Posts Tagged ‘landscaping


Another step done

With the Furries leaving town, it was time to get things back to the ole normal routine. I wanted to complete the back flowerbed (aka Phase IV), because I had been kind of obsessing over getting it done.

This was one of those things I’ve wanted to do since I saw the house. I hated that ivy. It was just … blah.

So, while not *actually* done, I do consider this to be about 90% complete. I had to buy some Japanese Painted Ferns (which I did on the way to work) and Japanese Ornamental Grass (which my girlfriend will find at the store where she got me the other one). Then I have to clear out the rest of that ivy on the right and continue the stone wall … but that will come later, as part of like Phase V or VI or something equally blah.

But right now, I’m basking in the glory of how well this came out.

See that jungle to the right? Imagine that covering this back area. I could never run the lawnmower over that because those rocks were actually buried, but jutting up just enough to scrape the lawnmower blade. So, yeah, dug them up and built a crude, small wall with them, cause hey, why not?

From a different angle:

Then came the plants. 5 astilbes, 2 “ghost” dead nettle, and 1 cora bell later, combined with 2.5 bags of mulch … and this was the result:

Oh, and to give you an idea of how much stuff I cleared? That section of it in the bottom picture is probably thigh-high (and not even close to all of it).

Obviously, it needs a few more plants, which is where the Japanese painted ferns and the Japanese ornamental grass will come to the rescue. I will plant the ferns tomorrow, and the grass when it arrives.

About 4 hours of work total, and under $100 spent, and that bed is nice and spacious for those perennials to grow into. Perfect by no means, but it works and I’m happy with it … it looks 5,000% better than what it did.

Now, a job that I’ve wanted to do since Day 1 is finally realized.

Next, back to Phase III. Well, once I plant some grass and such.


A first!

It man not seem like much, but after years of trying to grow lilies, I finally got one to bloom. My own ineptitude and raids by ravenous deer took their toll … but persistence paid off.

Let’s hope the others grow flowers, they all come back next year, and bloom some more …

Side note: They were supposed to be purple and white, not pink. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.


Phase IV

My first planted lily ready to bloom!

When I first bought my house, I would go in the back yard and see the ivy growing there. And I would say to myself, “This shit has got to go.”

And for years, I never touched it. I thought about clearing it, but every time I would mention this particular notion, people would gasp like I had just threatened to slap a puppy. “YOU CAN’T GET RID OF THE IVY!” they said. “IT’S GREAT GROUND COVER!”

Yes. The infamous ground cover argument. Except for the fact that I would rather have grass there, because ivy is pretty much useless at best and a menace at worst. And for me, it was in the menace stage … climbing the back of my house in ever-growing numbers.

See, I can deal with mowing the lawn. Neglect your grass and it gets a little high, makes it a little tougher to mow, no big deal. But neglect ivy, and that shit is everywhere.

So, today I was starting on Phase II of my plan to reclaim my back yard. Except the weeds were dug in, the sun was brutal, and I kept having to wipe sweat from my eyes every 2.6 seconds. Not fun. I would need to poison the shit out of that area and then wait for a cloudy day to rip it all out. And with this being Western PA, this could happen sooner rather than later.

I looked around at what else I could do. Last weekend, my girlfriend and I had been looking at the ivy that was climbing my house. She pulled some of it and noted how easily it came down. This was likely because of how dry everything was, combined with an earlier poisoning spree.

I figured if I had to wait to move on Phase II, I could at least start on Phase IV. Phase IV involves clearing ivy from the back of my house, and the area is in the shade … so I figured I could rip the ivy down that was climbing up by my kitchen and feel good about my day. And as I pulled it down, I pulled down some more. And some more. And an hour later, I had a pile of ivy and weeds up to near my waist, and had basically cleared the back bed.

You can still see the remnants of it on the walls …

Phase IV just needs about another few hours of weeding, some small wall building (because there’s already some “stone walls” in place, which is why I could never just mow it in the first place) and some planting, and it will be off my “to do” list.

I still feel kinda dumb that I’m kind of excited about landscaping and reclaiming my back yard, but it’s as though with every few hours that I put into my house, the better and better it looks. And the better it looks, the more I want to do. Unlike weight lifting or whatever, this stuff has immediate and tangible results. I don’t have to wait weeks. That’s pretty satisfying.

So, yeah, not according to plan … and humble beginnings. But as long as it all gets done, right?


Domesticated sheep

Never did I think I would see this day.

The day when I became excited about landscaping.

It still seems foreign to me, even as I type this.

But time has finally caught up with me. I’m beginning to turn into the guy who gives a crap about his lawn. Well, technically, that’s not true … I hate my lawn. But I did start to give a crap about my landscaping. The credit lies with my girlfriend — not because she hounded me to do it — but because she was super knowledgeable about plants and gardening and such, and with her help, I was finally able to get an idea of what I wanted to do around my house. It all started with the idea of a patio on the side of my house that currently is unused — but to start work on that, I have to clear the space.

Now, I have an asston of creeping ivy in the back that I’ve absolutely hated since day 1, but everyone always convinced me to keep it. By this time, years had passed and it grew over everything. I decided to break up this project into phases …  Phase 1 being a reclamation project of what I call “the Step Garden,” because, you know, it’s by my back steps. This is what I was up against:


As you can see, it was a complete mess. And you see that dirt on the steps? Plants were actually growing on the concrete there. So, the steps were impassable unless you wanted to walk through ivy, poison ivy, and other assorted weeds.

I won’t lie, there was a lot of chemical warfare to help my clearing efforts. No mercy, ivy. You gotta go.

Well, after hours of work over a few weeks and several trips to Lowe’s and Michael Bro’s nursery in Russelton, this was the final result …


Two hostas (the big bottom one moved from the side of my house, where the hostas are absolutely huge), some phlox, two Japanese ferns, some deadnettle, 2 coral bells, and nine lilies.

Still a shitload of work to do, but the steps are now passable. Now, on to Phase 2: Clearing the bottom of the steps and creating another flower bed for more lilies and hostas. Phase 3: Take out the tree and azalea bush at the top of the steps so then I can work on the other side of the steps, which is Phase 4.

And then I can move on to Stage 2 (back of the house). And then Stage 3 (sunny side of the house).

This whole project will probably take me the rest of the summer and fall to complete. But my house desperately needs it, and as much as I hate to admit it, I like seeing the results my hard work.

So bring it on, projects. Because I will win.

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