Our front lawn has never really been a lawn... it's compacted hard dirt, and where we parked our RV until we sold it a couple months ago. It looks like shit, and I hate it. My Mom is a Master Gardener, so she decided to help us out with making something out of this dead space.
She got a lovely tree. We tried to plant it. The two of us dug a hole (yes, my 73-year old mother can still swing a mean mattock!) about two feet deep, and filled it with water to check drainage. An hour later, when NONE of the water had soaked in, we realized we had a different problem to solve first: soil rehabilitation.
So I have been swinging the mattock this week and digging up the 16x30 hard-pan dry surface in preparation for getting a load of mulch and soil delivered. We will leave that for a year and a half, or so, to let it rot and compost and rejuvenate the soil. Then we will plant shrubs and ground cover and a couple of trees, and put in two rows of pavers I can park my car on, nestled into the plants.
It'll be wonderful. In three years.
In the mean time, I've been swinging the mattock in the back yard, as well, digging out a small hillside to build a patio. Under the lawn, the ground is loose and sandy... and full of rounded river rocks the size of two fists! So using a shovel in there is almost impossible.
So I swing the mattock for 10 minutes or so, then rake out the debris with a metal rake for 20 minutes. Repeat.
I've got 60 concrete blocks ordered for delivery, which I am going to use to build the retaining wall, and I've already got about 110 flat square pavers for the main patio surface.
Except I just checked the delivery date for my concrete block... and it is due the END OF SEPTEMBER. (Literally checked the status about 15 minutes ago.)