Posted by John on June 2nd, 2013
So even though we haven’t officially hit the summer season yet, we’ve already managed to finish one of the projects on our Summer To-Do List. Our mailbox flowerbed overhaul is all done. Only thing left to do is water it everyday for the rest of my natural life. Yay!
Last week we showed you how we spray painted the mailbox and you even got a sneak peak of the planted flowers. A couple days ago I put the finishing touches in place by adding a little bit of weed blocking fabric and some black mulch. Here’s the prequel…
I used a flat edging shovel to remove the grass. This was the hardest part of the job.
You definitely need to use the proper shovel for this work. A regular spade shovel may work, but it’ll take longer and just frustrate you. Use a shovel like the one in the photo below. I bought that one at Lowes a while back. It’s a Kobalt brand and it works beautifully. When you use this type of flat shovel, you hit the grass from the side and basically scrape it off in sod-like chunks. The grass comes out in little sheets or sections, which are perfect for plugging any sort of holes or bare spots in the yard.
With the grass removed, I worked in about 3 cubic feet of topsoil and leaf compost that I had bought in bags at the nursery right into the area I was going to be planting. Adding quality soil will help keep the flowers alive especially since our soil is pretty much garbage. Now the ground is ready for the plants.
Time to stage the flowers. Lisa used the potted flowers and played with the arrangement on the pavement before settling on a layout. Then it’s just a matter of positioning the flowers in the bed and digging holes.
We chose a Stella d’Oro for the rear most flower since it has some height and blooms all summer. The purple flowers are Royal Candles Veronica, which are somewhat shorter and the small guys are Japanese Silver Grasses. All of these plants were marked as ideal for dry areas and a good amount of sun exposure. We don’t have a sprinkler system in the grass or anything that close to the road, so they aren’t going to get any water unless it rains or we water them ourselves. The rest of our flower beds do have a drip irrigation system hooked up though, thankfully.
We were also mindful of the height these plants will reach at maturity. We like the varying heights they have now and we don’t want the grasses in the front to tower over the others down the road. We don’t mind them growing, we just want them to grow proportional to their current heights.
We also tried to keep them spread apart. It sure looks like we could’ve squeezed in some more plants in that space, but we don’t want them to get overcrowded once they get bigger. Learned that lesson the hard way. One of our side flower beds is currently a jungle.
After I dug each hole, I would take the plant out of it’s temporary pot and slice off about half of the root system. I heard this trick stimulates the roots and helps the plant get settled into its new location.
When all the plants were in the ground, I used about a six inch wide strip of weed blocking fabric along two sides. I could’ve used more and really integrated the fabric throughout the bed, but I only have grass on one side of the flower bed. Plus, it was easier, it was 90 degrees out and I was tired and lazy. All good reasons.
Here’s what the flower bed looks like now…
Hopefully we’ll be able to keep them alive.
How was your weekend?
Posted in Outdoors and Landscaping. Tagged in ,flower beds, garden, Landscape, mailbox
Posted by John on May 20th, 2013
We’re back. Just had one of those weekends where we did next to nothing. No home improvement projects to blog about. No chores. Nothing. Watched a ton of Doctor Who. It was everything I hoped it would be. My batteries are officially recharged.
I’m trying to keep up the frequency of our posts, but I’ve been taking some extra time during the week to work on our new blog theme. I haven’t touched it since Christmas and just decided to start from scratch again. So far so good. I think you’ll like it. Keeping it simple. In any case, trying to keep three posts a week and make time for a theme build just isn’t happening. Working in web design or graphic design in general is not an area of strength for me so it’s mostly slow going.
In other news, it’s been a while since we’ve had some direction around here. We just got done a major carpentry project and dabbled in some concrete work. I think it’s time for a new to-do list so you know what we’re planning.
With the end of my spring grad class and the weather getting warmer, it’s officially outdoor season here. While there are still a good amount of indoor projects on our to-do list, the vast majority of our work plans are aimed at exterior projects.
Here is a list of the projects we’re planning on tackling this spring (what’s left of it) and summer. Most of these ideas are going to be relatively low cost. We were hoping to get started on a deck build, but have decided to punt that at least into the fall.
1. Clean and organize the garage. Our garage is the bane of Lisa’s existence. It’s dirty, unkempt and filled with bugs year round. This is now priority numero uno. In order to bring the garage up to something more tolerable, we have a series of tasks slated for this space.
-Apply another coat of epoxy on the floor
-Add shelves and additional storage
-Do something about our God-forsaken window treatments
-Add stroller storage
-Paint the interior door black
-Dress up the stairs
2. Flower bed fix ups. Time to bring these once proud flower beds up to snuff. Our front beds are in decent shape, but our side beds are overgrown and are in need of re-edging and some additional work.
3. Flower bed by mailbox. Remember this pin? We’ve been pining after this look for months. It’s time to make it happen. Hoping we can make a big improvement to a small space.
4. Add more exterior lights. One of our first posts when we started blogging was the landscape lighting we added. I’d like to make the exterior of the house pop a bit more and take care of some dimly lit areas. A couple more spot lights should do the trick. Oh and I need to take some quality SLR shots of the house lit up at night.
5. Drip irrigation. Also one of our earlier series of posts. I bought enough supplies to take care of the entire perimeter of the house, but still need to add the system to one of our side flower beds. You’ll get a refresher on drip irrigation installation. Piece of cake.
6. Add motion sensors to our exterior spot lights. Quick. Easy. Need to do it.
7. Shed flower bed. After we built our shed, I gave it a rectangular flower bed that wrapped around its three sides. Looks okay, but is impossible to cut easily with a riding mower. I’m going to reshape the beds to make this sort of maintenance easier by incorporating curves.
These last two are inside-the-house projects, but so what.
8. Family room trim. Our family room is big and plain (old photo). We’ve been kicking around some ideas on how to add some character and interest without breaking the bank. Keep an eye on our Pinterest activity in the near future for hints of what we’ll be doing. I’d ideally love to be done with this project before I start my last grad course at the end of August.
9. TV Console. Thought I’d be knee deep in plywood by now, but think this one may wait for a rainy day. See this post for more info on this project.
Ambitious list? Sure is. I work better with longer lists. Gives me something to shoot for.
What’s on your spring/summer to-do list?
Posted in Outdoors and Landscaping,Outside. Tagged in ,garden, Landscape, lighting
Posted by John on September 19th, 2012
Instead of bringing you a post on some of our latest outside work as I’d planned, I’m forced to goto Option B and discuss something else. I was hoping to come home from work and snap some quality photos of our mums, and the finished front door paint. However, due to some pretty nasty weather, those pictures will have to wait for now. So, onto Option B, What I’ve Learned About Flower Beds.
Full disclosure: Lisa and I still do not consider ourselves to be green thumbs. I think I can say with some level of confidence that when we moved into our current home, we had sort of a blackish gray thumb. Let’s call it a charcoal thumb. We killed plants. It happens. They just tended to die on us. We’ve since improved our game through many lessons learned. Our garden isn’t perfect, but I think we’ve learned enough to dispense some garden advice.
What I’ve Learned About Flower Beds
1. Curved lines are more attractive than straight. This one is a biggie. If you’re just starting to make flower beds, try to add some curves. Professional landscapers rarely lay down straight flower beds. Some straight sections you may not be able to get away from, but when possible go round or go home. If you already have straight beds, it’s easy to add some curvature. Just shape a garden hose to the profile you like and mark the outline with spray paint or a shovel.
2. Use landscape fabric to keep weeds out. Unless you love spending your free time yanking weeds every week, I’d pop for the fabric. It’s not hard to incorporate it if you already have beds. It’s also perforated enough to allow water to run through it. They tend to come in varying levels of quality identified by their life expectancy. I’d go with a good 15 year roll or better.
3. Add a drip irrigation system if you don’t already have a sprinkler system for your lawn. These systems consist of a roll of flexible tube that gets run in the flower bed. You punch holes in it or add nozzles and you connect the hose to a battery powered control valve/timer that sits on your outside faucet. It’s very inexpensive and supremely DIY. The hose can sit under the landscape fabric or over it, so if you already have an established bed, you can add this and throw some extra mulch over the hose to hide it. It’s a great way to keep your plants alive without having to water them everyday by hand. After all, these plants can get pretty expensive.
4. Add depth by planting flowers or shrubs with varying height. In my opinion, this is the hardest part of having a sweet looking flower bed. Staging the plants appropriately so they all show off their natural beauty yet getting the height and depth right to maximize the wow factor. If you stick with plants that all have roughly the same height, you could be losing out on some visual interest and curb appeal. We need to add a lot more depth in our garden. Right now it’s too one dimensional. This mailbox photo is from Lisa’s Outside To-Do List. We’re hoping to get to that mailbox project done in the spring.
I’m hoping to get some much needed outdoor work done before it starts to get too cold. This weather is perfect for garden work.
What are your tips or suggestions? Are you planning on any Fall garden upgrades?