“First you must find… another shrubbery! Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery…” What?! We’re talking about shrubbery tonight on the blog so isn’t it a given that we whip out Monty Python quotes?! Anyway…we owe you an update, or two, or three about the progress we’ve been making on our front porch ever since we ripped out the windows (with intentions of repairing them). Since we snapped these pics of our shrubs back in late August, I think it’s time we got around to posting about them…and more importantly what we did to them. So let’s talk shrubbery, and the overgrown shrubbery around our front porch.
We had a bit of an overgrown shrub situation going on beside our porch. The shrubs have been a bit on the overgrown side since we bought our home. Fast forward three years and they’re even more overgrown than before. So much overgrown that they’re growing into the house. Case in point…the burning bush growing into our porch windows. Why hello shrubbery!
That right there is one of the major reasons why we have so much rot and damage going on with the windows out here (learn more about our porch problems back here). You see, when it rains the water drips down through the leaves of the bush. That water then drips down behind the sill stop, pooling at the base of the sash, and the sun never hits the sill to help dry it out. The bush had to go. So out came the loppers and down went the bush…one branch at a time under Goose’s careful observation.
One bush down. Which left us with two more to go, one evergreen and another burning brush. The burning brush on the right wasn’t as big as the first one I took down, the one on the other side of the porch, but it was also planted too close to the house. Same with the evergreen….just a bit inside (my favorite Major League quote).
So I chopped down bush number two while Colby took the chain saw to the evergreen. Apparently tonight is movie quote night…
It didn’t take Colby long to take down the tree. A few minutes and swipes of the chainsaw to take off all the low hanging branches, which exposed the trunk.
Then a few more minutes to chop down the tree at the base. Again, under careful Goose supervision.
And maybe, just maybe a bit of heckling from the pooch.
This left us with a few stumps to take care of. Colby did his best to chop them down with the chainsaw, but we still have a little bit more work to do on getting rid of them in their entirety. For now we’re left with some small, nubby stumps that we’re hoping will soften up and maybe rot a little over the winter and in the spring we can get rid of them for good. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but mostly it’s shear laziness combined with flat out just not wanting to deal with it right now.
It was when I snapped the following pic that I had that “whoa….what did we just do?!” moment. You know, that moment when you do something kind of permanent, you can’t go back, and it’s kind of major. Like chopping down all your trees/bushes around your house. All of our sudden, we can see the front of our house and it’s amazing! Who knew our front porch was so large?!
And stump chopping round two. Go baby, go! For some reason, that stump scared me. Maybe because I was painting the side of the house while straddling it and imagining myself tripping and impaling myself on it. Great visual, huh?! I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy.
With that, our house is officially exposed. As much as I hate to chop down plants, in particular trees, it had to be done. The bushes were damaging not only our windows but also our siding. It’s really not good to have your plants growing right up the side of your house. They really shouldn’t even be touching your house since the water damage they can do just isn’t good. So alas, down came the trees.
Since we’re approaching winter, yeah I said it, and our first frost is looming, it’s doubtful that we’ll be planting anything this year to replace the old shrubs. But our game plan is to try and finish buttoning up the porch windows and maybe, just maybe, refinish the porch floor and ceiling while we’re at it. But gardening wise, I’m already scheming of planting a few more hydrangeas and surrounding the house with them. The trio in the front of the house have done really well this year and they’re just so pretty. But who knows. I have
three six months of winter to change my mind.
Pssst…Any plant choppings going on in your neck of the woods? Or dog supervision/heckling?
When it comes to gardening, I really don’t know what I’m doing. It’s pretty pathetic. Hence today’s “Gardening For Dummies” post. So for those of you who are gardening pros (or novices since that’s a step up from a gardening dummy like me), feel free to skip on over this post and return tomorrow for our regularly scheduled programming. But today, we’re talking about how to start a new garden bed. When it came to planting the shade garden in front of the new garden fence, I called in the big guns, my mom, who helped me put this together:
Thank goodness for moms!!! She stepped me through all the basics, which we’ll get to in a moment. My mom is awesome! She came down Friday morning, helped me dig and plant my garden, and even forked over the dough for the plants (all of which was my early birthday present). Her only request was to do my homework and find a few pics of shade gardens that I LOVED! Easy enough. I knew I saved all those old magazines and clippings for a reason.
The area of the yard we were planting a garden was along the fence that Colby and I built last month. The game plan was to plant a multi-level, free-form kind of garden, full of perennials and blooms, which eventually would fill in and look super lush. There are two sides of the fence that both need some gardening. Fence stage left:
And fence stage right:
My mom came and helped me with fence stage right. We figured that it would be reasonable that we could plant the right side of the garden that day. Planting both sides would have been pushing it. So for the left side of the fence, I’m on my own. Hopefully I can survive without my mommy. But I’m planning on replicating what we did on the right side of the fence.
So here’s what I learned in our little gardening adventure (warning…this is super riveting stuff). Step 1…dig up the sod.
And no, it is not appropriate to just skim the top of the dirt to remove the grass (my old remove the sod method). You really have to dig into the dirt, softening it and mixing it, and picking out ALL of the grass so it doesn’t come back into your garden. And you see that little dirt trench? I learned that if you dig a little trench, it helps prevent the rest of the lawn from growing into the garden if you decide to forgo the garden edging route.
Thanks to a little help from Colby and the rototiller, it didn’t take us terribly long and the dirt was super soft and less clay-like. We also had to be super careful around the roots of the tree to be sure not to kill it.
Step 2: mix in some good, nutrient dirt with the lawn soil.
I even learned how to open bags like a champ…the stabbing method is my new favorite thing in the world! Pow, pow! It’s so easy to stab the bag and rip it apart than it is to cut the top off, flip it, and dump it.
Step 3: mix the dirt. Thoroughly mix the dirt. We used a potting soil meant for veggie gardens so it has plenty of nutrients in it for the new plants. AND it just looked so much better and yummier (for plants…not Angies…just thought I should clarify) than our basic yard dirt.
The next step was the best step…SHOPPING! We went to our local greenhouse and skipped the big box stores. While the big box stores tend to be a hair cheaper, their plants aren’t always as localized as local greenhouses which often carry healthier looking plants too. Besides, I would SO much rather buy from a family business than Lowes any day! What can I say, I’m a buy local girl!
After shopping, came lunch (obviously) and then Step 4: Laying out the garden.
This is important and also something I’ve never really done before. While the plants are all still in their pots, lay them out in the garden bed to get a feel on how everything fits together. I’m so glad that we did this because we learned that we did not, I repeat, did not get enough plants. We were missing a solid layer of flowers. So we went back to the store and came back with 8 more daisy plants.
And the final step, planting. I apparently skipped planting progress photos so here’s the final shot.
What you missed (again…riveting stuff here) dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s pot, remove plant from pot, break up the root ball some, put plant in ground (roots in the ground just to be specific), fill around plant with dirt, pack dirt around plant, repeat. And finally give the entire garden a good soaking. I’ve never done the breaking/scratching the bottom of the root ball part before. That was new to me. I typically just plop the entire thing into the ground straight outta the pot (I told you I was pretty special in the gardening department). But I guess it helps the roots break free and expand out into the soil to get a solid grip to hold up the plants.
So here’s what the garden looks like as you creep over towards the hammock (that Colby’s Grandma Barb made for us FYI….yes…MADE for us…she’s awesome).
See the random mound of dirt? That’s going away in fence garden phase 2. And I’m also thinking of continuing the garden right along into the curve. I think it will look so awesome once everything is lush and full and curved around the trees. Here’s a step back a bit with our lawn still under construction.
And even further back so you can get the full monty of our long and skinny backyard.
It’s hard to see the shade garden in that pic, but it’s there, trust me. As for next steps, I would love the remove the dirt from that hump, garden through the curve, and then also plant a similar garden on the other fence half. And it’s supposed to be super gorgeous and perfect gardening weather here this weekend so maybe I’ll get to it. BUT we also just bought a new truck so we’re feeling a little broke these days so maybe it’s thrifty yard projects for awhile since plants aren’t cheap! But we’ll see. And as always, we’ll keep you posted!
Pssst…okay pro gardeners, now that I’ve bored you to death with my “I’m a beginner gardener” spiel, what are your gardening tips? Feel free to share your favorite gardening secrets in the comments section!
We are WAY overdue for updating you all on the yard progress we’ve been making the last couple of months…okay…more like in the last month (singular). We have been yard monsters! We’ve been working on the lawn, building new raised beds, planting the veggie garden and even building a new fence with a Goose gate to keep him out of said veggie garden. Here’s how our yard is looking these days:
And how our yard looked just two months ago, before all the leaves came in on the trees.
We had a few raised beds that we built a couple years ago on the left side of the garden and some open garden space on the right side. And in a sad attempt at keeping Goose out of the veggie garden (since his run is tied to the tree right beside the garden) we stored Colby’s canoe in the middle of the lawn to keep the Goose at bay. We’re apparently a pair of rednecks at heart.
It was a good idea…in theory….but really wasn’t the most effective solution to the Goose in the garden problem.
So now that you’ve seen our
hot garden mess, I think it’s time for another Garden Hard post (read the first one back here). This time around, Garden Hard 2…the tale of the raised beds.
Endorsed by Martha Stewart herself. Not really…Martha has more important things to do than endorse our garden projects…like bake cakes for darling grandchildren, can raspberry jam with fresh raspberries from her farm, and turn the compost. Martha is busy.
After our last Garden Hard post, we decided that the next logical step in the “let’s create a SICK garden zone” operation was to build a few more raised beds in the garden space. So we dropped $100 in pressure treated boards at our local lumber yard and built a pair of 6′ x 10′ raised beds.
We’ve done the “how to build raised beds” tutorial before (read it here), so we’ll spare you another one. The only difference this time around was the size. We tend to subscribe to the go big or go home philosophy so we enlarged them just a bit and plopped them down on the other side of the aisle in the veggie garden zone of our yard.
Eventually we want to fill the entire space back there with raised beds but we’re building them a few at a time. Dropping $500-$700 on pressure treated wood all at once seemed a little crazy to us so we’re building up our garden in stages. We started with four raised beds that we built last year, the two we added this year, and we’ll probably do three or four more on the other side of the ginormous beds next year. And probably trim back the giant beds a little bit. After planting our garden, we realized they’re a bit on the too large side.
After Colby finished whipping together the raised beds (Colby whips together wood projects kind of like how I whip up bake goods…he’s a building machine!) it was dirt time. This year, we decided to go to our local landscape supply store and get a truckload of dirt. Smartest thing we ever did. It cost us $30 for a yard of dirt:
The cost is the equivalent of 10 bags of dirt from Lowes. Getting the same amount of dirt from Lowes probably would have cost us at least $100. But math isn’t especially my strong suit, especially at 10:00 at night when I should be in bed, so don’t necessarily trust my calculations.
Next up in garden bed goodness, the shoveling.
Goose helped. He loves dirt. Especially rolling in all the dirt. What Goose doesn’t like are the baths he gets after rolling in the dirt (see his foot prints in the pic below?!).
So that’s our terribly exciting, we built raised beds in our garden post that we have for you today. I feel like I should find $20 or $100 at the end of this post to jazz it up a little bit and make it more exciting. Maybe Martha really would endorse this project if I did that?!
As for the fence, I’ve got a great (okay…more like so-so) post planned for you later this week on how we built a garden fence. It was a doozy of a project and one of those spur of the moment, impromptu kinds. Those are my favorites! But seriously, who spontaneously builds a fence (as she points both thumbs towards herself)?!
Pssst…What have you guys been up to? Any spontaneous fence building? Or other spontaneous projects going on in your neck of the woods?
Occasionally, the Colb-ster has some pretty impeccable ideas for the blog. Creativity really isn’t his strong suit so when he comes up with some shear creative brilliance, I usually capitalize on that. In this case, we were discussing our gardening projects and suggested that I do a little blog series about our veggie garden throughout the summer and call the series “Garden Hard”, spoofing my latest movie series obsession, Die Hard. Genius…pure genius. Colby gives me an inch of inspiration…then I go and take it a mile…in PhotoShop:
I’ve never been so proud of my PhotoShop skillz in my life! Skillz?! Really?! Why yes, I thought that the Garden Hard “poster” deserved the bad ass version of “skills”. So throughout the summer we will be bring you lots of tips, tricks, and gardening goodies as we seek to tackle our veggie garden and (fingers crossed) not have to buy a single vegetable all summer. That’s the goal.
So let’s GARDEN HARD! Even though it was still about 28 degrees outside a couple weekends ago, it was time to start our seeds…inside…not outside. Here in central Maine, we’re blessed (the sarcastic blessed) with a short growing season. Meaning…we have to start many of our seeds inside. Since this is our fourth time around to the seed starting rodeo, we already had many of our supplies on hand.
I already had a mess of garden trays along with a little green house to store them in for warmth so all we needed was some dirt and seeds…about $40 worth of seeds and dirt. And I know $40 seems like alot in veggie supplies. I have a justifiable argument. I spend that much money at the grocery store on spinach and cucumbers alone…in a month. And we got enough seeds to keep us in cucumbers, peppers, spinach, lettuce, zucchinis, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, and green beans for the whole summer. So…many…veggies. I’m banking on us not being the first ones to die in the zombie apocalypse due to starvation.
One thing that I have learned in planting three veggie gardens so far…you don’t have to start all of your seeds indoors. Check out information for your zone, like when your last frost typically is, and then you can calculate when you need to start each of your seeds by reading the back of the packet. For us, we need to start our peppers early (the hot and sweet varieties) along with the tomatoes (roma, cherry, and beef steak varieties).
This year, we also chose to start our cucumbers inside and earlier than what the seed packet told us. We have had HORRIBLE luck with cucumbers in the last three growing seasons. Of all the cucumber seeds we’ve planted directly into the ground, we’ve only harvested about five cucumbers…in three years. So this year we’re starting them early and hoping this will be the year they survive.
The rest of our seeds we’ll start directly in the ground. So we filled each one of the plant trays with dirt, planted each of our seeds according to the directions on the seed packet, covered them with dirt, and generously watered our dear seeds. Then plopped them into a little greenhouse that we picked up from Lowes last year for under $50 (tip…they’re selling them again this year) and zipped them up. Two weeks later…our seeds were sprouting.
The mini greenhouse is great because we can zip it up, keeping the heat in for the fragile seedlings, and also keeping the Goose out. And we can wheel it around the kitchen for optimal sunlight positioning. AND when it comes time to start hardy-ing up the plants (when you leave them outside here and there to adjust to cooler temps than inside) we can just wheel it out on the deck. We love that little greenhouse, especially how it folds right down for storage.
So…how are our plants growing two weeks in? Pretty good…especially the tomatoes which are going gangbusters! I sense alot of salsa eating this summer…and tomato sauce canning.
The hot peppers…not so much.
We’re wondering if maybe we got a bad batch of seeds, or maybe it’s those pod dirt things (we did buy a couple of new trays this year which came with those “just add water” dirt pods…me no likey dirt pods!). But from past experience, it takes forever and a day for the hot peppers to surface. But generally speaking, we’re off to a good garden start.
Pssst…Have you started your garden yet this year? Any fellow Northerners starting their seeds indoors? Or Southerners already planting outside (deja jealous JoAnn…name that quote and we can be besties for life…I’m serious!)?
Pssssssst…So stay tuned for more in the series including “Garden Hard 2″, “Garden Hard With A Vengeance” (which might need to be about how we combat the corn squirrel), “Live Free Or Garden Hard”, and “A Good Day To Garden Hard”. I have a problem.
Before I dive into today’s blog post I need to explain the title and the associated Jeanne-ism. Jeanne is one of my co-workers, probably one of the loudest, and one of her top ten phrases is “succa-please”.
Passive-aggressive behavior at its most eloquent
Colby: Let’s just take one more lap around the Dick’s Sporting Goods hunting department before we go to Sephora.
It’s a phrase that’s used often when salesmen ask for help, when the shipment went wrong, or if Al insults her. It’s a classic, a staple in our office culture, and the office wouldn’t be the same without. Jeanne…this post is dedicated to you!
Get it? Good. Now onto the blog post. Are succulents out? Seriously! I went to two Lowes stores and a Home Depot and couldn’t find a single succulent…like these guys from West Elm.
I spent about four weeks searching out succulents in our area but couldn’t find them anywhere. Why? Why was a succobsessed?! Because I found this ridiculously awesome white, ceramic shell at a local Home Goods for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. And wouldn’t it be the perfect vessel for a little succulent garden?! We’re talking Brangelina perfect for each other!
But alas…Maine is void of succulents. Why you gotta be like that Maine?! So I settled for this little guy.
And planted it. And what-a-ya-know…I kind of liked it.
As for where it went…game day bucket go boom…we parked the shell on the entry shelf.
I love how the white shell makes for a trio of white “stuff” on the shelf including the Nate Berkus ram’s head and the white, textured storage box. Accessories are supposed to come in threes, right?! Now there are three white accessories hanging out on the shelf, which ties into the white crown molding and baseboards.
Now, let’s just see how long I can keep this plant alive. I don’t have the greatest track record. I’m giving the plant a month to live, plus or minus 26 days. Place your bets, folks!
Anway…I love how a simple little project, like planting a new plant in an unusual container like a shell, adds a little extra oomph in a space. There’s nothing like adding a plant to a space. It always livens up a space. I’m a big fan of a plant in every room. Even if I’m 100% incapable of keeping a plant alive.
Pssst…What small updates have you guys been making around your home? Any plant additions?