Sunday, July 17, 2016

The longest landscaping post ever

Our landscaping is done for now!  I'm so excited to share, because this damn post has literally taken me a solid week to write.  Maybe one day I will have free time again!  Also, a fun drinking game is to take a drink every time you read the words 'Japanese,' 'Juniper,' or 'Coneflower.'  I guess I know what I like!  The last time you saw the house, we had just gotten all the evergreens ripped out, and it looked like this:
We have done a lot of work since then, and now it looks like this!
We have worked and worked to get it to this point, and I love it!  First of all, the door.  You guys, it is BRIGHT and bold, but I am happy I went in this direction.  The door is still ugly, but we don't want to replace it just yet, so the paint helps to modernize it and make the gold inlaid glass disappear a little more.  We still need to get a white full view storm door, which will make the white vertical pieces make more sense. 
The color is SW Refresh, which is a favorite 'mid-century modern' turquoise on the awesome site Retro Renovation.  What a fun punch of color to complement our orangey brick!  I also found some vintage style ceramic pots to complement the door. 
Shortly after the front was mostly cleared out, Shaun started digging out a larger front planting bed. 
We like a clean look, so for now there is just a trench around the plantings rather than actual edging.  We may add something in the future, but for now this works and he can mow right up to the mulch. 
And here are some closer photos of the plants we chose.  From left to right:  Red switch grass, three Speedwell, Blue Star Juniper, 'All Gold' Japanese Forest Grass.
Left bottom is three Anna's Magic Ball Arborvitae, right bottom is three Red Sweet William.  Lone green ball in the middle is a 'Linesville' Arborvitae. 
We bought the pot at a local garden center and filled it with a Tropicana, spikes, asparagus fern, and sweet potato vine.  Around the pot is two Japanese 'Sky Pencil' Holly (against house) and three Japanese Blood Grass.  More Magic Ball Arborvitaes under the other window.  'Daybreak' tickseed in front of those. 
Purple coneflowers, Pampas grass, Japanese forest grasses, Tamukayama Japanese maple, white Phlox hiding behind the Pampas grass.  Not pictured just to the left:  Nest Spruce and Orange Rocket Barberry.
We waited for the lilacs along the walkway to finish blooming so we could dig those out and transplant in early June.  This was a very hard thing for me to do, because they smelled AMAZING!  But we knew the hedge was just too large to stay there.  It was pouring rain when we did it, because we just happened to have a lot of family over for Shaun's birthday to watch the kids.  Yep, he did this on his birthday:
 
 
We aren't sure if they will live, but if they don't, at least we tried.  It would be nice to have such large shrubs to hide the neighbor's chain link!  Spoiler alert:  things aren't looking great.  We do lay the hose on them every day...and the one on the left is crappy looking because it was in between the other two in the front and lost it's foliage on both sides.  Oh well.  We also planted sky rocket junipers to the left to help hide the fence. 
The area where the lilacs were is my favorite because we decided to incorporate some pots we had with large tropicals.  The colorful one is Croton, the middle is a Cordyline, and the one by the stoop is a Dracaena. 
But my favorite part is the 'Old Gold Pom Pom Juniper' tree in the front.  I got this from Home Depot for $75 and it is so stinkin cute!  Underneath that is three Blue Fescue grasses.  We left all the existing creeping Phlox that is tumbling over the retaining blocks and then also planted some hens and chicks and ground cover sedum.  This area is definitely going to change as we live here, I love having room to expand the landscape!
The area on the other side of the driveway looked like this before:
And, here it is now!
We've got a lot of goodies in here.  Dwarf Japanese Juniper at the end, the big leaf hosta we have moved from Russet street, to Minnesota, to here, a planter I'm not sure where to put, then a Globe Blue Spruce in tree form because we loved the one we had in Minnesota so much!  Under that is a Bonanza Gold Japanese Barberry, two Dwarf Black Eyed Susans, and another Speedwell. 
Here you can see a 'Julia' coneflower, behind that is an 'All Purple' something or other, Daub's Frosted Juniper is right in front of my frog, the three blue perennials to the left are dwarf 'Summer Nights' Delphinium, and the orange one behind those is Butterfly Weed.  Behind that one is a 'Little Rocket' Ligularia.  Here you can see I planted a few 'Scarlet Flame' Moss Phlox near the edge of the retaining blocks to spill over like the side by the door. 
The side of the house has a selection of panicle hydrangeas, 'Little Lime' on the ends, 'Little Quick Fire' next to those, and 'Fire Light' in the middle.  I also have to paint that rusty gas meter.
The south side of the house had a lilac bush, lilies, and all the retaining blocks we removed from the front.  We gave the blocks to a nice craigslister, then got to work digging out a large bed. 
Here's what we ended up with:
Pampas grass against house, dwarf Fountain Grass in front.  Two 'Cheyenne Spirit' coneflowers, 'Snow Cap' Shasta Daisy in front.  Three Munstead Dwarf Lavender in front of the window (so it doesn't get blocked) and then a Russian Sage far right and Goldstrum Black Eyed Susan in front.   
A better look at the sage and Black Eyed Susan set up, with another Snow Cap Daisy in front.  More Lavender in front of the other window. 
We rounded out the far side with two 'Green Jewel' coneflowers near the house (Ashford picked them!) with two 'Red Riding Hood' Phlox in front of them.  One more Snow Cap daisy in front, and another Pampas grass far right with a Sedum in front. 
Again, I'm happy that there is room to add more in here, but it still looks finished.  We actually might bring the bed even farther out, depending on how I decide I want this area to look.  The Pampas grasses will offer significant height at around 8 feet tall, but I might also add some tall skinny evergreens later on for winter color.   
I'm happy that we were able to basically start from scratch and do exactly what we wanted, although it was crazy expensive.  Including the premium mulch delivery, which was our first time not using bagged and it was AWESOME, we spent around $2200 on all the plants, soils, plant foods, and the pots.  I think it was all money well spent.  Now for some before and after side by sides, because those are always my favorite!
I'm excited to see how things look when they grow and fill in.  We may move things around next summer if they don't quite work in their current spots.  I still want to get new lighting, mailbox and address numbers this summer, but I'm having a hard time deciding what I want.  I hope you enjoyed this super long post, and please let me know what you think! 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Quick and dirty update

Guys, I'm so embarrassed that it's been over two months since I posted!  I simply can't believe it's July already.  I have to admit, life has been steamrolling me since I last updated - and I'm desperate for these hard times to be over.  The bulk of my time and energy has been spent with poopy potty training nightmares for the big kid and two-hour nightly wake ups for the little kid.  Give me all the beer!!  To facilitate drinking all the beer, Shaun and I treated ourselves to something we've always wanted....a kegerator.   We got this one and are so happy with it!
This miracle appliance fits nicely into the nook in the basement that used to have this hideous mirrored mess of cabinetry that didn't open properly.  We probably should've put a closet there, but....PRIORITIES. 
We plan to build it in with a 15" cabinet on the left side for glasses (that will just fit perfectly) and a nice quartz counter over the top.  We already have shelves for above and I'm throwing around an accent wall either with paint or tile.  Yes, that will happen in about 5 years!  In the meantime, here is a shot of my mini Summer Shandy that I'm drinking at 1pm on a Saturday while banging out this post.  Yes, I can pour myself a mini draft beer whenever I like, and I can also rest it on my laptop because I'm a savvy shopper.  Some things are fabulous around the Hilton house!
I had another exciting delivery today, and got inspired to take a photo and give you an 'IOU' post.  We had 4 yards of premium mulch dumped on our driveway, and you know what that means?  The front landscape is nearly finished!
We have had so much fun redoing the front landscape, and have also spent ungodly amounts of money, but we were literally starting with NOTHING.  I'm very pleased with the way it's looking thus far, and I can't wait to share the difference after we get this mulch installed.  I'll leave you with a recent shot of the kiddos that just cracks me up, Zach is only 15 pounds smaller than Ashford and I think he's going to be able to beat him up very soon!  Cankles for the win!
 


Friday, April 29, 2016

A cleaner slate

People who know me in real life, and maybe my blog readers too, know that around the first 70 degree day of the year, Shaun and I go a little crazy.  We tend to immediately drop whatever inside project we were working on (or in this stage of our life, dreaming about one day accomplishing) and turn our focus outside.  We are addicted to landscaping, it has always been our favorite thing.  It's something we started working on immediately on Russet street.  That was fun, since there were hundreds of flagstones buried all throughout the yard.  Who does that?  Oh yeah, Boozie Susie!!
We also jumped head first into the yard issues with our Minnesota house.  THERE WERE MANY.
Yes, this time of year a simple visit to the grocery store or Target usually ends up with me pulling into the parking lot of a garden center, nursery, or (if I'm desperate) Home Depot - then wondering what exactly I'm doing there.  It's a sickness.  Luckily, I'm not able to get out of the house much, so maybe we won't put all our money into plants this year.  Anyhow, here's the fug outside of our house when we bought it last September. 
Grandma, are you there?  Now, I'm not saying our house looks run down, it was nicely maintained (ONLY on the outside, let's be clear about that!) with manicured 'mustache' bushes and virtually no weeds in the grass.  It was just so old fashioned.  I know why evergreens are so popular, because they don't drop crap all over your lawn and provide color in the winter.  HOWEVER.  I dislike most evergreens because they are boring, everyone has them, and they do a great job of blocking light to windows.  Why put windows in your house and then plant a huge bush in front of them?  Curtains and blinds, people!
Stuff like this blows my mind.  When we bought this house, the first thing we both said was 'these bushes have to go, immediately.'  But then I was hugely pregnant, and we spent our time working on the inside before our new tiny human was to arrive.  Now, here we are at the start of landscaping season.  Faced with the possibility of ripping out all these bushes ourselves, I decided to use my brain rather than my brawn.  I put all the evergreens on Craigslist for free if the person removes them.  Success!
I had a ton of interest, but ended up choosing a man who was having a landscaping company come take them out and replant them at his house 30 minutes away.  It was awesome to not only have it all gone, but removed professionally.  For free!  We removed all the lilies and hyacinths first. 
You can see we removed the silly burgundy shutters, too.  A real pet peeve of mine is shutters that are slapped onto any house, regardless of relevancy or whether the shutters could actually cover the windows if they shut.  I do wish the windows were bigger, but I still think the clean look is much better. 
Good thing I have curtains downstairs, to prevent creepers like this from looking in.  After removing the ugly retaining blocks, we decided to backfill a little more dirt against the house because we thought it wasn't sloped away from the house enough. 
You know how long it takes to do something with your 3 year old helping?  About three times longer than it would have without them.  Luckily, we have a child-sized shovel so he could remove the dirt we'd already placed while we weren't looking.  The people from Craigslist also took the huge evergreen on the south west corner of the house. 
They left a nice hole for us to plant something new, too.  Jury is still out on the three lilacs that were ruthlessly trimmed into a hedge between the driveway and walkway.  I'm not sure if we will keep them, it depends on how good they look, smell, and if we can move them to the backyard or not. 
 
I love lilacs, but this is just too big to keep in this area.
 
Now we have to come up with a plan for the front of the house.  I really don't have any idea what to do, since we can't cover the lower windows and the house is really tall and boxy.  Hopefully inspiration hits, because the people in our neighborhood with houses like ours are definitely not winning any landscaping awards!  Oh yeah, and there is the little issue of the ugly door, railing, mailbox, address plaque, and light
Not sure what we can afford to do with this mess right now, but I'm thinking!