When You're Done Tidying...

What should you do when you’re done tidying your home? Whatever you want!

Lately, we’ve been spending our free time working on tidying our yard.

When we bought our house 8 years ago, the bushes in the front yard were so overgrown, we literally didn’t know we had front steps. Poison ivy grew freely, and there were more weeds than grass in our lawn. But oh, the view from the backyard!

The hidden steps

The hidden steps

our neighborhood goose family

our neighborhood goose family

We toured the house the day the For Sale sign went up and I begged my husband Jeff to put an offer in that night. Not being as impulsive as I am, he tried to be reasonable.

Jeff:  Do you remember how many bedrooms it had on the top floor?

Me: Nope. But did you see that lake?!?

Jeff: How many bathrooms did it have?

Me: I don’t know. But did you see the lake?!?

We put an offer in that night.

I still can’t believe we get to live here. It’s like being at a vacation house every day. We wake up to a beautiful view.


We get to swim, paddleboard, canoe, and sail.

We are so grateful for this place and thankful we get to share it with others. Most of the year we have people over every week.

6Party group.JPG

It’s a great party house. It’s really simple to get ready for guests since we’ve tidied up inside. And now we’ve got time to work on tidying up outside.

The KonMari Method(™) is helpful no matter what you’re trying to tidy. Remember, one of the first steps in the process is to imagine your ideal lifestyle. We’ve been thinking about what our ideal yard will include. Some of those things are:

  • More space for friends to park out front

  • Less overall maintenance

  • Less poison ivy

  • Less lawn to mow

  • Fruit trees

  • A flower and vegetable garden

We’ve attempted a vegetable garden in the past. A few years ago, I checked Square Foot Gardening out of the library. It really appealed to me because the garden plan is so organized! Jeff helped me make some little 3’x3’ boxes that I put near the house so I’d be sure to give the garden lots of attention every day. I dutifully planted, watered and weeded the beds, following the directions in the book. And everything was going great. Until this gargantuan, mammoth, tree, which happened to be in between the sun and the beds, grew billions of leaves and cast a thick, depressing shadow over the entire garden. Why it didn’t occur to me that this tree would sprout a gazillion leaves like it had every year in the past, I don’t know. Jeff wouldn’t cut the tree down (I actually asked him) so that garden was a big, fat, failure. It wasn’t the book’s fault, by the way. The first thing they tell you is to make sure the spot you pick will get plenty of sunlight.

huge shade-producing tree #1

huge shade-producing tree #1

huge shade-producing tree #2

huge shade-producing tree #2


The next year I resolved to do better, and full of springtime optimism moved the boxes down the fence, safely out of range of the humongous tree. You’d think someone would have stopped me, and helpfully pointed out that this medium sized tree, would also grow plenty of leaves, and that it too was situated between the beds and the sun. But nope. Jeff wouldn’t cut this tree down either. That garden fared a little better, but not much.

Last year, my smarty-pants daughter Carly planted a garden in a spot that isn’t shaded by anything. Good thing I gave her excellent examples of what not to do. After she cheerfully planted some tomato plants in her sunny spot, a neighbor stopped by and told her she’d put them too close together. At the time, I thought this was supremely unhelpful and discouraging advice since there was nothing she could do about it at that point. Annoyingly, he was right. They all ended getting some type of rot disease. However, watching Carly pick rotten tomatoes and heave them into the lake with a disgusted grunt every day made me laugh so hard, it was totally worth it. My older daughter Kelsey shot a video last year when I invited her to witness the daily tomato toss.


This year, as we were planning the garden, we were talking about building some raised beds. We had some junky wood we thought we’d try to cobble together, then we really lucked out. We were over visiting a neighbor who was removing a cedar fence in his backyard. We asked what he was going to do with the old wood panels lying on the ground, and when he said he was going to dump them, we hauled them down the road to our house. Jeff spent a weekend using a Sawzall to cut the boards apart.

He spent another weekend building these beautiful boxes. I love the look of the old wood. He made stakes out of some of the 2x4s that came off the backs of the panels so we could secure them in the ground.

He observed the yard at different times for a couple days to make sure the space where he  wanted to put them would get plenty of sun. Imagine that.

Then last weekend, for Mother’s Day, Jeff, Carly, and I put the boxes in their spots. We lined them up neatly and I think they look just perfect. They’re so much better than anything I would have made. I’m grateful Jeff thinks things through. We’ve already got one of the beds secured and half-full of planting mix. We’ve put a few plants in, including a tomato with lots of space around it.  I have a good feeling this will be the year we have a delicious rot-free crop! Although I will miss the sight of Carly chucking tomatoes.


Happy Tidying!

Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant