Archive | Outdoors RSS feed for this section

Design Target: Porch

15 May

In the past 2 summers living in this house, we’ve done a lot to our postage sized outdoor space.

Our tiny front porch always escaped the project list since it was in decent shape.  Until now.  The floor is suddenly (or not so suddenly) in desperate need of new stain and there are spots on the trim where wood rot is daring to show it’s face.  Really, the porch decided to put itself on this summer’s to-do list.  It was sick of being neglected.

I haven’t yet tackled this project since the weather is still flip flopping from gorgeous to cold (make up your mind New England!), but I’m working on the plans.

porch 2

porch 1

porch 3

Hubs still thinks nothings wrong with the porch.  I, however, know once I spruce the porch up a bit, Hubby will see what it could have been all along.

My plans for this space include

  • new seating for 2 (either 1 bench or 2 smaller chairs)
  • side table- most likely a ceramic pop of color
  • new light
  • repaint trim & ceiling
  • stain floor
  • new mailbox or mailbox makeover

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the perfect seating.  Nothing yet, but once I find the seating, I think it’ll catapult the rest of the space forward.  Maybe I’ll find some gems for the porch at Brimfield this week!

I’m excited to get this project started!


Monday Recovery

13 May

So it’s Monday, huh?  I turned my brain off this weekend, so I guess it’s time to get it back in the game.  Sorry, no exciting post today.  Since I don’t need to spend my day at Clark, instead I need to dig through the mess and find our other house- ya know, that one we actually live in.  It’s somewhere here under the piles of laundry and displaced tools and DIY supplies.  Somewhere.

I also have some gardening to do to clean up my yard.  Mom and I ran to the flower nursery yesterday, although it looks like I should wait a few more days to plant- the weather is threatening frost over the next few days (?!).


We’re a little behind on the garden and veggie garden this year.  Weeding and mulching are high on the catch-up to do list.  I also have to figure out a way to make our garden guest, the chipmunk (see his hole), decide to relocate to a new home.  Any suggestions?

planter box

I just hope the weather’s back to being warm and sunny by the end of the week, because I’m excited to go to Brimfield on Friday!  A gigantic antiques flea market is my idea of a vacation.

Clark has his second showing today, keep your fingers crossed for us!


30 May

I hope you had a wonderful long weekend and Memorial Day!

I had such a fantastically productive weekend that I needed an extra day to recover before sharing with you.

We planted flowers, dug out and trashed 2 bushes, relocated another bush, trimmed even more bushes, weeded a forest of weeds, dug up some MONSTER rocks, installed a new porch light, planted some arborvitae, added another veggie garden planter, and started planting in this year’s edible garden.  Phew!!  It’s tiring just listing it all!  Luckily my super duperly helpful parents were willing to lend a hand.  It was their idea, I swear!!  When they offer to come visit to help dig out a bush (or three), I would be a complete fool to say no!

This is what the front yard looked like just a week and a half ago:

Last weekend, the beautification began with planting flowers in the front of the house.  Planting a few (or in our case, more than a few) flowers is a quick way to make a big impact.  It instantly brightens up the yard and makes it feel more landscaped.

That brings us to the holiday weekend.  Remember my plans for the front yard that I detailed here?  Well, I am please to report that major progress has been made on that front.

Bush: gone.  Arborvitae: planted.  Rock wall: created from the gazillion rocks I dug up in my few days of landscaping.

As a reminder, this was the offending bush:

And now:

I planted the arborvitae a little further from the house than I initially had wanted, since we have meters on the house in that spot.  I’m hoping that they fill in and fill out as they’re supposed to, then they’ll bridge the gap a bit more.

Since removing the large bush was shockingly easier than any of us expected, we decided to move our focus to the next targets:  the side yard’s bushes.  They were in the way of us adding another raised planter,  more tomatoes, and a rain barrel.

The azalea was kinda cute and, aside from its location, quite unoffensive, so it got relocated to a formerly empty corner of the yard.  The holly bush, however was not as lucky.

With those bushes out of the way, we added 1 more raised planting bed in our veggie garden and got started on planting.

This was all done, of course, with the proper supervision.

The cherry on top (curb-appeal-wise) was installing the new porch light that we’ve had hanging out in the closet for almost a year.  It has such a fresher look than the rusted, dated fixture of yesteryear.

Now that I’ve teased you with all the pieces, this is what the entire front yard looks like right now:

After spending the majority of my weekend covered in dirt, I wish I had finished products to show for it.  I do find it reassuring, though, that with all we did last year in the yard, and all we’re doing this year, we’ll be pretty well set up for next year and will just have regular maintenance- or at least that’s the plan.

Remaining 2012 Yard To Do List:

  • Potentially regrade the front yard a bit
  • Plant grass in front
  • Put down landscape fabric, stepping stones, and mulch around veggie planters
  • Fill all 3 veggie planters with edible goodness
  • Mulch.  A lot.
  • Plant ground-cover on the driveway side of the house
  • Get a rain barrel

Curbing Awkward

11 Apr

Once again, I am plotting the demise of several bushes in my yard.  Considering that my yard is about the size of a postage stamp, 3 ousted bushes will be a pretty big deal.  If you recall, last year’s de-bushification of the yard included removing 2 suffering bushes to make way for the veggie garden, and removing the offensive overgrown bushes from the front yard.  This year we have 2 more bushes in the side yard planed for removal to fit more planter boxes for our veggie garden and one bush in the front yard just needs to go away.

From day one, the lone bush on the right side of the front yard has irked me (I really feel like ‘irk’ is a very underused word- I’m rather fond of it- its appropriate in so many situations).  Anyway, the bush- it’s healthy, not a terrible size, but the placement leaves a bit to be desired.  I gave it a year and hoped that I’d forget about it (to save us the manual labor), but it still bothers me much more than it should.  It probably doesn’t help that new episodes of Curb Appeal are on again, and I love seeing how huge of a difference just a few small changes can make.  Too many DIY ideas causes trouble & I’m totally going to get myself in trouble this summer (don’t tell Hubby).

The front yard started close to this.  I don’t have a FULL before picture of the front yard.  This picture was taken after we removed a few suffering bushes from the right side-yard right next to the house:

After we finished the last bush-ectomy, it looked like this:

See how the bushy guy on the right just looks a bit awkward?  There’s nothing grounding him visually- he’s just loitering out in the middle of the front yard.  Awkward.

Through the wonders of photoshop, here’s what I want to do there:

I know its not a MAJOR difference, but it looks more pulled together and hides the side yard/veggie garden.  Cost-wise, it won’t be a big investment, it’ll just be a full day project (optimistically).  Once we get the offending bush out of the ground, I want to plant 2 or 3 arborvitae in line with the house, leaving enough room next to the fence (all the way to the right, unseen in this pic) for a narrow path to the veggie garden.

Last year, the yard and gardens were largely experimental.  We weren’t sure what would grow or how things would work.  Now that we have a better idea of how we use the space and what grows successfully, we may go a little nuts.  I’m super duper excited.  I just want it to be truly warm enough so I can get started!

Do you have any epic yard/garden projects planned?

Patio Dreaming- 2012 edition

6 Apr

I’m a video game widow all weekend thanks to the annual arrival of PAX East (aka Geekfest Boston).  Hubby and all his friends have taken a 3 day weekend starting today and will be celebrating all that is nerdy.  I’ll be adventuring without him, though.  Tomorrow, I’ll be spending the day in NYC watching my amazingly talented sister-in-law, Lily Goodman in an off-broadway play, 13 Fat Girls and a Dead Cat– go see her!!!!! Do it!!  Shows are Tonight, tomorrow, and Monday.  Since I know you want to go, you can buy tickets here.

Even though the weather is taunting us here in New England lately (is it freezing or summer-like?  who knows.  but don’t worry, tomorrow’ll be opposite), I’m starting to plot out my patio furnishings that I never got around to buying last summer.

Almost a year ago, I posted about my plans for some of the patio furniture here.  I almost had a patio crisis (yes dear friends who I know will mock me, its almost as bad as a shampoo crisis) when I realized that the red wrought iron chairs that I had my heart set on:

were no longer available from Kmart and they had a new style in its place that I didn’t like so much:

The newer chairs are a bit too frilly for my taste. I wanted LAST year’s chairs!! Waaahh.  After a brief internal temper tantrum, I got determined.  Lo and behold, Sears now sells my coveted ‘last year’s model’ chairs- AND they’re on sale!!  I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as last year- ya snooze, ya lose, right?

For a total of $301 I have 4 of these babies:

on their way to my local Sears just for me (it was free to ship to store and I like free).  These chairs have an overall silhouette much like their new counterpart, but I MUCH prefer the linear pieces in the back to the scrolling of ‘this year’s model.’  If you haven’t already guessed, those cushions need new fabric.  I’m hoping to find a punchy, graphic outdoor fabric to recover them.

Notice that I said I just have 4 chairs on the way- I did NOT order the matching table.  The table is not fully metal, the top is a plastic and got some pretty dismal reviews.  My first thought was that I would just buy a regular wrought iron table and either paint it to match the chairs or paint the table and chairs all another color.  I wasn’t convinced with my plan, though.  I kind of had my heart set on a vintage eclectic patio scheme and too much wrought iron would be in danger of getting too matchy for my tastes.  I had looked at wood farmers-style tables last year, but since I’m not willing to pay an arm and a leg for something that’s not revolting, I had pretty much abandoned that idea.  Enter IKEA.

This new-to-this-year wooden outdoor table I think has the perfect mix of rustic, vintage, and clean lines to play nice with my red wrought iron chairs (and it doesn’t hurt that the price is kind on the wallet at $139).  When I first showed it to the Hubs, he asked if the sides were a design feature or if they raised for more room.  BOTH, and that’s kind of why I’m in love.  I really like the look if them down (it feels very architectural that way) and I love the versatility of being able to put them up if we have a larger gathering.  I’m pretty much sold on it, but I do want to see it in person to make my final assessment.  Good thing I’ll be taking a trip to IKEA very soon to pick up frames, floating shelves, and other misc for my nephew’s room (just over 3 weeks ’till he’s due, I need to get to finishing his space!).

Phew, that was verbose!  If you’ve made it all the way down here you deserve a prize!  So, what do you think of my chair/table combination?  Am I’m nuts or will it look amazing?

*photos via sears, kmart, sears, & ikea

Curb Appealed

18 Jul

I would be doing a happy dance right now if I wasn’t so pooped from the weekend’s projects.

Saturday, the house got a facelift in the form of a bush-ectomy.  Birds chirped in happiness, the sun shone in approval, and the choruses in my head were singing “Halleluiah.”  Ok, so I may be exaggerating a little, but the outcome was well worth the effort and I couldn’t be more pleased!

Here’s what the unsuspecting front yard looked like in the morning hours:

Let the games begin!  The helpful parents made the trek from CT with all their tools to help.   I learned long ago: If I don’t have the tool I need, don’t go out and buy it, Handy Dad probable has 3 extra. (and often times, borrowing tools leads to helping hands too- win-win!)

First step of a bush exorcism?  Expose the roots and start hacking away at them:

Next step?  Attempt to yank it out with my parent’s mighty CR-V.  The irony is that Hubby and I have an 8 cylinder Jeep Grand Cherokee that has no trailer hitch or any place to attach any towing assembly to, making it as useless as our other car (a convertible) for towing.

Well, the mighty CR-V let us down this time (shocked? yeah, us too).  Indiana Jones, uh..I mean Handy Dad and Hubby continued hacking at the roots of this bush while Mom and I got started on the lesser of the two evil bushes.

All the while, my furry project buddy was supervising.

Once we hacked out the roots as much as possible, mighty CR-V  did prove useful as a big heavy object to attach a ratcheting pulley to.

Eventually the evil bush forfeited and Hubby celebrated the victory with bad Braveheart impressions (I’ll spare you).

The lesser bush was far less climactic of an extraction after the excitement of the first bush.  Once we excitedly had both bushes removed, Mom and I sent the men to dispose of the bushes while we plotted the beautification of the 2 new dirt holes.

Better already, right?

Mom kept busy with Hosta relocation (since they were previously squished in between the gigantic bushes and the stairs), while I worked on creating a stone border on the right side to match the one that already existed on the left.

Soon enough we were ready to start figuring out flower location, although I saved the actual planting and mulching for the next day.

Ready to see the outcome?

Have I built up enough anticipation yet with all the pictures?

Maybe I should make you wait until tomorrow to see the final product….

Just kidding!!  Here’s what our front yard looks like now!

The new stone border might need some more love when I get up the energy to quik-crete it in place (like the other side), but it is good enough for now.

Isn’t the front yard pretty?  Now can you see why I was feuding with the bushes?  They were in the way of my lovely garden!

Full Frontal

3 Jun

Get your mind out of the gutter!  I’m talking about the yard!

I figured- since I unintentionally started a theme this week, talking about the side yard, then the back yard, why not finish up the week with the front yard.

When we moved in, you got a picture tour of the inside of the house, but since everything outside was covered in feet of white coldness we neglected to show you the outside (aside from a picture from when we looked at the house).

Not too much has changed in the front yard, but like everything else to do with this house, I HAVE PLANS!  So here’s a tour of our expansive (hehe) front yard.


Prior to allllll the snow, the front of the house looked like this (although after closing, we were left with a dangerous hole where the signpost once stood):

Don’t like mowing the lawn?  Well, I have the perfect yard for you!

That little patch is all the grass we have.  The previous owners left us a manual push mower with the house, although we could probably get away with just scissors (or I think Handy Dad suggested a goat).  Between mowing, trimming and raking, it only takes about 10 min to take care of the lawn.  Considering I’m apparently making the back and side yard more high-maintenance with all the gardens, a break in the front is nice.

The BIG PLAN with the grass is as follows:  I want to rip out the bush on the right.  Nothing’s wrong with the bush itself- it looks decent, it’s healthy, it’s a good size, but I’m not fond of its placement.  I’d like it to go away.  Then we could extend the grass straight across from the corner of the house to the fence.  When that happens, we’ll plant some arbor vitae, or maybe lilac bushes, or something along that line to block view from the front yard to the side yard veggie patch.

The absolute next project in the front yard is the bushes on either side of the stairs.  These are the enemy!

Their mere presence offends me.  They sit there taunting and mocking me on a daily basis.  I’m sure they were lovely and proportionate once upon a time.  Now, they’re so oversized that I can’t see backing out of the driveway.  Hubby was convinced they could be saved and trimmed or shaped, until he attempted to.  Then he jumped on my bandwagon.  They are so beyond help I can’t even describe it to you.  In their place, we’re hoping for a few textural bushes much more suiting the scale of the house and yard (read: much smaller).

Do you see a theme in these yard posts?  I’m just noticing the trend as I type.  Apparently I’m anti-bush, since I’m talking about ripping out virtually every existing bush in the yard.  They’ve all past their prime and need to be put out of their misery.

One of the few front yard modifications is new house numbers.  Plastic generic numbers are gone in favor of these brushed nickel ones.  Very reminiscent of these  Mid-Century ones available at DWR for a mere $48 each.  We paid only $5.99 each!  I would also like to paint the front door a brighter red at some point.  Hubby’s not yet convinced, but I’ll bring him over to the dark side my side eventually!  The lighting will also be upgraded in the future.

The last stop in our front yard tour is the flower box.  Although the box was here when we moved in, it was the home of dead plant remnants after the forgiving winter.  So it received a pop of color.  The porch got a colorful hanging plant to compliment.

Now you’ve seen all but the driveway side of the house.  Maybe that’s a post for next week.


*Please forgive me for the crappy pictures.  I rushed to take them as I was running out of daylight last night after going wedding dress shopping with a friend (she found THE dress though!)