“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?
Sometimes when a girl spends her weekend routing out 300 plus cuts into a mirror frame, she needs tackle a small project to make her actually feel like a productive member of society. Projects like hanging a pair of garden lanterns from a tree branch.
I picked up the lanterns from my favorite local antique store, the School House Antiques Mall. I think one of them was $12 and another one was $18 for a whopping grand total of $30. I saw them and instantly fell in love with them. I try to limit myself to bringing home only one or two items each time I go to the store and it came down to these lanterns or a bamboo chair. But since Colby has officially cut me off on chair purchases, it was best for our relationship to adopt this pair instead.
I thought they would be cute hanging over by the hammock and adirondack chairs, where we could add a couple citronella candles to the lanterns and stop donating blood to the mosquito hoard that occupies our yard.
It was a quick hanging. We simply tied some sisal rope (it was leftover rope from the pulley shelf project) around the lanterns and looped them around the lowest tree branch in the area. Then Colby just raised and lowered them while I watched from afar until they were staggered properly. Because everyone knows that improper staggering is a lantern hanging faux pas! I kid! I kid!
It’s kind of hard to see the green guy since he blends in with the trees so well. But he’s there.
Okay…now let’s talk about how difficult it is to find small, not already in a large ugly container, citronella candles. Seriously?! Where are all the basic ol’ citronella candles?! My intention was to light some bug repelling candles in each of the lanterns since they already had a glass container in them just for that purpose. I searched high and low for citronella votives and this is the best I could do:
But turns out, they don’t really work and are meant only for very specific Off lanterns. Whoops! #citronellafail Live and learn.
Pssst…Okay guys, where do I find citronella votives? Bueller? Bueller?
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!
In the last couple of years, we’ve really been working hard renovating the inside of our home. Which left us with a TON of projects and to-do’s left to tackle on the outside of our home. And the rarely photographed front yard was no exception. Other than fixing some peeling paint, attaching lattice to the bottom of the porch, and planting a couple of hydrangeas in front of the porch, we haven’t really tackled anything. But I have a reason for that…a legitimate reason…and it’s not shear laziness, although that’s totally a legitimate reason. No, it’s because of a little old piece of granite.
Yes, I am 100% blaming our lack of front yard landscaping on a rock. That’s just how I roll. And because it wouldn’t be a quality, Angie-style blog post without a little back story, here’s the story about the granite that’s in the middle of our front walkway. And yes, we call that broken up, grassy monstrosity of a mess a front walkway. Our poor mailman. Or poor Colby who has to mow the walkway every week.
A couple of years ago, just weeks after we paid a ridiculous sum of money to dig up our street to replace our sewer pipe, the city of Brewer decided to tear up the road and sidewalks to repave them. When they did that, they dug up the very large and heavy piece of granite that was embedded at the end of our walkway. A number of our neighbors also had a piece of granite like ours at the end of their walkways but no one else had theirs dug up. Just us. Apparently we’re targets for granite digging shenanigans. So they dug up the granite, repaved the road, repaved the sidewalk, and left the giant rock IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LAWN! Seriously! Five angry phone calls to the City of Brewer, all of which they either denied digging up our walk or said they would send someone “right over” to fix it, the rock never got replaced. Somehow, Colby and I managed to drag it over (quite painfully) from the middle of our lawn and onto the end of the walkway. We joked about hitching Goose up to it to see if he had enough pent up energy to move the rock that easily weighed 7 times Goose’s weight (a total of 350 lbs). We didn’t know what to do with the rock…we couldn’t move it, didn’t know how to fix it, and just wanted it gone. We even debated putting a “FREE” sign on it, aiming a video camera at it, and watching all kinds of crazies try to take the granite because after all, it’s free. So a couple years go by and we decide we need to do something about this granite piece. We want to start working on the front yard….prettying it up, building a brick walkway, replacing the stairs, and performing some general landscaping. But the rock had to go. So this guy showed up at our house on Sunday.
For you locals out there, that’s Jay who owns Clifton Holes and Poles and he is phenomenal! Here’s where our story gets even crazier. We didn’t call the guy. This is one of those I know a guy who knows a guy situations. One random evening we were talking to our neighbors up the street (for the record…we have some really cool neighbors…so cool that we willingly get together periodically to discuss the neighborhood goings on over adult beverages…our get togethers may also include fire). They were asking what was going on with the granite, we confessed wanting to get rid of it, they offered to take it. Our response…if you can move it, it’s yours! Turns out our neighbors know a guy with a crane who also happens to run a tree trimming and hole digging business. Doesn’t everyone know a guy with a crane?! Those are our neighbors in the background and their house is the white one two white houses up from us (one of the reasons I’m jonesing to paint our house gray…no more trio of white houses).
Out came the pick poles, stakes for levers, and polyester slings.
And before we knew it, the rock was airborne. And it didn’t even have to go through military training to go airborne.
Into the back of the truck and up to the neighbors’ house the granite slab went where they did something really cool with the it. While Jay was there, they had him dig a decent sized hole in the middle of their flower garden with that ginormous auger on the back of his truck. Then, using the crane, he placed the granite into the hole lengthwise, so the end of the granite was sticking up out of the dirt a few feet. It looks so cool and I’m kind of jealous they thought of it first and now they have our granite. Good thing that sucker weighs so much or I might have resorted to granite thievery in the middle of the night.
Anyway…I’m super stoked that the granite is gone and I’m already starting to scheme up ideas for the front of the house. I’m trying not to go too crazy (like paint the entire house…although I really want to) since we have so many other projects already in the works. But we’ll see. I usually pick my next project based on my level of frustration with something going on at our house. So if the walkway annoys me enough, it will inevitably end up gone.
Pssst…Who do you know with a crane? Or a big truck?!
And we’re back for the final installment of our fence building extravaganza and this time it’s about the ever important Goose gate. Since the most important reason for us building a garden fence in our backyard was to keep the dog out of the garden (especially out of the poisonous rhubarb leaves), the fence needed a gate. Whoomp…there it is.
Don’t mind the dirt on the gate. It has since rained for forty days and forty nights (seriously…we’re working on the ark) and all the dirt has washed away since then. For those of you who have been with us long time know that this isn’t our first foray into Goose Gate territory. A couple years ago, Colby made a Goose Gate for our deck so we could close the gate, open the front door and give Goose some indoor/outdoor freedom. Since sometimes barking at the squirrels is more fun out on the deck. It’s a rough life being a Goose.
So let’s get this gate building party started. The gate was pretty simple to build and probably took us all of an hour to put it together. It started with some scrap pressure treated wood which Colby built and screwed together into a simple frame down in the basement workshop.
The frame is screwed together at the basic, 45 degree cuts and supported by some small bracings at each corner.
With the frame assembled, outside we went armed with a small arsenal of power tools, the gate frame, and a pair of recycled door hinges (I believe they came off our old bedroom door…our wood/construction hoarding ways know no boundaries). Colby leveled the gate and tweaked it’s position until it looked level with both sides of the fence. Then it was just a matter of screwing the frame to the fence post using some long decking screws.
After screwing the gate onto the fence post, our next step was to attach a slide bolt to the gate because what good is a Goose gate if a Goose can push on it to get through?! Conundrums of a Goose owner. The slide bolt was something we picked up at our local hardware store for a few bucks (I think it was a whopping $3.50). To install it, simply place it where you like on the gate, screwing it into the place with the screws provided.
Then measure and mark the location on the fence post the bolt will slide into. Then using a spade bit that’s slightly larger than the diameter of the bolt, drill a hole into the post.
I think that’s my favorite wood working action shot to date! Photographer Angie for the win! With that, the Goose gate could finally be closed. Although, it wasn’t quite functional yet. Even with Goose on his run, he could still get through the gate. Operation fencing time.
Just like how we installed the fence pickets on the meat of the fence, we installed the pickets on the fence gate. We simply tacked each picket onto the gate frame using a nail gun, making sure each one was level. And later screwed the pickets in more permanently with a pair of decking screws.
This left the gate pickets a little on the long side, just like when we built the fence.
We could have cut the pickets straight across like we did with the fence, but we wanted to try something just a little different. We were thinking of a curve. We figured that if we hated it, we could always cut it straight across afterwards. To make curve cutting easier, we whipped out a thin piece of scrap wood and bent it at a curve, making sure to line up each end at the same height on each fence post and drew a line right on the pickets using a sharpie.
Leaving Colby an easy guide for cutting each picket with the circular saw.
And NOW we finally have a Goose gate on the garden fence to keep the dog away from the plants. Our plants are thanking us for it. Especially since Goose’s favorite napping spot is on the radishes and hole digging takes place in the lettuce bed.
Although, as happy as we are to have the dog out of the garden, I can’t say that Goose is overly excited about it. He’s taken to finding the one space in the fence where he can stick his head through the it to whine at us.
And sneaking around the outskirts of the fence to bark at us until we let him in the garden. Hmmm…not so certain that we won the Goose-out-of-the-garden game. Poor Goose…he’s so sad now that we’ve put the kabosh on radish naps.
We’re loving our new fence and really wish we had started this project sooner. But sometimes you just need to live and use a space (outdoor spaces included) for a little while before making any major changes or commitments, like building a fence. We still have a few more things to finish on the fence, like staining/sealing it and planting flower beds in front of it. But we need to wait a little while for the pressure treated wood to dry out before we can stain it. We’re thinking towards the end of the summer we should be able to tackle that. As for the gardening part…I’m waiting on my momma to come down for a visit. She’s the green thumb in my family and has promised me some gardening help for my birthday this summer. Hint hint Mom…we’re ready for you to come visit!
We still have a few other outdoor related projects to tackle this summer. Since summer in Maine lasts precisely 3.8 days, we should probably take advantage of what few gorgeous summer days we get and tackle those projects already. Outdoor projects currently trump indoor projects these days.
Pssst…Okay, I have to talk about Design Star…I mean…HGTV Star for a second! I’m already addicted! I’m totally in love with Brooks, I think he’s awesome! And I love Abby too. She’s got this warm, eclectic style that I dig. Anne will probably do well too but I find her to be a little on the bossy side. Are you guys watching the show? Any favorites or early front runners?!