Plants still baffle me.
But the more I go to the garden center, the less of a gardening dummy I become. In fact, I find myself drawn to the pretty petals and I instantly head off into this colorful fantasy of being surrounded by beautifulness, while lounging in a hammock, sipping
homemade lemonade chilled wine.
I always thought that I was cursed with something called A Black Thumb, where everything I touched died, so I never imagined I’d love spending this much time outdoors nurturing growth, fantasizing about being surrounded by pretty gardens full of plants, shrubs, and flowers.
In this world called home, I’ve always been surrounded by weeds. The thought of fertilizing anything bored me to tears. And if you even suggested that I’d enjoy being covered in sweat in 100 degree temps–I would have told you to screw off and stop making jokes like that. LOL
But this Patio Makeover Challenge has been just that: a challenge….
It’s pushed the physical limits of what I’ve ever done, DIY-wise…..as well pushed the learning curve for DIY skill (I’me created a walkway!).
The reason why I push so hard on this project is because it’s for my family.
Honestly, though, they could care less.
My husband doesn’t care if things are pretty–as long as he’s fulfilled his Husband Duty of cutting the grass weekly, it’s all good.
My kids–as long as they have their over-used electronics, the outdoors means nothing to them. Plants, flowers–who cares??–they’ve just earned 100 extra diamonds by mastering a level! Scooorrrrre!
But I’m sorry, my friends, this isn’t acceptable.
We’ve got this beautiful huge backyard, and not one person sets foot in it.
Why do we live here, then? Why not live in a townhouse in a community where you’ve got 50 sq. ft of patch to clip and you’re done and can quickly get back to sitting in front of the computer indoors?
Someone recently explained it to me this way, and it made tremendous sense: when you own a home, you’re paying taxes on the whole square footage, including your yard. If you’re not using it, you’re wasting money! Wow…he was right!.
So why not make it pretty and use the space?!
Why not gather my family out on the patio for dinner and grill out? Or roast marshmallows?
Or let the kids run through the sprinkler, then lay their wet bodies on the hammock (the thrifted hammock I bought!) to fight about who gets to lie in the middle?
These are the kinds of summers I want to have. Not stuck inside with electronics crammed in our hands, not talking to each other. Even if we were outside together on the patio, with electronics, at least we’d hear the birds…we’d look up to see the airplanes flying by…we’d have the sun to warm our skin…
And we’d have fond memories as a family of enjoying the outdoors together.
That is why I’m doing this makeover.
Plants, Flowers, and Mulch–Oh My! (And a Walkway!)
Ahhhh….where should I start….
Okay, you’ve probably seen these “before” pictures, but it’s a good place to start because not only did I plant and mulch on this area, but I totally DIY’ed this walkway, which I’ll show you in this post, as well.
As you can see, it was pretty in that it was green (sorry, my drought-ridden friends!).
But weeds aren’t friendly by any means. They’re evil little creatures that just take over everything, as they did here in this walkway and landscape bed area.
I used my pressure washer (yes, my pressure washer!) to help blast away the foliage to quickly and easily get it cleared.
I had to hire professional landscapers to come and prune back my neighbor’s trees, at a tune of $225. ACK!
Normally I’d try to do this myself, but they were just too high for me to comfortably climb up there with the ladder we have.
It’s coming along so nicely!!!
Planting the Boxwoods
After clearing everything away and adding in some organic compost and prepping the landscape bed area, it looked promising . (You definitely should read this post on how to create landscape beds before planting in your landscape beds).
I wasn’t sure which plants to put here so I stopped by a nursery and she recommended boxwoods because they’re easy to grow, and you can grow a hedge if you want by planting them closer together. I decided to keep mine spaced apart to keep them growing separately.
Since plants usually are planted in 3s, 5s, or 7s (all odd numbers), I knew that getting 3 would be best.
With some pruning, I won’t let them get too big. But this was the right kind of green I wanted, not green from weeds! 🙂
I started by digging a hole big enough to plant the boxwoods.
Make sure that when you take plants our of their containers from the nursery that you use a knife or box cutter to slice the compacted soil all around it, breaking up the roots a little, then planting it. I guess that helps it to plant better and maybe sucks up water better! 🙂
Add some fertilizer, recover with dirt, water, and then get ready to mulch!
You’ll want to add about 3″ of mulch, otherwise, weeds will grow in your bed area.
I didn’t add any weed blocking fabric because I’ve read mixed reviews on it when used in landscape beds. So I just decided to not use it and just add as much mulch as I can to keep the sun from reaching the weeds.
I still have to add some pretty window flowers. But the area is looking so clean!
And with my neighbors trees pruned back, there’s enough sunlight getting through to reach the boxwoods!
Extending the Walkway
You can see in this “before” pic how there was no walkway coming back to the patio.
There were these four measly little stepping stones and then–kaput!–nothing.
Plus, the landscape bed for the tree and shrub was very odd, right off the pages of a geometry textbook! LOL….AKA…very triangle-ish!
But this is how DIY projects usually go, LOL: you decide to do one little project and then suddenly you’re doing the whole damn house! LOL
That’s what happened here. What started as just the side of the house walkway quickly become a “let’s-just-extend-this-walkway” type of project.
I also decided to extend the walkway to the patio and smoothed out the landscape bed by curving the rocks.
But I had a problem.
This little plant was in the way, making it impossible for me to keep the same 5-foot width of the path to meet the edge of the patio. I surely couldn’t go from 5-foot to a small 2.5-foot!
So, after talking to a landscaper guy, he suggested I just dig up and re-plant that little guy!
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
So that’s what I did!
Dug that baby right up!
I moved it over to the landscape bed under the kitchen bay window instead.
Our soil is very clay-like, as I mentioned before. I didn’t have any organic compost, so I just used what I had on hand–digging the hole, placing in the plant, adding soil and fertilizer, and watering it reeeeealllly good!
NOW I was able to create the path I wanted, and can even plant some smaller, pretty flowers there if I want!
I added 6 bags of sand to prep the ground to add the stones.
I Paid $221 For 12 Stones
If someone tells you that DIY is cheap…..please correct them.
Tell them, “No, DIY is not cheap….it’s cheaper…..cheaper than hiring professionals. But surely, it’s not cheap.”
I stopped at the quarry yesterday and bought 12 matching stones to the ones that the previous homeowners had that I had used for the walkway.
Trust me–I debated long and hard about this decision.
But it felt…..wrong…..to take the easy road and have all these mismatched stones in my walkway.
I decided that if I’m going to do a job, I’m going to do it right, because I don’t want to have to replace them down the road.
So, I swallowed my thrifty pride and bought them.
But I’m sure they’re going to look awesome!
Watch My “How to Plant and Mulch” Video
So I didn’t mean to spend so much time talk about my walkway, but it ties in to the planting and mulching.
You can get more information on planting and mulching in the video that I filmed with RYOBI Landscapes!
I will be creating another matching walkway from my patio to my kitchen door, so perhaps I’ll record that so you can see exactly how it’s done! 🙂
In the meantime, just know that I’m sweatin’ my tail off over here, trying to create the perfect backyard oasis, and trying to get it done quickly so that I’ve got two more good months of warm weather to use it (maybe four months if you count global warming. LOL).
So do you guys dig planting, mulching, and creating walkways? (…..Get it….”do you DIG“?). Pun intended! 😉