Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break Project #2: Landscaping & Clean Up

My father-in-law Dan came up to visit yesterday and today. He also helped us to landscape our ugly front yard. We worked on the front yard on Monday and we cleaned out the back yard today. Here are some before shots of the front yard.

I know that it looks like we are messy people but I promise you that we aren't that bad. So here is the basic overview of issues that needed to be addressed (and still need to be addressed):
  • Peach colored house | One day we will repaint the house but not for awhile. I am still debating on colors. Gray with a yellow door sounds nice but also pretty trendy. I don't want to paint the house and then have to repaint in a few years/months when the color becomes unpopular.
  • Mailbox featuring a gold eagle | I am thinking about nixing the mailbox altogether. We do have a mail slot in the front door that is under utilized. Not sure what the dog would do to the mail though. Maybe hang a basket under the slot on the inside of the door?
  • Dead motion sensor light | More on that later.
  • Stuck window upstairs | The master bedroom window will. not. open. What a fire hazard! It was basically broken when I moved in because, hey, who replaces glass with plexiglass in a window?  The window used to open until the plexiglass became unglued and got wedged somehow. This will need to be replaced down the line.
  • Ugly black tubes | Not sure what they are called but they are the big, ridged, plastic tubes that transport water away from the house. More on this later.
  • Dying hydrangeas | Dan and I planted these last summer. Two of the three mini hydrangeas were not doing too well due to too much sun. More on this later.
  • Visible garbage | Yes, our house looks like a dump. More on this later.
  • Giant dent | A few months back a neighbor who lives three townhouses down had a massive fire. It was pretty scary. Anyways, the fire chief guy parked his giant fire chief SUV on the corner of my lawn. When he left, he also left me a giant dent. Perfect place for a bush? More on this later.
  • Screen door | It looks weird white when my door is black. I am thinking of spraying it black too. Thoughts? I would also like to figure out how to install a screen instead of glass in that window. Did you also notice that the screen door is framed smaller than the front door? Well if you didn't notice, now you know. That's weird too.
Well, there you have it. The running list of homeownership issues. So Dan and I took a trip to Lowes to get inspired. And spend money. Here is our loot:

I found some awesome azalea bushes with pretty white flowers for only $2.50 per pot! I hope they survive! Even though the label says shade and morning sun only, Dan assured me that they are pretty hardy plants and should do fine in my front yard, which features hot afternoon sun. I also found some pretty sweet curly decorative grass. It should grow to be about 24 inches high and wide. I love the texture! It was a bit pricey at almost $7 per pot but since I was only getting three, I didn't feel that bad. Plus it is an investment, right? All this stuff will come back every year. No need to buy more next year!

We also picked up a 50 foot hose, some gates and metal pieces (more on that later!), fertilizer for my sad, sad grass, plastic edging (at $1.30 per foot!), NINE BAGS of mulch (I thought that was pretty excessive but we ended up with only 2 bags left over) and a forsythia tree/bush/thing. I didn't take too many pictures of the loot because Dan started working almost immediately so I figured I should help out too. 

We started with the corner where the fire chief dented my lawn. Here are some close ups of that oh so wonderful dent:

Since this ground is always in sun, it was pretty dry. And hard. We realized after the fact that it would have been easier to wet the ground first. Oh well. I have to admit that I was very little help with the digging. This ground was like solid rock! I was also thoroughly grossed (and kind of entranced) by the fact that we disturbed an ant hill and everything was covered in ants. It was like moving sprinkles. Anyways, the area got dug. Dan showed me how to loosen the roots of the forsythia, how to plant it at the correct level and how to fill the hole with water before filling it back in with dirt. Who would have known? I am positive he showed me this last year regarding the sad, sad hydrangea bushes but I forgot.

Woohoo! Much better, right? We went with the large pieces of mulch for more texture. We also found some daffodil bulbs against the side of the house which we moved to here where they would get more sunlight. Actually, let's be honest here. Dan found the daffodil bulbs. I thought it was onion grass. Did you know daffodils will spread? 

So this is where we planted the forsythia bush. It should flower in two years. That is a long time to wait for my yellow blooms! As for care, it will need to be watered 2-3 times per week this summer, until it gets more established. 

Note the lights. My awesome solar powered lights from... the Dollar Tree! They actually work pretty well and I much prefer paying $1 each over the $2 and up at any other store. I am not sure how long they will last but for now they do the trick!

Oh and those weeds you see in that circle in the sidewalk? Don't worry, those will soon disappear. I just sprayed them with weed killer.


We have a real "adult" house now! When we dug up this area, we dug a little deeper under where the black tubes are. This way they sink a little more into the ground to be a little less visible. We also covered them in mucho mulch. 

We moved the hydrangea bushes to a more shady area and planted the azalea bushes and curly grass. Isn't this curly grass just so awesome? 

I also dug up some hyacinth (I think!) bulbs that were growing randomly around the front yard and planted them together in the corner. You can't see them yet but they will bloom again next spring. You also can't see them because my neighbor chopped off the tops of them with his lawn mower. 

We went for the plastic edging. It came to $1.30 per foot which is not too shabby. The brick/stone edgers we looked at were pretty pricey, the cheapest being $1.70 per foot. Yikes; that adds up fast!

And those random gate pieces we bought? We constructed two little boxes to disguise the trash can and recycling bin. Nice right? The other option was to build something which would have been more work. The white gates were $25 each and the black metal pieces were only $10 each. When we first put the white gates in, I was a bit concerned because they looked a lot to me like twin headboards! They turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself. Much better than all that trash visible, right?

So all that was done yesterday. We were pretty much done by the time Todd got home around 3:30-4 pm (I think). We started around 10:30 and that included our Lowes trip and lunch. 

Today we made another Lowes trip. Dan was so super nice and gifted us this new light fixture for the front stoop. Well before I show you that, let me show you the before:

It wouldn't have been too bad if it had worked. But it didn't. So Dan and I chose another motion sensor light that looks a whole heck of a lot classier. And fits with our landscaping. Voila!

I had no part in this besides helping select the fixture and turning off and on the breakers. I know installing light fixtures is really not that hard but I am still pretty scared to do it. Electrical and plumbing stuff just kind of freak me out. But now we can come home at night and see where we are going! 

We also cleaned out the back yard. It looked worse than the front yard, if you can believe that. It was covered in junk. Todd had already made several trips this year to the dump but... I just keep chucking stuff back there. Oops.

Dan helped me to carry out all the remaining junk. I dragged everything out of our nasty shed (if you can call it that) and that went to the dump too. Dan brought his rake and raked all the leaves out of the yard. (I really need to break down and just buy a darn rake.) I sprinkled some more fertilizer on the numerous bare spots in our lawn. I also planted a pink azalea bush that I just had laying around the kitchen. 

I didn't take a whole lot of before pictures of the inside of the shed but that was mostly because I couldn't even get in, there was so much stuff! You will just have to take my word for it that this is a huge improvement! The cooler below holds all of my painting supplies; rollers, trays, the works.

Then I went inside and promptly fell asleep on the couch. That's what allergy meds can do to you! While I was sleeping, Dan worked on our fence/gate. The gate on our fence is super heavy and the hinges that we installed last year were too small for the weight. Dan installed new hinges that are heavy duty and new bolts to keep the door in place so that it won't keep warping.

And now it is time to go to dinner. All you can eat taco night at Don Pablos! I am pretty hungry after all this hard work! 

What have you been working on this Spring Break?


  1. Wow! Great makeover. Yes, the curly grass is indeed awesome. Good job! :)


    p.s. I found you through Lori's blog at bleak2unique. I'm your newest linky follower! if you want you can linky follow me back at onehouseonecouple.blogzam.com :)

  2. Lookin' good! And you couldn't have had better help! Dan is amazing.


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