Some DIY curb appeal

**Linking up to Katie Bower’s spring photo link party!!**

Hey y’all- I hope everyone had a happy Easter!  We were pretty low key around here since we have no family in the area, but B did get to do his first egg hunt (actually 2nd hunt- his school did one the week prior, but this was his first hunt with us)!  I didn’t think he’d understand what to do with his basket, but he carried it around on his arm like a pro (probably because of all the practice he’s had playing with my purse- ha!)  Thankfully the weather was lovely so we got to be outside most of the day…

easter

Speaking of outside (and happy Earth day by the way!), we’ve switched gears around the house and have been taking advantage of the lovely (albeit a bit weird with temps in the 80’s one day and a frost the next) spring weather we’ve been having lately and putting in some work on the outside of our house, before the weather here gets too hot and humid.

We usually mulch our front and back flower beds yearly, although we skipped last year due to the crazyness that being a new parent brings with it!  Also, we usually (stupidly) wait way too long and mulch in the summer which is just ridiculously sweaty- this year we were on top of it and ordered 20 cubic yards at the end of February.  We got so much mulch because we decided to mulch our backyard after trying (unsuccessfully) for several years to get anything resembling grass to grow back there (mulch is the new grass right?)

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My boys, happy with the newly mulched back yard

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We changed the path leading to the garden from gravel to mulch

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We get a lot of erosion here due to rain water, so T added in a 4×4 post (half buried in the ground) to create a tiered effect and stop the mulch from washing down the hill

Then we got 5 cubic yards of gravel, so we could extend the gravel path in the above photo, as well freshen up the existing graveled spaces

gravel

T is such a hard worker. I just spread the mulch/gravel and take the photos

B enjoyed “helping” with the mulching process- I’d gotten him his own shovel and he was thrilled to help his daddy load up the wheelbarrow:bmulch

And wear his daddy’s work gloves around:

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Believe it or not, we blew through all 20 cubic yards of mulch and had JUST enough to do the front beds, minus one…

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Ahhh, freshly mulched = happy plants

 

Which actually worked out well because we decided to modify that bed, so we were able to wait to mulch it.  I don’t have any photos of the bed before we got to it (bad blogger), probably because it was nothing much to look at so I always cropped it out of my photos!  Just a narrow long bed with some peonies in it (that I have managed not to kill despite doing absolutely nothing to them- we inherited them with the house, which was a fun surprise the first year they came up!) and a narrow strip of grass/weeds.  Boring!! If you look at the below photo of our house, it would be to the right of the edge of the driveway (and under the snow):

house with flowerbed

T was the driving force behind the bed re-do, and we are both so happy with it now.  It just makes so much more sense.  I will post more about it in my next post, because that much work deserves its own post and this one is long enough as it is!!  I will leave you with one more pic of B, probably my favorite of him to date:

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Pure joy at being outside, in the wheelbarrow!

 

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Spring fever

Spring (well, maybe summer actually) is officially here in the south- this weekend I’m pretty certain we had record breaking temperatures (think mid 80’s).  I’m a little sentimental for spring- I love how all the trees fill up with leaves, the birds are singing away in the mornings, and there are flowers everywhere.  Also, we bought our house 3/31/10- so this weekend marked 2 years in our little house!!

We’ve been slowly picking away at our backyard- last time I showed it to you, it looked like this:

Since then, we’ve added a flower bed where the trellis is (in the lower left corner of the photo above), planted a bunch of plants, mulched and added some fencing (because Kirby, our youngest dog, cannot stop chewing on my plants- seriously I cannot have anything un-fenced in the backyard thanks to him).

Here’s what things look like to date:

 First- here’s the yard taken from almost the same spot as before- look how green it is!!  And look at all that grass- we haven’t seeded the yard or anything.  I think the gravel really helped with the erosion that was occurring in our yard, caused by a slight hill, a gutter and the torrential rain that we get around here.  Also keeping the leaves picked up has really helped as well.

 Here’s the flowerbed with the trellises- there are 4 blueberry plants in there along with 6 strawberry plants- I can’t wait for all the fresh fruit we’re going to get from them!!

 This is the flowerbed on the other side of the deck, which currently has 2 rosemary, 2 lavender and another plant that I’m forgetting the name of.  I also planted some corn and beans in there, just to try something different- we’ll see what happens.

And a couple of shots from above, just for fun:

Did you get out in the yard over the weekend?

Thrifty Decor Chick

Crowded

Based on this photo, can you tell what’s happening soon?

If you guessed carpet, you’re correct!!  That’s almost all of our upstairs furniture crammed into the office- the only things that didn’t end up in there were our dressers, because we need to get into them for clothes.  The office has actually looked this way since Thursday evening, even though they’re not installing until Monday- a friend of T’s came over and helped move all the heavy stuff downstairs after work.  Why such an early move?  Well, this bedroom was the first room we I painted, and let’s just say I didn’t do a very good job.  I was in a hurry and so there were some spots, mostly on the ceiling, that needed a second coat, but we didn’t want to do it without moving the furniture out- so we just dealt with it.  The carpet install forced us to get into gear and finish those touch ups.  Plus we had a couple of squeaky spots in the floor that needed to be fixed which got taken care of today too.  We can hardly wait for the new carpet!

You’d think that painting/floor fixing would take up all our weekend time, but we are champion multi-taskers.  T did some of this today:

Yup- more gravel shoveling.  This is off our driveway and used to be dirt- we lined the right side with rocks from the yard and the left side with more landscape timbers that have been clear-coated so they match the fence. 

Here’s the current state of the gravel pile in the driveway- still quite a bit more to shovel!

I also got my garden cleared out and fertilized because it’s time to plant!  Yup, you read that right.  I had a mini panic attack when I realized that it was time to get started, but I managed to get things cleared out and bought some cow manure to fertilize the spots of the garden that I’m planning on planting now.  Last year I think I started a few cold weather crops too late and they suffered because of it- mainly my peas and broccoli.  This year I’m determined to get some good yields, so I’m starting those now (along with some fava beans, carrots, lettuce and chard).  If you want a handy website to visit- check out sproutrobot.com.  You can sign up for weekly reminder emails on what to plant when- you just put in your zipcode and it tells you what you should plant for your area.  You can also pay a fee and they’ll send you seeds when it’s time to plant them.  Pretty cool. 

Phew- I think that’s all I’ve done this weekend.  What have you been up to?

Finished!

You know what that means right?  Yep- the gravel is done.  In the backyard anyway- by no means is the giant pile in our driveway gone, but we have plans for the rest of it.  I can’t take any credit for the rest of the gravel going in- work was slow for my husband yesterday, so he took a half day off and came home early to work on the gravel (he is crazy- he actually wanted to shovel it!)  He even took a couple of pictures of the finished product- check it out!

A view from the side- there’s a doggy under there!

Done done done!!  Excuse the teeter totter in the photo.  That’s for the dogs- really, I’m not kidding.  Not for Jackson (pictured) though- he’s too old to do any teeter-tottering.  Ellie and Kirby both use it as part of their agility training. 

Anyway- it looks so nice now that it’s done!  We got a decent rain yesterday morning, so half of it is nice and clean.  It should rain again Friday and wash off the rest of it, which will make for less muddy doggy paws- except when they tromp through the dirt flower bed- gotta get some plants and mulch in there pronto.  I think we’ve decided on planting clover in the backyard as a ground cover- it’s supposed to grow in any soil (including our crappy clay soil), adds nitrogen back to the soil (so it makes your lawn healthier) is drought tolerant, shade tolerant and dog urine resistant- plus you can sow it at any time in the year.  It does attract bees, but we already end up with yellow jacket nests in the yard, so I’m not too concerned about the addition of some more bees- we’ll just try and keep it mowed to reduce the number of flowers.  I think that the little bit of grass we already have back there will benefit from the clover and fill in even more- when we bought the house there was no grass back there at all because no one bothered to clear away the leaves.  Plus the clover is cheap- a 2lb bag of seeds covers around 4,000 square feet of lawn (which is WAY more than we have) and costs around $15.  Did you know that you can also sow clover seeds in your garden after your plants have come up and it will keep the weeds down AND help fertilizer your plants??  Pretty sweet.

That’s the latest around here, on the outside anyway.  We just got the call yesterday that our carpet is ready to be installed (eek!) so we have some furniture moving to do this weekend and then I’ll have a carpet post to share with you!!

28,000 pounds

That’s how many pounds of gravel (give or take a couple thousand pounds) showed up at our house yesterday- 14 cubic yards to be exact.  Yep- that means work is progressing in the back yard!!

A little while ago, I showed you the landscape timbers my husband put down.  Today we started filling in the space with all that gravel.  We were hesitant to use pea gravel, because in our experiences, that stuff goes everywhere, whether you have a barrier in place or not.  So we picked a crushed granite- the pieces are about 1-1.5 inches around.  It’s meant for driveways and we figured it’d be perfect for the space.  Not to mention it was $34 per yard instead of $85 per yard (the cost of the pea gravel).  Oh and did I mention we needed 14 yards?  Yep- saving over $700 on gravel works for me!

The truck wouldn’t drive into our backyard because it had just rained and he was carrying a 28,000+ pound load, which meant he probably would have gotten stuck.  Luckily our driveway has a y shape to it, so he dumped it off to the side so we can still get in and out of the driveway.  Unfortunately this means a lot of walking with the wheelbarrow and gravel is heavy.  We made a good effort today but I made my husband stop about halfway through filling the space so he wouldn’t regret all his efforts tomorrow!!!

Here’s what it looks like currently

And here’s what I looked like after crawling around under the deck (which is too short to dump a wheelbarrow under, so we had to crawl around with buckets of gravel)

One more look…just cause it’s so pretty

Ok, just picture it all done and that flower bed filled in with dirt and plants…and the yard covered in some sort of ground cover!  Ahhhhh yes- I can see it all now!  It’s pretty exciting though- once we get a good rain (which will wash off the gravel dust), the amount of dirt the dogs track into the house will a lot less.  I’m really looking forward to reducing the amount of red dirt they carry in with them (even though we wipe their feet every time we let them inside the house).

Hope you like it as much as I do!!