Category Archives: Green Thumb

Our Weekend Project

Part of living in a recession is having vacant houses in your neighborhood. We have been experiencing this first-hand with a house on a corner lot on our street.
We weren’t sure what the story was, but about a year ago somebody stopped taking care of the yard. Since then the city came out once and basically bush hogged the high weeds, but didn’t do a thorough job by any means.
Ben got a whim on Saturday and suggested we take matters into our own hands. When we measured, the tallest weeds were over 3 feet high!
This house is on one of our typical walking routes we take Cali on. We’ve been forced to walk on the street because the weeds were crowding the sidewalk.
After we got started, the next door neighbor came over and told us the situation. The lady who lived there had a stroke, was put into a nursing home, died shortly thereafter and, since her family wasn’t able to pay, the nursing home took ownership of her house. Now, no one is willing to take responsibility.
We started with the weed eater and cut down the overgrown areas. Look, it’s a rare pic of me doing manual labor (my sunglasses doubled as safety glasses)!
Mr. Muscles did a lot of tough raking that day!
Then I went through and mowed the entire yard TWICE – once on the highest setting and then on a lower setting so it would be good-to-go for winter.
3 grueling hours and 5 bags of trimmings later, we were finally done!
Here it is all spruced up! All in all, it was a great way to spend our Saturday morning. We met 3 neighbors we hadn’t met before and a couple of them even trimmed the hedges later that day to help out with the project.

Please note that we did this for purely selfish reasons of wanting to make our neighborhood look nicer and to have access to the sidewalk on our walks. Ben joked about sending an invoice to the city for our gas and labor:)

Anyone else have vacant properties in your neighborhood? Can you top our crazy hard-labor adventure? What other ladies prefer mowing to bagging any day?

Weekend Projects—Trimming Things Up

Oh the adventures we’ve had this Memorial Day weekend! We FINALLY decided on the perfect paint color (Benjamin Moore Coastal Path) for the master only to have the Lowe’s guy burst our bubble. Apparently, the colorants needed to create that color would cause there to be too much paint in the Olympic paint can. Plan B was a trip to Ace Hardware while crossing our fingers that the BM paint would be on sale this weekend – no such luck! There’s no way we were paying $50 vs. $23/gallon on paint, so back to square one.
Plan C was giving up on the wall color and focusing on painting the trim in our house from ugly beige to semi-gloss white. Why are we going to all the trouble of doing this? Well, besides it making our crown/foot molding really POP it would look really bad next to all the white air duct vents we’ve replaced. It makes a huge difference and just gives the whole house a crisp look.
Oh, and here are the remains of the trees/brush Ben spent hours chopping down in our backyard yesterday. I knew we needed to do some major trimming before putting the house on the market so it wouldn’t look like a forest. I, however, was NOT prepared for the new view Ben opened up to our neighbor’s yard.
Spare tires, trash cans and falling-down tents are a home stager’s nightmare! There were words and more words about whether or not Ben had single-handedly brought down our property value with every hack of his saw. Now our options are to politely ask our neighbors to clean up their yard OR to buy large plants of some kind to replace what Ben cut down – ugh!

That pretty much sums up our productive frustrating weekend. As upset as I was about the new backyard view fiasco, I couldn’t really say much since Ben spent hours and hours painting trim and I have yet to pick up a paint brush (blush). Anyone else have paint matching problems, or better yet solutions? How about having “the talk” (no birds or bees involved) with your neighbors about cleaning up their stuff so you can have house showings?

The Constant Gardener

…of death that is. It all began when my mother-in-law kindly bought us a plant as a housewarming gift many years ago. The plant was luscious and tropical looking, but when I started seeing some brown I panicked! I did everything I knew to do – more water, more sun, less water, less sun – all to no avail. I, my friends, am a plant killer. The biggest problem is that I love the idea of having house plants, so the cycle continues.

Exhibit 1

This little guy used to be a pot of beautiful purple flowers living in bliss at The Fresh Market with all his friends, until it’s life was cut short by me.

Remember these beautiful orange tulips on my spring tabletop that I blogged about just last week? Dead as a doornail.

Exhibit 2

My hubby has started referring to me as “the cooler” because I tend to suck the life out of any plant that ever had a chance. I realize that I should probably just buy a bouquet of flowers, expect them to live a week or two and call it a day. I’ve even somehow managed to destroy simple bamboo plants which I’ve heard are low-maintenance and hard to kill. Alas, I guess my dreams of having house plants may never come true.

On a different note, hubby and I went on a mini family photo shoot yesterday since the cherry trees were in bloom. Here are a couple of our favorite shots:

What can we say, we like to cheese it up for the camera every chance we get. I love that one of Ben – watch out GQ! Isn’t the order supposed to be plants, a dog and then kids? Don’t worry, somehow we’ve managed to keep our pup alive for 6 years now. I’m not going to pretend that this blog isn’t a cry for help for any advice on how NOT to kill house plants. Are there any tried and true plants that have superplant powers which could survive even me?

A Garden Facelift

Saturday morning at our weekly Panera breakfast, we debated whether to paint a room or clean out the front garden. The weather choose for us because it was  beautiful – it would have been a sin to stay indoors. This didn’t seem quite as crazy for my hubby because the yard is his domain, but I definitely felt outside of my comfort zone. This is what we started with…We began by pruning our crape myrtle to the far right. I hadn’t grabbed the camera yet, but it had grown higher than the gutters. Ben researched this online and decided on this method of pruning 6″ above the knuckles.Next up was taking Old Man Winter OUT of our garden. I raked the leaves and debris while hubby did the hard task of de-weeding.Notice how you can’t even really tell where the yard stops and the garden begins? There was a black rubber divider that used to section it off, but it definitely wasn’t doing its job.After cleaning out the bed, we took a fun trip to Home Depot to brainstorm on a better solution to a garden divider. These stones were 99 cents a piece and we ended up needing 54 of them (plus a couple extra just in case one breaks). We also bought 5 bags of black mulch to build the garden up and make it pop.Look at that beautifully sectioned off garden! It will have some color once the daylilies, gladiolus, and crape myrtle bloom. Last year we attempted to plant some more flowers, but the clay in our soil sucked the life out of them.Here’s a close-up of how much of a difference the stones and mulch make. I also raked 3 bags worth of leaves from the side of our house which is where I discovered a secret compost pile we didn’t even know about – gross! It took us most of the afternoon, but was well worth all our hard labor.

Before we did anything, I had Ben walk across the street with me so that we could really look at the curb appeal (or lack thereof) of our house. We often neglect the very first thing potential home buyers see. We’re too busy pulling into our garages day in and day out to really notice. No matter how nice your house is on the inside, they may never step inside your front door if the curb appeal isn’t up to par. It’s a great place to start if you’re thinking of listing your home!

There was no dramatic paint reveal at the end of the weekend, but it sure felt good to get some dirt underneath my fingernails. Thanks to some Home Depot gift cards hubby got for x-mas, the entire project only cost us $2.25 (it would have been around $80). Who else out there has put their green thumb to use this spring? What low budget fixes have you done to enhance your curb appeal? How many of you are wondering if I actually did any work or just sat on the sidelines with the camera?