Garden Progress

We got a bunch done in the garden area over the weekend. After hours of back breaking wet dirt hauling uphill (harder than you would think I promise), I decided renting another skid steer was worth it to get the garden ready.

     Here's a before picture. The boys are climbing on the latest tree casualty. You can't see in the after picture below but it got ripped out. Dirt mound on the left got moved up to the top of the lot.

Thank you machinery for making things easy. Oh and maybe I should mention Cam who was behind it for the most part.

 Here's where I hope I don't get in trouble. We gave Cruz a turn driving the skid steer with Dad standing near by of course.

 You can almost see his expression in the picture. It was pure elation.

We got a trencher attachment and Cam went to town lining out where the fence will go. We trenched it all the way around so we could bury the fence a foot deep to keep out critters. After an armadillo got in my garden last year, I'm taking all precautions necessary!

Now I just hope we can get post holes dug and fence in before rain fills in the trench with dirt.  Garden is roughly 40 x 80 feet.


 (the rows are for being made for blueberry bushes)

Yard Plans

Sometimes, when Cameron is away on business trips I keep busy by drawing and planning. Here is what I've been working on:

This is the plans for the new cleared lot. The aerial view looks good but I'm trying to figure out lots of the little real life details. This is what I still need to figure out:

1. What kind of ground cover I will use between berries, bike track, and fruit trees. Our current lawn is Bermuda which of course is really aggressive so I won't be using that. I'm leaning towards Fescue right now because it looks good. But some other possibilities I'm thinking about for ground cover are are mulch, gravel, or a spreading perennial (i.e. wooly thyme).

2. What fence we will use around the garden. I would love, love, love to fence the whole yard and quit with all the individual fences but we found out to built a permanent fence to code around here it would have to slice through almost half the new lot- which would ruin all the plans.  Right now there are no trees up front and since it will be a while even after planting trees until we have full privacy I would like the fence to look nice. I love black fences because they sort of disappear from far away. And they just look better. It has to be deer, rabbit, armadillo, and groundhog proof!

For inside the garden in the paths, I decided to do a combination of gravel and bricks.  This is my inspiration picture.
 I'm pretty sure I will still do cedar raised beds, then bricks to edge the gravel. I couldn't find a picture of exactly what I'm going for but I know what it will look like in my head.

I feel really far away from the finished product but we are making some progress. Top soil got dumped last week.

Here is is after the kids ran all up and down it!

We have our work cut out for us!!!

Blue Sky

I've been wanting to get an update on here of rooms with furniture and new baseboards but I keep waiting for the day when my house is clean enough to have a photo shoot. Since we've had it done for almost two months, I think that's my wake up call that my house is hardly ever clean these days. We've been working on a few things to manage that as a family and hopefully I'll be able to show an interior update soon :)

In the meantime, we did do something major outside.
Our extra lot went from this...

To this...

Yay! I am so excited. I made a video so you can get a better idea.

More updates to come!

Front landscaping

I finally finished up the front landscaping. We were waiting for weeks for the compost to be ready but I couldn't be patient any longer and just got some from Lowes.

Before (pre move in)

A few weeks ago

Now - Juniper and peonies in the front (my favorite flowers!)




Last Year

I did end up planting some extra bare root strawberries I had in the front. They haven't been eaten by deer yet and they are growing pretty good for the 5 hours of sunlight they get each day.


No spray painted tree :)

Landscaping in the front yard- Part 1

This year, I'm beefing up my landscaping in the front yard. I wanted to continue with my original plan.

Remember this?

I added the landscaping right by the door and porch but so far, nothing by the driveway. So I wanted to cut out the herb beds in the front. But I decided the herbs weren't necessary (since I already planted them all out by the garden) and and wanted to incorporate more evergreens and my favorite flowers, peonies.

 Here's what it looked like out front a few weeks ago. Yes, the house is begging for a new coat of paint. But I have to be patient and work on one thing at a time. So landscaping first.
Here is where I started to cut out the bed.

The only problem was on the other side my flower bed would be in almost full shade because of this tree. It looks ok here but it was really a sad looking tree. We had to cut down a branch for the power lines, and another for the basketball hoop. And then Cruz attacked the tree with blue and yellow spray paint. Long story short, I decided the tree had to go. So I asked Cam while he was on a business trip if he could cut it down and he agreed. While he was gone, I got the pick axe out and worked on digging and cutting roots.
Cameron got home that night and on Saturday he was outside with his handy dandy chain saw. I was so excited I forgot to take any pictures of the take down. Bummer! To get the stump and roots out, Cam hooked the tree up with a heavy duty rope to his truck and pulled that sucker out. It was awesome!!

We were left with a huge hole and nasty weed grass so we decided to replace the weeds with bermuda sod. That required us to shovel out all the weeds and existing grass and level it out.

 Haha that's Cruz behind that giant sod roll.

 They were super heavy and Cruz just about fell over.

 Don't ask me what Kian is doing in the picture because I really don't know.

The sod is all in now and getting watered really good with all the rain. I'm hoping to plant the beds and then share the finished product next week!

New Sandbox

This sandbox has been long awaited by the boys. Long ago, Cameron found some deck timbers at the dump and recycled them by making a frame for the sandbox.

We had to wait until the french drain was all finished to be able to install the sandbox. After that project was done the first thing we did was laid down some landscape fabric. As you can see this area is weed infested! Grass won't grow here since it gets all day shade.

After the fabric was laid, we added mulch on the outside and sand of course for the inside. I had one request, and that was a lid to keep out rain and leaves. Cam and I settled on plastic with a wood frame. He came home with these Real Tree Camo panels. Sigh...

Sometimes, I let Cameron have his way. This was one of those times. Unfortunately, the plastic camo panels were a little filmsy (aka easily destroyed by adventurous children) so he had to sturdy them up with some plywood underneath. As a result, lifting up the cover and closing it is a two person job because of the weight. This kind of defeated the purpose of using the plastic in the first place but oh well. It may need to be tweaked in the future but for now it works.

The lid is at angle so the rain can drain off. See that thing by the door?

Cameron rigged up a towel on a retractable chain for cleaning off before coming inside. It's been working great. 

The lid hinges in the middle and leans against the house when in use.  The wood in the corners is a nice place to sit in case you don't want to get completely sandy.

This little girl loves the sand. If you can't tell from the picture she was really sad but stopped crying once she got to play.

French Drain

Last year in the spring, we noticed in my art room in the basement there was some moisture coming in after a big rain storm. After it happened a few more times we knew we needed to remedy the problem. Thankfully there is no sign of mold and we didn't want anything to start! After lots of research it looked like a french drain would do the trick. They can be as uncomplicated as just gravel to pull water away or just a pipe. We did a combination.
Digging down hill

The arrow is pointing to where all the damage is and the highest point of the drain. 

The builders of this house did a poor job grading the yard and one of the low points is that corner of the house. So after digging it out, we found the seam of the footer outside had a portion of the concrete chipped away from years of water damage. 
Can you see it on the right of this picture?

We filled it all in with a foundation repair concrete patch. It's still wet in this photo.

 The trench ends behind the retaining wall. We laid a small layer of gravel first, then a socked perforated pipe, then covered it all with more gravel.

Once our recent snow melts and the ground thaws we will finish grading the soil so it drains away from the foundation.

The digging was pretty much the only hard part. It was just time consuming. We probably could have gone a little deeper with the trench where the grass is because we didn't have much room for the sod after we filled it all in. Whoops! I'm hoping the grass will still grow over it :)

Sod back in place.

More landscaping

I mentioned in last weeks post Cam does stuff at super fast. It's definitely a good thing. But here I have some landscaping updates and no "before" pictures really.

Next to the propane tank, the previous owners planted forsythia bushes. They were literally 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It was difficult to walk around that corner of the house without hitting them. After a failed attempted to pull one out with the rope and the truck, Cam chopped them with the chainsaw.

As you can tell in the picture, the dirt area is how much space they covered. We gained back a ton of lawn. Unfortunately, the propane tank happens to be a huge eyesore. It looks worse than when we started so maybe it's good I have no before picture :)

We toyed around with the idea of a better looking fence around the propane tank. But we nixed that idea because we already have so many structures in the backyard. So for now I'm thinking a smaller plant to cover it would be good. Or at least something functional. I was hoping to plant some blueberry bushes here but it may not get enough sun. If that doesn't work I think we'll do some sort of ornamental grass maybe.

Update #2 is another chopped tree and more lawn space.

After the stump gets chopped down the rest of the way we will level out the last 10ish feet of lawn behind the shed as best we can.

#3 is more of a garden update. I've been looking for a natural way to preserve the cedar fence without it putting a bunch of chemicals in the soil and consequently our food. From web searches it seems linseed oil is the best thing. You can buy boiled linseed oil from your local hardware store but it has turpentine in it to help it dry faster. So not any more healthy than a staining your fence. I ordered this linseed oil from here.

 Here is a before. The fence is naturally graying and I don't think the oil will help too much with that but it does preserve the wood for longer.

Here is the after. I finished the outside but still need to work on the inside. You have to work around the weather as this stuff takes 4 days to dry!

Front Landscaping taking shape

It was finally warm enough that I got some shrubs for our front bed. Keep in mind it's still a work in progress but I'm happy with how it's coming along. There is a frost in the forecast so I'm waiting another week to get a few more things- a knockout rose which will go right by the entry, some lavender, and perhaps the strawberries (still debating this because of the deer, although I'm leaning towards just going for it since its so close to the house).



The background bushes are wintergreen boxwoods, around the tree are crimson pygmies, and the tree itself is an emperor japanese maple. I'm really hoping it survives in this sunny spot because it's so pretty in person. Once the other plants go in I'll add mulch which I'm really excited about. All that mud keeps getting tracked on the walk and into the house from little toes :)

My garden plan and Cruz's

Remember yesterday how I said the curved wall was good? Can you see why? Yes, It allows for an entrance and a place for the door to swing open. Also, plenty of room to bring a cart full of dirt or anything else inside.  "t"'s are tomatoes that will grow up the back fence. Solid line beds are raised and framed with wood and dotted line ones are just mounded dirt, no wood. The raspberries aren't in the fenced area because I don't think the deer will bother them much. I haven't planned were all my other plants will go because this is subject to change once the fence goes in.
 This is option #2 for the garden perimeter plan. Plantings would be pretty much the same.  Circles represent some kind of paving stones for in front of the door.

While I was drawing my plan, Cruz drew his. I think its so cute! Inside the large box is me in the garden. Then Cruz was nice enough to draw an extra garden (top) and to the left is our house. I told Cruz I loved how big my garden was compared to the house haha! Hopefully someday that will happen...

Landscaping Plans

It's winter but I know there is lots of work to do to get our garden prepped for summer. First of I needed a plan. I had a book on landscaping which by no means makes me a pro-- it's just something I find really fun! So I spend lots of hours measuring and finding out what plants I want to grow in both the garden and landscaping. For our new house, I'm trying to do a mix of edible landscaping and traditional landscaping. The lot we are on is only .3 acres so I want to make the most of every foot. We are hoping down the road to be able to purchase the lot next door bringing us closer to-- but not quite an acre. But I drew up this plan for this year because even if we buy the lot soon, it will cost a substantial amount to clear trees and put up a big privacy fence around the yard.

Our veggie garden will be fenced because deer are around everyday. So for the preliminary plan we are thinking we will do a stiff cattle metal fence framed with wood. I am hoping they don't eat the other fruits I have throughout the rest of the yard. Here are the plans thus far, which are definitely subject to change :) ...

The graph on the left is the existing landscape. On the right is the future landscape. Each tiny square on the graph equals one foot.

Here are current pictures of the front so you can see where I'm coming from a little bit. I will post pictures of backyard soon.