My Spring Projects Round Up: Outdoor Version

The start of it all...

This spring I wanted to make the most of what I have.  So much of my previous work had disintegrated over time, which happens, especially in the yard, if it is not maintained.  It really does require an almost daily upkeep of some sort and I'd not given that attention to my yard over the past year.   I had gotten very frustrated with my lack of ability and lack of finances, too.  So in this year of "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can," I decided to do what I could.  If that meant I could only work 15 minutes a day then I would get it done in 15 minute increments.  If it meant I could only spend $5, then I'd spend $5 now and $5 the next time I had it.  As things worked out, I've had a little more energy and money than I'd thought I'd might.  Happily, Mother's Day fell in this time frame and my son's gift was 10 bags of mulch plus he had a leftover bag from work he'd done on his own yard.which made for a mighty good start on the outdoor work.  He also put in new screening on the windows and storm doors.  We'd bought a couple of rolls of screening and splice as did he and he provided the labor in getting them all replaced.     I was given $20 to use towards the purchases of plants as a gift from Mama for Mother's Day and John gifted me a bird bath for our anniversary. 

I spent a total of $60 for plants and potting soil (2 bags) and mulch (10 more bags) that I purchased myself. The bulk of my work thus far was done using what I had.  I transplanted annuals that had come up from seeds that fell last year (or three years ago!) and moved them into pots.  This gave my budget a great boost, as did reusing pots of soil.  I purchase the moisture control potting soil which is about $10 for a 20 pound bag but I can use it for several years running. New plants mostly went into the baskets in front of the back porch or on the steps out back.   Pots and paint and stones and bricks went a long way towards the work I have done thus far.  I still have a load of pots and some paint and 8 bags of mulch.

The first flower bed I tackled was the one at the back steps.  It still needs some work.  The parsley didn't do well but the basil is looking great.  I'm going to replace the parsley with oregano and sage I think.  The basil has done better since that photo was taken.  I also discovered petunias coming up in the pot and transferred those elsewhere.  The first flower bed was so easy to do, since it was better maintained over the year.  I managed to keep ahead of most of the work required in that bed.

My next project was the rose bed...well that was out of hand and had been for some time.  I did not even take a before photo of that one as it was just a weedy mess.  The massive roses at the left there  are still a big issue, as is the lantana growing out of the front of them,  but I'll get that done in time.  I didn't want to sort them out while they were blooming.  I was so pleased with what a difference working this area made.  It honestly heartened me but it took hours of labor and I mean that sincerely.

Now the Tiger Lily and Gladiolus are starting to bloom.
I moved the tiger lily and chrysanthemum to this bed to fill in some space.  The Gladiolus didn't bloom last year so I'm especially glad to have them bloom this year. 

This area in front of the back porch was an inspiration that I had last fall.  I'd meant to make the chairs into a bench but decided I didn't want that after all, so I put them over the side of the porch...and I liked them in front of the railing.  I decided then to paint them and plant them.  I had just enough bricks and stone to outline the bed.  I chose a day when we'd had a couple of days rain to get up the grass and weeds that were in this area.   

Then I spread mulch and purchased plants for the baskets.  I reused old burlap sacking in my zinc wire baskets for the planters.
You'll note the patch of dirt at the right in the photo.  That's Maddie's spot and Maddie's it will stay, so no mulch there.  I have filled my baskets for the chairs with a variety of annuals, many of which were just $1 per 4 or 6 pack.  They revived very nicely with a good deep soaking.  I added some interest by putting pots of flowering plants between the chairs. 

The watering can was slightly altered so that the crystals didn't just lie in the mounding Mandevilla.  The shepherd's hook somewhat blends into the black chair which was my intent.  I am hoping the white verbena will bloom again.  I've not had much luck with verbena though I do like it.  I am on the lookout for white mounding lantana which will bloom copiously from now until late fall.

I also managed to get the bed at the corner of the porch/patio mulched.  Maddie dug out a hole I'd filled in where water tends to pool in rainy days.  I'll concede that spot to her at the moment as an alternative cool spot for resting.  I hope to do some more planting  in that area and thin the Day Lily out to fill in some of the blank spaces along the edge, but that can wait until later when they are no longer blooming.

There's nothing spectacular about it but it truly does make a huge difference just to add mulch and edging to a flower bed, even if you can't divide or plant it right away.   It looks better in fact than it does in  photographs, or I'd not even bother to show this photo.   It's convinced me to continue working my way around the house and lay out beds in which I'll eventually be able to add plants.

I potted up the rest of my purchased plants for the steps under the pecan tree and found they did very well in just a few days.  Painting the steps was not done as I'd hoped but I'll perhaps get to that later on.  In the meantime, it's nice to look out the living room at the blooming pots on the steps, which was my intent to give us a 'view' of sorts.  This is also where I chose to place the bird bath for now.  It might get moved in the future but I like seeing it from the window. 

I went to work on the front porch once more.   I got quite a few things done but it's not quite finished.  That is one project that stretched out over more than a year in time. Fall and winter rains and an inability to find items I wanted held that project up. The before and after shots really point up how awful it got before I could start that oh so slow progress, but that is another post.

I really wanted to work on cleaning the mold/mildew from the back porch but there was a nesting bird...and yes, I will give up the back porch for a bird!  This year she's raised her family in the cupboard which seemed to be a less friendly spot for Maddie or the cat to reach and it was a delight to me to hear the little birds cheep when Mom and Pop came to feed them.  Soon they'd grown enough to attempt flight.  At last I can do that task.  I'll be touching up the floor paint (after family is gone and over one of those 24 hour periods while John is working.  I want to paint the cabinet which really did not fare well over the winter, but washing down siding and railings really did improve the looks of the porch overall.  I need to touch up the paint on the café set.  I didn't realize how many spots I'd missed in painting it last year.  I have discovered that painting an item in sunlight makes it difficult for me to see anything but sunspots! 

Well I won't finish those two projects this week by any means and with this Memorial holiday it means that Spring projects are at an end.  I'll do another post when I have another lot of work done in the yard.


JoAnn Baker said...

Wow! Looking at your pictures is really, really motivating me to get a move on with my yard. I have so many ferns growing wild in front.... but perhaps in the cool of the mornings I can get started on pulling them all up. Just putting mulch down really does make a difference....

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Everything looks beautiful.. I can tell you have put a lot of hard work into your beautiful yard.. Love/love the chairs with flower pots.. Such a cute idea..
Know you will enjoy... Have fun.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

You have everything looking so pretty in your yard. In a previous post where you showed the watering can with the container of flowers under it, you had me wondering where the water was coming from that was pouring out of it. I thought maybe you had a little solar pump for it. I am completely inspired now today when I read mention of crystals with the watering can. The way you had the watering can and crystals arranged I truly thought you had a water feature there.

I think your chairs with potted flowers on them are cute, too. Cobalt blue is really beautiful to me when I see it used in gardens. Your cobalt blue bird bath really shows up beautifully. Do you have any secrets about how you keep your potted plants from blowing off the chairs. We have such gusty winds around here lately that I have to tie down a lot of my potted plants with thin wire.

The weather here was not particularly cooperative for gardening this spring. I still have a lot to do in my flowers. My husband dug the hole for me to get another Pink Double Knockout rose planted this weekend. And I have been replanting annuals that the squirrels continue to dig up repetitively on an almost daily basis. My geraniums that I wintered over in the house are outside now. They are in shock and have had to be cut back, but I'm sure they will bloom again by the end of June. If I don't get a move on with the rest of my yard stuff, I just as well forget about it and wait until time to get the Fall plants.

Kathy said...

Wow, I love it. Your flowers are beautiful. Love the watering can too. And the stairs with flowers are so pretty. You have really worked hard to make your outdoors lovely and peaceful. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I have been taking out old plantings and reworking them other places and changing out those older areas here and there. Taking things out of pots and planting some in the ground. I have a hard time keeping lavender plants. I had one of years and when that one died I have tried many times to get another one going in the ground. All died. Now I know it is our acidic soil and I may put some in a pot I already have next time. The show I saw this information on was P. Allen's Smith's show on PBS. He said that his grows well in plain potting soil better than in his soil. This will have to wait till next year. I am only concentrating on using the plants I already have and some perennials I got discounted or at the dollar store. Till I am done with all of this and anything else i will not be buying anything new. I already have enough projects!
I am making room for another fruit tree and some bushes that attract butterflies etc for next year. I realize I need to get the vegetable beds ready to plant in the winter, check the soaker hoses and such a then. Come spring the time goes so quick to get the vegetables planed and all that time flies too fast. I need to revamp how i do things and give myself a break by doing as many projects ahead of spring and summer busy months as I can. This ol body moves shower now a days! :-))) Slow or not I love being out side working and getting my hands in the dirt!! I do love your greens!! The trellis's are so dainty and pretty!! Doesn't it make your heart sing to get so many pretties together and stand back and see them shine!! I have had as usual several lanterns volunteer and have gotten some in pots to use or give away. My daughter goes to many events where the people barter things and she gets many plants or craft supplies or whatever that way, She can always use some plants to barter with. A good many of my garden plant too were given to me one way or the other. Getting them from friends makes them even more special doesn't it? I wish Ii had gotten more from relatives but the only one living close enough I gave away cutting to others of her things but did not think to get some for myself! :) She taught me so much though about plants but really so much more about life that she will always be a part of our lives. She is not a blood kin but is a heart kin and as close as real kin as I could get. I miss her terribly.
Our back porch sure needs cleaning out a it has become a refuge for too many things! I have in my mind how It should look and need to get into doing it! With the hot hot weather coming up it is real blessing to have a porch. I thought your porch looked so cute before with the things you already did... now the extras out front really set it all off so well!! :-))) Talk about curb appeal!!!!!!! Sarah

sparky136 said...

There is a product called Wet It and Forget it the may help with your mildew problem. You just spray it on and the wind and and rain does the rest, you can find it at Lowes or on Amazon on line. It has great reviews.

Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

Love what you've done so far. The chairs in front are so cute!
Have a great day and don't work too hard.

Tammy said...

Oh, your hard work has paid off - it is all lovely! I just love the chairs, and the old steps, and all of the galvanized buckets and things.
We keep having strong thunderstorms with wind and hard, hard rain, so I still have some planting to do. And weeding. Lots and lots of weeding.

Lana said...

Looking good! I need to get to work!

Wendi said...

Things are looking nice! I really like the chairs. They add a nice contrast to the porch rail.

I saw the saying "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can" on a church sign on the way to my parents. I had been pondering it since I had read it here. Hummm... maybe someone is trying to get the message drummed into my head. It can be frustrating when you have ideas and no funds to fulfull them. :) I intended to snap a picture of the sign on my way home. Sadly I forgot and when I made my way that way again it had been changed.

Keep up the good work as your place is looking good!

Colleen Gold said...

I love the comment"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can". It helps me put thing in perspective and dwell on the things I can get done. I am handicapped and this has become my new mantra and let me tell you it helps 100%

Lana said...

I have come to the conclusion that mildew will not grow on flat paint. We painted our deck railings with it last summer and in spite of an over amount of rain since then we have no mildew. We also painted our bathroom ceiling with fast paint and it has remained mildew free for two years and we were constantly battling it there. So, I guess the next thing that needs it is our screen porch ceiling as it is a real trouble spot.

beckyathome said...

Things look so lovely around there! You have done such a good job. You are clearly a very creative person. I enjoyed looking around your porch and yard.

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