Saturday, April 8, 2017

Back yard is coming along

After finishing the front yard landscaping, I was ready to call it quits. Then my poor backyard just needed a few things to get us through the summer. It kicked off when a friend of mine was giving away her old futon.  I knew that it would be pretty cool to be able to sleep on the back porch so I jumped on the idea. It was originally brown and scratched up, but I knew I wanted to wanted to paint it anyway. This futon project got me a little too excited about sprucing up our backyard space just a tiny bit.  DIY'ers at heart, we know these things take time. Our back yard will slowly but surely be a lush garden sanctuary. 

So here's the futon, painted with Valspar's Chalky Paint Finish in "Woolen Stockings." I sanded the futon first and filled the scratch marks with wood filler.  Then I applied two coats of the chalk paint and finished with Annie Sloan's clear Wax.  I purchased a 10" Futon from Overstock in a creamy white color and quickly sprayed it with Scotch Guard fabric protector to keep it from getting stained and to repel water.  The gray throw pillows are Tommy Hilfiger and the white pillow is from Home Goods. The french linen throw is also from Home Goods. So far it was been quite comfortable to sit here and read or lie down and listen to the birds chirping.

We got an outdoor rug from Overstock as well, since we have two defined spaces out here now.

The table is also from It's a gray wooden table which I think goes nicely with the white metal chairs that we got last summer from Target.

We added some tiki torches to the porch and back yard that I think look great in this black metal, which is way more durable than our old bamboo torches. This one attaches right to the deck. Clever right? We also put out new bird houses, because apparently the birds that were house shopping a few weeks ago thought the old houses were taken since nests were left there by birds from last summer.

Our lawn is finally greening up - and oh my so much grass to mow. In time though I see a patio out here with another covered porch with fireplace, and possibly a pool? How cool would that be? A girl can dream right?

I moved the Carolina Aster to the left side of the yard, seen very tiny near that trellis.   Also, a cute bird feeder and a blue jay house.

This view is looking down from our porch. We planted a Zwanzan Cherry Tree that will grow between 20-30 feet high, giving us a ton of pink blooms near our bedroom window. It should be quite the sight.

This is some basil I planted from seed indoors around early March. They are doing quite well now outside. 

I also moved one of my purple Verbena's to the left of the yard as well. The area that I'm redoing on the right side, has another vision.

The yard slopes some on the left, which we thought would be a great spot for a sunken in raised bed.  To utilize more of the slope Joe built the raised bed right into the ground.  It's really the perfect spot since this part of the yard was useless before. I have great visions of lots of flowering plants in here for cutting this summer.  So far there are a bunch of summer flowering bulbs in the back and little seedlings in the front I also started indoors in March. There's a few Marigolds and chives in there for good measure. If this bed proves to be a good idea Joe will make another one just like it on the other side for veggies.

We put in a few more trees on the left. This one is a Yoshino Flowering Cherry Tree. It will get around 30 feet tall.

This is a Maple Tree someone was giving away for free in our neighborhood. I transplanted it to the left side as well. After recently seeing a Crimson King Maple Tree, I may swap this out for one of those. I can always move this maple tree to the forest next to our house. :)

The right side is coming along slowly. The Crystal Obedient plant is spreading profusely that I planted last year. It sholud make a nice border of white flowers in the front of this bed come summer. There are now four pink Dianthus plants near the bird bath. Along the fence are three Italian Cypresses and inbetween those I will plant four white climbing Iceberg rose bushes. I put in trellis' for them, just need to order them online now. The goal is to have an English garden feel in this area.

Vision for this space above:

Planted 4/07:

This doesn't look too spectacular now, but we added five Leyland Cypresses that will grow pretty quickly and high for privacy between the neighbor's house.

My hope is that it looks like this in a few years.

Leyland Cypress or Thuja Green Giant evergreens to create a privacy hedge:

We expanded the rock area for our firepit by removing the existing pea gravel and adding black weed fabric underneath. We purchased 40 bags of pea gravel and added it in.  The old firepit area was too small and done improperly the first time. We think it came out pretty nice.

We replaced the plastic teal blue Adirondack chairs with nice gray wood ones from Safavieh. Before we had three adult size chairs and two small green ones. The kids were out growing those small ones and the cohesiveness of having five chairs of the same size looks a lot nicer.

Did I mention we purchased a paint sprayer and poor Joe spent two full days out there spraying the stain on the fence? It definitely went a lot faster than using a brush and it was definitely cheaper.  The color we chose was an HOA approved color, of "Natural Cedar." However I've been seeing a lot of shades of stain the neighborhood so when this color wears down I think I'll go with something in the darker brown family. This partial stone border was from our front yard. We changed the stone so decided to put this back here. We need to get more obviously if we want to continue around the whole bed.

The Adirondack chairs have a wine holder on one of the arm rests. By far the coolest feature in a chair. :)

In order to tied me over until I can get the David Austin Iceberg roses, I purchased this white rose bush from Lowes. It's beautiful and I can hopefully transplant it somewhere in the yard.

And just wow.  My all time favorite flower I think, the Dahlia. I picked up two of these because I just couldn't wait until the Dahlia's in my raised bed come up this summer. They look great on the wine barrel in the rock area.

I think it's now time to sit back, water my plants, and watch them grow. I'm all planted out for this Spring.  
Cathleen 🌸

Monday, April 3, 2017

Some front yard landscaping

Joe and I, mostly Joe, have been busting our backs getting the front yard more complete. We've added lots of hardscaping and plants. We'll share with you all our DIY tricks and plant selections below.  We spent approximately 5 weekends on this project and around 80 hours.  Material costs were around $2,250 in total for stone, rocks, plants, potting soil, manure, top soil, mulch, sand, etc.  But wow, we must have saved a fortune on Labor and a Landscape Architect! haha Joe and I started this whole project by making a drawing of our front property and mapping out where we'd like to plant things and where we could add hardscaping. The planning part was the fun part. Deciding on plants was also super fun.  We didn't get everything at once, instead made several visits to local nursery's to get inspiration and surfed Pinterest for ideas. Things changed constantly as we paired plants together to see what looked best and what would work well in our climate and in what part of the yard they would be in. Of course, only time will tell if our plan works. It will be fun to watch things grow, and see what worked and what didn't.  We'll have to keep you posted! But alas, here it is. 

On the front patio, I gave our chairs a fresh coat of paint as well as the table. The base of the table went from turquoise to white. I sewed little seat back cushions out of gray and white fabric and made removable straps with snaps. I put the big black urn pot on the porch with a dwarf alberta, Little Treasure White Rock Cress, Lysimachia, and Dianthus.

I found two of these tall pots at Lowes, but they weren't the right color, so I sprayed painted them with gray stone paint that gives it a textured stone look. Inside the little flowers in front are called Alpino Early Picotee Saxifrage and behind on the left is Carnival Black Olive Coral Bells and on the right is Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia. All of these are perennials. In case you were wondering we are Zone 7.

This is one BEFORE picture of our front garden bed. It used to contain about 8 small Holly bushes. They were getting some sort of black spots on them and looked just plain boring.

I ripped up all the Holly bushes and replaced them with a back row of three Sizzlin' Pink Fringe-Flower Loropetalums, a row of 7 wintergreen boxwoods, and 7 Mediterranean Pink Heathers. We also added a border of stone.

Down either side of the driveway Joe added square paver stones. Here is the path that he made to cross into the front grass without stepping on plants. He removed the sod below and added weed fabric and sand. He added polymeric sand in between the pavers to keep them stable and to prevent weeds from popping up. Pardon the dirty driveway! We still have to power wash it.

Around the side off of the driveway Joe pulled out the sod to create a walkway of white marble chips and cement 18" stepping stones. We made the side mulched bed smaller to create a bigger walkway. He lined both sides with curved gray stones. The bed is filled with sand and then the rock. It goes underneath the gate and around to our side garage door.

We were able to place a Profusion Crab Apple Tree in this corner bed that we created. We dug out the sod here and put in a good layer of soil and mulched the top. We also put in some weed fabric to prevent the grass from coming in.

Down each side of the driveway we planted 3 topiary Peach Drift Roses. It will be so fun to watch these bloom this summer. We alternated Boxwoods and Lavender down the driveway and mulched with pea gravel to give the lavender a nice hot spot to thrive in and to prevent hardwood mulch from washing down the driveway.

At the corners of the driveway we made little "moments" that we wanted to use to tie in the plants at the front of the house. We replicated the plants so that things would look cohesive.  The first little bush at the bottom of the photo is the loropetalum that will reach between 4-6 feet tall and wide.  We placed it towards the back because it will be the tallest of all of them. The light green bushy plant is actually three of the Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia.

Looking the other way towards the house are three sets of pink snap dragons. On the left is the Dwarf Alberta Spruce which will also get around 4 feet. To the right and behind is Lamb's Ear. Behind that are two Alpino's, one Rockfoil, and on the left mid point is one Desert Eye Deep Rose Yarrow.  I think it was important to stick to just a few colors when considering plants for our yard. At first everything was going to be green and white.  But as I shopped for plants I couldn't help but fall in love with the pinks, rosey hues, and purples. But all are muted tones and not super bright.

I love how the muted tones of pink and purples play nice with the light tan and blue of the house. And can't wait to see our lawn turn green! One of the things we will probably do this fall is plant Fescue grass so we can have a green lawn all year.  One of the other things we did was remove the Maple tree that was smack dab in the middle of our yard. Besides being dead, it was going to block the entire view of our house.

This lavender smells so divine. I really hope it thrives in this location down the driveway.

Our mail box plants got a little makeover. We took out the mums and other purple creeping plants. We added two boxwoods, two Powis Castle Artemisia, and four Snow Cone Candytufts. Behind the little black trellis is a Dragon Hybrid Aster. In the fall it will be blooming with purple flowers.

In the slope on the left of our front yard we decided to make a special place for our Royal Star Magnolia.  Her Royal Highness deserved a special castle to reside in!  She is surrounded by Little Treasure  Deep Rose Rock Cress. A Royal Star Magnolia can reach around 10-15 ft. tall and we hope to prune her into a pretty tree.

This pretty Radiance Southgate Rhododendron will get between 4-6 tall and is in the side forest where the shade plus some sunlight will be perfect.  I still need to add some pine straw here because we've been dumping a lot of clay over here. And you see a Holly bush here too. I put the 7 from our front garden here. We'll see how they do. I'm not holding my breath for these guys.

Another view of our front bed.  I just love the pink heathers.  They are a winter blooming plant, but have been blooming since December!

My kids helped make this little white planter a few months ago. We put in a Dwarf Alberta, some Highlander White Saxifrage, Irish Moss, and Northern Lights Violas. Oh and few faires and gnomes!

The lavender down the driveway was definitely inspired by my lavender I added in these galvanized pots on the front steps. There's nothing like smelling lavender on your way inside.

I have lavender seeds in the little pots at the bottom of the steps. I'm hoping they come up soon. The LED lanterns are from Home Goods. And more pink snap dragons. :)

We are wiped out! But stay tune for some back yard projects, including a gravel expanded fire pit make over, a raised bed garden, and an Italian Cypress and white rose garden! 

Have you been inspired to do some spring gardening? 

xoxo 🌸🌳

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