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Latelies Outdoors

Working For the Weekend

July 6, 2015

Typically, the weekend never feels long enough. This past weekend, however, felt like an entire week crammed into 3 days. It was awesome and exhausting. I don’t even remember most of Friday. I remember that Michael had the day off, Akira had a neighborhood friend over, and I took Akira, her friend, and Emerson to see Inside Out. That’s it. That’s all I got for Friday.

Saturday we woke up early and drove to the lake.

Somewhere between there and Sunday, there were fireworks and naps. Sunday, after church, we made a run to Lowes to pick up a few things for the yard. We picked up mulch, compost, and some potting soil. We were also looking for seed starter trays, because the fescue seeds that we started in the egg carton really needed to be transplanted to something bigger.

We couldn’t find any trays, however, so we decided to just to plant them in the ground. You can barely see them in the photo above; they’re still so thin and just started to grow multiple leave. Do I think they were ready to be planted outside? No. But they couldn’t stay in the egg carton either. So that’s what we did yesterday afternoon, we sent our baby plants out into the harsh climate to fend for themselves.

The soil here can be pretty terrible. It’s mostly clay and rock. We added soil to our front beds a few years ago, but it still tends to compact and dry out quickly. To give the fescue its best chance, we added compost and peat moss. And yeah, we got the good stuff. Straight up manure. (Gag.) Actually, it was the cheapest compost, so that’s one we picked. We’ve used it before and it really seems to help, so… (Still can’t believe we actually have to pay for poop.)

planting fescue seeds |

The peat moss (not pictured) has been an amazing aid to our less than stellar soil. If anyone else is experiencing clay-like soil, even after amending, I definitely suggest mixing in some peat moss. It helps aerate heavy soil, retains nutrients added to the soil, and holds moisture, releasing it when the plants need it. You can find more information on the benefits of peat moss here. (I’m convinced it’s the only reason our once defunct vegetable garden is now growing out of control.)

Back to the fescue. We dug holes along the front of the beds, amended the soil with compost and peat moss, and then planted the itty-bitty fescue.

landscaping |

(If you’ve ever wondered where our children are when we are doing all of this house stuff, they’re typically right there. Lending a helping hand or trying to dig in the manure laced compost. ::coughEleanorcough::)

At first we tried to remove the fescue and dirt from the egg carton, but it quickly became apparent that the fescue had rooted itself into the egg carton! The roots were so thin and fragile that we just started tearing the egg carton and planting it along with the fescue. You can see the rim of the carton in this photo:

planting fescue |

And you can barely see the fescue among the mulch once planted.

planting fescue |

Honestly, I’m not expecting them to last. We have more seeds that we could start over with if these guys die, but I’m kind of over it. I would prefer to just buy some already started and ready to plant, but I haven’t been able to find any of those around here. So… I guess we’ll see what happens!

We also added compost to the other plants here in the front and in the backyard. Aside from yard work, we also painted trim and experienced a Pinterest house cleaning fail over the weekend. I’ll share all about that ridiculousness on Wednesday.

What about you guys? What did you do over the weekend? Yard work? Painting? That thing we hear about called “relaxing”? Leave us a comment! We’d love to know what everyone else has been up to!

DIY Tutorials Home Maintenance Outdoors

How to Fix a Leaning Fence

June 24, 2015

As some of you may know, Central Texas has had some of the worst weather these past 2 months, and because of that we had a little outside tidying up to do. With winds sometimes gusting up to 70 mph, our backyard fence took a beating. Three of the fence posts cracked and started to lean. Since we hope to have an appraisal done soon, fixing the fence was placed at the top of the to-do list. We don’t have any experience with fences, but after a few YouTube tutorials (we used this one), we felt we could tackle this; no problem, piece of cake…piece of crumb cake.

Step 1 was getting supplies. We went to Lowes and bought a paracord rope that was rated around 150 lbs. (I wanted the 550 lbs rated paracord,  just in case I get called to action with my mad paracord skills, but marriage is about compromise.) We also purchased these USP Steel Painted Post Base brackets. (If you google them, the popular name is EZ Fence Mender.) They came in around $15 for two of them (we bought 2 packs), and considering we were quoted $300 by a professional to fix the posts, we were certainly coming out ahead. It was at this point that we should have also purchased a mallet — more on that later.

Once home, I tied 2 of the fence posts to the nearby tree to temporarily fix the lean. At this point it was still raining off and on, so I wanted to make sure that if any strong winds came around before we had a chance to fix the posts, we wouldn’t have to worry about the fence completely falling over.

how to fix a leaning fence |

When the weather cleared a few days later, I started digging around the fence posts, braving the hoards of mosquitoes, looking for the concrete that is supposed to be around the bottom of the posts. Thankfully, I did find concrete around all of our fence posts. Had I not found concrete, then I would have had to dig down an additional 6 inches and pour concrete after I used the fence mender.

how to fix a leaning fence |

I would like to say that I went into the storage shed and came back with Thor’s hammer and with the biceps to match, but sadly all we have is a cheap dollar store, very anti-climatic, tears rolling down my face hammer. I pulled the rope around the fence until the fence registered plumb on my level. Then, per the instructions, I inserted the bracket at the base of the post, at a slight angle, and started hammering away with all my might trying to force the bracket between the post and the concrete. And boy, was it ever an epic fight to make that thing move! With every swing of the hammer, I was chastising myself for not also purchasing a mallet.

how to fix a leaning fence |

After a few hits, I went for my ear plugs. (I highly suggest using ear plugs. It was unbearably loud.) I’m not certain that I got the brackets a far into the ground as they should be, but I got them as far as they would physically go. After double checking that everything was still level, I proceeded to drill the bracket into the fence post with wood screws.

how to fix a leaning fence |

I untied the paracord, holding my breath the entire time. Success! The post was upright and level. I did the same thing to the second post. Cue “Everything Is Awesome”.

Then the mic dropped. All of that awesome ended when I started the third post. When hammering into the base on the third post I notice that the bracket went right into it. The post was so rotten at certain parts that it didn’t take much strength to tear it up. I decided to hammer down as far as I could, and then just drilled the wood screws where I could. Some of the screws didn’t hold with all the rot, but others held it in enough to that the post wasn’t going anywhere. The final analysis on that one is that it needs to be replaced, but until we can get around to doing that, the bracket is holding it mostly in place; there is still a slight lean to it. It’s like one of those “Weekend at Bernie’s” kind of things — but for fence posts.

how to fix a leaning fence |

My advice for anyone else trying these type of fence menders is to make sure you have an awesome hammer, preferably a mallet. But other than that, I’d say the fence menders work! And don’t worry, we’ll give you the tell-all when we actually replace the rotten fence post.