July 25, 2011

Mulch Effort = Small Improvement

I've got a doozy of an update for you today. It's full of a lot of pictures, but not a lot of show. Hopefully, you'll indulge me for the sake of my sanity.

First, let's rewind for a second and look at the east side of our property in September 2010. There was a ginormous bush taking over the front stoop and a bazillion bee-attracting flowers that grew down the east side of the house, which is adjacent to our neighbor's driveway.

I gave you a little update last fall when we removed the bush. It helped the claustrophobic space feel more airy.

Then we skipped ahead to May 2011, where we attempted to remove all the flowers down the side of the house, but somehow ended up spreading seeds over the area that caused new flowers to spring up. GRRRR...

At that point, we lost patience and went to a fast and easy flower-killing option (of which I have no picture). Joey watered the whole area using Mr. Hose. Next he put a sheet of plastic over the whole thing and held it down with bricks and left said plastic there for about a month (we kinda forgot about it). What happened during that month? The sun fried the flowers that were attempting to grow and left us with dirt and dead roots, which Joey ground up.

Joey then took landscaping fabric and staked it down to cover the area and prevent weeds from springing up. It sat like this for another 2-ish weeks.

That is until this weekend when we finally took pity on our neighbor - who has to look at this every time she steps out of her house/car - and decided to make the area a little more "finished". So, here's what went down.

First, Joey decided it would be great to have the downspouts from the gutters drain directly into the soil to water the future plants that would go there rather than drain on top of the grass. Great idea, Joey! This meant installing a drain system underneath the dirt. But what about that landscape fabric that we put down over the dirt? Oh yeah, it had to come up. Thankfully, that was easy. Once the fabric was pulled aside, we dug a ditch down the center of the dirt. This was hard work.

The digging actually only took about 30 minutes, but in 90 degree heat, it felt forever.

Anyway, once the ditch was completed, we could then install the drain system. Joey bought the plastic drain tube at Menard's (not sure exact price, but it was inexpensive) and it reached about 2/3 the length of the ditch...

So, we then hooked another drain tube up to the downspout at the back of the house and then connected to the 2 tubes in the center with a special connector-piece. Voila!

Each end was sized to fit right onto the downspout. Snug as a bug in a rug. Joey said he will probably still screw the pieces together to keep them tight in the event of storms or wind.

Once the drain was in place, we filled in the dirt and raked it nice and smooth.

With the dirt back in place, we could lay the landscaping fabric over it and get back to where we started. And this called for a water break.

Next came the time to plant. We purchased just a few items that morning, including 3 boxwoods and 2 white mums. I knew I wanted this side of the house to be clean cut and low maintenance. And we took into account the amount of sun/shade and moisture required for the plants to grow. So, this was the easy peasy route. We will be purchasing additional flowers to fill in areas later on. This was just a start.

We lined the plants up all plants to make sure the spacing was right. We put the green velvet boxwoods in front of the brick areas as these will eventually grow to about 3-5 feet wide and 3 feet high. The mums went in-between in front of the basement windows.

Joey took a knife and cut the fabric open in order to dig a hole for the plants.

The boxwoods were taken from their little container and put directly in the ground.

The mums got potted in plastic pots that would sit in the ground. We used good potting soil to hopefully give the flowers a better chance of staying alive.

Joey had to move the drain pipe to the side a bit to get the pots in the ground.

But they eventually squeezed in nice and tight. Then Joey filled in the dirt around them.

Once all 5 plants were in the ground, we gave it all a good watering. The landscaping fabric allows water to seep in without weeds coming up.

The final step for the day was laying mulch over the area. We went with a dark brown mulch rather than red mulch like many people do. I though the brown looked better with the brown-colored brick, I wanted it to blend in rather than stand out. It definitely gives the area a finished look (even though it's not finished).

Hopefully these babies will start growing soon. They look shrimpy right now. And like I mentioned earlier, we will later plant some flowers for layering and filling in space.

So, what's next? Oh, so much! This front corner is still very bare. We have a plan in mind and hope to execute it before fall.

These front edge pavers need to be inserted into the ground. They'll make a nice little border between the mulch and the grass.

And don't even get me started on what's behind this area leading into the back yard. Yikes!

But at least this side area has come a long way from when we started. It feels good. The boxwoods were on sale for $14.99 each and the mums were just a few dollars. So, everything, including mulch, fabric, and drain pipes cost under $100 to complete. It was money well spent.

Anyone else buried any drain tubes recently? Have you had luck with boxwoods? What's your favorite low-maintenance flower? Share the goods. Pin It

July 22, 2011

Is Black the New White?

Let me talk to you today about a little trend change that I've noticed recently while looking at the bazillion pictures floating around blogland and pinterest.

Check out the 2 pictures below...



Do you see what change I'm talking about? Not the cabinets nor the flooring nor the countertops.

I'm talking about the windows! More specifically, the window frames and grids. They are black in the second picture instead of the traditional white like the first picture shows.

There is just something about these black window frames that really strikes me as beautiful. I feel like the window is more noticeable and better defined. It's saying, "I AM A WINDOW! LOOK AT OUT ME!"

And while I've probably been seeing this trend for a few months, it was just today that it really struck me as the "new" thing. And I totally LOVE it!

What really made this stand out to me today was a house that Erin, from House of Turquoise, showcased on her blog today. I thought the house was beautiful and then realized that one element that every room had was black-framed windows. Here are a few pictures for her post...

I love the windows in this house! And the house has all white trim throughout. It's only the windows that have black trim. Here are a few other examples I had already collected on my pinterest boards over the past few months...

So, what do you think? Did you pick up on this trend today months ago? Do you like the solid statement the black window frames make in a room? Or do you like the more traditional look of white window frames? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Pin It

July 20, 2011

Shades of Green

I love the color green! It especially makes me think of summer time with the green grass and green trees all around. I came across a variety of green rooms on Better Homes and Gardens website and thought I'd share them with ya.

There are so many greens in the color wheel and each one gives a different vibe to the room. Some are soft and soothing while others are bright and energetic. Here are just a few examples...

Organic Sage Green: Deep sage green on the lower half of these reading nook walls create a cozy ambiance, which is amplified by the warm yellow tones in the lighter celery green above. Other shades of green, such as the aqua pillow and rug, augment the color scheme while multiple patterns enliven the space.

Breezy Grass Green: The playful mood of this dining room proves you don't have to paint the walls to pour on personality. The fresh green palette, perked up with touches of pink, is inspired by the bouquet of hydrangeas at the table's center. Bright drapery panels in a trellis pattern build on the garden design planted by modern floral-print pillows.

Lush Lime Green: This dining room is dazzling with the application of lime-green paint on the walls. The balance adored by all lovers of green is achieved with the bold blocks of color and touches of complementary coral pink. The dining table gets the most colorful attention, with a multicolored stripe treatment that announces the room's color scheme.

Fresh Pistachio Green: Green is the ideal color for an open-plan house because multiple tones blend easily. Vertical taupe-painted paneling provides continuity.

Pure Celery Green: Green walls visually expand the small dimensions of this cottage-style living room. Fabrics in bold-green-and-white prints transform classic furniture styles into pieces with modern flair.

Charming Apple Green: Vibrant toile in an unexpected combo of apple green and red covers beds and draperies to set the color palette for this charming bedroom. Green is the perfect choice for a private retreat such as a bedroom. Additional accents in green and complementary red along with crisp white trim keep the vivid toile from overpowering the space.

Mellow Jade Green: Walls and ceiling bathed in luscious jade green blend this living room into the natural surroundings outside its ample windows. Green has the easygoing ability to mingle with all colors of the spectrum, which makes it a perfect choice as background for a room with colorful furnishings as seen here.

Ripe Avocado Green: Blocks of vivid avocado green brighten this dining room, creating a welcoming spot for meals. Natural light brings out the warmer tones from the yellow end of the green spectrum found in this cheerful color choice.

I just love the variety of greens displayed. My favorite green would probably be the organic shade green. I find it is relaxing and easy to decorate around!

Which is your favorite shade of green? Do you like the bright and bold shades? Or are you more of a toned-down-green person? Pin It

July 18, 2011

The Secret Garden(s)

Every year Kenosha's 4 Seasons Garden Club has a Secret Garden Walk where about 7 houses in the Kenosha community are selected and the home owners allow people to walk through their yard and look at the flower gardens that have been planted.

I've never been to this before, but this year a friend of mine asked me to join her on the walk, and I happily accepted the request. It took place last Saturday, July 9th. It was a warm, sunny day and the gardens were very inspiring (especially since we're in the process of landscaping our yard). So, I thought I'd share a few of the pictures I snapped along the way for you flower-loving folks.

The first house we saw was labeled "Wright on Track". I wasn't sure what that meant until we walked into the backyard and came upon the most unusual garden attraction I've seen - a train track!

It was complete with little houses built near the track and stations for storing the trains. We asked the owner if he keeps the track up year round and he said yes - snow and all.

The train had a little operating machine the owner was using that made all kinds of train-like sounds. I was so fascinated by it that I hardly noticed the gardens in the other parts of the yard. Oops! Guess I'm distracted easily.

The other distracting object was the house itself. It was pretty big for the small-ish lot it sat on and you could tell the architecture dated back to probably the 1930's-1940's. There were leaded glass and stained glass windows throughout the house, and I would have given anything to see the inside of it.

As we made our way to the front of the house, we heard other by-standers mention the name "Frank Lloyd Wright", and I thought it did look like that type of house. Then we saw that the house was part of the National Register of Historic Places. Then it clicked that the name of the house was "Wright on Track"... "Wright" not "Right". So, I'm pretty confident it was built by that famous architect (and he happened to be born in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin).

Moving along to the second house, which happened to be right on the lakefront, it had a beautiful view.

The gardens were lush and layered with a variety of flowers. They were so interesting. I found beautiful flower after beautiful flower to admire. And there were different pathways leading between different parts of the gardens.

This little spot in the middle of the yard was my favorite. The pink and purple flowers drew me in, and I loved the weather vane that sat in the middle.

I could have stayed in that back yard the whole afternoon. It was very inviting.

The 3rd house we visited was just a few blocks off the lake and had a pretty small yard, but the owners had done so much with the space. The front yard was amazing. Again just a great variety of flowers and so many layers. You could see little flowers tucked down in between the big flowers. Surprises everywhere.

There were a lot of lilies planted in both the front and back yards. I counted about 7 different colors but there may have been more. They were breathtaking.

The backyard had little stone path that walked around the edge of the grass to look at the flowers. This area pictured below was a favorite spot of mine. I adore the black iron fence. I love the stone bird house (and there were baby birdies chirping inside). You can see again the pink lilies planted here. Everything looked natural - like no effort was involved in placement. Perfect.

As you took the stone path around to the other side of the yard, you came to a koi pond that had a little waterfall. The sound of the water flowing over the rocks was so relaxing a peaceful. This shows that no matter what size your yard may be, anything is possible if you want it to happen!

The last couple pictures were from the 4th house we visited, and my favorite thing was the tiered garden area in the back yard. This house has a HUGE back yard with gardens around the edges. But this tiered area closer to the house got me. It was interesting and romantic with the little swing at the top. So eye catching and different from anything else we'd seen.

This was my favorite flower at this house. No clue what it is, but I like the shape and color.

While I found these spaces so inspiring, I also know that I don't have the time for maintaining a garden that is anything close to these. However, I gave myself permission to do more variety of flowers and more layers of flowers then I originally planned. We'll see what happens.

So, what do you think of all these flower gardens? Is the effort worth the outcome? Or are you into low maintenance looks? I'm curious. Pin It
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