Tag Archives: grass

Yard Work

With the beautiful weather that’s been around the past few weeks, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside. I attempted to seed my lawn about a month ago, and added starter fertilizer a week ago, and it is very slowly starting to come up in places…with our hard clay soil and sloped yard, I think a lot of seed probably washed away in other places before it set out roots. Or the weeds are totally choking out new growth. I also got a sprinkler which is SO much better than standing and watering my yard by hand almost every night which, despite the small size of my yard, took about an hour and probably didn’t get the ground nearly as wet as a sprinkler.  Many spots will have to be revisited with more seed, perhaps after a serious weed treatment and a lawn aeration in the fall. But some of my baby grass is sending up shoots:

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We also weeded out the beds in front of our house, which were covered in weeds (see the little weeds around this daffodil, and it had gotten even worse in the last couple weeks!).

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We weeded and mulched everything:

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I’m trying to talk myself into thinking that if we keep these areas free of debris and weeds, the monster spiders that live near our porch will seek areas with more cover and stay away. Unlikely, but here’s to hoping!

We also added a bird feeder and bird house out back. I always thought birds were sweet docile creatures, but after a week they had torn the feeder apart and ripped off all the hole covers so the seed spilled out, and then the squirrels got to it. Apparently a $7 feeder cannot withstand my yard’s wildlife, so a more substantial one has been ordered. Here’s a squirrel who was literally dragging the fallen feeder around the yard for a while trying to get the remaining seeds out:

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And finally, after a less-than-pleasant notice from our HOA informing us that our mailbox paint was unacceptable (although our neighbor’s disabled van that has been on the street since about January with no air in the tires and a busted front end is totally contributes to the aesthetic appeal of our neighborhood), we scraped off the old paint and sanded it, and Nik put a couple new coats of exterior enamel on it this week.

We’re trying to do everything the HOA complained about on the exterior of our house to up our chances that they’ll approve our garden (move our trashcans out of sight from the road even though 9/10 houses on our street keeps their cans on the side of their home or in the driveway, and none of our neighbors got a notice asking them to move their cans), fix the mailbox paint, and fix our lawn’s weed situation (they asked us to “please remove all weeds from your yard within 14 days of receipt of this letter”…hah!). They STILL haven’t decided if they’re going to let us have this garden despite my 5+ attempts to contact them and inquire about whether a decision has been made, or to ask if they have suggestions so we can redesign it a way that they are happy with how it looks. I honestly never knew people could make this much fuss about a small raised bed garden and a few vegetable plants, but apparently being given authority does things to people.

This weekend we’re hoping to wrap up some trim painting in the house and maybe get started on painting some kitchen cabinets. My parents will be in town so I’m excited to show them all the projects we’ve done in the past few months.

Signs of Spring

When I was a little kid, nature was a big part of my world, thanks to my parents. My brother and I were always interested whatever wildlife we could get our hands on from our backyard (turtles, frogs, tadpoles, bugs of all sorts, a stray duckling, snakes, the list goes on). And my parents were avid gardeners, so we knew all about plants sprouting and growing from a young age.

One of my favorite springtime activities as a young kid was looking for “signs of spring” in the yard – I’d get all bundled up and go in search of new buds and bulb plants coming up out of the leaves or snow. My mom says I knew the names of all the different types of flowers.

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It’s only February now, but our daffodils stared sprouting weeks ago, and the pink cherry trees in our neighborhood are in full bloom. Nik’s fig tree (that originally came from a family tree in Italy years ago, and our clipping came from an established tree in his parents’ yard in Pennsylvania) also had a bud which means it survived its first winter in our ground.  It’s exciting to be in my own house as an adult and appreciate the signs of spring in my new yard.

Since the weather finally got warm this weekend and no more torrential rains are predicted for the next week I put some grass seed down. Our lawn has a fair amount of weeds, but they’re kind of green so I was hesitant to kill them. I’m starting with fescue grass and we’ll see what comes up. Once the grass has become more established I might try to go back with a weed killer.

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I also got a few planters going on my back porch for herbs. I haven’t planted them quite yet, but the soil is in them waiting for it to warm up a little bit more.

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I also got some seeding trays and I’ve started some vegetables from seed in the warm, sunny guest bedroom upstairs. Sure enough, our garden application to the HOA got rejected since it lacked an official survey (but it sounds like they didn’t even take the time to read all the information we did submit), so I’ll have to talk to them this week to see how we can appeal, hopefully still without having to get a survey done, but I think they’re going to be difficult about this unfortunately.

With the warm weather, we’re also seeing more animals in our yard and neighborhood – in the last week, we saw the rabbit that lives in our yard (I named him Peter), 3 deer, a giant opossum, a woodpecker, a baby garden snake, and a large hawk. I’ve also seen bluebirds in the area – I want to get a bluebird house up in the yard to see if we can attract a pair.

Our bathroom has continued to progress. This weekend we got our floor tile grouted – we only made about a fifth of the grout package, and it turned out to still be too much. IMG_0579We scooped some onto the tiles and started smoothing it into the cracks with a float.

The float was making the grout sort of crumbly and dry looking so we added some more water and it went in a little smoother. I still wasn’t convinced it would look nice and smooth when we were done. After applying it, you have to wait about 30 minutes to wipe it down with a slightly wet sponge. It came right off the tiles, and the grout lines immediately smoothed out – problem solved!

We wiped 3 times, then got a rag and buffed the remaining haze off the tiles.

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I don’t think we could’ve asked for better grouting! Next, we used some salvaged pieces of baseboard and shoe trim to cut pieces for the left side of the bathroom to cover where the old vanity was. I gave them a quick coat of trim paint and Nik cut them to size, now they just need to be attached with the nail gun, and the trim that was already in the room needs to be painted to match.

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The next step is adding our backsplash. On Saturday night Nik had a dance performance so I went to Lowe’s to look for tile. I reflected a little while I was in the store by myself, at 8pm on a Saturday night, looking like a hobo in my dirty grouting clothes, spending an inordinate amount of time staring at backsplash tile, and trying to extract as much information as I could about laying backsplash from the  Lowe’s associate I found – turns out their most knowledgeable associates definitely choose to work “off hours” when the store is emptiest, like late on a Saturday night =) But when this bathroom is done, I think it’ll be worth it.

I picked out some tile that I thought would work for several reasons – it is slightly beige toned but still has gray, so I think it will match the walls and help warm up the room. It was about $12 a square foot which is pricey, but we only need about 5 square feet. It has no glass mosaic tiles – all ceramic/porcelain, so we could use the current blade on our tile saw to cut it. And, the shape of the tiles makes sense for our wall – anything with larger tiles, like subway tile, probably wouldn’t look as good along the side of our vanity, which has only about a 4″ clearance on either side.

On Sunday Nik and I dragged the vanity base into the room to hold up the tile and see how it all looked together. The vanity looks very dark in the room, with the light behind it, which we weren’t expecting. It looks more dark brown than light gray. But brown is alright, since the tile has warm tones.

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It’s coming together!