Category Archives: Exterior Spaces

What four years can do for a garden

When we first moved into our KY home four years ago the landscape was in dire need of some love. The house had been rented for the last three years and there was a LOT of weed overgrowth in the very back borders, barren borders and weedy lawn… the homeowner did have a landscape company come in and trim, weed and mulch next to the house before listing it for sale though so that was something.

So this is what the backyard borders looked like then… they were all lined in ugly pink cement pavers… YUCK! In general I am not a fan of lined borders, there are exceptions to this though like for stacked stone or metal edging.

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One of the first things we did was remove the overgrown shrubs from the corner of the house, expand the border slightly and plant 6 (5 ft. tall) Arborvitae’s “Thuja” for privacy on our patio, you see the neighbors had 3 Great Dane’s that were prone to staring and drooling… (I think he wants to eat my little Chewy)

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We also built this planter box for vines etc. to add additional privacy while the shrubs were growing…

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This is what that area looks like today! Very private and lush and as a bonus I can plant plants in the planter that I can’t plant on the ground because of those rascally rabbits!

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This is the view from the neighbor’s side (taken in Feb.), the Arborvitae’s are about 15 ft tall today!

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By the way I listed the pavers on Craig’s List for free and a guy came and pulled them up and hauled away all of them… man am I so glad that he did the work for me!

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We got rid of the Euonymus, mainly because I hate them but also because the deer eat them which would bring them up to the patio to search out other plants as well. We relocated the Princess Spirea to the end of the border and planted lots of herbs, Lambs Ear, Bleeding Heart, Russian Sage and one of my favorite trees a River Birch.

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We also extended the border and removed the “sandbox” (that square thing with all of the weeds in it) and we relocated the rock from the “firepit” (the round thing with all of the weeds in it) to the backside and shaded area of the property.

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The border extension was just done 2 years ago so most of the plants in this area are only a year or two old, except for the Princess Spirea of course.

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They’re Butterfly bushes at the very tip along with Grey Owl Junipers in the background which helps disguise manhole cover.

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We are very proud of what we accomplished in our garden in four years! We love seeing the plants grow and thrive especially as a lot of our plants were started from seed… So now we have to start all over in a new home, with a lot of empty borders… Hubby installed 16 yards of mulch all by himself last Saturday!

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So glad I was not there to help, which sounds awful of me I know, but I also know what a job this was!

Our new borders will eventually be full of plants, the fuller they are the less mulch we will need because I’m sure I won’t be let off the hook next time we need to mulch!

Thanks so much as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

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Gardening with Pests

Our home in Louisville, KY sits on 1.25 unfenced acres and I can tell you that there have been numerous times I wished it was fenced like my neighbor’s with a 5 ft. tall fence. Now a 5 ft. tall fence is not meant to keep deer out, but the deer have yet to hop their fence to get at any of the “goodies” inside. So even though the fence will not stop the moles, voles or rabbits it does seem to deter the deer which seem to be a bane of my existence here! Now don’t get me wrong I love to look at deer and I love seeing the babies coming through in the spring, but they annoy the sh*t out of the dogs who love to stalk the backyard and bark whine and cry to go get them…

Cute right? Yes, but these are in my yard, I’d much rather see them somewhere else…

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Over the past four years here (we’re in zone 6 by the way) I have found quite a few great plants that no critter seems to want to partake of… most of them are herbs, that’s right just your basic garden herbs!

Mint in the background (kept in check, but you need to be aware that it can spread like wildfire) so maybe don’t do as I do in this case… but I have plenty for my Mojitos all summer long!

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I love my Chives, they are about 14″ tall and the purple blooms stay for weeks… I think people sometimes use the blooms in salads… I just look at them and every once in a while snip off some fresh chives for a recipe. They will go dormant and brown in the winter, but you just remove the dead and they come back beautifully in the Spring.

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I also have a bunch of purple Salvia that I grew from seed and is really starting to take off this year… I think they smell like BAD body odor (or maybe cat urine) when you touch them but they have a very pretty flowing display… and I don’t touch them unless I’m deadheading them.

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One of my all time favorite plants (and super easy to propagate or grow from seed ) is Lamb’s Ear. This particular variety is a Giant Lambs ear, which will clump more than the smaller variety of Lamb’s Ear, I have a smaller variety in the front borders which really fills up the boarder and cuts down dramatically the need for mulch.

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A new favorite of mine is Lemon Balm, it looks similar to mint, but it grows in clumps and as a bonus when the dogs walk through it they pick up a nice lemony scent! This will be a plant I will use over and over again in my landscape plan, below is all new Spring growth as it will get about 24″ or so tall.

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I think the garden pests don’t care for the aroma of the herbs as they do not touch my oregano, rosemary, chives, lavender, mint, catmint or lemon balm all of which come back year after year in our yard. These herbs can be an inexpensive alternative to other perennials and as a bonus you have fresh herbs for cooking or crafting with, I think it’s a win-win to fill your borders up with as many herbs as possible! The critters also never touch my Lamb’s Ear or Russian Sage, but the rabbit nibbles my Phlox down to a nub, he’s such an ass! Sometimes “something” will nibble on my Bleeding Hearts as well, but I’m not sure who the culprit is yet…

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I also want to put a plug in for one of my favorite vines of all time, The Chocolate vine… it has the prettiest foliage and tiny, delicate blooms in spring, this vine has always been a healthy grower for me.

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We planted 2 vines in our patio planter last spring and while they were slow to take off they seem to be growing like crazy now… just in time for their new owners.

It truly is a joy for me to watch all of our plants grow and flourish in spite of the critters!

Thanks as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

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PS My mom turned me onto this product which we both swear by for deterring deer, does nothing for rabbits, but the deer don’t like it and it’s cheap! I apply every few weeks or so, as bonus it’s a natural fertilizer…

A New Planter and Trellis to Help with Screening

Hey guys! I hope all of you are doing well and didn’t suffer much damage from the frost that hit us (totally out of the blue) last week! I covered my newly planted Vinca, but they still aren’t looking so good right now. This past weekend, when we had fabulous temperatures in the 80’s, my Super Awesome Hubby and I built a planter box and trellis. We had two main reasons for building this, one being our old pots were crumbling and we needed a trellis for the vines planted in them and 2 to help with screening from our next door neighbors dogs. They have 3 Great Danes and a Blood Hound (who come out through the BIGGEST doggie door I have ever seen) just about every time we come outside… they bark quite a bit and like to stare so a little privacy from them was desired.

(This is just one of the Danes and our Schnoodle giving him the what for… can you see that DROOL?!)

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I don’t really have any plans for this build, but I will give you the gist of how we made it, it’s very simple.

First we Super Awesome Hubby built a base out out of pressure treated wood screwing them together with deck screws and bottom support rails. He then built 3 “boxes” and placed them one on top of another (on top of the base) to create the planter sides. We added the upright support pieces, screwing those in place from the inside, these are what held the boxes together.

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We then used a spade drill bit and drilled holes in the trellis support poles, being sure not to drill all of the way through. We attached them to the planter box from the outside. We also added a lip to the top of the box, more of a decorative piece, we attached that with finish nails. If I had to do it again I would choose a larger lip, but I still like it as is.

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We drilled holes in the upright wood pieces for the trellis and slid the metal conduit through the holes and into the end pieces. We attached support braces to the bottom and top back of the trellis, as well as the very top. This keeps everything all snug and the pipe in place. I drilled holes in the back of the upright trellis pieces and used a machine screw to hold the wood in place on the pipes.

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We stained the piece a solid white, applying two coats, we had this stain leftover from our last house so it worked out perfectly! I also added a hook at either end of the trellis to hang our wind chimes and eventually a lantern for nighttime “mood” lighting.

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After moving the planter into place we filled it with plastic bottles and jugs (from the recycling bin) in order to take up room so we didn’t need to use so much potting soil. If I had packing peanuts on hand I would have used those too.

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We replanted the vines and plants from the old planters. As of today 2 out of the 3 Clematis vines are coming back, but we are still waiting to see if the other one and the 3 Chocolate vines will make it, I hope they do! We also have some Creeping Jenny (one of my favorite outdoor plants) and some purple Viola’s. This will all fill out beautifully eventually but it does look a little sparse now.

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You can see how much privacy this trellis will eventually give to the patio once the vines are trained up it.

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We don’t have a large patio here at all, but it is plenty big enough for us and soon it will beautiful vines and flowers too!

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In case you’re curious we spent about $150 to build the planter, which is 1/2 the cost of the planters that we had to replace! I hope you like this little project, I know we love it!

Hope you guys all have a beautiful week!

Thanks for stopping by!

K

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It’s Fall and Time For Planting!

Happy Friday all! I wanted to share with you the break we took this past weekend (from boring unpacking and tedious setting up) so we could to enjoy the beautiful Louisville, KY weather! While we didn’t spend much of that time exploring Louisville we did enjoy working in our new yard. Gardening is one of our favorite things to do and Fall is the best time for planting trees and shrubs. It is much less stressful on the plant, as it requires a lot less attention and watering from you, plus the weather is usually cooler which is a plus!

We aren’t planning on planting too much more in our yard (we have over an acre) but we did want to deal with some unsightly issues sooner than later…

Here is one of them, these pavers surrounding ALL of the borders and trees… I really don’t care for this look, even if the pavers had been installed perfectly I still wouldn’t like them.

BEFORE

Unsightly borders

I wanted these pavers gone ASAP… but honestly I didn’t want to have to remove them myself, it would have been a HUGE job. So I decided to list them for free on Craig’s List, being sure to make people aware they had to remove them from the landscape. I had 20 emails within the first 15 minutes! I was stoked, not only would I not have to remove them, but now someone else would get something they needed! By the way it took the guy 2 days to remove them all… once again sooo glad he wanted them!

I just really think the landscape looks so much better now with those pavers gone and a fresh layer of mulch!

AFTER

Unsightly borders improved

There were a lot more pavers around back too…

Unsightly borders

Our main outdoor project for this Fall was to remove this unsightly bush/weed combination from the corner of the house, expand the bed and plant a privacy “hedge”. The first thing I did was cut all of the limbs off the unsightly shrub so that my Hubby could do his “manly” thing with the chainsaw, cutting the trunk down as close to the base as possible. The remaining stump is just too close to the house for me to feel comfortable about having a stump grinder come in so we will just let it degrade naturally.

See the two shrubs in one mess below…

Removing unsightly shrubs

We wanted to add a row of Arborvitae in this area and connect the two borders into one larger border. The screening will allow for some privacy from the neighbors while also screening their 3 Great Danes and Bloodhound from our VERY nosy dogs! I want to mention that the neighbors are great, but sometimes a little privacy is important too…

Here is just one of the Dane’s and our little Schnoodle…

Great Dane Schnoodle stand off

By the way do you see the drool hanging from the Danes muzzle… I think he wants to eat poor little Chewy! Let me tell you our little Schnoodle acts like he will tear him up!!! I know that Great Dane is thinking “thank goodness for the fence” Winking smile

After removing the large shrub our next job was to mark the area where we wanted to link the borders together. I then sprayed the area with Roundup in order to kill as much grass as possible before we started planting. You can see the sprayed area still has grass, but there is no need to remove it. We put down a layer of paper (we had plenty from our unpacked boxes) directly over the dead grass and then a layer of mulch. Installing a paper barrier is a REALLY important step to help with future weed control.

Paper under mulch for weed control

We purchased 6 Arborvitae and planted them slightly closer than the recommended 3 foot spacing. I REALLY love the look of black mulch, it makes your plants look super green and sharp!

Adding privacy screening to your landscape plan

Here is how the two borders connected together. We will eventually be installing a small flagstone pathway from the patio to the hammock in the border… I’m on the hunt for a stone supplier here in Louisville.

Planting in the Fall

Here is the view from our patio… and one of the Danes checking me out…

Now you see him…

Adding privacy screening to your landscape plan

…now you don’t!

Adding privacy screening to your landscape plan

These Arborvitae will get about 25ft tall and 6 feet in diameter at their base. They are very quick growing, which is why we chose the cheaper, smaller plants, they will grow about 18 inches a year and will be HUGE in no time! We are also going to install 3 trellises behind the planters. The planters have vines in them that need a place to climb and will be full of flowers come Spring.

So if you have some trees or shrubs you want to add to your landscape go out and get it done this Fall! You will be so glad you did when you see how beautiful they will be come Springtime! My tip for you is if you can wait for the plant to mature, then go ahead and buy a smaller plant. Not only is it less expensive, but the hole you have to dig will be smaller which is very appealing to those who have to dig the holes (which in our house is my Hubby)…

As always thanks for stopping by… now go out and get your hands dirty!

Until next time…

My Signature

Shut The Front Door!

So I decided to take the plunge and paint our front door! We built this house about 4 years ago and the paint on the door was starting to show its age! Of course the two “guard” dogs and 3 kids didn’t help the situation either!

I really didn’t mind the black door, but I felt the need for some color! So I took my sample board of Duck Egg (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) to Benjamin Moore and had them color match it for me. I chose their Regal Select brand in Soft Gloss, it went on like a dream! They did such a great job color matching, the color was a dead on match from my sample!

BEFORE

AFTER

Blue painted front door

I am over the moon thrilled with not only the door color but the combination of the copper and the blue!

Blue painted front door

I used Rustoleum’s Aged Copper spray to update the door hardware. I sprayed the knob and lock in place but removed the knocker and kick plate. The combination makes me smile every time I see it!

I think this was my Spring spruce up project… I still have my annuals to plant, but with this freakish weather I want to be sure that we are done with frost! After looking at this picture I also think I will need to change to color of my “S”, I liked it on the black but on the blue it just disappears… oh well, I’ll add that project to the “list”!

Have a great rest of the week… if you’re in the Southeast like me enjoy the warm weather!

Until next time!

My Signature

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Domestically Speaking

Touring Beautiful Historic Charleston, SC

Well we JUST got back from our family vacation in Orlando… you know the whole Disney / Harry Potter world thing… and we had quite a bit of yard clean up to do thanks to some serious storms that swept through here while we were gone! My poor sister was house & dog sitting for us and we lost power for about half a day and had to throw away a ton of food! As it is bloody HOT and muggy here I decided rather than sweat it out in the garage working on furniture I thought I’d give share with you a picture tour of Charleston South Carolina, where we spent the night on our way back to Richmond…

Beautiful pink house on the waterfront… check out the faux owl on the balcony.. I guess to scare other birds away…DSC_0025

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Can you imagine sitting out on those balconies enjoying the view of the waterfront?

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This is a wonderful gated parking entrance with a vine covered arbor, I think it was roses…

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Each level of these iron balconies are different, I just love the look!

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This house is just huge! Look at the widows walk on top the roof… I bet the access to that is very cool!

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Yummy close-up…

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Look at those curved arches running all along the wrap around porch!

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Can you just imagine this space being in your bedroom?

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I saw a few of these lights around.. wish they still made these! I know they are super gothic looking, but I just love them!

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Look at the filigree on this balcony!

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Again with the expansive southern porch… I want this please…

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Some more gorgeous gates and architecture..

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A beautiful church… Charleston is chock a block full of churches…

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Lovely shade of pumpkin on this door!

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The knocker is to die for!

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Private gated courtyard…

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Some of the houses were more like row houses, set close together, so some of the entrances were on the side rather than the front, loved the copper and stucco on this one!

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Gated side entrance with gas lights!

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Me and my girls before we stared the walk.. it was a miserably hot and humid day!

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Dab and the littlest at the beginning of the walk…

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Towards the end no one wanted to touch one another we were so covered in sweat! But I couldn’t get over how gorgeous the architecture was and we all agreed that we would love to live here… I however would need to make sure that the house had central air conditioning first! In case you are interested there were a lot of houses for sale… I would have loved to have know for how much…

Hope you enjoyed a little sightseeing tour of Charleston… at least you didn’t have to sweat it out to see it! I highly recommend taking the time to visit here if you haven’t already! They also have horse drawn carriage tours if you would rather not walk it… and a very nice upscale shopping district too!

Hope you are all staying cool! Until next time!

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Between Naps on the Porch, A Stroll Thru Life, The Ivy Cottage Blog, 412 Sparrow Lane, Savvy Southern Style

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