Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Landscaping Overhaul: Part One

Where do I even begin the massiveness of the project we unleashed. With the majority of the inside of house  now at least up to livable standards, we really wanted to start letting our neighbors see our house as the gem we saw it 11 (*gasp, that many already?!) months ago. Last year, we did some real basic landscaping, but mind you it was still a ton of work. But this year, the gloves are off well, on.

We are about one third of the way done with all this stuff so here is the "part one" of our progress.

First thing's first, we had to get rid of some our overgrown plants. And believe me, there were a lot. I ripped up all the miscellaneous unidentified ground ivy plants that were taking over the ground and the basement windows sills. I also put some of my freakishly tall hostas and day lilies on Craiglist. Leaving me with a blank slate for some new flower beds. One of the ladies who took my hostas was actually very useful and told me tons of useful things I could do and know about the plants I already had. Thanks Kathleen!

Moving on to the back of the house. That is our future raised bed vegetable garden. Look familiar? It used to be part of the bookshelf build-in that was in our bedroom. We saved it only because it would not fit into our Bagster dump bags when we redid the bathroom. We upcycled it into something that could really be useful to us! The rocks are from all over our yard. Some were dug up last year, others were from the humps Max started to tackle (you'll read more farther into this post). We still have more rocks...

On the left side of our house, there was nothing to start with. Just lots of grass. Since I am moving the vegetable garden, the flowers it housed had to be moved as well. I took the irises and some peonies that were shade bound (they are supposed to be in full sun) and moved them over here. I still have to use the sod cutter to get the rest of the grass up, add landscaping cloth and mulch, but it is definitely a start.

Last year's vegetable garden has a different, more permanent solution. Max and I have no patio at this time. Something we are not thrilled about. If you can imagine it, since I didn't take a photo of the area, there is a blank space of grass to the right of this photo. We plan on putting our patio there. What about the former vegetable garden you ask? Well, we also plan on putting patio stones (or whatever we decide is best) here as well to use as a grill station/possible outdoor bar area. We would also like to thank my friends Kate and Sean for their free used gas grill. We were really sick of "tailgating" in our driveway. Not the classiest. 

Oh the humps. What not fun you have been. Well I guess they were a little fun for Halloween but mostly not fun. This project has been all Max's. Using just his brawn, a shovel, my little hand tiller and a rack he's been tackling these beasts. Many people have asked "Why not just rent a tiller or a back hoe?" Well it comes down to two things. We are cheap and we already have these tools. We also need the exercise with the wedding coming up.

They aren't done (there is still the top of them by the left of the photo) but I'm very impressed! Then the reseeding of grass and whatnot... more fun.

Looks way more even than it did before.

Lastly, for now, the right side of our house. It has looked like this since last year. Nothing has been done other than its been mowed over a couple of times to keep the weeds down. This side of the house faces the street so I wanted to get it wrangled. In this photo there is only one Green Velvet Boxwood bush and two hyacinths flowers. There was another boxwood but Max mistook it many times for weeds with the mower. RIP bush. The gray box thing is our air conditioner.

In attempt to make this a more symmetrical area, I bought two matching boxwood bushes (thank previous owner for not removing the tags so I knew the type). After last summer's joy of having to weed the front yard, I decided to try and help myself out by installing landscape fabric to keep as many at bay. If you have never done it, its pretty easy.

Roll it out as needed.

Use landscaping pins or staples to hold the fabric down.

If you reach a place that either has an existing plant or you want to plant something, tear an "X" like this to put the plant in.

Here are our bushy friends planted. Much more even right? I might buy one more to go on the other side of the air conditioner. I also planted dark purple gladiolus next to the house in groups for height and a couple of plum colored dahlias toward the front for prettiness and cutting for the inside of the house. I will add more flowers later.

I then mulched the area with the recommended 3" of Cypress Gold mulch. On sale at Menards for $2.49 a bag. You know what is better than a sale? A sale on something you went in to buy anyways and you didn't know it was on sale.

Starting to look a little more like a well cared for home. I think so! Hopefully we won't be the neighborhood eyesore anymore.

This is about one of six dead material piles. Yuck!

So definitely not done, but we've got a good start. Definitely getting our hands dirty both metaphorically and literally. And at the end of the day, we are both exhausted but with a sense of accomplishment. Feels good. 

What outdoor projects are you tackling this spring? Taking advantage of Mother Nature's early spring?

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