DIY curb appeal, part 2

Hey there!  First off, I hope everyone had a lovely mother’s day!!  I know I sure did!

Remember how I said I was going to tell you all about our flower bed re-do in my next post and then I didn’t?  Yeah.  I’m blaming the sickness that descended yet again on my house.  This time, poor B was the only one who succumbed (poor kiddo got hand/foot/mouth AND an ear infection at the same time.  Let’s not talk about little sleep everyone got).  Poor kid has had 3 ear infections in the last month- so guess what we’re doing today??  Getting tubes.  Fingers crossed it all goes great and we can put a stop to all the ear infections!!

Anyway.   Last I left you our flower bed looked like this:

 

house with flowerbed

Oh wait…maybe not quite like that.  But do you see the area to the right of the driveway, and the evergreen trees (aka leyland cypresses) in that general area as well?  I’ve never liked that side of the driveway, so I’ve always cropped it out of photos.  Well, we (aka T) finally decided to make a change.

First those leyland cypresses came out.  They were giant (at least 30 feet tall), crowding all the other trees on that side and slowly dying from the base up.  It was time for those to go- so T went out there one day and cut them down!  It was amazing how removing those opened things up!

The flower bed used to have a skinny strip of grass in front of it (right next to the driveway)- not even big enough for the lawn mower.  I don’t know why it took us 4 years to decide that maybe that grass didn’t even need to be there, but after cutting those trees down, T dug the grass out so we could extend the flower bed all the way to the driveway.

There were already peony plants in the flower bed (I was delighted to discover that the year we bought our house) but the rest was just weeds.  I went to a local plant sale and bought some heuchera, columbines, creeping phlox and bleeding hearts (the bed is mostly in the shade).  We got another 10 yards of mulch delivered since we’d run out the last time we mulched, and here’s the end result:

front flower bed

You can see the stumps of the trees T removed to the right of the mulch pile.  And that tree that looks like we pruned it too much is a vitex that blooms in the early summer, and is doing great (although I have to admit, I was a terrified a little afraid that we’d killed it by pruning it back too far)

Soon after planting everything, our resident deer decided to munch on my heuchera (even though it’s advertised as deer resistant).  So now all the new plants are sporting a slightly more “industrial” look (tomato cages plus bird netting):

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Hopefully they won’t need this extra layer of protection next year, but we’ll see.

 

Here are some pics of my favorite flowers in there:

 

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Peony

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Bleeding Heart

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Columbine

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This is an azalea, which isn’t in that flower bed they were blooming when I was taking these photos and I love them, so here’s a bonus shot of one!

 

That concludes my little tour of our flower beds!  I hope you enjoyed the pics- I’d love to see some pics of your outdoor spaces!  Feel free to share a link in the comments!

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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!

 

Fall color

One thing I enjoy about living in the south is the fall weather- no more humidity, cool nights but warm days, leaves changing colors- ahhh.  Don’t get me wrong, I love grey, rainy, cold Pacific Northwest fall days (yes I like the grey weather- I know I’m weird), but I am enjoying what the south has to offer as well.  I especially love that there are fall flowers- flowers!  In the fall!  Amazing.  It only took me almost 4 years of living here to jump on that bandwagon- and I have to say, I am so glad I finally did. 

A few weeks ago I purchased some metal planters to hang on the railings of our deck, on sale at Lowes (and then they sat in my car for a couple of weeks- whoops).  Our deck is the only spot in our back yard that gets a decent amount of sun exposure- the garden spot, while in theory a great idea, has become more hassle than it’s worth to keep anything alive in there and is actually going to be taken down later this year (I’m envisioning a swing set in its place, one day).  With a new baby on the way, I know there won’t be time for full scale gardening next year, so I thought some pots/planters on the deck would tide me over until I can figure something else out.  I also know I won’t have the time/energy to take care of any fall veggies in a few weeks (oh yeah, did I mention we have 1 month until baby?!?), but I wanted to get the planters out of my car put the planters up on the deck.  That’s when I remembered I can plant fall flowers!!  So off I went to the store to find some fall color…and I love the results…

Pansies…decorative kale…some edible collards (I couldn’t resist) and the white stuff that I can’t remember the name of make a nice fall mix

A view from below- there’s 4 planters but only 3 in this shot.  Excuse all the leaves…

I love the light in the evenings during fall…

For about $20 I am pleased with how much this jazzed up our back deck for fall!! 

Anybody else doing any fall planting?

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

A colorful bird bath- installed!

I put the bird bath/feeder out yesterday evening, and managed to snap a quick (cell phone- boo) photo of it this morning before I left for work, which I thought I’d share with y’all!


Awww- it looks so bright and cheery there, especially with the tulips that are blooming right now!  I have iris and gladiolas that are starting to come up as well, so it should fit in well with all the summer time color!

What do you think?

Another pinterest challenge: Colorful bird bath

So there’s another Pinterest Challenge going around at both Young House Love and Bower Power (here’s a link to the last one I participated in)- and I decided (a little belatedly) to participate!

It started with this pin:

Click the picture for original source

Last year we’d bought a bird bath for the front of the house which I loved- it was so bright and colorful.

Unfortunately, the basin really didn’t hold up well to the weather- the paint started chipping off and then last fall, a big chunk of the basin just broke off completely.  Luckily, the basin was separate from the base, so we removed it, but saved the base which was still in decent shape.

I decided that I could use my pin for a little “pinspiration”- so off to the store I went for some supplies:

I ended up with 3 bright cans of spray paint and a spray paint nozzle ($3- seriously, this is a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be doing a lot of spray painting.  I always end up with a cramped finger and paint all over my hand, but not this time!!  I can’t believe I waited so long!)

I also bought 3 pieces of terra cotta- one large saucer, one small saucer and one small pot.  I gave them several thin, light coats of paint and ended up with this:

After letting them dry for a few hours, I used some clear silicone to attach the large (now blue) saucer to the bird bath base, and the small (now green) saucer to the small (now red) pot:

I let that dry for a couple of hours and then turned everything over and siliconed it all together, to get this:

Tada!  I love how bright and cheery it all looks!  The small green saucer will hold bird seed.  Here’s a view from the top:

I can’t wait to put it out in the yard and put it to work!  I’ll try and post a picture of it once it’s in use.

What do you think?

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!!

New year, new yard…

Sorry for the long absence again folks- I have no excuse except that I’m a blog slacker lately!  I’m trying to work on that!

So when we bought our house (almost 2 years ago now!), the back yard was kind of a hot mess.  There was no fence, save for a small fenced in area off to one side where the prior owners kept their dogs.  The deck was in desparate need of staining.  There was a lot of buried junk- bottle caps, tools, assorted baby toys (the old owners had a young child).  Little by little, we’ve tried to remedy that.  We put in a fence as soon as we moved in:

Looking at the back yard from the deck- we did three sides 6′ wood privacy and one side 6′ chain link.  You can see the fenced in spot that’s now my garden.  This was taken on the day the fence was finished and the dogs are LOVING the freedom!

 We stained the deck last fall (more on that here, here and here– it’s holding up great by the way!).  We’ve added some plants- currently there are 2 tiny fig trees, a blackberry and 4 blueberry bushes.  We’ve mulched around as many trees as possible and taken out some of the spindle-y ones.  We’ve been slowly working on a rock border (using rocks from the yard- of which there are a TON) to delineate the mulched area from the one day grassy area (as you can see from the photo above, we are severely lacking in grass due to prior owner neglect and all the shade our yard gets in the summer).  We even have a little firepit off to one side, made with rocks from the yard.

Needless to say, the backyard has been a very slow work in progress- and it always gets put on the back burner to other (usually indoor) projects around the house.  Hopefully this year all that will change!!  My very handy husband has been cooking up a scheme to get the backyard looking nice- and very recently has put that plan into motion!  Here’s what he did this weekend (I gave some input on placement, but he did the rest):

See the landscape timbers on the ground?  He stained those with leftover deck stain and then drilled holes in them so he could pound pieces of re-bar through them to secure them in place.  We are planning on putting gravel underneath the deck all the way to the timbers.  The timbers will keep the gravel from going all over the yard- and the gravel will *hopefully* keep the dogs from tracking so much dirt in the house.  Our septic tank lid is also right in front of the deck- so all we should have to do is move the gravel to access it.  To the right and left of the deck will be flower beds (one side already has blueberry bushes planted in it)- you can see one already marked out with landscape timbers.  You can also see part of the rock wall we’ve worked on- there’s a tree to the right, and we’ve mulched with all the leaves that fall off the trees every year (seriously, a perfect free way to keep your trees healthy).  We’re working on a similar rock wall on the other side of the deck.  You can even see some grass growing- hopefully it’ll keep filling itself in over time.  We’re thinking about putting in some moss or other low maintenance ground cover- something shade and drought tolerant.  I’m not a fan of fertilizing and watering, and this area gets a lot of dog traffic, so it needs to be something low maintenance.

Not much to see right now, but it’s still pretty exciting that work is being done, however slowly.  I put in the call today for gravel- 14 yards of it to be exact!!  That should be more than enough to gravel under the deck, and maybe leave us some excess for other parts of the yard. 

This wasn’t the only project we worked on this weekend- stay tuned for an indoor project!!  I promise I’ll post that soon- these week long silences aren’t going to become a habit!

What do you think?