Entries Tagged as 'Garden'

Over the Fence and to the Lake



Since this is the never-ending project of the Summer of 2011 I think it’s fitting that I’m still talking about this after Summer has come to a close and Fall is knocking us on the head with cooler temperatures and changing leaves.

After the happy day when we finally completed our little deck building project we knew it wouldn’t be long before we needed to build a fence to completely close off the yard and keep a certain roaming toddler from exploring beyond the boundaries of the sandbox and going for an impromptu dip in the lake beyond.

We wanted the same railing design we used for the deck so it looked nice and put together rather than some messy mish mosh of randomly built fences. We’ve already got a lot going on in the fence department with two different bordering fences and in the end decided that consistency would be key this time around.

To keep it interesting and not to long and boring we added some dimension to the side fences by making them a tad shorter than the deck rail. We will still be able to keep roaming toddlers in but it’s not too tall to block your line of sight. We think the height variations will add some character to what otherwise would be one long line of railing.

To make the fence panels the guys assembled the shorter version of the deck railing on the floor before carrying it over to some posts that had been set into the ground. After that it was simply leveled and nailed into place.

I always find it amazing how the last step goes so quickly all of the preparation and hard work that went into this entire project and then a little leveling and nailing and viola there’s a fence.

Next came assembling the gate panels to block off the stone stairway we talked about here. Bryan made a a frame making sure it was square. He used a wider board for the top piece so they could add an arch to the top of the gate similar to the one already on the deck gate.

Once the two halves of the gate were pre-assembled they dry fit them into the opening to make sure everything was snug and cozy but not too snug, since a sticky gate just isn’t fun for anyone.

To make the arched top the gate panels were set on the ground. Using a string they made a wide arch across both pieces. It was a bit of trial and error at first with Bryan moving further and further out to get just the right amount of curve.

Once they had the desired curve it was simple a matter of drawing the line and cutting it with a jigsaw. Then they sanded a few of the rough spots down.

This final piece of the great deck project really brought the whole yard together. It simultaneously gave us usable outdoor space in our modest sized yard while making the above ground pool completely accessible from the yard and gave it more of an in-ground feel.

An added bonus is the yard somehow feels wider and bigger because the fence and deck defines the space into two distinct outdoor rooms. We now have the grass area up top to play in and the area by the lake for boating access while keeping little one safe and confined.

The gate arches are my favorite custom touch in the yard so far. They add so much interest to all of the other straight lines on the deck and fence.

It’s come a long way since we inherited the yard from the previous owners. We still have so many plans to finish off the yard and fix up the area by the lake that now has all that white stone.

So what’s next you ask? Well, we still need to stain and protect the entire fence. Do you ever have a project you dread before you start it? I’m kind of feeling that about the prospect of staining this monster.

A Little Mulch Goes a Long Way



After we finished our new little garden we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to stay looking footloose and weed free for very long.

Within a matter of weeks it quickly went downhill from looking like this all neat and tidy with freshly raked dirt and our cute new plants.

To this hot mess full of crab grass and other unnameable things with roots reaching so deep you envision someone in China pulling on the very same weed.


We were losing the weed battle, definitely not the look we were going for. We knew it was about time to get our mulch on. I’ve always loved mulch since I was a kid…yeah I’m weird like that. I also loved watching This Old House with my Dad on Saturday afternoons when I was little,  go figure.

We went off to Home Depot and got a bunch of bags of black mulch, and gathered newspapers from the recycling pile. A long time ago we read somewhere that newspapers make a fantastic weed barrier instead of the usual black plastic.  We’ve used it as our go-to weed barrier in planting beds for years. It withholds light stopping the weeds from growing while allowing moisture to penetrate to the soil.

The newspaper holds up surprisingly well with mulch on top which is also a natural weed barrier giving you an added layer of protection in garden beds while being completely biodegradable and the best part is it’s absolutely free since we just save a bunch of Sunday newspapers as we go and use them when we’re about to mulch the gardens.

I basically worked my way around the garden laying out the newspaper 2 to 3 sheets thick overlapping the edges to ensure full coverage, luckily this day it wasn’t windy so there was no running around like a crazy person holding the edges of the paper down. A smarter person on a windy day may want to dampen the newspaper slightly to keep it from flying about. But that’s just if you’re smarter than I am.

Once the newspaper weed barrier was in place we began spreading the mulch in around the garden in sections about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep.

Making sure to wear gloves since the dye used in black mulch tends to rub off of the mulch but sticks to your hands permanently, so unless you’re going for the black dye covered hands look gloves are probably your best option.

After a quick couple hours the garden was in tip top shape again. We’re really happy with how this little project turned out.

We went from this

To this.

I’m really liking how neat and tidy it all looks again and how much more vibrant to colors of the flowers are against the black background of the mulch.  We’re totally please with house this turned out and it was super cheap too. The mulch was around $3.50 a bag and we used about 6 bags for this little garden. The newspaper was free since we saved it from the recycling bin. So we brought about this dramatic change and time saving weed control not too mention our plants love the added moisture for around a whopping $21.00.

Weekend Garden Shopping



We were hard at work adding some interest to our long gray privacy fence around the lake this weekend. We started the shoveling, wheelbarrow, and dumping gray privacy fence fixing up adventure (where say that 3 times fast)  here if you want to take a look at it in all it’s former ugliness.

Short of tearing down the 100+ ft fencing and starting over with some new pretty fencing (we’re ambitious but not weekend psychotic). We planned to create some interest and break up the long expanse of wood with some serious greenery. We’re talking shrubs, perennials all sorts of flowering goodness kind of things.

We had a few ideas going into this project of what we wanted to put there. We planned to add a couple taller shrubs to flank the gate into our yard, visually defining an entrance into our secret garden beyond. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked down the road, looked for the gate in the wrong spot almost walked into the fence panel…awwwwkkkwwwarrrd! It’s one of those oh geez I hope nobody saw that type moments where you brush yourself off and act like nothing happened. Hopefully flanking the gate with some shrubs with define the space enough to thwart even my clumsiness. Back to the plants, we also plan to reuse some Tiger Lilies and Hostas we had in another part of the yard as well as purchase some ornamental grasses and some flowers for color.

So it was about time we made our way to our good old garden lot to take a look and see what we could find. We ended up going home with a truckload of stuff thanks in no small part to my parents the garden lovers, but not before drooling over all the the gorgeous options available.

Plants as far as the eye can see. I wanted to take them all home.

These rhododendrons looked fantastic in the mass grouping. They were in full bloom purple glory. I can never get enough. I love spring bloomers, the only disappointment I ever feel from them is how short lived spring blooming flowers are. I just wish they bloomed year round. Now that would be something.

Hydrangeas are one of my personal favorites. Their classic beauty is undeniable. I always envision and English country garden when I think of their country cottage elegance. Ranging in color from blue to purple to pink (depending upon the acidity level of the soil they are planted in) these are a must have in my yard. I also love a dried arrangement of Hydrangeas in the house through the winter months to remind you of their summer glory.

The large leaves of the Caladium are such a beautiful way to add summer color and texture to the garden. I especially like to use Caladium as part of a potted plant arrangement.

I have always, always, ALWAYS wanted large potted palm trees in the yard for summer. Nothing says resort living  like having potted palms shading you as you sit by the pool drinking fruity cocktails under their shade.

Weeping Birch tress are just lovely. I have a particular fondness for the them because we used to have one that sat outside our kitchen window in the house I grew up in. I have such lovely childhood memories of that tree and that house :-). I think I’ll have to get me one of those someday soon.

And last but not least the Gerber Daisy. These flowers always make me smile. These will be going in some pots at my house some day soon.

So there’s some of our the finds from these weekends plant shopping extravaganza. We brought home a whole truckload of beauties and we’ll be planting away. We’ll post some picks later this week of our Outdoor spruce up projects. Until then happy gardening!

How does your garden grow?



After we bought our Lake House back in November of 2009 the first change was refinishing the beautiful hardwood flooring that existed under the dingy white carpet. You can read about that in The first change and in Fun times in floor refinishing.

Once the winter had passed and we started to come out of hibernation we began to focus our attention on the greater outdoors. First stop, the garden in the back of the house…or should I say the front? Lake houses have peculiar way of the back facing the road (what would usually be considered front) and the front facing the lake.

Our yard slopes downward towards the lake so the key to creating nice areas to plant and relax is in the creation of levels  or rooms within the yard.  The entire plan is for the first level to be the decks and top gardens, the second level include the grassy area, horseshoe pits and vegetable garden, the third level will include steps to a deck surrounding the above ground pool, the fourth and final level will focus on the lake some shade structures and possibly some kind of tiki bar and seating (fingers crossed).

We started by laying out the new first level garden,  cutting in a straight line and removing the grass that was in the area now designated as garden space. Due to the slope of the yard we knew we wanted a raised bed suitable for plants and to make it more visually appealing by breaking up the space.

The idea cornerstone for the raised bed began with a large flat rock that was lying in the garden. It took some elbow grease, a couple of shovels, a pry bar, 2 men and some determination to move into place.

Once all the rocks were in place we had the basis for our raised garden bed and first level of plantings.

With the help of a few trips to the garden store our first garden redo looks like this!

We used the original shrubs that were already there moving the burning bush to the front right corner. We bought some additional Plants to fill in the space.

You can see a breakdown of the plants outlined below.

Plants above: 1. Maiden Grass; 2. Cotoneaster; 3. Azaela; 4. Hostas; 5. Burning Bush; 6. Shrub Roses; 7. Begonias; 8. Geranium; 9. Hydrangea.

Product roundup: Copper outdoor accessories



The use of copper can be traced back some 10,000 years to some of the most ancient civilizations in the world, It has been associated with the mythological goddesses Aphrodite and Venus. So, as spring draws near I’m focusing my attention for the very first product guide on 10 outdoor items with a touch of copper.  Depending on how it’s finished copper can vary from bright and shiny to rough and rustic. But,you can be sure no matter how it’s presented  it’s lustrious beauty will liven up any outdoor space.

Images above: 1. Classic Copper Window Box $198; 2. Copper Bucket $229; 3. Outdoor Copper Firepit $299; 4. Sailboat Weathervane $131; 5. Pisa Copper Oil garden Torches $79.50 for 2: 6. Copper Patio Heater $297; 7. Copper Hose Holder $52.99; 8. Copper Garden Gate $399; 9. Copper Planter $49.99; 10. Copper Wall Clock

* Amazon affiliate links are used within this post
*** I have not necessarily purchase or used any of the above products and do not make any representation as to their quality or to the repubality of the merchants  linked above.
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