by Joe

Solar Lights For The Landscape

June 29, 2013 in Landscaping by Joe

When the sun goes down and all your beautiful plants and flowers can no longer be seen, it doesn’t mean your yard has to be boring till the sun comes back out again. Spice things up with landscape lights!

Unlike years ago when solar lights were ugly and the color put out was dull and boring. Today they’ve come a long way I think. I would much more prefer electric landscape lighting but when you’re pinching pennies you have to go with the next possible solution. Putting in solar lights is obviously a heck of lot less hassle as well with zero maintenance.

You can still buy crappy solar lights but we found some neat decent quality solar lights at our favorite hangout, Home Depot of course.

colored solar lightsMixed in with our phlox border we put in crackle globe solar lights. These  actually look neat during the day with their design so they kind of serve a dual purpose. At night they look the best though. Each one has the option of going with solid white, or a fun color changing mode that slowly changes from green, purple, red, and blue. Right now they are set on the color change mode because we’re fun like that.

There’s also a solar rock spot light in there to light up our Japanese maple tree. With things in the garden starting to fill in I might have to move the rock spot light to a different location as it gets blocked by the flowers.

To the right of the porch in the smaller flower bed we put in what I would call an art light. Again this is solar and actually puts out more light than one would think. During the day, with its blown glass flower heads it looks like a piece of art in your garden. Come night it comes to life with its warm yellow tones and looks equally as great.

Now when the sun goes down and the flowers take a break, there’s a whole new dimension to the front yard. Since all the houses on the block are very similar it also makes it easier to spot our house at night.

by Joe

Front Yard Landscaping

June 23, 2013 in Landscaping by Joe

It’s time for a flower explosion! I’ve been wanting to make this post for at least a month to show off our front yard landscaping but kept running out of time to finish the post. It’s like a bajillion degrees outside so sitting on the couch with the AC keeping me cool was the perfect time to show you all what we’ve been up to.

flower truch load Now that the porch is painted and looking nice, we couldn’t just stop there now could we. Another great transformation was needed and with shovel in hand, a truckload of perennial flowers, we set out to give the front yard a landscape face-lift. If you are wondering what happened to the big ugly evergreen in front of the porch, you’re about to find out.

This project started out as us removing the ugly tree and replacing it with something new, but it quickly evolved into beautifying the front yard and making it look like a flower catalogue threw up in our front yard.

After the evergreen shrub/tree was taken out I had a brief panic set in wondering if removing it was the right thing to do. The look of the house immediately changed and it was rather naked looking. I liked the privacy it gave the porch but on the flip side, besides it being ugly, I like being able to see past the front steps and people watch the neighborhood.

With the big ugly tree gone and the yard marked out for the new bed, out came the shovels and sweat rag. We have such a tiny amount of front yard that we had to keep things on the small side. I prefer flowers over grass but we need a little bit of lawn at least.

At some point in time someone who lived here really liked rocks. Just under the grass level was pretty much all gravel and some rather big rocks. Talk about a pain in the butt to dig!

The next step was to unload all the plants from the truck and set up our planting height groups. I can’t remember everything we got but here is what I do remember:

  • Rose of Sharon
  • Daisies
  • Phlox for border
  • Several Columbines
  • Foxgloves
  • Delphinium
  • Zebra Grass and Pampas Grass
  • Japanese lace leaf maple
  • Yellow Blanket Flower
  • Tickseed
  • Hostas
  • False Spirea
  • Clematis
  • Burning Bush

Among that I have red giant cannas that I dig up and replant every year, the ones that get like 8 feet tall. I just love them as do the hummingbirds! The Rose of Sharon shrubs I cannot wait to see what those look like next summer. One of them is flowering right now but it’s so tiny that it’s not all that showy. Still really pretty though as it has such profuse blooming for such a tiny little thing.

For the mulch we used my all time favorite type, cocoa mulch. I love the chocolate smell it gives off for a couple days and the really hard shell it creates after a couple good rains and waterings. I know most people are afraid to use it due to pets but I’m not worried since I don’t leave my pets unattended when outside.

After things have started to fill in I’ll be sure to make an update post. Right now it looks a tad lack luster but should look great in a month or so.

All the neighbors love what we’ve done in the front yard. Everyone that passes by stops and gives us props for making the block look so pretty.  Get this, people actually apologize when they step on our grass. No joke! Its apparent not many around here know what it looks like to put tons of effort into landscaping and that grass is for walking on, even if it does look really good. What we have done is already spreading to other yards. People are starting to get inspired by what we are doing and working on their yards. Now that’s a domino affect that I like to see! Several people have already asked Barry to build flower boxes for their houses like he made for our window and porch. Even though one of the people are planning on putting fake flowers in it (who does that!?), it’s a start.


by Joe

Putting In A Koi Pond

May 28, 2013 in Landscaping by Joe

So I have this raised veggie garden bed but it was missing one important thing, dirt! Kinda need dirt to grow veggies I think. I really didn’t want to have to buy soil from Home Depot or wherever but it really was my only option. Then comes along the perfect solution, digging a 4′ deep x 12′ wide hole in the ground. No, I’m not burying bodies. As if perfect timing a good friend decided to put in a permanent over-winter Koi pond. Hey, can I have your dirt?!

I love a good creative project so I decided to trade him dirt for labor. This friend is a pretty busy person and I had a feeling if I didn’t help it would turn into a 2 month process for him. Digging that big and deep of a hole is no easy task. I set out to have it done in a couple of days just in time for the weekend so we could knock out the install quickly.

Put a shovel in my hand and set me free!!

It took me just about 3 days to dig almost 4 feet down. We had a hot spell here so I waited till about 5pm everyday so that I could dig in the shade. No sense in breaking a sweat if I don’t need to, right? All the buckets of soil you see is being transported to our place so I can plant my raised garden bed. Yay! This hole filled at least 30 buckets and 30 big rubbermaid bins. That’s a whole lot a dirt!!


koi pond linerWhen I finished trying to dig my way to China it was time for the fun to start. What!? Digging isn’t fun?

If you’ve ever installed an above ground pool, you know how much fun de-wrinkling a pond liner can be. You get one wrinkle out and create 2 more wrinkles. Being that this pond is a triangle in shape with ovals in it, well that just added more fun to it. Naturally the weekend we picked to do the koi pond install, it was in the low 50′s. I would have preferred a hot sunny day so I could jump in the ice-cold water to cool off and smooth out the wrinkles at the same time. Instead I had to dance around the outside and try not to fall in to the hypothermia pool.

Putting in the waterfall was the part that excited me the most. Aside from seeing the finished project of course. In my head I had envisioned this grand 5 tier waterfall but as this isn’t my pond I had to keep my ambitions in check. A 3 tier waterfall would have to do.

The pump that is running the circulation is a pretty big pump. We were kind of worried it was going to be too much movement for the filter box and waterfall size but after a short wet test we could see it was a perfect fit!

The rest of the koi pond install went rather quickly with a pause here and there when I couldn’t find the perfect rock for some spots. It’s hard work making something look organic and not forced, or maybe I just have a slight touch of OCD.

3500 pounds of rock later, we stood there and admired the finished koi pond. I would have to say I/we did a pretty darn good job! A bottle of champagne would have been an appropriate celebration but at this point I don’t think my arms could manage to lift one more thing. Even alcohol! Shame…

Of course now I want to put our pond in but I think that may have to wait till next summer :pout: . Now that I have dirt to fill my raised cinder block garden I’ll have to just focus on that this summer.

Do you have a pond in your backyard? Do you want one? Have shovel, will travel. :)


by Joe

Replacing A Tree

May 17, 2013 in Landscaping by Joe

There is this evergreen tree right off the front porch that was left untrimmed for who knows how long. It was overtaking our porch and the neighbors driveway so I had to trim the tree. There were branches cris-crossing all over the place so I attempted to make it look better last summer by hacking away a good amount of overgrowth. Afterwards it did look better but this year the darn thing is just annoying every time I look at it. For some odd reason hornets seem to like it too, got stung in the nose while trimming away. There were like 4 nests in the dam tree.

overgrown evergreen evergreen next to porch

We’ve decided to replace this eye-sore of a tree but I’m having a difficult time deciding on what tree or shrub to replace it with. As you can see the area won’t allow for anything that spreads too far. We’ll be replanting a little further away from the porch which will give us a tiny bit more room.

Here are my current thoughts…

Japanese Maple – Love the form and structure of these trees, the dainty leaves and the deep purple color. The only down side is they grow so darn slow and you never really know how tall it’s going to get. Our porch is rather pronounced and a 3 foot tree would look just ridiculous sitting there for 5 years.

Weeping Cherry – OK now these I absolutely love! You can get ones that get massive and some that stay small 10′ x 6-8′. Weeping trees are just fun to look at, and a weeping cherry is just awesome when it blooms.

Lilac – Their intoxicating smell that you can smell blocks away is enough for this to be in the running. The only thing I don’t like, when they aren’t blooming it’s a boring looking shrub.

Rose of Sharon – Not much needs to be said about this tree/shrub, it’s just darn pretty! My grandmother grew giant dinner plate hibiscus (Swamp Mallow) in her flower garden and to this day it is my favorite flower. Every time I see one I think of her.

I had some other choices but they have escaped my mind at the moment. I’m pretty sure I know what we are going to end up with (weeping cherry), but I’m not sure if that’s really the right thing to plant there. I don’t really care what it ends up being as long as it either flowers, or looks pretty if it doesn’t flower.

What would you plant in such a restricted space?

by Joe

A Little This, A little That

July 23, 2012 in Basement, Landscaping by Joe

Haven’t started working on the kitchen as of yet but we managed to get a couple of things done.

The most important thing that was accomplished was getting my studio area setup and unpacked. No work means no pay for me, and I think I ran out of money a week ago. So I was very glad to get things going again and get back to work. I think my customers are happy as well ;)

The Before

Presto! Back in Biz!

My work area still needs a ton of organizing and some rearranging but it’s up and running. I’ll deal with those other pesky details when I find myself sitting there staring at my work table in a blank stare with no inspiration in sight.

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