Archive for the ‘The Yard’ Category

Who Needs Yard Crashers?!

When we moved into our house it had been empty for two years.  The yard was a mess and overgrown with ivy all around the house.  I spent the first summer pulling out ivy.  I”m still trying to keep it from taking over in certain areas.  The creeping myrtle is trying to take over, too.

There is forsythia in several locations.  I’ve spent a lot of time pruning that back or removing it altogether.

I love the tall lilac bushes along the back fence.  The smell sets off my allergies, so I don’t bring the blooms into the house, but they are lovely and the bushes (trees?) hide some of the rear neighbor’s white fence.  I’d rather be fenced in with green stuff.

The oddest thing was along the bedroom side of the house.  Just a couple of feet in from the property line the old owner had installed 5 segments of stockade fencing.  It doesn’t connect to anything at either end.  The best that we could figure out was that it was to block the view to the bedroom windows from the neighbor’s family room.  There was a sad rose bush right about a mid length.  Between it and the neighbor’s chain link fence were privet or boxwood hedges.  Many of these were dying.

The sections were doing a really good job of trying to rot in the dirt as they hadn’t been installed up enough to prevent rot.  So we eventually pulled the sections down, leaving the posts which are in decent shape.

The stockade fence has since been replaced with lengths of vinyl lattice supported by lengths of 1 x 3 that were salvaged from other odd projects that came with the house.  What we did do was install them from the tops of the posts, leaving a 1 foot gap at the bottom.  Grass and weeds filled in where the boxwoods had been.  I’m working on eliminating the weeds and establishing more grass.

We finally attacked our side of the lattice area and did something that we had wanted to do for a while.  There is now a garden edged with stones salvaged from a raised bed that we are eliminating.  We’ve planted two blue berry bushes and transplanted a rose bush from another area that is about to be torn up.  We are hoping that it takes to the transplant.  If not we’ll get a climbing rose for that location.  We need a few more plants for the garden area, but the tilling and edging and prepwork have been done.

More stone edges a newly mulched area along the side of the house in order to make mowing easier, protect the poor remaining part of the thorn bush, and protect the grounding wires and siding (yes, I know it needs a paint job) from the weed whacker and lawn mower.  The stone gives it a more finished look.

I am hoping that the thorn bush fills back in.  It was huge and died a rather ugly death, except for that one stem.  That stem even had flowers this spring.

The side yard looks much more finished now.   M’Lord plans to build an arbor archway at the narrow area between the lattice and the forsythia.

It’s a slow process, but the yard is shaping up.

Now the “Patio” is a whole other story.



I love trees.  One of the reasons that we bought this particular house was that there are many mature trees on the property.  We lose lots of branches regularly.  Irene and the October snowstorm brought down a lot of branches.

These piles are mostly elm and silver maple branches brought down by the October snow.

Two summers ago we had a drought in the area.  This, or something else that I haven’t discovered, killed 5 out of 6 of our remaining Norway Spruce trees.  Two had already been taken down in the past few years.  Last spring we managed to get three of them down with the help of M’Lord’s coworker and his son and their chain saw.  We have a small electric chainsaw, but it is really too small as the trunks get larger.  I like using our little chainsaw.  Buzzzzzzz!

This past week-end, M’Lord and I took the last two down.  M’Lord climbed up both of them to cut the tops off.

Yes, he is sane, but he is crazy.

Then we cut the branches off and cut the upper trunks down to small lengths and stacked them by the curb.

Then, with the help of his coworker, again, and his chain saw, the bottoms came down.

The branch pile, waiting for the township chipper to come around to clean up the snow storm damage, has just gotten much larger.

The force of the falls jammed a number of branches into the dirt.  Some took some serious tugging to get out.  We don’t need the small boy tripping over any of those.  But they made for a rather sturdy base so that I could use one of the trunks as a balance beam.

The Cub balanced on the other one once it was lying fully on the ground.

And he had a great time pretending to fly off of the two stumps.

And leaping into a leaf pile that I made on the other side of the driveway, away from all of the little branches that we’d just strewn all over the side yard by crashing two spruce trees to the ground.

And there is a pile of logs up for grabs.  Best for outside fires, but some people will burn spruce in their wood stoves.

But they are down.  And we are tracking much fewer needles into the house.

I hate having to losing trees.

A Wintery Mess in October

I have a post started all about our trip to Washington, DC, that is waiting for the photos to be inserted.  It will wait another day or so.  Instead….


And Ice!

In October!

We have many branches down, which makes me rather unhappy.

With a few still hanging from shreds.  Those will be a bit of a challenge to get down, in a couple of locations.

The silver maples and the one elm lost the most.

All of that in the back is a mess of silver maple branches.

This morning it is a frozen mess, all crunchy and lumpy, as our area received a combination of snow and rain.  Wind continually knocked clumps out of the leafy trees, so most of the evening included lots of thumps on the roof.

The forsythia, already bent over from other issues including a very dry July, are now almost flattened.

As are the mums in the front garden.

And the last of my amazingly tall zinnias are flattened.  I did cut the best ones before the storm, so I have some in a mason jar in the kitchen.

Today it is supposed to be in the mid 40s, so I’m hoping that most of this mess melts by nightfall.

Meanwhile, The Cub and I will carve a jack-o-lantern and make Halloween/Fall roll out cookies.

Zinnias and a Sprinkler

Irene is on her way.  The track keeps shifting from east to west to east, so we keep moving in and out of the second band of wind speeds.  So…I moved everything in the yard into the sheds or the house this afternoon.  The Cub wanted me to set the pool up.  I was not doing this for one afternoon and then taking it down again, so I told him that he could play in the sprinkler.  We haven’t ever done this with him.  He jumped at the chance.

And through the sprinkler

Lots of times.

With his goggles on so that he could see better.

Then we moved the sprinkler closer to the swingset so that he could slide down the wet slide.

Then closer so he could swing in and out of the water as it moved.   He had a blast while I moved everything and locked it all up.

Then I cut the only blooming zinnias before they get beaten to a pulp.  The garden didn’t yield much this year because of the late start, but we are still getting string beans and I have some pretty flowers.

Can you see the top of the stem in this shot? (If you click on the photo you should get a jumbo sized one.)

It’s curled.  The flower is on the other side at a right angle to the plant.

How odd.

I love the candy cane colored ones.

My backyard looks like it is ready for winter.  We’ll see what survives Irene other than the zinnias.


I have a light green thumb, and flowers are not always my strong suit.  The soil in our area is full of clay, dense, and hard to dig.  I don’t have the patience to stir up the dirt and add stuff to it in the front of my house.  This is why I depend on a raised bed, pots, and  impatiens for color in the front yard.  In the back yard there is a garden area that was there from the previous owner.  No one tended it for two years before we moved in.  That spring and summer were full of surprises as we discovered what was there.  There is a stubborn rose bush that grows too tall and should be up against a trellis.  There are hostas, which are not my favorite at all.  And there are day lilies.  Orange and yellow ones.  The single orange blooms come out first.  The yellow usually come out last.  But in between we get these.


Triple layer day lilies.

They look like someone put two more lilies into the base one.

So beautiful.

And I had nothing to do with their presence in our yard.

I moved a few of them, earlier in the spring, as we are planning to cover an area of the bed with a new patio someday and I wanted to keep the triple blooming plants. I don’t envy the task that the original planter had in getting them into the soil.  That stuff is hard and nasty.

We’ve had dry years and very wet ones and these lilies keep coming back.  What a sturdy bunch.  The transplanted ones survived my efforts, too, which is a miracle.

They make me happy.

Now if I could just get the hostas to go away.  I’m going to need a bobcat to get those things out of the ground.

A Green Garden

Or at least the start of one.

We’ve been planning to have a vegetable garden for a few years.  M’Lord grew up having one until he moved into an apartment.  So this year we finally built frames, had dirt delivered, moved the dirt into the frames, and planted seeds.  Now, we did this all rather late for our region, so the garden is an experiment more than a food provider this year.  One garden is veggies.  One is flowers for me to cut and have in the house.  Someday, anyway.  But there is green in each bed.  Today, while relaxing in our new little “family” inflatable pool, I noticed something in the veggie garden.

We have pods!

And string beans!

They are small, but they are there.  There are a bunch of tiny pods emerging from the pea blossoms, so we may actually get enough for dinner one night.  The string beans are tiny, but they are there.

The carrots and scallions are doing well, too.  The lettuce is small, but it is a cool weather crop, so we may pull up and replant for the fall and have fresh lettuce for salads then.

The zinnias are doing the best in the flower garden.  The sunflower buds have all been eaten.  While the veggies are fenced in, the flower garden is not, so someone is nibbling.  Fencing will be added for next year.  There is green there, too, but not as much as the veggie garden.

So while we started late and understand that this year is an experiment, we have something out there and that is exciting for me and The Cub.

Stay cool.


Mother Nature’s Plan…

…leads to a rather lazy day.  It rained and thundered at 4 am.  Then again at 9 am.  Mowing a wet lawn is difficult.  So that did not happen today.  Nor did going to a park for a picnic lunch.  And I didn’t have to water the gardens.  M’Lord, who surfaced around 10 am, slept right through both thunderstorms.  He walked into the living room prepared to go out to mow.  Instead he ended up reading the paper on the couch.  We needed a good rain, but it did mess with what was supposed to happen today.

What did happen was the baking of chocolate chip cookies.  I use TJ’s chocolate chips and the recipe on the back with two changes.  I add 1/4 cup of flour and leave out one egg white.  These changes are based on past advice from my Mom for the flour, and America’s Test Kitchen for the egg white and seem to make for a more chewy cookie that spreads less, which make them irresistible to M’Lord.  The Cub knows that he can have a treat after lunch, so, at 10 am when the cookies were cooling on the counter, he asked if he could have one for a treat after lunch.  Not as a snack now, but as a treat after lunch – two hours later.  Good kid.  The cookie jars and freezer have been restocked with this and the double chocolate batch that I made on Friday.  Maybe oatmeal PB cookies next.  The Cub likes those.

Yes.  I have multiple cookie jars, much to M’Lord’s chagrin.  Each has a different cookie in it since putting different cookies in one jar causes them all to absorb the other cookie flavors and taste the same.  Currently there are three jars on the tray in the corner of the counter.

Laundry, the installation of the shelf for the DVR, and vacuuming happened, too.  Then we all relaxed and lounged and played and read and watched or played too much on the various screens in the house.  But a rainy week-end day sometimes proves to be a good day to watch too much TV and play too much Portal.  Tomorrow we’ll get the mowing done, have a picnic, light off some sparklers for The Cub, maybe get a fire going for real s’mores, and watch A Capitol Fourth.

Happy Independence Day!