Bigger & Better

Random image, totally unrelated to this post: We’ve had this Hellebore planted in our front yard for several years, but it bloomed for the very first time this month!

Just a quick note to roll out my brand, spankin’ new, bigger and better blog layout. Exciting, right??? I was happy with my previous template, but was often wishing I could post larger images. Well, I finally found a suitable template with a wider main column. Images will now be over 25% larger than before! The text is also a bit bigger, so it should be quite reader-friendly. Not surprisingly, I’d like to tweak a few elements of the template, but WordPress charges a fee to users who want to edit their CSS code. So, I guess I’ll just have to deal.

What you think? Do you like the change?


A Bit of Progress in the Backyard

We took advantage of the essentially perfect weather over the past few weekends, to make a bit of headway in the backyard.

Tim put in wood edging around the center area that will eventually be planted with sod (when we last checked, Home Depot and Lowe’s had not yet received their shipments).

We moved one of the asparagus crowns closer to the deck, so we’d have more room to build a compost pile in the back corner (sorry, no picture). Then Tim installed edging around the asparagus bed while I groomed Moxie.

Moxie looking cute(r) after her trim.

Tim leveled and tamped the soil around the left raised bed, put down weed-blocking fabric, and finally, six bags of cedar mulch.
Our next step is to do the same thing around the other raised bed.

BTW, the trash can is full of shredded leaves, which we add to our kitchen scraps when composting.

There sure is a whole lot of wood going on back there…

Back Yard = Work-In-Progress

Since the weather has been warm recently, and our thoughts are returning to gardening and outdoor projects, I thought I would get the internets up-to-date on our back yard progress previous to this year. That way, I have a starting point from which to post further updates…

Okay, so the spring before we moved in, the backyard looked like this:

(April ’06 – Concrete patio and yard overrun with strawberry plants.)

Being the wannabe farmer that Tim is, come spring, his first priority was to put in a couple of raised beds to grow vegetables. At the time, we had not yet come up with a plan for the overall space, so he put them where it made the most sense at the time. Later, I drew up a plan (several, actually, that have been morphing over time). And since then, we’ve been working towards that goal in bits and pieces, as we’ve had the time and resources.

(April ’08 – Original placement of two raised beds.)

After the raised beds were in, we made a bed of gravel along the back of the house, where we put a small, but much-needed, shed for tool storage. Sidenote: We compromised on a plastic one. Yes, I know Tim could have built a wooden one – and one that would have been more aesthetically pleasing – but it was a matter of expeditiousness and money. We also put in a herringbone brick path to the shed. I love herringbone brick (especially with moss growing in the cracks)!

(July ’08 – Shed on gravel bed with brick path and three
‘Mocha’ Choral Bells. We got that plant in the metal container for really cheap, but unfortunately, it has not survived.)

The adjacent concrete slab patio was not very pretty, and had a stepped down area which was basically a waste of space. So, Tim installed decking over the slab. Extending boards across the entire 12′ x 12′ space effectively increased our usable patio area by a good thirty-percent or so (I don’t know the percentage, I just made that up). Then, Tim tore down the chain link gate at the front of the yard, and built a horizontal wood fence along the left side. The portion along the back of the yard was built last summer. Hopefully, this year, we can get the front part, including gate, done so Moxie can finally roam the yard off-leash!

(October ’08 – Deck and fencing along left side of yard. We planted two types of decorative grass there, but because of the grape arbor, they are not getting enough sun.)

During this process, we’ve had several ideas that have been adjusted along the way. For example, the original placement of the raised beds on the left side of the yard, was based on the assumption that we were going to keep the two small apple trees that were on the right side of the yard when we moved in. Soon enough, we realized that the few (5?) apples they produced would be eaten by squirrels even before they got a chance to ripen! Needless to say, I didn’t feel bad about giving the “go” to cut them down. This allowed us to move the second veggie bed to the right side of the yard, opening up the space between the two beds. My first thought was that we could put a tiny fish pond in the center. But then we adopted Moxie, and I figured that probably wasn’t the best idea. We also had grand ideas for hardscaping around and between the beds, using bluestone squares and pea gravel, but dallied on that because of the costs.

(March ’09 – After the apple trees were cut down and the rightmost veggie bed was moved. Before, the back portion of chainlink was removed and wood fencing built. My dad got the random broken slate steppers for free, but there wasn’t enough to go around both beds, so we moved them to the front yard last fall.)

This is now our fourth (!!!) spring in our home, and I have decided to scale back our grand plan, so we can just get this thing done already! I don’t want another year of messy and unattractive dirt, mud, and weeds around the raised beds. We need something low-maintenance and simple. Therefore, I’ve decided we’ll plant a patch of sod in the center area, and put small wood chips/mulch around the beds. Not as pretty as bluestone, but it works.

So, this is the latest incarnation of the back yard plan, to give you a bird’s eye view (click here to see it a bit larger):

We hope to get the grass (sod) and mulch portion done over the next few weekends (weather permitting!).

After that, the remaining steps are to:
1.    build a compost bin out of scrap wood
2.    transplant Japanese Blood Grass currently on the left side of the yard to
the area behind the grass patch (not enough sun in current location)
3.    purchase and plant Sky Pencil Holly in river stone strip on left side
(where Japanese Blood Grass was), if money allows
4.    build front portion of the fence and gate
5.    build right side of fence??? (Neighbor already has solid wood fence. This would just be for aesthetics)

Can Tim and Vicki actually get this done?
Or will they run out of steam and money along the way?
Stay tuned to find out!
Same Bat-time, same Bat-station!