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Plant One on Me

March 18, 2015

We’re still waiting for paint and wood filler to dry before we can hang the doors to The Library. So, in the meantime, I thought I’d share about a mini-project that we completed this weekend.

Our house has a beard. Well, Michael calls it a 5 o’clock shadow, but no matter what you call it, it’s not pretty.

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Our house doesn’t have gutters.

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This means every time it rains, water consistently hits the bare flower beds, causing dirt to splash up and cling to the house. It actually makes a visible ditch in the flower beds.

DSC_0064 We did pressure wash the house last summer (we rented a pressure washer from Home Depot), but we’ve seen an unusual amount of rain for this area in the last few weeks; and it’s caused quite the mess. Ironically, residential property owners are not allowed to use pressure washers right now, because we are under water restrictions due to a severe drought in the area.  I’m hoping with all of the recent rain and predicted future rain, the restrictions will be lifted soon. In the meantime, we needed to find a way to prevent the problem; rather than repeatedly needing to clean it up. Having gutters added to our home is just not in our budget right now, so we came up with an inexpensive Plan B.

We purchased 12 bags of pond stones from Home Depot this weekend. There were no fancy calculations to figure out how many bags we would need – although, there is a chart listed on the bag to help with that sort of thing. We bought 4 bags on a whim, then Michael went back to Home Depot and purchased 8 more bags about an hour later. At $3.38 a bag, it cost us $43.91 for all 12 bags including tax.

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We chose these particular rocks for their heft and color. The color is similar enough to our house that they won’t be overtly noticeable once we fill the beds with plants. Our (untested) theory is, the rocks are heavy enough not to be moved much, even by heavy rain, and if they should move, they are big enough that they won’t get all tangled in the earth of the flower beds; making it an unfavorable habitat for future plants.

I’m pretty certain this was the easiest and fastest DIY we have done to date.

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Michael opened the corner of the bag, and using the ditch made by previous rain as a guide, he poured the rocks out in a line. Then we stepped on them to pack them down a bit, and used our feet to spread them from the ditch to the house, creating an even, shallow layer.  Yep, we didn’t even get our hands dirty. Well, Michael did when he was handling the bags.

When we were finished it looked this:

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We did both beds and part of the right side of the house. We’ll get another bag or two for that right side once we get rid of the weeds and extend the flower bed. I actually like the way the rocks look. To me, they look purposeful. You know, like we have some sort of plan for these empty, weed filled beds. Those beds have been empty for the last 3 years. We did plant a variety of bulbs last year, but they only grew a few inches before they died. (Somewhere between feeding and keeping 3 children alive, I would always forget to water the plants.)  Our sweet neighbors will occasionally inquire about our plans for the yard. Sorry, for bringing down the property values, guys! We really do have plans for our front yard; which we hope to get taken care of this spring.

We plan to make a curved bed that starts near the driveway, follows the walkway, and connects to the bed on the right. Similar to what you see in this picture:

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I don’t think we will do shrubs like they have in the picture. It’s a little too “buttoned-up” for us. Well, Michael likes it, but I would like something with a little more variety and interest. I’ve convinced him that rather than shrubs, we should plant annuals using this little trick:

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Doing something like that will allow us to easily switch out the plants with the seasons. Really, though, they’ll more likely be switched long after their season ends, weeks after they have all died, and the neighbors start asking questions again.

For the beds closest to the house, I really want a layered look. I’ve had this picture pinned for a while now:

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I love the mix of colors, textures and varying heights. I want a mix of perennial plants and evergreens for our yard. That way, when the perennials die for the season there will still be something left in the front of the house that doesn’t resemble the plant graveyard that we have now.

We also plan to add window boxes to the windows between the shutters. I’ve had this photo pinned for a while, too:

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I love the mix of plants they used in those boxes! I don’t know that we will do something as elaborate as that – our hot and dry climate doesn’t give us a ton of plant options, but I do like the layered look of it all. We are also considering adding boxes on the brick sides of the doorway, similar to this image:

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We both like the way that looks in the photo, but I think we will wait to see how all the other plans come together before we do something like that. We don’t want things to look too crowded. Our biggest challenge right now is deciding which plants to use and in which colors. As I mentioned earlier, we are somewhat limited when it comes to our climate and our yard’s specific light profile. Not to mention, picking colors is not something that comes naturally to me. I typically have to search through pictures, and mull over possibilities for a while before I can come to a decision; most likely, because I want the perfect color scheme the first go-round. (We did live without curtains for over a year, because of this very reason.) I know things don’t need to be perfect, and it’s okay to make a bad decision if it can be corrected later. However, I think it’s obvious that we are trying to create something that is low maintenance, easily changed, but still long lasting. I mean, between all the changes we’re making in the house, and raising three young children, time is not something we have a lot of. We’d much rather be teaching our kids how to ride their bikes, or spending time exploring our city, than wasting money and time digging up the same plants we just planted a few months ago.

So, those are the plans for the front yard. I’ll be working on sanding and repainting the doorway to the library today. We will be back on Friday (fingers crossed) with a post about our new, beautiful doors. In the meantime, what about you guys? Anyone else working on landscaping? Or stricken with fear when it comes to picking colors?  Does anyone have plant suggestions for central Texas climates?

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5 Comments

  • Reply Mother n papa lol March 18, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    great I like the progress

  • Reply Annie March 19, 2015 at 1:22 am

    You guys are doing great! I would just start with HD or Lowes to see what’s available with plants or your local garden centers. Some times you need to check your ph balance on your soil to see if it’s lacking minerals. They sell kits at HD or Lowes. Aside from water and fertilizer the ph balance in the soil is good to know because this can help determine what kind of plant will grow best in your garden

    • Reply Blair March 19, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Thank you, Annie! We will definitely look into that. I read an articles about how to know you soil’s ph levels based on the type of weeds growing. I will definitely look into your recommendations. -Blair

  • Reply Rachel March 19, 2015 at 7:15 am

    We also don’t have curtains…mostly for the same reason. 🙁 Decided yesterday, though, that we are going to frost a half bath window and then try Sherry’s faux roman shade tutorial! Woot!

    • Reply Blair March 19, 2015 at 11:08 am

      We still don’t have curtains in our master bedroom. We do have bamboo shades, but I’m pretty sure they are see through. I’ve made the faux roman shade using mini-blinds (different from YHL’s tutorial, I believe). I liked the mini blind one, because you can still lower and raise them. Another idea, is to put a roller shade inside the window frame, and then the roman shade on the outside of the window frame. The roman shade will hide the roller shade, but you can raise or lower the roller shade based on your privacy needs (and roller shades are really cheap). 🙂

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