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It’s Fall Ya’ll!

27 Sep

I’m back with a little outdoor project we did last weekend.

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love the weather and the colors of the leaves changing.  I like that first chilly night where you can sleep with your windows open.  Plus, I love the fall Bath & Body Works candle line! Pumpkin Pecan Waffles – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? My whole house smells like waffles – it’s glorious.

I took a quick trip to Joann Fabrics to grab a new wreath for our front door.  I saw one I liked, but it wasn’t full enough. Cue the large bin of miscellaneous individual leaves and acorns.  I picked a few of those up (plus a fun pumpkin sign) and started gluing my wreath together.

Pretty right? I added the acorns and the honeycomb things.  Just a few details to beef it up.

The I moved outside and hung up my fun pumpkin sign.

Then the real fun began.

The husband ripped out the flower beds earlier in the morning and tilled the beds.  We had a nice blank canvas.

We headed out to Home Depot and picked up our supplies. (We actually did two trips because we didn’t get enough the first time!)



Mini Hay Bales:

We planted three Mums in pots we had used for vegetables during the summer, the rest went into the flower beds.  Then I just arranged, arranged, arranged.  I would move things around, stand back, figure out what looks wrong, and go tweak some more.  It took about 20 minutes to get everything just right, but I’m really happy with the outcome.

It’s like fall threw up all over the front of our house.

Fall – Nailed It!



21 Jun

Just a quick update on this lovely Friday.

The blocks have been placed and the beds have been mulched. The backyard looks like a million bucks.  I’ve been waiting patiently for my hydrangeas to bloom.  I would go outside and check everyday after work.  One day I went out and it was an explosion of color!

My Nikko Blue’s have bloomed and they are gorgeous. I’m just waiting on the white ones to get there now. I think I’m going to fall more in love every year with these plants.

We added a few small stakes into the Nikko Blue’s until the branches are stronger to support the flowers.  They were sagging a bit before, but now they look a lot fuller. I’m hoping I can slowly take them out as they grow.

Now if only my hydrangeas in the front garden beds will bloom. They are SO CLOSE. My huge plant (probably about 4 feet tall) has buds all over it. It’s going to be beautiful when it blooms. It’s looking like it will be fuchsia this year.

I think I am starting to have an unhealthy obsession with these plants.

She’s such a ham.

Happy Friday!

My fingers hurt…

29 May

We are 97% finished with the backyard makeover.

Even two days later I’m still so sore from digging, planting, carrying 40 pound bags of dirt, etc.  The joints in my fingers will never be the same. BUT it looks beautiful and that’s all that matters.

This is where we left off.

Fence was cleaned and dried.  In between the bouts of rain we were able to stain the back fence Tuesday night.

We gathered our supplies – Olympic Maximum Stain & Sealant in one Toner in Caynon Brown  (buy it here) and two large polyester brushes and went to work.

Here’s after two hours of staining.

We might have continued staining the side fence, but we ran out of stain. The back took an entire gallon.

So we let it dry, bought some more stain, and waited until the rain stopped. Weren’t April showers supposed to bring May flowers? Seems like Sub-Arctic April temperatures are bringing May Monsoons. It won’t stop raining!

The rain stopped Friday night and by Saturday morning everything was dry.

Here’s after the side fence was stained (If it looks a bit uneven – it is. I touched up a few places Sunday to make it more even)

Ignore the arborvitae’s thrown around everywhere. We were trying to figure out placement in very windy conditions!

With that done, off to the local nursery we went to pick up our tree (we put it on hold the day before), some additional shrubs, and flowers for the front and back yards.

Without further ado – here’s the 97% finished project. I’ll explain the unfinished business in a minute.

Working from the outside in we have two large green arborvitae’s on the ends (approx. 5 feet tall), with two fuchsia rhododendron,  two smaller arborvitae’s, then two golden euonymus.  The middle is our autumn cherry tree. She’s a beauty and we were lucky to get it since it was the only one left!

We added the rhododendron and golden euonymus for a nice bit of color and I think it turned out really pretty.

We lined the side fence with itty bitty aborvitae’s.  It ties in the larger ones on the back wall and makes everything look put together.

(Taken the day before. Notice the uncut grass and lack of bird bath)

I gave the bird bath a fresh coat of paint and it makes that back corner nice and bright.

That’s a bright blue bunny beside the bird bath. I am trigger happy when it comes to spray paint and I’ve never met a ceramic animal I didn’t love.

My husband’s pride and joy – his garden.

In no particular order he planted sweet corn, basil, cucumber, spaghetti squash, green peppers, carrots, broccoli, lettuce (two types), tomatoes (big boy, roma, and cherry), sweet potatoes, and zucchini.  We are hoping to live off that during the summer.

This is where the unfinished 3% comes in. My hydrangeas.

We dug out the flower beds (there were none before) and realized it looks better with a stone surround. We only had enough to finish one bed (while stealing one block from the border) so we measured, planted, and figured we need 10 more block to complete it. Another trip to Lowe’s is in the near future.

So after we level the blocks on the left, and lay the ones on the right this backyard will be DONE! (Oh yeah and lay mulch on everything)

Both beds have two Nikko Blue hydrangeas on the edges and one Incrediball Smooth Hydrangea in the middle. I’m excited about those. They bloom white and almost twice the size of your hand. I can’t wait. (Seriously – look)

So it’s a pretty dramatic makeover but we are really happy with how it came out.  I pulled out the patio furniture Monday night and cleaned it. All we need to do it strap on the cushions and finally enjoy the backyard.

Not too shabby.

Getting There

23 May

Despite the 36 straight hours of rain and a pup with a stomach bug who had a preference to only vomit between the hours of 1am and 10am we managed to make some headway with the backyard this past weekend.

First up – the shrubs.

We knew we didn’t want them in the backyard anymore.  They attract bugs like crazy.

The husband dug them out carefully and we transplanted them into a flower bed to the side of our driveway.

They got a nice trim and a new home!

Not a bad day for the boxwood’s.

It actually worked out really nicely.  We never know what to put in that flower bed, and the flowers we do plant end up dying.  So we needed something sturdy to hold up.  These shrubs have been thriving for the last few years in the backyard, so I think they are strong enough to survive a transplant and will continue to grow in the front yard.

Plus, it’s visually nice.  They add separation from our driveway and the neighbor’s yard.

I’m going to plant a few flowers in between to add some color and consider it a success.

So, back to the backyard.  This is what it looked like after the shrub removal.

Empty, empty, empty! A nice clean slate. Well, eh, not exactly clean. Take a closer look at that fence.  Disgusting!

So off to Lowe’s we went to pick up wood cleaner.

Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner. (Buy it here)

No scrubbing – YES!   10 Minutes – YES!

We had to buy a little sprayer to apply the cleaner.  We ended up buying the cheapest one at Home Depot the day before for $10.  (Buy it here)

Fill ‘er up and start spraying! It took almost 3 gallons to cover all of the fence. My only warning when using this product is wear old clothes (there’s bleach in it and inevitably it will get on you) and to keep a hose handy in case it gets onto anything you don’t want lightened! We had a small scare with our patio stones, but we got water on it quick enough so it isn’t too noticeable.

This is after the side fence was sprayed with the cleaner, sat for 10 minutes, and then sprayed with water.

SOAK IT WITH WATER! Just drench it. I would use the single stream on the hose first, to get off all the gunk, then use the shower feature to just douse it and make sure all that cleaner was off.  Plus, soak the ground below the dirt too so you can dilute the cleaner that’s run off the fence.

YAY and GROSS! I’m happy it was working and cleaning  so well, but gross with how much crap was caked on it.

You can see we dug the dirt away from the fence to clean because we want to stain as far down as possible.

Mid-spray of the cleaner…

Once we finished it really started to rain. So we packed it in for the day.

When it finally was able to dry I couldn’t believe how great the fence looked!

It’s like a brand new fence. I can’t believe how much better it looks!

There are a few spots where it didn’t clean as well, but that’s ok. (We could have scrubbed those areas – but who wants to do that!)  We bought a toner instead of solid stain, we want to see the grain in the wood, so a little color variation is to be expected.

We already stained the back fence – but I’m waiting until we stain the side fence to do a big reveal. It looks great! Can’t wait to show it off!

This weekend (if the weather holds up) we should be able to finish the staining and FINALLY plant some landscaping.




We are inching along … but we are getting there.

Until next time!

Upgrade U

16 May

Thanks for the title inspiration Beyonce.

This past weekend we took a big step towards upgrading the backyard.

When we bought the house there were cute flower beds around the fence line on two sides. Here’s a photo from our final walk through (Please note that all the clutter is now gone. I’m not a big fan. Also red mulch – gag!)

I liked the idea of them, they add some nice color into the backyard, but the execution was poor. There was no spacing between the flower beds and the lawn.

So we did what we always do, get the cheapest thing and hate it until we upgrade!

We bought the rolls of black plastic edging.

The stuff that doesn’t really bend, and you can’t get it in an even line if your life depended on it. It was a nice satisfying feeling ripping that out of the ground last weekend.

We lived with that for about two years.  Here’s what it looked like before we ripped it out.

Ignore the bushes, they are being trimmed and then transplanted – somewhere.

Also ignore the bird bath that looks like it’s dripping blood. (WHY would you paint it like that?!?!)  That’s getting a nice bright upgrade very soon.


We went to Lowe’s with the intention of getting stone. We wanted something to match what we had on the garden, which is on the far left in the photo above.  Well, looks like they don’t make the stone we used for the garden (we only bought it last year!), so it was back to the drawing board.

We both ended up loving the allen & roth Cassay low profile edging.  (You can see it on Lowe’s website here )


It was heavy (it’s concrete!) so it wasn’t going anywhere and it matched the length we needed.  So we picked up 50 blocks.  My poor car was riding low on the way home.

This isn’t even all 50…

So we worked from one end to the other, ripping out the old edging, digging a small trench to stabilize the blocks and making sure everything was lining up nice and even.

We liked it so much we went back to Lowe’s and bought 20 more stones to replace and expand the garden!

We are going to level out the side on the left, add some flat pavers as a walkway of sorts and add a few pots so we can grow herbs.

It’s a subtle upgrade, but it polishes it up a bit. Plus, it matches the pavers on the patio.

We bought 70 blocks for $2.52 a piece (they are cheaper in the store than online) for a grand total of $176.40.  Not too shabby.

Up next – stain the fence and add some landscaping!

Landscape Novice

29 Apr

I have a hard time listing things I’m not good at. No, I’m not cocky – I’m just stubborn. A typical Taurus.  So it is with great pain that I have to say …. I am not good at landscaping.

BUT – the good news is I’m studying up and hoping to turn our drab backyard into something beautiful.  Since I refuse to hire someone to do anything around the house that I’m positive I can do myself I’ve put on my landscaper’s hat and did some digging.

There are a few problems with our backyard that we have to contend with.

First, it’s small. Not tiny, but not huge. We need to make sure the scale of things isn’t overwhelming.

Second, there’s no shade. None whatsoever.  The only shade we had at one point was from a neighbors tree, which promptly fell on our house 9 months after we moved in.

But the biggest problem we have is this…

An unsightly neighbors home and yard. It’s like a dump back there.  This photo is a few years old, but it’s the clearest one I have. The tree that used to be in their yard masked the view of everything. But once that puppy came down we couldn’t believe how awful it was back there.

Here’s a photo from last year, you can see their landscaping is growing, but not fast enough.

Plus they have an above ground pool. It’s no fun looking out your kitchen window and seeing what looks to be a person standing at the top of your fence.  We need a bit of privacy – STAT!

In comes my landscaping research.  Trees and shrubs? Flowering or not? What hardiness zone are we? How much effort do we want to have to put into it?

We are right on the cusp of 7a/7b when it comes to hardiness so that made it easy to narrow down.

We both like the idea of a tree, it’s a small space, but since we have NO TREES on our entire property, it would be nice to have one. And name it. Yes, I’ll probably name it.

So there we have it – we are buying a tree, but what kind?!?!

I narrowed it down to a few different choices…

A Weeping Cherry tree:

A Cherry tree:

A Crabapple tree:

A Callery Pear tree:

Or a Golden Chain tree:

So many choices!  I think it’s going to be the Cherry or the Redbud. I like the idea of seeing a pretty pink tree out of my kitchen window.  We’ve also been floating around the idea of putting a tree in the front yard as well.  That will either be a Callery Pear or the Golden Chain. Both beautiful.

We’ll center the tree and put aborvitae on either side. We are looking for things that grow nice and tall! (tall green shrub like trees in the back on the photo below)

A few colorful shrubs will round out the back fence.  Maybe some forsythia in the back corner for a pop of color.

So pretty!

I’m also going to throw in some limelight hydrangeas along the back of the house. I think they will do great there and hopefully in a few years look like this.


Back of the house for reference. Gets morning sun and afternoon shade so I think it will be perfect.

I haven’t even begun to think of the front of the house yet! I need something that will layer well with hydrangeas (which are in both flower beds) and can withstand full sun. I’ll have to start doing more research.