Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Little things

While I am still in the mess of sealing our deck (it's a very long, tortuous story) I thought I'd share some smaller projects I did around the outside in the couple kid-free hours I have during the week.  The first was on the side of the house. 
This rusty, ugly meter had always bothered me, but I didn't do anything about it until I wanted to plant a perennial right next to it.  I figured it I was going to paint it, now was the time!
I had already started painting on the rusty metal primer when I snapped these photos.  After scrubbing everything with a wire brush, of course.  But this is pretty much what it looked like. 
I considered painting it cream to match the siding, but I just thought it would get dirty and look a little 'grandma,' so I went with a more modern approach.  And here it is after a nice coat of black flat rustoleum!
You really can't see that much of it since the hydrangea and juniper are so big, and they will only get bigger.  I'm really pleased with it. 
This side of the house is a little bit of a bummer for me, if I'm being honest. 
I wish we had planted a couple tall things against the house, and some shrubs that flower in the spring/early summer instead of a row of hydrangeas.  They don't start blooming until July, so the whole side is totally green and boring until then.  Rookie move!  I tried to remedy this by putting Siberian Irises in on the sides, so we will have tall purple flowers in the spring while the hydrangeas are getting started.  I also put early-flowering low perennials in the front to help spruce it up.  I may still move the two small hydrangeas on either side of the large middle one, I'm just not sure. 
At any rate, the meter looks nicer and everything is pretty while it's blooming.  I also scraped, primed, and painted the railing on our front porch with the same paint.  After I started scraping and wire-brushing, it became obvious they had used a pretty saturated red paint on the railing at one point.   
There was also a ton of rot and rust, I just coated it well and plan to use an epoxy to fill the holes next summer. 
I decided to use the rusty metal primer on the entire thing, rather than just the bad spots.  I wasn't sure how the black would cover an unprimed area, so I played it safe. 
Here is an action shot of me allll the way up on a ladder taking care of the top.  I made sure to do this while the mailman was making his rounds, so if I fell someone would hear my screaming.  Note my foot is on the 'This is not a step' part.  Don't worry, I didn't put any weight on it, it was just for balance while I put all my weight on the wobbly, rotting railing. 
 Of course, the kids wanted to help.  Not sure if he realized I gave him a dry brush.
Painting all those curly parts twice was torture.  I really wish I could've just ripped out this whole thing, but we don't have the money.  It was so satisfying to see it newly painted black, that I used the paint on an old plant stand, too.
Here is a series of photos showing before, scraped, half primed, painted.  Love it!
And our honeysuckle vine is all the way to the top already!  It's not doing so well right now, but it grew like crazy this summer.  I'm working on the health of the plant now, and I'm excited to see what happens next year. 
The last project we did out here was something we've wanted for awhile - landscape lighting.  I kept putting it off because I was intimidated by all the 'stuff' you need, then I finally just went to Lowes and saw how simple it really was.  Anyone can do this themselves!  Here is what I bought, (not pictured is 7 more spot lights and a 100 foot roll of low-voltage landscape wire):
I just ran the wire where I wanted, and I actually cut some of the roll off to go over to the other side in between our driveway and sidewalk.  There is a rather large crack between the step and the sidewalk, so it fits ok in there and runs to one of the two receptacles on the power pack. 
Once the wire was ran with a generous amount for repositioning down the line, I just screwed the spot lights onto the included stakes, and clamped the provided connectors onto the wire.  It has tiny little teeth that pierce the plastic on the wire, so easy!  The only tool you need is a wire stripper for the ends of the wire to connect to the power pack. 
Speaking of power pack, I forgot to take a picture of the wiring, and I'm not interested in removing the thing from the ground to see the bottom.  Here is a stock photo where you see the two inputs for wiring:
Number 1 holds the wiring for the area to the left of the sidewalk, and number 2 holds the wiring for the rest of the front planting area.  After I stripped the coating off the ends of the wires, the two sections simply get placed under the screw and plate and tightened with a screwdriver.  So easy!  Since this is on the bottom, the unit needs to be elevated and can be mounted to your house.  I chose not to do that, instead I bought a $20 stand for the pack.  It isn't super visible, and will look even better once the rose and coneflowers get larger. 
I still have to remove the white tags from the cord and bury all the wire before the ground freezes.  Maybe this project isn't so small!
Anyway, here it is at night.  I am in love with this look!  Very dramatic, and highlights our landscaping so well! 
The spot lights come with different 'lens covers' depending on the kind of light you want.  This is standard, warm light.  There is a 'moonlight' option that is supposed to be a cooler light, but I like this because it matches the bulbs in our porch lights. 
I still have one spot light to put somewhere, not sure where it will end up.  Lowes gives you a 10% discount if you buy at least three lights at a time, so plan accordingly!  I'm also thinking we must add some lighting the other side of the house, we just don't have an outlet over there, so it would be challenging.  I'd love to light up my blue spruce globe tree, especially!
The landscape lighting cost me about $350 and a couple hours of time when it was all said and done.  Well worth it, in my opinion!  Hope you all are enjoying the last days of summer! 


  1. I think it all looks great! I can imagine that painting that railing was a PIA. But it looks good. I found your lighting info interesting since I too think it seems like a lot. But it seems like I might be wrong! Our neighbors have their house lit up so nicely and I would love to do something similar. Thanks for the info!

    1. Yes, it's not hard at all! I found the hardest part was getting the plastic coating off the landscape wire with the wire cutters. Definitely do it, it's very satisfying and took me about an hour to do. Thanks for reading!

  2. Looks great!!! Awesome work, Sara. For the side without an outlet, you could do solar lights. We're using these on the front of our house. Also, since your garage on is on the other side of that wall, it probably would not be at all expensive to have an outlet put on that side.

    1. Yes, I was thinking about going solar because we feel like even the low voltage lights strain our system at night! Thanks so much!

  3. Another great job. Love the plants and lights. I'm getting inspired!

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  5. We have a rusty metal divider between us and the neighbor...you have encouraged me to paint it! After you added the Rusty Metal Primer, which black paint did you use? Did you spray on the paint or brush it? Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. I always use Rustolem flat black oil base in the can. I brush it, because it would be way too messy to spray next to the house. I'd love to see your divider project!!

  6. Thanks, Sara, this is helpful. I will let you know if I give this a try with the primer and black paint!


Thanks so much for reading....your comments mean a lot to me!