” for the barn.

So, we’re sort of stuck here. We’re going to have to do something with this barn/garage situation at some point and it seems to be moving up on the list because Kevin wants to use it to brew beer AND make a small apartment above it for family and friends to stay in.

If we do this, it will bump the basement project for at least a year or two. It will also possibly impact other outdoor projects in the works. But, I want Kevin to have the space that he wants and this is important to him.

There are two ideas here.

  1. Take the garage down and build another supporting wall for the barn. Use the garage space as a patio space and redo the interior of the barn. A small second story already exists inside the barn, but I know we would have to do some work to make that space safe, comfortable and appropriate as living space.
  2. Tear the thing down and start fresh. Salvage what we can and reuse it.

No. 2 is my preference. Kevin thinks we can fix it as is. I think everything he wants to do with it will be just as expensive as starting over though. There’s a good chance we will need to get an architect involved here.


This one is happening. We are fencing in a portion of the property so that the kids have a safe place to play (meaning contained so they don’t run into the street), the dog has a safe place to do her thing (meaning not get hit by a car or leave the property) and we keep things out that I don’t want in (meaning foxes, coyotes, deer, etc.).

The fence for this portion of the yard will be horse fencing with wire so it still looks open and airy but does its job too. Additionally, I’m having some of the horse fencing put along the front of the property to act as a small barrier to the street.

Our street is fairly busy during rush hours because while we are considered in the “country” we’re only 9 miles from the city and people go to and from it to the real country. It’s a one-lane road that goes both ways and trucks use it too. In the evenings and on weekends it’s slower but I still want something that I can use as a marker for the kids when they are in the front.

However, this part of the fence will be the straight horse fencing and not have chicken wire in it. Just waiting for the weather to break over here…

The Garden

This is a large part of the reason why we moved here. I’m planning to grow everything I possibly can in terms of fruit and vegetables so we don’t have to buy it and can living more organically and sustainably.

I’ve spoken with a landscape architect and even though I wanted the garden in the back of the property, he wants me to have it up closer to the house. That makes total sense and that’s what everyone suggests. I just have dreams of it being further back in the property because I want to build a greenhouse with it and don’t want that to obstruct the view of the land. The garage/barn already reduces visibility enough.

Some portion of the garden will happen this year. Based on the weather and how long it takes to get it in, it might not be as large as I want it to be this year, but I know we can add to it year-after-year.

The Green House

I’m having this big out this year, but I don’t know that it will get done. I’d really like to build something from scratch but the contract we are using suggested using a kit due to cost. I have visions of it being this cute, calm and beautiful place built from recycled materials versus something you can buy online. To realize that part of the dream this is something that might have to wait this year. It’s in the plans just not in the future this is in the plans but is one of those projects that will probably have to wait.

I’m hoping to do something like this…

Image from Pinterest.


This is happening soon! We are getting chickens this year and we will see how this suburban girl gone farm deals with them. I’m excited and terrified and excited. Mostly terrified though. The coop is currently being built by Horizon Structures and it will match the house. I’m looking forward to all the adventures we will have with them this year. We will be ordering chicks in a few weeks so stay tuned!

And finally, in the future future…

A few goats and maybe a horse or two

The goats are on the list for next year depending on how life goes with the chickens. The horses are a dream and will only happen if we take extensive riding lessons and learn how to fully take care of them. I’d say they’re five years or more away.

So tell me, which project would be first on your list if you were me?

See how this stacks up with our list of indoor projects here and see why we even decided to buy this place and take on all of this, here.

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  1. Tami

    I agree a pond would be so much better than a mosquito-infested spot. I have always wanted a garden and envy all the space you have for one! I’d love to see your garden as it progresses.

  2. Marysa

    How neat to be able to have a pond and a skating area! I have wanted a little pond for ages, and my daughter started skating last year. I have been wishing we had a little rink in the back yard.

    • Rachel Quenzer

      It is fun! It’s been a bit too cold most of this winter to use it and too much snow to get to it but something I look forward to having for many years to come.

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