First Time Home Owner Seeking Guidance
I'm usually lurking and upvoting in the Hot Deals sub-forums and was thrilled to discover there were RFDers who are savvy with other aspects of life such as how to properly take care of a lawn.
Long story short, my wife and I bought our first home in the suburbs off the island and now have a front and back yard. I was hoping to delay getting landscaping done for a while, because once it's done, I can't make an excuse not to maintain it anymore. That said, my wife is concerned that the neighbors will be talking about our unkept front yard, so it's time for me to start seeking advice. My presumption is that the best way to approach this is to hire a competent reputable company to do the initial work to get the yard up to a normal baseline, and from there it's up to us to maintain it well. Before I contact landscapers, I'd like to get advice as to what exactly I should hire them to take care of. As a secondary goal, I'd like to determine the various equipment I'll need to start shopping for to maintain it afterwards.
I've attached pictures of the front and back yard. Here are some of my questions:
- I think the walkway to the entrance leaves to be desired. Would it be cost-effective to have this work done at the same time or can it be done later? Not a priority for me at this time but will take care of it if it would lead to savings later.
- If I don't do it now, can something be done for the stone steps? They are actually quite wobbly.
- Should I provide any specific instructions with respect to the area in front of the basement windows? Our inspection report said something is not up to code or that there may be a risk of water infiltration the way it is currently done. I think he said something along the lines of increasing/decreasing the area in front of the window by an inch or so for some reason.
- Should I grass the long strip of rocks on the side of the driveway? I may offer that area to my father in law to store his RV. But that may not happen.
- The remainder of the front yard seems basic enough.
- Should I have the backyard leveled? It's not terribly unleveled, but I'm thinking I may as well do this as I am concerned my small mother-in-law's dog could escape from under the fence in some areas.
- Should I have them remove the rectangle where the previous owner had the rocking bench/table thing? I don't know if they can do that; I just know I have no idea how to do so.
- Should I have them move the storage shed so that it's placed next to the electrical lines as I think that would optimize the overall space more?
- What should I do with the rock-bed? Turn it into a garden? There's a few cement squares in front of this rock-bed and I don't know if they serve any purpose.
My wife and I are allergic to ragweed and pollen. If possible, I'd like to employ an ecological approach to the work that will be done. We are also expecting a child so this is contributing my need to be prudent with harmful chemicals and pesticides.
With respect to the equipment we will need to purchase, I think I can safety assume a lawnmower and a trimmer will be on that list. Is there anything else obvious I will need to purchase? I honestly have no idea what all of this work and equipment will cost, but cash flow is not an issue at this period. I typically like to start with the best-value solutions and then add to the budget to have added convenience. For example, I think I would want the lawnmower to be cordless. I assume that robot lawnmower's are not as affordable as robot vacuum cleaners yet, are they? (half joking).
I apologize if a lot of this seems obvious and easily determinable with a few google searches. To be honest, time is really a short resource for me at the moment and I have spent some time googling this only to conclude that I don't know what I'm doing. Since I expect this to cost a decent chunk, I would rather get some good guidance before I commit to an approach that leaves us dissatisfied in the end. If any part of this post seems like I am approaching this all wrong, please point it out. I would like nothing more than to have my faults pointed out.