Sunny weekends are coming up and I have taken off a Friday or Monday (or both) for the next few weeks so I can enjoy them! However, I do not like to sit about idly so have been and will be working away on our backyard and lawn as per my list of 32 in which I promised I would improve the area with at least two completed projects by the end of June (and more to come for next year). So, this what I have done or plan to:
Step one was to create a space for gardening. Since we have tough grass and poor soil beneath it, I decided to put together a raised garden bed to keep things easy for the first time. So first we built the structure which was easy enough after buying some lumber. Then we placed it in the right spot and prepared the land by putting down 6 layers of wet newspaper over the grass (this kills the grass and later lets plants burrow down into the earth). Then we filled it with mushroom manure and let it sit for a month or so. Then I added some nice potting soil and mixed it well. I let that sit for a few weeks and grew some seedlings indoors in preparation. These started off well but then suddenly died-the type of container was a bad choice, I think, as it left them too dry or wet. So, I decided I would have to plant directly outside. Because of my digging dog, my husband and I had to create a small garden fence before we could do anything. We made it last Saturday and then last Sunday I finally planted my seeds directly into the plot at last. It rained a few days at first but since then has been very nice and sunny. No sprouts yet, however, and it is day 7. Should I be worried? Next step may be some solar string lights to jazz up this plain green fence a bit!
Another task was to clean up the area in general. This yard has been very neglected so we had a lot to do. The first thing we did was powerwash the outdoor living area as it is right outside the door to our flat. A good powerwash made a huge difference! I also removed some junk that had been left behind by my brother who used to live in our flat (such as an old table that sat outside, broken garden sprinklers, a box of old newspapers etc). We gave the Adirondack chairs a good wash as well and placed them in key areas for seating. Two are by the young plum tree where it is nice to sit in the sun in the morning and two are just outside our door where I like to read in the afternoon. My husband repaired the lawnmower that had a small problem and cuts the grass weekly…which makes a huge difference! Previously, we had a company come in once in a while and do it for us but my husband does a much better job-and more regularly. We then put some fresh paint on some old faded posts that hold up the upstairs balcony and give us some cover on our outdoor area. These had not been touched in 15 years and did not even match the current colour of the house! A fresh coat of paint made a huge difference and the brown colour looks much more modern.
The next task we decided to tackle is the expansion of the sidewalk which was never done when new stairs leading upstairs were put in. From the main drive, one can walk down these stairs directly into the yard. However, because the sidewalk as not expanded, one had to step in mud and muck as the grass did not grow all the way in this area. So, my husband and I staked out the area we wish to cement in and bought 4 bags at the Home Depot as a test. The test went well so we will fill in the rest over the next few weeks. My husband is the lead on this one so it may be awhile before this task is actually complete! My focus is along this sidewalk where I dug up about a foot of earth. This was a painful task with a shovel due to some grass being rooted deeply and I soon had blisters but I managed to finish it in a day. The soil is a bit poor in the area so I had to follow up the next day with more digging, adding in better soil and mixing, removing rocks, etc to make it a suitable area. I then spent quite a bit of time doing research as to which plants I could plant along the edge to create a bit of a plant border along the soon to come sidewalk. A trip to the local nursery helped narrow it down but it will be very fragrant and lovely one day (I hope!) with one big hydrangea, summer blooming lavender, spring hyacinths which I will plant in autumn, a lilac bush, and some spike speedwell plants as well. Mostly it will be purple and green in the area which is a nice colour to go with the brown of the home. The plants are also a bit tall growing which is helpful. Spring-autumn I should have some colour and fragrance if all goes well.
- The above tasks are all done or in progress. However, here is what else I have in mind for down the road: we have a lot of bare boring fence around the yard-I would like to come up with something to make it more interesting and appealing. I am thinking vines. We have a fire pit that is full of all kinds of junk thanks to my brother. The plan is to empty it out and use it as intended down the road. Currently there are 3 oddly spaced fruit trees in the yard. One more additional will even things out. My mother purchased a lovely hammock from Mexico last January which I told her not to buy it as we had no where to hang it. She did not listen. I would love to see us able to use it somehow. Lighting-once all is in order, I would like to add some solar lighting in the garden. I am sure I can come up with a lot more (and it will be on my to do list for July 2015-June 2016) but despite all the work all of these tasks are taking, I can say that it is definitely fulfilling stuff!
*** Monday May 11th update: so many things have sprouted in the garden! What a difference a day can make! Just had to come back and share! ***