DIY & Projects,  Home Improvement,  Home Improvement Rambles

My Big Fat Backyard: A Tree Is Born (ORC Week 3)

Welcome back to Week 3 of the Fall One Room Challenge – My Big Fat Backyard!

While it was 90 degrees here when I first started this project, the temperature has since dropped dramatically. In fact, we just had our first frost!

I have since transitioned from worrying about getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, to currently worrying whether or not I’ll be able to feel my fingers outside. Now that we have cold weather though, I am more motivated than ever to get this fire pit done!

This week’s theme: acquiring everything.

From trees to pots to assorted lumber, most of the materials I need for my projects are purchased. I am also considering starting a game show focused on just how much stuff I can fit in my car.

Click to see Week 1 & Week 2!

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard


I have finally (sorta) hail mary’ed for my sins of chopping down the two problematic trees near my house. We now have a baby red maple who is ready to (hopefully) thrive!

Unfortunately, I had wanted to buy two maples but didn’t realize how expensive trees actually are. The random online tree places were selling them for about $50, so I assumed that was their normal going price. Wrong. All of the nurseries near my house were selling maples for around $115 – $150. And I just wasn’t prepared to spend nearly $300 on trees.

So, I’m like half forgiven by the universe… for now. I am hoping that, come springtime, there will be some good deals on more babies and I can get my new maple a friend.

Before digging anything, I did call 1-800 Dig Right to come out and ensure I wouldn’t be hitting any gas lines. Their commercial worked – even years after getting rid of cable, I knew what to do!

Once given the go-ahead, I dug a deep hole on a slight slope in my backyard. I had read that for a maple to really thrive, you need to plant them at an angle so that the soil can easily drain. To test it, I poured water in the hole I dug and waited 24 hours for it to absorb away. And it did!

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard

A couple of days later David and I planted it. Now we can say we planted a tree together. How romantic.

Side note: During that first frost that I mentioned above, I had not yet planted the tree in the ground yet. I didn’t even know it was supposed to frost until someone posted about it on Facebook at like midnight.

I’d read that trees still in pots are not as insulated as when planted in the ground, so I panicked and ran out in the middle of the night and covered the tree’s base in towels. The things I do for love.


Next up, I purchased a bunch of wood for my retaining wall.

I went back-and-forth a lot on whether I wanted this to be a lumber wall or stone. In the end I decided that, while stone may last longer, I’m not sure that I want this fire pit to be a forever-and-ever, permanent thing. Maybe I’ll want a shed there later. Or maybe I want a deck! Or maybe when the wood rots in 5 – 10 years, I’ll be motivated to put in a stone retaining wall. Who knows.

For now, I love the natural look of the wood though!

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard

Fun fact: I didn’t realize that treated wood weighs FAR more than untreated. In fact, the 6x6x8 lumber I purchased was estimated by a Lowe’s employee to weigh probably around 150 pounds. That’s more than me!

This actually ended up hindering my work flow a bit… Because I could not lift the freaking lumber. In order to do anything this week, I have had to wait for David to be around to help me move it. Curse these puny arms.

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard

I’ll need to go back to the store and get some more paver dust. And then wait for David to come home and help me move the wood again. But! After that, then I’ll be ready to start stabilizing it and I won’t need to lift anything anymore.

And then FINALLY we can get some gravel in here!!

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard

(My car can fit EVERYTHING.)


While perusing the aisles of Lowe’s for paver dust, I came across some really cute, really heavy duty ceramic planters. ON SALE.

I bought 4 and am excited to turn these into string light post holders/homes for plants come spring!

Goals & Garbage - One Room Challenge - My Big Fat Backyard

That’s all for my backyard for now! Can’t wait to see what everyone else has accomplished this last week.


  • Jess

    Ugh yes treated wood is so freaking heavy! I still need to buy most of our lumber…and all of our concrete. I thought about buying concrete on my lunch break today but I really don’t want to lift a bunch of 80lb concrete bags so I’m waiting until I can make Kyle do it.

    • Jenn Meyers

      I know! I was just thinking that when I am done, maybe I will splurge on a deep tissue massage… My right shoulder is not appreciating this project right now. I need to keep remembering to stretch!

  • Ola

    So the first thing I learned is to never read your posts in a public place. I could not contain my emotions as I was reading this! People are starting to stare. LOL!!!

    Girl you are hilarious. And the car photos brought this whole post to another level. Yes, trees are crazy expensive. And I also pack my car to the roof when I’m doing projects. This post was so real.

    I am SO excited to see this finished space. Im sure everything will work out just fine. You got this girl!

    • Jenn Meyers

      HAHAH thank you <3 <3 <3. That means a lot to me. I can't wait to see your finished space as well - I was just looking through your Instagram. I love your style!

  • Beth

    Ha! I lol’d at the pic of the lumber hanging out of your car window and that backseat pic- that is so something that we would do! The stuff we do for DIY 🙂 I’m excited to follow along!

  • Auntie Mare

    Looking good! Yes, the treated lumber is WAY heavier. And very cumbersome. But you powered through. Did you dig your tree hole twice as big as the pot the tree came in? That will really help your tree grow. I love the pots you found! Those are so cute!! One in sale!!!
    Great job!!!! 😘

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