A Sad, Sad Side Yard

Let’s chat about our side yard.

I hate it.

Too harsh? Sorry, let me explain…

When we first moved in, I was super excited to have this little garden bed in the side yard. It looked so pretty, and there were flowers, and I could just picture myself being all garden-y and taking care of it and making it beautiful.

(When we moved in..)

(Now)

Hah.

That didn’t happen.

Corey and I have spent the last almost-two-years of living in this house desperately wanting to be the type of people who take care of their flower beds.

But we just aren’t.

No matter how much we said we wanted to, or how much we appreciated the gorgeous roses when they would bloom, it just wasn’t happening. And over time, the bed started to look sadder and sadder, until I finally just couldn’t handle it anymore.

So, one day a couple of weeks ago I finally admitted to Corey that I didn’t think we were cut out for this high-maintenance flower bed. It was incredibly overgrown, most of the plants were dead or dying, and we weren’t doing a thing to stop it.

We finally had to give in and realize that we aren’t flower bed people. Now, we still would like to have at least one small flower bed at our house – but we’re thinking we’ll end up doing something in the front yard. That way, it actually adds a little curb appeal and isn’t in a part of the yard that is constantly getting trampled by dogs (another one of the issues I had with this side yard bed!).

I’ll just go ahead and warn those of you that have a deep love for rose bushes (however dead-ish and overgrown they might be), that you might want to look away.

Because they are g-o-n-e.

I know, I know. I probably could have salvaged them and sold them on Craigslist or something, but you have to understand – when I get it in my head that I’m going to do something, it has to happen. Right away. There’s no waiting. So one afternoon I just randomly decided that was the day and I went outside and cut everything down.

This ended up being a much larger project than I originally anticipated, because you can’t just pull up a giant rose bush with your bare hands. So, on day 1 I started by pulling up what I could and cutting down the rest. I ended up with a giant pile of what used to be the flower bed (again, don’t look if it hurts your heart!)

Once that was all cleared up, I’ll admit that Corey and I were a bit worried. It looked so sad and bare! But there was a plan, so we pushed through. I had Corey clean up all the grass that had snaked its way into the bed, and the next day we got to work digging. We dug up all of the old stumps and pulled out the brick barrier that separated the bed from the yard. We saved the little barrier because we hope to re-use it in the front yard when we get around to creating that flower bed.

Maybe next year. I can only handle so much yard maintenance in one year. I’m not a plant person, apparently.

It was a lot of work, but within a few hours we had everything dug up and the side yard was looking nice (ugly?) and bare.

I wish this was one of those projects that I had actually completed weeks ago and could now wow you with a completely finished product, but it’s not. Because this was a flower bed and there was obviously no grass (save for that one part where the grass went rogue), we now have to wait for it to grow in. We aren’t too worried about it, because the area where we pulled out the bushes last summer has grown in very nicely…

…and I have a feeling this area will do the same. We’ll probably go ahead and buy some seed to hopefully speed up the process a little – I’m crossing my fingers that within the next few weeks this area will be nice and grassy.

But we aren’t just leaving it at that. Oh no, there’s a plan. My goal is that by next summer there will be a nice lush grass padding here, and I will have a standing hammock with a pretty little side table where I can read, relax, and maybe take a summer nap or two. I’ve always wanted a hammock but we’ve never had good trees to hang one from, so we thought it would be fun to get one for this little corner. It’s nice and shaded, so it’ll be a good spot to relax, and I don’t have to prune, water, or worry about my dogs trampling a hammock.

I can already taste the sangria I’ll be sipping while I hang out here next summer…

What’s your take on flower beds? Do you love ‘em, or are you likely to forget about them like us?

Summer Brain Dump

1. Most summers, I’m super productive around the house. I’m completing projects right and left, and I’m always looking for things I can do. This summer? I’m LAZY, people. I have hardly done anything around the house because I’ve been too busy watching Desperate Housewives, sleeping, and going to the pool. I’m just being honest. Hopefully I’ll get some energy back soon and start getting some projects done, or the blog is going to be in trouble!

2. How long do you hold out on a plant before giving up and proclaiming it dead? I ask because our beloved fiddle leaf fig looks like this:

That’s not good, right? I’ve heard they can lose all of their leaves and they may still grow back, so I’ve been faithfully watering it once a week or so and eagerly watching to see if it grows at all, but it’s just looking sad. I shouldn’t be allowed to own plants anymore, but I want so desperately to be good at it!

3. On the other hand, I’ve got this guy on the other side of the television that’s been going strong for close to a year now. It’s one of those awesome plants that thrives on neglect – I seriously only water it once a month or so, it gets almost no sunlight, and it is just generally ignored…but it still looks just as good as the day we bought it!

4. I’ve been reading a ton of books lately (you know, in addition to all the lounging and Desperate-Housewives-watching) and I’m on a huge Gillian Flynn kick – she wrote Gone Girl (which I’m obsessed with) and has two other novels that are also fantastic. I’m almost done with the third one, and I’m already wondering when she’s going to write a new book so I can inhale it like I have the others.

5. Am I the only one completely and utterly obsessed with summer television? True Blood and Dexter are like, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. We’ve been watching True Blood every week at my sister’s house, but I’m going to have to figure out how we’ll watch Dexter since we don’t have cable anymore. Maybe I can buy it on iTunes?

6. Ranger escaped from our backyard the other day. I was working out and someone rang our doorbell and when I answered it I discovered a (very annoyed) lady who was trying to go for a run with her dog but couldn’t because Ranger was running circles around them (and while he’s harmless, I’ll admit he looks pretty scary). How’d he manage it? Apparently there was a section of fence in the corner that was messed up and there was a pretty big hole…and he discovered it. I’m assuming that’s how he got out because I sincerely doubt he’s capable of jumping the fence. Thankfully, I got him back inside very easily and he was totally fine. And I immediately sent Corey to Lowe’s to buy some wood to patch the hole. So now, there’s a corner of our fence that looks like this:


Not very attractive, but it works!

7. Speaking of our backyard, the crepe myrtles have finally bloomed (ours always seem to bloom late, but when they do they are stunning!) and Corey pruned the tree in the middle of our yard, so things are looking nice and polished. Except for the not-yet-weed-whacked section of grass right around the tree. Whoops.

I love how our yard looks in the summer, and I can’t wait until we can build a patio so we’ll spend a little more time out there!

8. Did you guys know Old Navy had a huge sale this weekend? Yeah, I didn’t either until we were sitting on the couch Saturday night and saw a commercial for it. The next thing I knew we were rushing out the door and spending an embarrassing amount of money there. I have an addiction to summer clothes – there’s just something that comes over me every summer and I can’t have enough new clothes. Plus, $1 flip flops? Who can say no to that?!

9. Speaking of $1 flip flops, I saw all over Twitter that people had insane lines going out the door of their Old Navy for the flip flop sale. I was kind of nervous to go because of that, but our store was no more busy than usual. We didn’t go until about an hour and a half before they closed and we still managed to find three pairs to buy (and could have easily found more if we’d needed them). So, the lesson here is either that Old Navy stores in Austin are superior or that you should just wait until the afternoon rush is over and there will still be options available. All I know is I wasn’t going to wait in a 50-person line for some dollar flip flops.

10. Just a heads up, there won’t be a post on Wednesday. I know 4th of July isn’t until Thursday, but I’m starting my holiday early this year!

What’s been on your mind lately?

 

Stopping to Stare At the Roses

We have some rose bushes on the side of our house, and I frequently curse how high maintenance they are (meaning, they actually have to be watered and pruned more than once a month). They’re pretty in theory, but they’re quite a pain to take care of for someone who has a thumb black enough to kill succulents, and more often than not they just look kind of sad. I consider just chopping them down and calling it a day on a very regular basis.

But then…they do this.

 

And it’s really hard to remember why I hate them so much.

Do you have any plants that you have a love/hate relationship with?

A Back Door Upgrade

This is one of those projects that was definitely not on our list of things to complete anytime soon. Our back door wasn’t anything special, but it certainly wasn’t bad enough to actively bother us, and we really had no plans to change anything about it anytime soon. Why would we, when we have so many other problem areas that need fixing first?

Well, all that changed with Corey’s parents decided to buy a new back door and offered us their old one. Theirs has a much larger window (which is exactly what we eventually wanted), so we figured why the hell not?

We got the door from them quite a while ago and it’s just been sitting in our garage – like I said, it wasn’t high on the priority list. But this weekend we finally decided it was time to get it done, so we ran to Lowe’s, grabbed some paint, and got to work.

We decided to go with black for the inside and yellow for the outside. We already had some yellow paint from doing our front door last year, so it was a pretty easy (and cheap) decision to make. We were originally going to go with white for the interior, but at the last minute Corey decided that he wanted to try something new and go for black. I’d been trying to talk him into a black door for a while so I of course jumped at the chance to get my way!

Of course, we ran into a small problem with the yellow side of the door. It’s impossible to tell in the photo, but the coverage was awful. We used up the last bit of yellow paint that we had and we still needed at least one (possibly two) more coats before it looked anywhere near okay.

So, at the last minute we decided to scrap our plans for a yellow back door and go with black on both sides. It was cheaper (we already had the black paint and wouldn’t need to buy any more yellow) and had the added benefit of being MUCH better at hiding dirt. Our dogs are constantly jumping and scratching at the back door, so we knew yellow was going to look pretty grimy all of the time. Hopefully the black will hide the dirt a bit better!

I painted the door on Saturday, and once it was dry it was time to hang it and apply the window film. Our old door had an attachment with blinds in the window, but we hoped for something a little prettier this time around, and we’d really like a full view of the backyard from the dining room. Since the new glass is double-paned, we’re hoping that with some solar-blocking window film it will be enough to keep our dining room from heating up. But you know we’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out!

To install the window film, we just followed the directions in the package. It sounds simple because it was! It was a two-person job for sure, but it wasn’t nearly the nightmare that I’ve heard window film can be. Just clean, spray, attach, and squeegee out the bubbles!

Installing the door was very easy and quick. All we did was pull out the pins from the hinges and pull the old door off…

…then we paused for a minute to watch the dogs play as they dashed outside to wrestle. Ranger is just now starting to get comfortable enough with Hadley to actually play with her (he’s either been exerting his dominance or ignoring her since she got here a month ago), so it was a bit heart-warming to watch them all play together. Or, at least, to watch Ranger and Hadley play while Cullen ran in circles around them and barked.

Once we got back to work, all there was left to do was transfer the old hinges to the new door (Corey measured and had to make new holes for the hinges since the doors didn’t have hardware in the exact same spots)…

…then we just lined up the hinges and replaced the pins and we were good to go!

And just like that, we’ve got a shiny new door in our dining room! This door makes a much bigger impact to the room as a whole and I feel like it actually adds to the room rather than just being a boring old door. I’m always a fan of a pop of black, and that larger window makes me swoon!

The view from the outside is a bit better too!

It still looks a little silly since the color of our house and trim is not at all something that we would have ever chosen (and it doesn’t exactly go well with the black!) but this is a major improvement from the previous color, which was exactly the same as the rest of the house.

(Why hello there! This new window film is very reflective in the evenings!)

So that’s our quick and easy back door upgrade that we weren’t planning on, but we’re so glad we did it!

Have you ever done a project you weren’t planning on, only to totally love it? Anyone else do some door replacing this weekend?

An In-Progress Backyard Update

So, I’ve had plans for oh, I don’t know, about a month now to finish up this project and actually share it with you guys. But every time I think I’m almost done, another problem pops up, and I’m finally at the point of throwing my hands in the air and calling it quits.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

So, I’m sharing this project today even though it is oh-so-far from completion, partially because I’m just sick of waiting around to finish it, and partially just for the sake of keeping it real – things don’t always go perfectly for us, and sometimes we have tiny little projects that we think are no big deal that end up taking us months (and months and months) without ever getting completed.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve absolutely hated the ivy that grows on either side of the back door. It takes over the plants back there, it grows so quickly and so widespread that it seems to be invading every inch of my backyard, and I’ve even seen it try to grow into the house on more than one occasion (I’m not joking).

This ivy was ugly, annoying, and I finally reached my tipping point with it one day this summer, shortly before we left on our cruise. So, I pulled it all up. I had tried this many times before in the year that we’ve lived here, but this time I was determined, so I pulled it up from the roots as well as I could and figured that surely the ivy couldn’t survive how roughly I’d treated it and it wouldn’t grow back.

Hah.

When our vacation was over I came home and stepped outside, only to immediately be assaulted by a mass of ivy that had grown back with a vengeance.

Y’all – that was after a week and a half. SERIOUSLY. It had even grown out into the patio and was threatening to strangle one of our chairs. This stuff was angry.

At this point, I finally decided if I couldn’t get rid of the ivy, I was going to embrace it. It obviously wasn’t going anywhere, so I might as well make it look pretty, right? So, Corey and I headed out to Lowe’s in search of a trellis to give the ivy somewhere productive to grow. We found this great, super cheap wire trellis for about $3.00 a pop, and we figured it was exactly what we needed. We could make it in the exact size and configuration we wanted, and it was way cheaper than the (admittedly prettier, but not adjustable) wooden trellises. Plus, we figured that our ivy was so thick that once it grew up the wall you wouldn’t be able to see the trellis anyways! While we were there, we grabbed a couple of extra little ivy plants so that we could fill in the areas that didn’t already have ivy – the plan was to cover this entire window with a trellis and ivy, as well as a small section on the other side of our back door.

The trellis itself was incredibly easy to install – we just screwed the posts into the wall and wrapped the wire around them in a a grid pattern. In about 20 minutes we were completely done with it!

Annnnnnd….this is where I run out of pictures of the process. Why? Well, when we got to the side of the door with all of the boxwoods, we decided that it was going to be too tough to get the trellis installed and then get the ivy behind the boxwoods (it was all planted in front of the plants, right next to the concrete) without just pulling them up, and we hated them anyways, so we decided to get rid of them. Only…as I finished cutting down the last one and was getting ready to dig up the roots, this happened.

….Yeah. Apparently we had a leak (our sprinkler system controls are right there) and we had no idea. Guess it was a good thing we were digging up the boxwoods? We had to call someone from the company who makes our sprinkler system to come out and fix it (and since it was a Saturday evening we got to pay a super fun “emergency” fee), and we figured that would be the end of our problems.

Yeah right.

About a week later, all of the mud had finally dried out enough for us to deal with it again, so Corey headed outside to dig up all of the roots from the boxwoods so that we could finally get our ivy planted. Since we had completely demolished the ivy that was already planted there in the process of dealing with the first leak (or so we thought) we also picked up a couple more ivy plants, since we had already spent so much time and effort on this project. We weren’t about to give up now!

Well, while Corey was outside digging up roots….another leak happened. I won’t point any fingers or say it was anyone’s fault, but let’s just say I’m pretty sure that leak wasn’t there before Corey started digging. So…we got to put in another emergency call! The guy came out, fixed the leak, and we, once again, thought that was the end of it.

Until I went outside the next morning and found MORE WATER in the hole where the “fixed” leak was. Apparently there was a THIRD LEAK due to an improperly installed faucet on the side of our house. We were determined not to pay any more insane fees, and Corey was pretty sure we could fix this one ourselves, so we had my dad come out to the house and help Corey seal it up (there were two faucets side-by-side, which seemed a bit overkill to us, anyways).

And that’s where we are right now. The hole from the third leak hasn’t been filled in yet because it’s still dripping ever-so-slightly, and we want to make sure to get it completely under control before we fill the hole back in and plant the rest of the ivy. And, yes, I realize that our dog-chewed blinds look completely trashy and ridiculous, we just haven’t gotten around to replacing them yet. Ranger gets a bit…anxious while we’re outside mowing the lawn.

The ivy that we bought from Lowe’s seems to be much more high-maintenance than the stuff we already had growing, and we’re having a hard time getting it to actually…grow. It’s still pretty much the exact same size it was when we planted it about a month ago, but we’re hoping with some patience it will actually start climbing. The ivy that was already there (that we were sure would never come back after that first leak) has started to pop back up, so we plan on trying to transplant it while it’s still manageable enough to move.

On the other side, we’ve got another Lowe’s ivy that isn’t growing, as well as some transplanted ivy that seems to be doing okay. It’s not growing as well as it was before, but it’s also not taking over the little bush (and my chairs) anymore, so I won’t complain.

Another little update back here is that we got rid of the hibiscus trees we picked up on clearance from Lowe’s a few months back. We could never get them to stand up straight, and they required daily watering, or else they got cranky. Frankly, I get along much better with plants that thrive on neglect, so we finally realized that it just wasn’t a good match and decided to replace them. We picked up some little succulents from our local grocery store (hopefully they’ll grow a bit and fill out the planter!) and a sage bush, both of which need lots of sun and very little water – perfect for us!

So, that’s where we are in our backyard right now. It’s still looking like a hot mess, but I have hopes that we’ll get everything sorted out soon and it can start more like a backyard and less like a construction zone. On the bright side, the back patio is much less crowded without those big, imposing boxwoods!

Have you ever had one of those projects that just goes wrong at every turn? Any suggestions on how to make our ivy grow? Anyone else have a million leaks in their yard?