The Patio

Bill worked outside on this huge project most of last summer.  It was late in the season when he finished the project and it isn’t quite complete yet, as we still would like cover with topsoil and plant thyme.

We gathered about 4 pallets of stones a few years back from across the street for a mere 60 bucks.  Yeah, we scored.  A pallet of stone can be a few hundred dollars, depending on the type, so we really were grateful for our purchase.  With those, we planned all of these glorious ideas on whether to make stone walls, walks or a patio.  I think we have enough to do our whole yard.

To start a project like this, Bill had to dig out the sod, lay crushed stone or pea stone and tamp it down.  Then he fitted the larger stone and set it all in with sand.  It really took him most of the summer, but I think he enjoyed the process and we have a beautiful patio.

This spring, we planted red thyme and a few other goodies around the border for erosion.  Bill also added a few steps to the yard, so that Will would not be tempted to step through my new plants.  We still need to place topsoil between the stones and plant a creeping thyme or sage for erosion and appearance.  There will certainly be a followup post with better pictures to come once that is all complete.

Our weekends

the raspberries I planted last year
the raspberries I planted last year

Each weekend we get a little more done.  Sometimes it is mainly yard work, which over the past 4 summers has turned into more and more prolific flowers and well, the same amount of weeds.  🙂  But our lilacs are unreal this summer.  Sometimes, though, we get a few more bits done inside and out, amongst raising toddler Will and middle-age Heidi.

This past weekend we hung  a new storm door on the side, and I planted hyacinths and phlox.  It isn’t much, but those little changes add up a lot.  Our home is becoming more and more comfy and family-like.

My sister asked me recently what we are going to do next.  Well, honestly, I don’t think well tackle any large projects.  We’re saving money after buying another new vehicle this spring, and I’d like a bit of travel this year, too. So we are conquering smaller things.  We’ll paint more and adjust more.  We might scrape down the garage and resurface the drive.  We’ve discussed putting in a carport and even a shower in the downstairs bath.  But I’m just not sure.

my hosta garden on the south side in the shade
my hosta garden on the south side in the shade

Recently we had the house appraised for a refinance.  Unfortunately, the appraiser said the house was worth about $140K, which feels low to us.  He also said that it only matters how many heated square feet we have and how many baths and bedrooms.  He said it didn’t matter that we had the exterior painted or the floors redone.  It didn’t matter that we’ve put in all we’ve done, it only matters how much square footage we have.  He even said that a kitchen is just a kitchen and that a $100K kitchen is the same as what we have.  ?????  So, I’m pretty discouraged about putting any money into our house.

But at least we’re making it nicer for ourselves at this point.  So, that is why I’m gardening and doing smaller things.  The refinance will likely go through at the end of the month and give a few more dollars per month to put towards things that do matter — like ice cream. 😉

Gardening at 60 West Main

Overgrown house

So remember when we first moved in and we had to cut back everything in the yard, by a lot?  I can refresh your memory by sharing some old photos of that late summer 3 years ago.  When we first looked at the house, the yard hadn’t been mowed. . . and then it was over mowed.  Everything in the mower’s path was shorn down to the wee bits of root.  But the vines attacking the east side of the house grew up onto the second story wall and chimney and covered part of the roof.  The back yard had a large overgrown raised bed and trumpet vine was (and still is) everywhere.  We spent most of our time in the house that first summer cutting things back and just piling at the curb.

Front porch before painting

Each summer since, we have continued to prune and pay attention to what is growing.  Apparently, our house used to have a fabulous garden and it is still evident.  There are mature quince, lilac and hydrangea.  The rhododendron are huge in front and the cypress border is overgrown.  There are small patches of flowers, that are coming back better every year now and I’m anxiously tending to them to see what comes up every spring.  Though I haven’t created any beds of my own until this summer, I’ve been quite pleased to see how a little pruning goes a long way.

First garden bed

First flower bed all grown

We had a great spring for cleaning out the yard and we were able to rake out a lot before the growth started.  In that time, I planned and prepared my first bed.  I pulled everything out over the course of a month of weekends and planted raspberries, french lavender and a small boxwood.  I trimmed back the Japanese quince that was already there and mulched everything.  Then I put in some ground cover flowers, lobelia and phlox, both purple.  So far the raspberries have grown magnificently and I’ve picked a handful this summer, even though they weren’t supposed to fruit until next year.  The ground flowers are weak, but the lavender is quite happy despite Will picking all the blossoms.

Since I worked on this bed, I’ve been planning and plotting what else to do.  For most of the garden, I’d like to plant self-maintaining flowers, fruits and even vegetables and ground cover.  We’ll see what I can learn and come up with.  I’ve moved some hosta out from under the immense trumpet vine in the back and planted it under a flowering tree out front where it will make a nice bed once it fills in.  In another few weeks, I’ll plant some bulbs for the next spring and then I’ll let it be.

West side of 60 West mainOn Bill’s end, he has a new trimmer and edger.  So he has happily kept the little grass we do have in a neat few squares in the front.  Weeds can look quite nice as ground cover if they are mowed and trimmed. 🙂  Eventually we will plant some real grass, but we don’t want to use chemicals on what is there.  And, we’re debating on how to replace the slate sidewalk out front that is desperately cracked and falling apart.  So, it might be a while on that front.  In the meantime, the beds and pruning will just have to do.