Fillin Out the Bump Out

The other morning when I snuck outside to grab a couple of shots of our new porch stairs, I realized I never shared our little border bump-out garden that we planted a couple of weeks back.
Shame, shame. How dare I leave you hanging like that. 
So without further ado, here you go…

This garden is directly across from our breakfast room double window - a decision we made pretty quickly when regrading the yard early this year - we love to throw open the shutters during breakfast and take in the view. 

Don't you just love when a quick decision works out!

Anywho, when we were planning this garden, I knew I wanted to stick to a white, green, and purple/blue overall color scheme to incorporate and playoff our gigantic transplanted hydrangea. 

One of my favorite plants we managed to incorporate is the white knock out rose. I scoured the city and managed to find 3 from two different nurseries. 

Of course, now they have truck loads of them at Home Depot!

I love using white blooming plants because they pop against the green and really shine at night.  That's why I snuck in an extra peony in white, too!

I also made sure to include a bunch of lavender. There are a lot of varieties out there, these are Provence lavender. To bump up the lavender look and feel, I also planted purple salvia. It has a very similar look, but blooms more consistently. Sneaky, sneaky.

When it comes to placing plants, I'm a firm believer in trial and error. But a couple of rules I attempt to follow are:
1. stay away from straight lines
2. plant in odd numbers, typically groupings of 3
3. stay within a cohesive color pallet

Our original plan didn't include arborvitae as a hedge but then I stumbled upon this image on Pinterest and I was sold. 

Here's a zoomed out image of the area we are talking about. That's a lot of arborvitae to make a hedge, so we're planning on tackling it a little at a time … like two arborvitae at a time. Needless to say, it's gonna be awhile. Fortunately, we have the neighbors' worlds worst hedge for privacy until we fill out our hedge … in approximately 5 years! 

Anyone else feel like I overused the word 'bump' in this post? Zoinks.

until next time,

Super Simple Trellis Update {for your cukes!}

I heard a rumor that, generally speaking, blogs are read less during the summer. At this point, I'm kind of hoping that's true, because I'll tell you, time is at a premium around here these days. 
So, today I'm popping in to share a super simple, super fast project from this past weekend: an updated garden trellis.

You may remember that I picked up several of these trellis from Lowe's a couple of years ago. While we still have them and took the time to relocate them to NC, we aren't currently using them in the new garden. 

But, now that our cucumber plants are starting to bloom and grow their vines, they need to be supported. In the past I used the above trellis, but the strain of being supported so upright wreaked havoc on the fruit.

Recently, I read an article in the June issue of Southern Living, where they showed a homemade "lean-to" supporting their cucumbers. While I don't really see myself creating a homemade "lean-to" anytime soon, it did get the creative juices flowing...

A couple quick cuts with the table saw and John transformed our tall trellis into a more cucumber-friendly version.
1/2 off the front, 2/3 off the back. Super simple. Super fast.
Just like I said it would be. That's my kind of DIY project.

Just look how happy those cukes are! Grow, baby grow.

Side note: Check out our red onions in the foreground and the yellow squash in the background. Pretty excited for some garden activity!

Are you starting to feel the summer pinch? How come kids are the only ones that get to enjoy the lazy days of summer :) 

until next time,

Loving This Week: Lowe's Addition

Right now, I'm mid-air en route to what promises to be a fun filled weekend visiting Chicago family and friends.  But before I left I made sure to fulfill my DIY duties by stocking up on gardening supplies at Lowe's so John can finish off that garden wall (read about it here) in time for planting season. 
Usually, I wouldn't look to Lowe's (or other big box supply stores) for anything other than home maintenance and DIY supplies, which is why I was so surprised by some of the offerings in the garden center at Lowe's on my recent visit.

These colorful containers caught my eye as soon as we walked in the door. Offered in both a low oval and a taller round option, stuffed with succulents, they would make a stunning centerpiece for any outdoor display. 
Also on offer were other coordinating containers, pillows, outdoor rugs, cushions and umbrellas. 
Now you see why I had to share…

Candle filled rattan woven votive holders and/or industrial style lanterns would add beautiful ambient light for any outdoor event. 

I forgot to grab a picture of some of the many outdoor pots on offer at Lowe's, but there were several that I'd love to have in our garden including an authentic cement-look small scale pot that would fool anyone into believing it was 3x the weight and price! 

If you are a gardener and in the market for attractive garden structures to support any variety of veggie or fruit or climbing vine for that matter, Lowe's has got you covered. Last year I purchased hinged trellises from Lowe's that worked wonderfully (you can see them here), this year I'll be adding these conical, finial topped cedar trellises to support our tomatoes. At $17 these are a real steal. 
( I should say that this picture doesn't really do it justice. There is a cross shaped support bar that fits near the bottom of the trellis to create the pyramid shape. Unfortunately I couldn't find a link to them online, sorry.)

While I was there, I ran through the lighting section in search of the elusive $45 fixture (read about it here), which sadly, I did not find. But, I did discover this outdoor scroll lantern that would look lovely as an addition to our back porch makeover. 

Before I jet off (pun intended) I have to give honorable mention to this industrial style sconce. How cute would these be flanking a bed in kids room or lighting a bunk. So many options. 
Next time you are running through Lowe's picking up lumber or paint or whatever your next DIY project entails don't forget to check out some of their other offerings.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

until next time, 

A Dream of a Yard

Wanna know what I am looking forward to? 
Spring. Evidently it's set to happen any day now here in the South. I actually read an article yesterday saying that February and March are the best months to do your landscaping. That's a hard one for me to wrap my head around. When we were in Chicago, February and March were considered hibernation months. Guess I'll have to get over that one. Poor me :)

If this is the month to do landscaping, we better start making some progress with our plans. (I shared our issues here) So, I did what any normal person would do and spent hours pouring over inspirational images online. 
Please tell me it's normal. 
Because someone in our household thinks I'm becoming obsessed. But how can you know what you want if you haven't researched all the options - that's what I think.

Here are some of my favorite images, speaking to the major issues in our backyard project.

First up, the crushed stone patio. No matter how you slice it, I love this look. I wanted it in our last house, and I want it in this house. 

The Awning. I'm not going to lie to you, I don't love the idea of an awning. I'd much rather have a permanent roof, but a project of that scale just isn't in the cards for us right now. Fortunately, this image has me loving our awning situation again. 

The Stairs. Initially, I was planning to just add some everyday run of the mill stairs off the back of our deck, but not after seeing this image. Wide stairs, stepping down to the yard, no railing to cage you in. This could really work to open up our long and narrow deck space.

The kitchen garden. Again with the crushed stone. What can I say, I am in love. And that brick boarder. So much better than a pressure treated wood box. 

Of course, these are all dream aspects to my dream backyard. But, maybe, just maybe, we can take a bit of inspiration from them and incorporate some aspects into our designs.
A girl can always dream, right?

until next time, 

It's a Doozy

We've never purchased or owned a perfectly complete home. And this house is no exception. There's always another project looming, a to-do list. With this house, our next project is a serious doozy. 

Summer 2013

The back yard. 
Behold the ugly truth …

Summer 2013

We purchased a home with an overgrown, neglected, disaster of a backyard. The privacy it provided seemed like a plus, when it was all green and lush, but come winter a different story started to present itself. Weeds, mostly. Lots of overgrowth. Not much in the evergreen department. It's not pretty. 

Fall 2013

We did take care of a few obvious issues, like trees overhanging and touching the house, with a tree service this past summer. You can read more about that here. And, John spent several grueling weekends removing a lot of overgrowth from the very back corner of the yard. In return he was treated to a serious case of poison ivy.
Needless to say, our work here is done. 
It's time to come up with a plan and call in the professionals. 

Winter 2014

Here's the plan:
1. rip out everything from the mature (past their prime) azaleas, to the monkey grass to all the other shrubs and roots.
Just like in Chicago, we've decided that less is more. Working with old, overgrown and yukky plants is a lot harder than starting from scratch. This yard is getting a clean slate.
2. regrade the entire yard.
After living here for almost 6 months, watching the water render the grassy area a muddy cesspool - we've decided to face the problem head on. 
3. install stairs connecting the "deck to nowhere" to the yard. 
What a novel concept. An outdoor space that allows you to access your yard! It's a must. And quite frankly, we have no idea why the deck didn't have stairs to begin with…
4. address the awning situation.
Basically, the awning is old. Really old. The seams have all ripped, there are several holes and it's not waterproof. About all its good for is a bit of shade. There is a lot to think about here and unfortunately, none of the options are inexpensive.
5. layout/seating.
The deck is long and narrow, which makes for awkward seating arrangements. It doesn't help that we are utilizing furniture from our old Chicago screened-in porch and patio. One option would be to add additional space in the form of a patio at ground level. Or just rework the layout/seating on the existing deck. 

Winter 2014

On the other side of the backyard is this existing raised bed that currently holds a fig tree and other miscellaneous plants. We plan to transform this into our kitchen garden. Our whole family loved our raised bed gardens in Chicago (you can read more about the boxes, here and the finished garden, here) so why not try our hand at it again, this time on a bigger scale. 

Here's the plan for the kitchen garden:
1. replace rotting railroad ties with something more aesthetically pleasing - like stone.
2. create beds within the overall space, separated by gravel pathways for easy access.
3. upgrade the soil. This seems pretty self explanatory. Gardening requires good quality soil, of which there isn't much at the moment.
4. grow some stuff

Nothing is set in stone, and I am sure there will be changes as we go, but we are excited to get this whole project underway. We'll be sharing inspiration, sources and play-by- plays whenever possible. It feels strange to hire in for this sort of thing, we are so used to doing it all ourselves. I know we will all be missing images of John toiling away. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be able to snag one or two for you. I wouldn't want to deprive you, after all.

until next time,