Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baskets o’ Blooms

Spring is finally here to stay and to celebrate the warmer weather and sunshine, I’ve been container gardening all around the yard.  :)  My new fence presented the perfect spot to hang some baskets overflowing with spring blossoms.  With the addition of some hooks, the fence posts now display all this blooming goodness!


I bought the cute little baskets for $5 each at Walmart.  And then I added some good garden soil from the yard and purple verbena with an assortment of pink, purple, and white trailing petunias.  Hopefully I can keep them watered over the summer and they’ll continue to get bigger and more beautiful!


It really looks like a cute cottage garden fence to me now. :)



I also added some buckets of blooms up on the deck.  In addition to my potted herbs and pepper plants, I have two big baskets of flowers.  These beauties are usually hanging, but this year I decided to hang bird feeders instead.  I converted the hanging baskets to tabletop containers by removing the chains from the sides. 


These flowers came from Lowe’s Foods, of all places!  They are verbena, petunias, and mini petunias sold together in one pot and aptly named “confetti garden”.  At $6.50 a pot, it’s a deal for three different plants!  :)  I added in a small trailing bacopa (the white flowers in the back) for good measure.  We’ve had these plants on our hot list since 2007 when we used them as centerpieces at my brother’s wedding. Ever since, we just call it "wedding plant” instead of its real name.  :)  Even though these all like “full sun” best, I’m hoping they’ll like it okay up here in part shade on the deck. 


My potted herbs are getting the same part shade treatment; just steps away from the kitchen, convenience is the main factor in their location.  I still have a begonia that belongs in that top basket slot.  Below are thyme, parsley (got that mostly for my swallowtail caterpillars to munch on in the late summer), rosemary, and chives.


Next door to the herbs are my jalapenos…


Double impatiens and some awesome pink and green trailing plant called “Jacob’s coat”…


Followed by basil plants…


And around the corner is the cilantro.


In the far corner, next to the doors leading inside, is a pretty fern.  I had this pot leftover from some other annual last year and it was calling out for a fern to complement its classic look.  Me like.  Me no like the chippy, faded blue threshold.  Must paint. :)


The last basket of blooms is on the front porch.  This is the filler from my hanging basket of last year and has been overwintering in my Mama’s sunny studio.  These are geranium and impatiens.  It is on its way back to perking up with some fresh blooms.  I just love the little wire planter basket!  Cute cute!


Now that spring is in full swing, I’m staying busy on multiple projects around the yard.  I’ll be back with updates on two new planting beds, a new rock path, and of course, the long-awaited conclusion to A Fence for Riley! :) 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Full Sun

Just two little words found on the label of beautiful plants and flowers, indicating that they need 8 hours of sun per day to thrive.  Two little words that always leave me feeling disappointed.  Because here at the Horvath House, we don’t have much full sun.  We have full sun in fall and winter, sure, but these plants are sun loving summer flowers.  And I want them!  But our only full sun flower bed is this:


Yep, that’s it for sun-drenched flower living space.  Just that sad little disfigured pear-shaped flower bed which I’ve stuffed full of spring bulbs and summer perennials.  We’ve been planning to expand this particular bed for a while now.  This past weekend, we decided the time had come!  We had a truck full of mulch to back up our plans and some brand new full sun plants just aching for a place to live!  So, we got straight to work on Saturday morning.

First, I used spray paint to mark the lines of our new bed.  It took a bit of tweaking to get the shape right, so it didn’t feel too large or too small.  I figured we’d just expand over to the corner at the driveway to make the bed feel grounded and thought out instead of being a shape created to link the mailbox and the butterfly bush.  Exhibit A from 2009:


Once we’d decided on our new boundary, Mama and I started cutting out the layer of sod.  We rearranged the rock border and added a few more rocks to edge the space.  Then we filled it in with fresh mulch.  Next, I rearranged all the plants that were in the original bed and expanded them into the new space.  And lastly, we added our new full sun specimens.  It took us less than three hours from start to finish and then we were on our way to the next project of the day.  Being the impatient gardener that I am, I forgot to take pictures of the process.  So you can just imagine all those parts and we’ll skip to the afters!


That big empty space is the future home of my tomato plants!  Because we all know that tomatoes are full sun lovers!


We added lantana and impatiens from last year’s potted plants.  They are still making their comeback from overwintering in my parent’s sunny garage.  I’ll be sure to update you on the progress.  The new pink flower in the center is a knock-out rose.  I have been wanting one of these for a while now, and I’m so excited to watch it grow!  Hopefully it likes it here in this sunny corner of our yard. 

Here’s your side by side comparison:


There’s more in store for this full sun flower bed.  We ran out of steam for digging up sod this past weekend, but we plan to expand the bed on the left side of the mailbox later this summer.  Then we will have even more room for sun loving plants.  Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. :)  For now, I am loving my new flower bed and I can’t wait to fill it in with more of those beautiful flowers I have been longing for!


Friday, April 15, 2011

A Fence for Riley—Part Two

Last time I showed you how my Papa and brother John assembled all the posts and rails for our new backyard picket fence.  Well a picket fence without pickets is just this:


Not much for keeping dogs in, huh?  So, of course the next step is to slap some pickets on those rails!  Our pickets were cut from 1 x 4’s which as we all know are really like 3/4” x 3 1/2” (whatever, lumber people).  And they are 4’ tall in most places and taller in some areas to keep the slope the same as the fence falls down the hill.  The top corners are also dog eared just for fun and so that my fence looks like popsicle sticks from far away. :) 

Here is how you apply your pickets:


First you have to figure out how far apart your pickets will be spaced.  Maybe you want complete privacy and your pickets will be right next to each other.  Maybe you want to save a lot of money on pickets and you will put them a pickets’ width apart.  Me, I chose to put our pickets 1 1/2” apart so when you view the fence from an angle you can’t see through it, but when viewed straight on, there is a small space for debris and what not to pass through.  Rileys, on the other hand, can not pass through. :)  Once you have decided on your spacing, you begin screwing the pickets on the rails leaving a space between.  This is like rocket science, I know!  And continue on down the line, cutting pickets to length as you go.  Soon you will find yourself fenced in (or out, depending on which side you are on)!


While you are at it outside, you might as well fill in the space in front of the new fence with a flower bed!  Hostas, daffodils, and black-eyed susans happily edge the new fence.  Can’t wait till summer for those blooming beauties to put on their show!  Here’s a look around at the rest of the new fence:



Riley continues to examine the defensive network for weaknesses. 






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View from the side front yard.  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s been going on over here… a new flower bed full of hostas and a rock path.  I’ll be bringing you updates on this area soon!


Now for your fun fact of the day!  This backyard already had a fence when we bought the house.  It was five feet high and spanned the entire end of the driveway.  (Can you believe the state of those flower beds?  I know, they’re so nice now!) ;)

ext back

While I appreciated the privacy it provided, we weren’t so enthusiastic about the dilapidated state of the fence and the closed off feeling it created.  So, one day, we all just went to work tearing it down!  And now we have a brand spankin’ new fence in its place.  



You might notice that a couple of trees are also missing in the after picture.  Okay, you probably didn’t notice, but that is the best I can do for a segue into the next topic—Papa and John cut another tree!  They had to do it… the tree was in the way of Riley’s fence.  :) And they used a rope to pull it across the yard, and I got pictures this time!  :)   

Disclaimer:  Do not try this at home. :)  This tutorial is purely for entertainment purposes. ;)

How to cut down a tree… Guthrie style.

Step 1.  Climb a ladder and tie a rope to your [tiny, sad] tree.


Step 2. Tie other end of rope to another tree across the yard in the direction you want your first tree to fall. 


Step 3.  Tighten rope until taut.


Step 4.  Hide on the deck while Papa cuts down the tree. :)


Step 5. Admire fallen tree.  Then run away fast before someone makes you haul away limbs and logs!


That brings us to the end of the picket fence.  We are currently getting underway with the wire fence sections that complete A Fence for Riley.  I’ll be back with all the details on how to install wire fencing in part three of the fence story!  Check back, too, for updates on the new landscaping and other outdoor projects of late.  Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, April 11, 2011

A Fence for Riley—Part One

I have come to realize that dog training is not as easy as Cesar Milan makes it look. 


“Say what?!”

Hmm… that revelation was bound to happen sooner or later.  In my dreams in which I am portrayed as the dog trainer, our new puppy Riley is well behaved and never leaves the yard.  Then I wake up.  And find Riley across the street in the neighbors’ yard.  :)  Okay, granted it’s really not that hard to take the dog out and make her stay in our yard, but it’s waaaaaay easier to just let her out into a fenced yard and not worry about her wandering off.  So, project number one on our to-do list lately has been A Fence for Riley. 


“I shall go OFF LEASH?! Wheeeee!”

We decided to fence in the entire backyard which runs into a wooded area at the back property line.  After investigating many different kinds of fences, we settled on a picket fence.  Here is my inspiration photo:

But this is not your average picket fence, this one has its special features designed by me (with a bit of help from the internet.) :)  My picket fence design has 4’ tall pickets and 4’6” tall posts with copper post points.  The posts are 6’ apart.  That is the design; in reality, the slope of our yard created a few areas with taller sections just to unify the appearance of the fence as a whole.  You’ll see what that means later in part two.

Lucky for me, I have a handy Papa to help me build my fence.  He and my brother John came a couple weeks ago to start the process.  Here is a quick tour of the backyard—future site of Riley’s fence.

The view coming down the driveway (special appearance by John and random piece of carpet). :)


The side leading to Riley’s favorite neighbor’s yard.  (Note the many possible routes for puppy escape!)


The other side leading to prime cat chasing area.  (More open routes of escape).


The side yard leading around the deck is a quick means of escape around the house for the doggy who refuses to come back inside.


See my problem? ;)  Well, we have a plan to control all of these areas!  First things first, the fence builders started out digging holes and setting the posts in the ground.  Basically you start with a post that is two feet longer than the part that will stick out of the ground; in our case that means 6’ post (4’ tall plus 2’ underground).  Then you dig a hole with your post hole diggers that is two feet deep, trying to avoid cables and obvious tree roots.  Then you stick your post in the hole and making sure the post is level and not leaning all wonky, you slowly fill in the dirt, tamping it with a “tamp stick” as you go so it is nice and tight against the post and the edges of the hole.  That way when you get the hole filled up to the top, your post will not fall over.  This is what I learned about setting posts.  We do not subscribe to the practice of concrete-filled holes for setting posts.  We are old school. :)  Yes, I am a master of fence building.  That is why I got my father and brother to do it for me.angel smiley

Here is John demonstrating how to dig a hole with post hole diggers. 


He got lots of practice digging holes.  Even with a bum knee. :(


The string is tied between the first post and the last post so you make sure that all your posts in between keep the same slope.  Or some such thing. :)


Next they added the rails in between the posts.  This is highly technical, I know. :)  These were fastened with screws into little rail-shaped cut outs on the back of each post (called dados—pronounced ‘day-dough’.  We are learning so many new things today!).  That was all in my special fence design so that when the pickets were added on top of the rails, they would be slightly recessed from the level of the post on the front.  The posts are very important in my design, I want them to be the star of the show, not merely fading into the background and letting the pickets steal the limelight.  You will learn about this in part two—pickets! 

The section below leads into cat-chasing territory and also the front yard.  It is left open on the right for a removable section to be added later.  The 8’ wide removable section allows for easy access for vehicles, mowers, wheelbarrows and the like, that won’t easily fit through the small gate that goes on the left.

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This section of fence goes into the woods for a bit and then stops.  It will join up to a perimeter of woven wire field fencing that will complete the loop back to the other side of the yard.  This allows us to have a large section fenced in affordably.  Plus, once the trees leaf out, you won’t be able to see the fence in the woods anyway.


The fence along the other side of the yard joins up to the corner of the house with a second gate.


Riley examines the construction for weak spots in the defensive network. 

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Ta da!  Part one of A Fence for Riley.  :)  I’ll be back to show you the pickets and later on, how to run wire fencing in parts two and three of the fence saga.  Come back soon!