Front Yard: New sod and edging!

Remember when we got a new backyard? Well, we got a new front one too. Yes, we overhauled both yards at once. It was awesome because I didn’t do a thing!

Waaaay, way back, our front looked like this. It was tree mania!

DSC_0176

Then it looked like this, with a few trees removed (like that hulking blue spruce):

locust_trimmed

But, there was still A LOT going on:

frontyard_sideSo. Much. Mulch. And the scalloped edging. It went on and on.

Our landscapers worked hard, even moving this huge rock stuck right in the middle of our lawn. It was the size of a Wee Little Amelie!

amelie_excited

She’s so cute. Am I right, or am I right?

During:

sod_prep1

Another angle:

sod_prep2

And After:

sod_front

Cleaner. Simpler. Greener!

A before view from our front step (from this post):

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And now:

sod_front2

The landscapers trimmed back the juniper jungle on the corner too:

juniper

Eventually, I’d like that taken out. This space gets afternoon sun and I am hoping to plant some peonies or hydrangeas here. Hydrangeas might be best since it’s such a large space to fill up but I still want to make sure the fire hydrant is accessible. Any thoughts or tips are welcomed! I’m not a fan of the pine tree but the tree expert encouraged us to leave it since it was straight and the biggest tree on our property. I find them quite messy with the needles and acorns and sap, though.

I’m excited to add color with more perennials. I’ve already done a little work out here that I hope to show you soon. I think I need someone to help me develop a plan because I’m doing this piece-meal and already have regrets over a few plants I planted last year. Oh well, live and learn!

Three posts in a row? This is not like me. Are you wondering if I am alright?

Back Yard: Perennials

Every spring gets me like this. I want to dig in the dirt. I want to plant perennials, garden, and fill my porch with happy annuals! Then I get overwhelmed because I’m barely keeping up with my To Dos on the inside of my house. I try to remind myself that a little bit of work outside each season will eventually add up to something beautiful. I’m trying to be patient.

Since getting our big landscaping project done last fall, I finally feel like this is the first year where I can actually enjoy planting and planning instead of spending the entire summer trimming back trees and weeding. You know, have fun instead of taming the chaos. Remember my monster compost pile from last summer?

compost

Whoa, right?

Want to see what I’ve been up to these days?

So, first things first. I’ve done a lot of clean up. As I mentioned earlier, I cleaned up the play area. Then, I donated most of the decking to the old hot tub to a guy that’s using it for his kid’s play house. So sweet, right?

Lastly, I also got rid of all of these patio pavers leftover from where the hot tub used to hang out.

patio_pavers

It feels good to be rid of it all and we finally have some room to play with. I’ve been aching to do this every since we moved…I finally planted a tomato garden!

tomato_garden

Eventually, I’d love to have raised garden beds and grow more than just tomatoes, but this is a sweet start. Considering this is what it used to look like:

hot_tub_mess

I’m totally thrilled with my mini garden. Plus, my helper is fantastic. We’ve already got a few green tomatoes.

garden_helper

And you know what surprised me this spring? We have a lilac bush back here, next to the tomato garden!

lilac

It was being strangled by the neighbors grapes and smothered by one of the trees, which later we removed after it had already bloomed so I never noticed it. Oh, it smelled so good!
lilac2Next, I addressed the side of my deck where my happy Clematis greets me each spring. Note to self, must plant more clematis. It’s so beautiful!

clematis

I added more Columbines and some fresh mulch. I’m praying they come back nice and full next year.

side_deck

I’ve got a few annuals on the deck, like basil…

basil_helpers

And pansies too:

pansies

I want to do much more – hydrangeas, peonies, clematis, hosta, maybe roses and a snowball tree. But, I’m also trying to be reasonable with how much more I can get accomplished this spring. I hope to have another surge in the fall and plant a bunch of bulbs but that’s always a busy time with coaching so we’ll see. I’m happy with the little I’ve done already.

Are you playing outside too these days?

Backyard: New sod and edging!

Way back when, I let you tour our backyard. Two summers ago, we made big progress by having a few trees removed. And just before Cade was born, we gave away our hot tub.

And last fall? Oh, I forgot to tell you but we got new sod, metal edging and fixed our sprinklers. Like, a whole new backyard, in fact. And front yard too but that’s for another day. Wanna see?

First, we got fed up one day took that walkway to Nowhere out!

remove_hottub

Then we hired help. The strongest person I have ever met, Ty The Landscape Guy, came in to finish the rest of the hot tub demo. It was not the easiest thing to do to dig out those cement posts. He took that job personally!

Our landscape guys worked very hard back here! There was so much scalloped edging to remove. So much mulch. So much rocky bumpy sod!

Remember when I drafted up this brilliant sketch for you?

left_side_yard_skitch

Well, we/they did pretty much that. Some of the old edging and mulch went back more than 15 feet deep in the corner. Here it is all smooth, getting the lumps and bumps out.

level_back1

And this is what it looks like today:

new_sod_back1

Let’s keep going, shall we?

My “plan”:

hot_tub_mess_skitch

Before:

skinny_stretch

During:

level_back5

And after:

sod_back3

Working our way around the back side, a Before:

right_side_trees_removed2

During:

level_back4

And after:

sod_back4

Remember our Super Slope leading out past the Dead Space Turned Play Area to the gate?

gate

It was all mulch and dried up leaves before. The landscapers smoothed out the slope as best they could and it’s much better!

sod_back5

We had some pesky vole problems this spring, because of course we did. Those little dudes sensed we spent a fortune out here and decided to kill a tree and make lovely patterns in our grass. Grrrr. Our yard could use some extra tender loving care. I’m hoping to hire these guys again to help get the lawn back to where it was and get through the summer and fall. I’m finding I need a lot of help in this season of my life. I can’t get anything done!

Next up? Hopefully a second round of tree trimming and removal. It’s coming along though, isn’t it? I can’t wait to show you the few things I’ve planted tomorrow. Git rrrready!

Hey, did you nod off?

Friday Tidbits

Oh dear, it’s been over a month since my last post. Are you wondering where I’ve been? Not really?

You see, Amelie started preschool last week. Her and Dad donned matching shirts for the occasion, of course.

preschool

She is in school for half days, 2 days/week. It’s been liberating for me to have some time to focus on Cade and do things around the house while he naps. But it hasn’t been an easy transition. Amelie cries at every drop off and it’s all sorts of sad. She seems to do ok after we leave but can’t wait to come home. Plus, she’s been sick for almost a month now. She has been sick so much this year! I sure hope this all gets easier. :(

I also started coaching five days/week. It’s wonderful and exhausting. My body just aches when I get home from practice. But I’m so happy to be back.

to_the_mountains

Can you believe how lucky we are to head up into the mountains on a regular old day of practice?

What’s tricky is my precious “both-kids-are-napping-time” only happens in the late afternoon when I’m at practice. So I am full on Mom-mode then Coach-mode then Mom-mode again, until I fall into bed promising myself I must find time to eat a decent lunch the next day.

In random DIY news, while Amelie was at preschool this morning, I worked on this:

disappearing_walkway

We have biiiiiiig yard things going down soon and I’ll do my best to keep you posted.  Who’s excited?

Home Sweat Home: Outside Front Perennials

Perennials! I feel like such a big girl now. I did lots of learning googling and figured now is as good of time as any to dive in.

It’s overwhelming but I’m reminding myself that this is simply an experiment. I’ll try a few things and then see what works. I don’t think I need a grand vision just yet.

We started here with a very busy front yard. Lots of trees, mulch and a few perennials too:

DSC_0176

We removed two trees and I weeded a lot but not nearly enough:

spruce_removed_skitch

I have big plans – namely removing the juniper jungle (also seen here),

juniper_jungle

cutting back the mulch and adding more lawn. But for now, we are starting small by adding a few perennials to the mulched section by the corner of the driveway.

front_perennialsCan’t tell what anything is because I had to take these photos in the middle of the day, with sweat dripping into my eyes because that’s when both kids were serendipitously napping at the same time?

front_perennials_skitch

The placement was random. I’m a thinker and Hubs is a doer so we plopped them in without allowing me to think too hard about it. I really wished we didn’t put the dianthus right in the middle since it’s such a low plant but eh, it’s in the ground. It would be better as a border. I’ve already learned quite a bit about what I would do differently. The strawberry plant, although beautiful with its dark green leaves,

strawberry

attracts bunnies and the fruit is nibbled off instantly. It would be better in a fenced garden. The asiatic lily, although stunning,

asiatic_lily

only bloomed once.

asiatic_bloom

But, I do love the Happy Returns Day Lily (as does everyone) because it blooms frequently. I’ll be planting more of those!

happy_returns

I took the earlier pictures a while back. Here is how everything is looking now. Look at the Russian Sage, it’s huge! I guess my pruning this spring helped. It’s a beast!

front_now

I scored the irises for free from a lady that was thinning hers out. I had been wanting irises so the timing was perfect. Nap time was ticking away so I quick googled how to plant them because I know nothing. There was an empty spot where we removed the young silver maple tree:

before_iris

I probably planted them too close but it’s difficult to dig through the mulch, sheet block, roots, stiff clay and rocks. I need a tiller but who has time for that? I’m praying they take root in spite of my amateur gardening.

after_iris2

Up close:

after_iris1

The second batch is looking especially sad but I’m hoping one or two survive. Forgive the lighting, the sun was setting and casting a gorgeous pink glow on everything:

iris

Up close:

iris_upclose

I planted a spirea on the corner and it’s barely clinging to life:

spirea

In July, I got overzealous and bought a few echinacea and phlox:

coneflower_phlox

I planted them on either side of our sage (which I trimmed back because it was overflowing onto the sidewalk). They don’t look so healthy now:

phlox_echinacea

And after weeks of slowing dying in their pots because summer busy hit me like a freight train, I finally planted the remaining two out back where our hot tub used to sit. They have lots of company with the weeds!

echinacea_phlox

I have serious doubts they’ll live but at least I tried! Plus, it was good Mommy-Daughter time planting these together. She stacked the bark on the top. 😀

amelie_helper

I know I was supposed to only talk abut the front yard but eventually, this will be an amazing place for a garden! Wouldn’t it be a pretty corner with raised garden beds surrounded by echinacea and shasta daises?

Anyway, the summer is closing in on me fast so I think I’ll focus on maintaining what I have before diving in any deeper. Along with adding a few perennials, I have been in major cleanup mode. I’ve trimmed, weeded and raked so much that our compost bin has no hope of keeping up! There is still much to do but I’m trying to make progress when I can. It’ll be fun to take a peek at this post next year and see what actually survived!

Our neighbor graciously gave us a tour of his beautiful backyard and it has Hubs and I very inspired. His lawn is lush and he has roses, peonies and raised garden beds! I wish I could wave a magic money wand and have someone come do the work for us while I drink iced coffee. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Friday Tidbits

We had lots of family in town for the 4th and everyone is worn out! Worn out in a good way but still a very a worn out way.

Remember when I prettied up our front door to detract from the peeling paint and mess of hoses? They look so perky in this pot MamaP gifted me many years ago.

annuals2

Until they didn’t look pretty or perky anymore. See, the blue flowers are part-sun and after a while the hot afternoon sun was too much for them.

flowers_door_orig1

They were very sad indeed:

flowers_door_orig

With company coming soon, I decided rip out the blue flowers and add more petunias. Amelie helped me pick out the colors; we added white, pink and a more purple to the existing batch.

flowers_door_new

I also snagged a used hose reel for $5 and while it doesn’t work great, it still cleaned up the space beautifully!

And now they look like this, just in time to greet our guests:

flowers_door_after

They are spilling out and filling in nicely, even though they are still a bit lopsided. I love them so. I know, they are just petunias, nothing fancy here, but they add some happy to my sad front step which is a very good thing since our guests had to walk by this compost pile to get there:

compost

And another riveting post has ended so you can charge into the weekend inspired. You’re so totally super welcome.

 

Friday Tidbits

You guys, for the first time in months (!!!) Amelie slept through the night with no coughing!

And then today? Both kids napped…AT THE SAME TIME. It was only an hour but that hour was so deliciously exciting, I almost peed myself. I was starting to worry Amelie was done with naps for good – she has taken only a handful in the last few weeks.

I weeded and worked on a project for the kids, which I’m hoping to finish soon. I’m excited to show you…

How about I show you this pretty little thing instead? My new bougainvillea

bougainvillea

A friend recommended it to me and I’m so glad she did. It’s gorgeous. I hope it survives!

Sleeping kids and pretty flowers make me so happy. I’m praying the snoozing and blooms continue.

Spring!

Spring has got me all excited. I’m excited to garden! I’m excited to plant perennials and work in the dirt! I’m excited to tackle both the front and back yards! But I have one very big problem…

I have zero time. Literally, some days, I have not a single moment of free time. It’s kids all day, all evening and most of the night – then with what little sleep I’ve managed between feeds and Amelie’s coughing episodes, we have to get up and do it all over again the next day. I’m so very tired. It’s not like every day is that hectic but it’s a lot of days. My spare time is limited and extremely unpredictable.

I need to be realistic. A glorious garden is not in the cards for me at this stage in my life. Maybe next summer! I’m going to start small and today I’m talking about our front yard only. Let’s back up to see what we’re working with, ok?

Last summer, we removed a huge roof-hugging spruce tree on the right side of the house:

mammoth_treeAnd after:

spruce_removed_skitch

A close up of this space:

spruce_removed2And from this past weekend:

side_alley

I got to work. Luckily, I had an adorable helper:

bunny

There was years worth of leaves and trash back there so I raked, trimmed back the bushes, as well as removed a few new trees that were sprouting up.

side_alley_after2

I agree, it doesn’t look all that much better but the effort was there as noted by the two garbage bags of compost.  My plans for this space are to remove the rocks and old needles. Since this space gets a few hours of morning sun, I’m hoping to add new soil and some pretty perennials in the fall since the spring is getting away from me already. If you have any partial sun Colorado perennial recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

So, a little wee bit of progress. Amelie and I’ve planted a few annuals to add color to the rest of the front. Marigolds and pink geraniums:

geranium_marigold

The creeping phlox is taking over and makes me so happy! I love that little pop of pink everywhere!

Plus, petunias and I-can’t-remember-what-these-blue-flowers-are-called for the front door (to detract from the messy hoses and peeling paint):

annuals2

I have very sad boxwoods that struggled with the random heat wave in February that was followed by loads of snow in April and May.

bushes_before

I trimmed all of the dead off and I’m praying they survive, although they are looking mighty worrisome.

bushes_afterThat’s all for now. I have mowing, weeding and a few more dead bushes that I need to address (like this one by the front door):

dead_bush

It’s slow going but I thought this post might be a fun way to look back on the evolution of our front yard.

Has spring gotten you all giddy about working on your own outside spaces? Tell me what you’re up to!

Home Sweat Home: The Back Yard

A few posts back, I took you on a jungly tour of our front yard. Since that experience was so riveting that I’m showing you the back yard today!

Let’s walk out of these doors:

to the back deck:

MamaP helped me pretty it up with herbs and flowers! Plus, these lovelies came back again:

As well as Columbines:

If you look to the right, you’ll see:

As you can tell, our deck is big. Steroid big. Even though the pergola was shoddily built, I am so thankful for it otherwise the hot Colorado sun would be too harsh to enjoy being out here and that would be such a shame!

If you stay left, you meet (duh) the left side of our yard:

It’s not too bad but there is a lot I want to do here:

Our lawn is doing poorly. It’s rough, knotty and dry. We need to update our sprinkler system and bring some life back to this decrepit thing (same goes for all of our grass)! Although I love the shade, I want to remove the tree because it won’t always be small and as you’ll notice soon enough, we’ve got a lot of trees in this backyard.

Are you wondering about the aforementioned wasteland?

Here.

This has so much potential! Right now, I’m just confused by it. It doesn’t get any light so it’s not a great place for a garden. It might be a decent space for a storage shed instead of the lean-to we are working with on the other side of the yard (we’ll get to that in a minute). But, I’ve also daydreamed an addition of some sort: a guest house/office suite for the Hubs. Since he works from home, it’d be nice for him to have some distance from the rest of us. Now, I don’t know the first thing about additions. I do know it would be loads of money. We don’t have loads of money so we’ll have to do general cleanup until we can plan and save and brainstorm. Shall we move on?

Next to the wasteland is our gate.

It’s difficult to tell from the picture but our yard is seriously sloped down to the gate. It’s also surrounded by an expanse of mulch as well as years worth of dead leaves that you can’t rake out of the mulch. Because of that, it’s not easy to use the gate if you needed to. I’m dreaming of a terraced set of steps leading down to it… May one day it swing open like it’s designed!

Let’s keep moving around the yard. Yeah, a lot of the yard is mulch and edging. Oh, and those scalloped edgers again, sigh. From a Colorado native standpoint, it’s probably wise to have so much mulch. Colorado is dry and it’s hard to keep grass alive. But, it’s so deep (probably 10-15 feet by the time you get to the corner) that I think it looks awkward. I’d prefer more grass and beautiful perennials that don’t mind shade because the neighbor’s trees tower over the fence and block a lot of sun back here.

More like this (if you can imagine):

Are you bored yet? We’re starting to make our way back…

Same story for here, I’d like to reduce the edging so there isn’t such a small strip of grass between the deck and the fence. See?

And there she is. The hot tub. Blech!

Do you know how much it costs to run a hot tub? Many, many dollar bills. It’s not something you turn off and on – it’s ALWAYS running. I want it gone as well as the composite walkway (although beautifully done) that leads up to it and around it.

I’d like to see continuous yard. It’s hard to get the lawnmower over that walkway. Also, that lifeless tree needs to go bye-bye. I’m hoping to do that this summer. This corner might be a perfect spot for a vegetable garden…

Past the hot tub is a small patch of yard. This is the right side of the deck, if you can remember back that far. (This post is long, isn’t it?)

There’s not much to say here except there is a need to revamp those bushes and trees that line the fence and revitalize the sad grass.

Finally, we’ve come to the end. This is the last bit of yard before you get to the garage.

There is a sweet garden bed that I dreamed of growing flowers, herbs and tomatoes. Instead, to my dismay, there is about an inch of top soil and who-knows-how-much cement sludge underneath in the bed. Something needs to be done (eventually)!

At least it has been weeded, thanks to MamaP! I’ve done a ton of weeding out here myself, along with my MIL. The more helping hands, the better!

That wraps up our back yard. You made it to the end! I think a good goal for this summer/fall would be to:

  1. remove the dead tree by the hot tub
  2. put hand railings on our deck (this might be $$)
  3. fertilize our sad grass in the fall

The rest will be a will have to wait and evolve. I’m excited to get started!

Growing things

At our old house, I didn’t have a place to plant so I just potted a bazillion things and crammed them onto our tiny patio.  It was something I really looked forward to doing every year but I always yearned for a real garden…

Luckily for us, our new apartment has these cute little plots on the property that the residents can plant in!

It’s been a beautiful spring, so last weekend Hubs and I decided it was time to give growing things a try.  We went to Home Depot with a plan and $70 later, we got to planting our very own garden!

We planted four different kinds of tomatoes (YUM), an eggplant, two pepper plants, marigolds and stock (purple flowers for our patio).  We also got some herbs from my MIL in our Easter basket, so we planted some of them in the garden and started the rest in pots at our house (those have already sprouted – yaaaay).  We picked the middle of the plot because one side looked like it was “reserved” with old rusty tomato cages and the other was so over-grown with mint that it would have taken centuries to weed it out with our wimpy garden tools.

After I carefully planted the marigolds evenly spaced around the perimeter of our veggies, Hubs decided to go ahead and plant the last two as a pair.  See, in the above right hand corner?  I may have to dig them up and move them for symmetry’s sake.

Anyway, we are giddy, seriously.  Growing things just feels good.  We’ve noticed a little visitor has been nibbling our eggplant this week (nooooo!) but I am hoping the rest survive!  Any of you planted a garden this year or just grabbed some flowers to pretty up your outside?