Posts Tagged ‘landscaping’

All Clear

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Posted by Rebecca, June 3rd, 2011

After a little photo mishap, a partial breakdown and a husband who came to my rescue by recovering my files, I am happy to report on our freshly cleared backyard!

The process started yesterday when a team of people pulled up to our house at 7:30 am and immediately started hacking away at our brush. They were so fast that by the time I left for work at 8:30, a good portion of our mess was flattened. How did they work so fast? They started with chainsaws and machetes. Mike and I were very happy to leave this one to professionals, could you imagine this scene?

We just so happened to pick the most graphic photos ever. But I laughed hysterically at that random head in Mike’s hand. Please substitute tree sap for blood and branches for faux head. Don’t worry, we aren’t really serial killers πŸ™‚

But really, we are very accident prone. There may have been in incident last week involving a laptop and Mike’s face. And there may have been blood. I’m not sure I’m allowed to speak about it, but let’s just say that coding SongMeanings is apparently dangerous…

So after some tree hacking, done by professionals, our backyard is looking wonderful!! First, some before pictures…

This next picture looks like it was taken from under the stairs. I promise I was not sitting under there πŸ™‚

Here are some close-ups of the dead and dying trees that were hanging around back there.

And the much more lively looking after pictures!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the unexpected perks of our backyard is that our house acts as a natural awning for most of the day πŸ™‚

We were enjoying the view and the weather so much that we decided to bring our dinner outside πŸ™‚

We made some homemade pizza with fresh spinach since our organic farm membership started up again this week.

Mike took an after dinner walk to our new-found land and I love this picture for perspective…

Since I know it’s very hard to visualize spaces in pictures, I took before and after videos. I apologize if anyone gets sea sick from my after video. I was walking on the new dirt back there and it’s super soft, so I was stumbling around a bit πŸ™‚

The Before Video:

The After Video:

The videos weren’t taken from the same exact place, since where I’m standing in the after is technically in the old brush, but you get the general idea πŸ™‚

Now we’re looking forward to throwing some grass seed back there, maybe uplighting our freshened up trees and just enjoying our new view!

Outdoor To-Do List

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Posted by Rebecca, May 25th, 2011

The weather is still playing mind games with us. There has been a chance of thunderstorms nearly every day this week, which makes it difficult to plan to do anything outside. We have a bunch of projects we want to do, large and small, so I wrote them all down. Since it’s a 3 day weekend (YAY!!!) I figure one of those days has to be nice, or at least portions of those days and the list will save some of the time we normally spend trying to remember what we wanted to do. Here it is, in no particular order. We’ll call it the Spring/Summer 2011 Outdoor To-Do List, because I am in such a creative mood πŸ™‚

1. Paint garage doors

In a perfect world, I would love to have some craftsman style dark wood doors with square windows at the top. But for now we’ll settle for just painting them the same brown as our shutters and front door. Maybe someday we’ll look into replacing the top panels with some square glass windows.

2. Have brush cleared

This one should be coming very soon, since we already have someone to do it and he said it would be a couple of weeks before they could start. We actually have a decent chunk of land, but the builder didn’t clear all of the logs and sticker bushes and random stuff back there. So we’re having the brush removed and of course, keeping the large trees. Should make for an awesome treehouse someday πŸ™‚ and I’m super anxious to see what our lot actually looks like in its full glory.

3. Stain backyard stairs

We plan to stain these stairs a dark color to compliment the furniture we bought and to bring out the awesome darkness we have going on in the “grain” of our concrete.

It’s funny because from a distance, the patio looks lighter than we wanted. We knew we could always stain it darker so we weren’t that concerned, but on Saturday when we finally stood on it, we saw where those 2 coats of sealer went. And I love it. It looks so realistic and has so much character now πŸ™‚

4. Add mulch & river rock to garden beds

We need to freshen up our mulch a little and we want to define some edges with river rock.

5. Landscape around patio/walkway

We already planted a lonely hydrangea by the walkway, but we want to make this whole area an inviting garden that will hide the hose, air conditioning units and the awkward outside part of the fireplace.

By the patio, we’ve been saving any extra dirt (or rather, frozen peanut butter type clay) to fill in where the patio drops to make some raised garden beds there.

6. Replace dead plants in front (halfway done!)

These flat things aren’t dead, but I hate them. I’ve been itching to dig them up. I want something with more height to cover the bottom of the garage. So they’re getting kicked to the curb (literally)! Does anyone in the area want them? I’d like to see them find a good home πŸ™‚

ps- that picture is from a few weeks ago and our grass is nice and green now

7. Install storm door

This picture is from the fall, but I thought I had another one on my memory card and I don’t… and it’s already dark out. But sadly, we want to install a storm door. I say sadly because I know it’s not going to be pretty for the curb appeal and ideally I wouldn’t want one. But we get such an awesome breeze through that front door and on nights like tonight when it’s 83 degrees inside and 75 outside? We could really use it. One of our requirements is to get a brown one with the lowest profile possible, so it won’t look as bad.

8. Pick up that damn pile of wood

I know you guys are probably sick of looking at this mess in our backyard. Believe me, we are too. But we know how time consuming it will be to return it to its former glory, hence the procrastination.

9. Build outdoor kitchen area

I wrote about our plans here. It may happen this year, it may not. We’re going to play the wait and see game.

10. Seed backyard

Pre-patio picture from the last weekend in April, but our grass back there isn’t looking so hot. Especially compared to our neighbors on either side, whose grass is much fuller in the back. We waited to reseed because we want to throw some seed back where the brush is going to be cleared.

11. Add planters and find a bench for the porch

These chairs were always a temporary porch solution and will be relocated to the patio for this year. I’ve been on the lookout for a character filled bench since we moved in. Maybe this year I’ll get lucky? I also want to plant some flowers in some pots we already have.

And because I like to cross things out and this was actually on my handwritten list….

13. Buy patio furniture (done!)

But I should probably change this to “Put patio furniture together” because that hasn’t happened yet πŸ™

Now that I think about it, I should probably make an indoor to-do list incase of inclement weather. Though I’m pretty sure that would just say “paint entryway” 10 times πŸ™‚

A Sunny Day

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Posted by Rebecca, May 23rd, 2011

On Saturday the clouds finally parted for long enough for us to work on part of our spruce-up-our-landscaping project. We had some plans in the morning, then we headed straight to a local garden center to load up our car with whatever we could fit. We decided to tackle the front for now and we could only fit enough plants for one side of the front. We planned to go back to pick up a couple more shrubs for the other side, but we ran out of time.

First, I finally got to set foot on our patio!

My shoes were super muddy at one point and I actually walked around the patio. Yes, I did not want to get dirt on my patio. We admired it for a bit, then back to work it was.

The word work is an understatement actually. We have the hardest soil ever. Ever. I’ve never said this before because I’ve never had a house before and have never dug holes in the ground before. I knew I hated doing it last year and that many of our plants and portions of our sod died due to the lack of “hearty” soil (a lawn guy who knocked on our door told me that once). But when a team of concrete guys in business for 30 years told us we had the hardest soil they’ve ever seen, we were like hey! we’re not weak cry babies afterall!

I’d describe this “dirt” as peanut butter that was put in the freezer for 2 years. It probably didn’t help that it rained all week and this stuff was a million pounds. Mike and I always blamed our orange soil on the fact that our house is new and was once a pile of construction muck.

Yes that puddle is the outline of our house. We do live very near the Delaware River, but our concrete guys were local and I’m sure they would know if our clay soil was a result of that.Β Basically the builder took all of this muck and flattened it, then landscaped it one day. Most of our plant causalities were because the plants never rooted. I literally pulled them out of the ground in the shape of the pots they were planted in. We really wanted to avoid losing any plants because of this, so we also picked up two bags of top soil to try to mix in with our clay. You know, like on the commercial!

The only plant we picked up that wasn’t for the front yard was a hydrangea. Right after I saw the walkway leading onto our patio and the curve it produced, I knew I wanted to plant a hydrangea. We decided to get one on Saturday because I knew it would be a rainy week and hydrangeas require a lot of water to get established (hydra… get it? okay a garden center employee told me that last year). Thankfully, larger plants weren’t so bad to dig because we could use the big, leverage friendly shovel.

Here’s the pretty curve from the other side, complete with baby hydrangea.

We mixed lots of topsoil in with this guy to make sure he gets established. The tag said he’d grow to 3 feet wide, so we tried to make sure he had enough room to fill out that curve nicely.

We eventually plan to make this whole side of the walkway into a garden bed with river rock and mulch, but for now we have a random hydrangea planted in our grass. And it looks like a giant weed.

Here are the hydrangeas we planted early last year, who survived a heat wave and a winter full of blizzards. They are planted underneath our bay window and will hopefully fill in nicely some day. This picture was taken on April 8th.

And on Saturday!

The one on the right has really taken off and is ready to bloom!

Hopefully the backyard hydrangea will do just as well in our clay muck as its buddies.

Okay enough about the hydrangeas, next we added some day lilies to one of the semi-circles we have in our landscaping. I forgot to take a before, but this area had some small shrubs that died last year.

This area has so much potential and it was just lacking the color and fullness of the landscaping on the driveway side of the house. We also decided to take this bush that remained by the walkway (it’s 2 buddies died) and replant it over here in the back.

It still needs some work but it’s looking better already.

Hopefully these day lilies, which are reddish orange, will grow in nice and full like the yellow ones we have on the other side.

Next, we had to fill in these holes left from dead/moved shrubs.

We decided to make this area into a place for some seasonal flowers. We have areas on the other side where we planted some summer flowers and some mums last year, but no where on this side to balance them. We picked up some orangey flowers that resembled wildflowers since Saturday marked 3 years since we lost Sunny. Last year we decided to plant some orange flowers on his anniversary weekend and thought we’d do the same this year as a little way to let him know we haven’t forgotten him. We also picked up some tiny purpley white things.

At this point I was shaking like a leaf. Digging all of those little holes, with a little shovel, in dirt that was insanely hard was literally painful. I would rather dig out large plants than do an ice pick type of move to get these little things in. Plus I could not get them to stay straight for the life of me. The purple ones are closer to the walkway than I wanted since I was sitting and they naturally gravitated that way. When I realized this, it had started to rain on me (which felt wonderful!) and Mike tried to comfort me by telling me we could always pick up another flat of these and plant another row in between the purple ones and the orange ones to even it out. The thought of digging 24 tiny holes again is not appealing.

Then the rain came and it forced us to stop right before I collapsed. Though the weather didn’t let us put our patio furniture together, at least it held off long enough to get some gardening done and give our new plants a nice watering! πŸ™‚

The 100th post!

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Posted by Rebecca, January 13th, 2011

Today is a milestone for my little bloggy, this is my 100th post! Cue the balloon drop! Okay I don’t have a balloon drop, but I do have this video I found of the parade through the Magic Kingdom in Disney…

YouTube Preview Image

This song has been in our heads for a week. Though I didn’t know the words were “Celebrate a dream come true” and I normally just run around singing “Celebrate da datty doooo”. I also perform the arm waving dance, which I did once while entering the Magic Kingdom and my beloved iPhone took a flying leap out of my pocket and onto the concrete. Mike told me this was a sign from God to never do that dance in public again. Luckily I can still bust it out in the house!

It took me about 4 months (of actual “serious” blogging) to get to this point. So I figured I’d set out some goals to accomplish by my next milestones. A list, shall we?

By my 200th post:

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I would like to have painted another room in this house. Whether it’s the office, powder room or master, within another 4 months I hope to have told you about some new color on our walls!

By my 300th post:

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We have been wanting to add some lighting to our landscaping since our yard is ridiculously dark at night. I would also like to change out some of our builder given landscaping with maybe some more hydrangeas. That is, if the two I planted last summer come back to life!

By my 400th post:

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I would love to have our master bedroom completely (or almost completely) finished and made-over. I don’t necessarily want it to look like this one, I just picked a dreamy looking one πŸ™‚

By my 500th post:

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A nice finished basement with a pimped out theater area. Mike can go crazy with all of his speakers and wires and whatnot, and I can get a couch with cup holders in it without feeling like I’m breaking a design rule…

By my 1,000th post:

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We’ve been dreaming up a nice backyard area for ages and well, this one wouldn’t be so shabby! We’re not sure if we want to do a deck, patio or combination type thing, so this project isn’t a big priority. Once we feel like we need an outdoor entertaining space we’ll look into it a little bit more!

By my 1,500th post:

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If you’ve done the math at this point, you’d know this one is very far down the line, but I hope to be able to add a nursery to my resume in a few years. I love browsing nurseries, they are just so fun and imaginative. This one is one of Young House Love’s great nursery crashes on Baby Center. Oh and with a nursery of course comes a spin-off blog πŸ™‚ You think that I’d dedicate a blog to my cats and house but not dedicate one to my future kids?

Hopefully I’ll keep up with some of these goals, at least the ones within the next year or so. It will be interesting to see how many posts it takes me to actually finish and post about each thing! Now I’m off to celebrate a dream come true by watching a new episode of Jersey Shore!!

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