Did you forget me? I didn't forget you. We've just been really, really hard at work. A dry weekend with no plans has been the dramatic exception to the rule this spring, but we've been taking every opportunity to whip our exterior into shape!
We're relatively satisfied with the inside of our house these days. Every room is furnished and painted to our specifications, the basement is partially finished, and most everything has a home. The outside, however, is another story.
The scoop from our neighbor is that our house sat empty for much longer than the six months it took the previous owner to flip it. Apparently the owners before that purchased in 1999, lived here a couple years, and then relocated to another city in the Midwest with the wife's job. The husband/stay-at-home-dad came back on the weekends to pick at it and do odd jobs here and there, but my impression is that he made more messes than successes because it sold in 2010 for less than they'd paid 11 years earlier. So while there was some love and care happening, it wasn't in the yard.
When we moved in, the yard was in a sad state. More ground ivy than grass, a gargantuan rotting lattice structure in the back, zero attractive landscaping. Last year we put in a vegetable garden and spruced up the front landscaping a bit, but we were mostly focused on finishing the basement. This year we've made up for lost time.
The first step was to get a shed. Hello, storage space. Maybe we can fit a car in the garage now...or perhaps a small Vespa.
This is a Tuffshed from Home Depot. We chose it because they include delivery and installation, which saved us a lot of time. They aren't significantly more expensive than other stores' DIY versions, and we were willing to pay the lazy tax with two little kiddos. We added the pegboard and shelves from scraps we had around, although those are also available at an extra charge. It came pre-primed, and when we get 48 dry hours in a row (hah) we'll be painting it Glidden Creme Brulee with cream trim to match the house.
We're going to try relocating the (covered) firewood outdoors this year. We're attempting to use our garage to protect our new car, so the huge rack had to go.
Then we scrubbed and stained the neglected wood deck with Behr Cedartone protector, planted some tasty spearmint and basil within close reach of the back door, and moved our little bistro table on up.
In another act of laziness/self-preservation, we hired an amazing landscaper to install a paver patio for us. There was always a mud mess in this spot from the shade of the tall evergreen above it, and it seemed like a natural extension of the old Purington Paver brick walkway off the deck.
He thought he could get his hands on some of these same old bricks, but they were gone. I think they did a fine job matching! They'll come back in August to clean off the white efflorescence with acid and seal the stones, which should bring the match even closer.
Then we tricked it out with a pergola and furniture!
The pergola came ready-to-assemble in a million little pieces from Home Depot. Jeff, my dad and I spent a morning attaching those million little pieces together with a billion little screws. Next (again, if we ever see the sun) it will be weatherproofed. We disagree on whether to grow a canopy of ivy over the top (I say yea, Jeff says nay), but we've already got a few strings of solar lights to swag from it.
It's nice to walk from the back door, down the stairs, and to flop down in a chair without your feet ever touching dirt or grass. It feels like our living space has been expanded for the summer, making all of us (especially the littles) far less claustrophobic.
Our garden is in too, of course. Romaine lettuce is doing well, spinach not so much. There's a little chard popping up, and quite a few heirloom carrots both orange and purple. Two yellow pear tomatoes, two Cherokee Purple, and four roma, and a serrano plant round out the nightshade delegation, but some garden critter completely eliminated the giant sunflowers we put in for the girls.
We built this additional bed by simply screwing together 1x6s with deck screws and filling in with leftover dirt from the patio (we asked the landscapers to set it aside for us instead of hauling it away). It's looking weedy and pathetic, and the asparagus crowns I planted in the back trenches have yet to surface, but that new rhubarb plant in the front right is off to a fine start. Next year we may add strawberries or another perennial food crop, or just use part of it for our crop rotation.
The front bed (the one we gutted with a towing strap and a truck) is filling out nicely this year. The azaleas are full and leafy, and the vanilla strawberry hydrangea is throwing up huge new branches almost overnight.
For reference, this was a year ago on planting day:
And here's how well it's filled in since:
Even the front of our house is technically western exposure, our heavily treed neighborhood requires a lot of shade plants. The annuals that do best for us are impatiens and pansies. I have this bed layered with bloomers of all seasons so that when it's established, there should be color at all times. It begins with gold and purple crocuses in March/April, then white azalea blossoms and purple allium in May, then the first heads of white hydrangea that deepen to pink and then red over the course of the season, finishing with mums in the fall.
Ah, home sweet home. I do so love the green seasons.