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Renovating my House

The Two Kings of Muck Mountain on Elizabeth Avenue

By 04/29/2013July 22nd, 201719 Comments


When I told William & Markus (my nephews) that all the ugly concrete was coming out of our yard William (above) said:

Even the driveway?


And the sidewalk?



‘Because we can’t take all the concrete out and leave the driveway and sidewalk, it’s old and cracked.’ I said.

‘Well then ours is coming out too, it’s all cracked just like yours’, he said.


This is what it looked like before we took out all the old and straggly rose bushes.

Demo on Elizabeth Avenue

Here it was last Monday afternoon while I was on a plane to Toronto to lead my workshop.

William & Markus

William and Markus came over to play in the sod pile that evening. I asked Terreeia to take photos of them and mud. Way more fun to look at than just piles of dirt all by itself.

Dinner at the front door

First they had dinner.

William & Markus

Then they got dirty!

William & Markus


When my Brother-in-law Bill arrived, he (as well as all the neighbours) was just a little shocked at the separated piles of sod and concrete to go to the dump and he said “Most people do a little bit each year, this is HUGE”

And the problem is, there was no fixing this yard halfway. It was all just bad and needed to come out. If we had known how expensive it would be to take out the concrete alone, well we might have reconsidered the purchase price of the house last year.


Here it is now. All clean and ready for the driveway to be poured. Thank goodness I have Mary Anne White (My landscape designer doing the design long distance from New York) who assures me it will be a thing of beauty very soon.

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  • Christina says:

    Playing in the dirt is fun!

  • Jann Newton says:

    Wow! That is a huge landscape job. I can’t wait to see it finished! I’m sure it will be worth all of the mess now.

  • your yard is going to look amazing when it’s all done! and William and Marcus are cutie patooties!

  • Debbiecz says:

    Every house should have a HUGE pile of dirt and a few kids to play in it. Those boys will always remember Aunt Maria’s Mountain. How fun to return home to an empty canvas. Have fun!

  • Maryl says:

    Will you be painting your front door, and if so what color?

  • Your little blonde nephew looks JUST LIKE YOU! I love it!

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Love seeing your nephews. What adorable children:) Reminds me of my two boys when they were same age. Time flies when you are having fun! Yep, the little blondie could definitely pass for yours:)
    Now I wait in anticipation to see your new landscaping.

  • Fran says:

    I can’t wait to see the ‘after’ pictures. Know it will look great! And, by the way, your nephews are precious!!


  • Franki says:

    Reminds me when we had “dirt mountain”…it was the neighborhood hit!! Go for it!! franki

  • GaBi says:

    Hi Maria,
    From my experience as a Landscape designer 99% new home buyers or any home buyers never look at the landscape surounded around the house.
    Elegant landscape around the house is like the icing on the cake.
    When I saw your preliminary sketch for your garden I knew already that you are in the right hands regarding to the designer. Your house shape is geometriclal and the curves will make it more soft to play with the angles what we can’t change. Professional landscape is the result of the understanding what we have, and play around to make it more beautiful. Professional and very well maintened landscape to give a much better price in case of selling the house. It is like a staging the home before sell. Many times I’m called in because the house is NOT selling and after some small improvements house is gone in NO time.
    Selection of your plant material definitely tell about you almost everything, your sense for beauty and elegance.
    I already know it is going to be very beautiful. Lanscape is the second best investment to own the house and sell for the future profit. Your investment will be back any time.
    I can’t wait for the pictures. Your nephews are so adorable and Markus looks like he is your son.

  • Lisa says:

    Your nephews look like they are having the BEST time!! I remember those days myself! I think you are on your way to a beautiful landscape!!

  • Beverly Leeck says:

    I love Maryanne White’s blog, especially the entry on Greening of a Driveway ( In Edmonton we’re limited by long brutal winters and what the freeze, thaw and shoveling do to our landscape options. When I get to the landscape around our house I’m also hiring a landscape designer… why spend money if you’re not going to do it right!

  • Louise Dubois says:

    Looks like the makings of a Tide commercial, lol…

  • Lisa Moon says:

    Love the yellow table that had dinner on! Your signature color. 😉

  • You’re so lucky to have a flat lot since it opens up the design possibilities. My yard is slanted every which way, and it really makes it more difficult. Be glad for what you have, I’m sure it’ll be beautiful when it’s all done!

  • Mary says:

    Hi Maria. Missed this post earlier. Love the little yellow table. Can you please give me a source where I could purchase that? Thanks!

  • You are so smart to have all that work done when you’re away! 🙂

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