Thursday, July 7, 2011

garden spruce up--before & after

 actually, it's more like yard overhaul. and I shouldn't quite say "after" yet, since there are a few things we'd like to do, but friends, I'm just so happy to have a peaceful spot outdoors finally that I couldn't wait to share.

Since moving in almost 4 (!) years ago, we have sorely neglected our outside spaces, and this year we realized that if we were actually going to enjoy hanging out in our own yard as a family (as opposed to continually crashing my sister's who lives next door and who happens to have quite a lovely backyard--perfect for cocktail hour and soccer games) we would need to do a little work to our yard. Actually a lot of work. Because we when we moved in it looked like this...
why yes, that is a giant root bulb, and yes, you're right, that is an old door it's resting on... in the middle of the yard

I could go on and on about everything that wasn't quite the stuff dreams are made of starting with the world's narrowest deck (not even wide enough for a chair) or the yellowing lattice that made me wince everytime I looked at it.... but I'll spare you.  Let's just say that it was a little overwhelming when we already had so many things indoors to attend to, not to mention a couple of little people.

BUT, approximately one week or so past my due date with baby Saf, Rich decided to do something about it. We were enjoying a leisurely spring break and I casually mentioned that all we needed to do to make our yard awesome was rip up the old blue stone path and reconfigure the stones into a patio--piece of cake....or so thought this wildly pregnant woman with a belly the size of china, or at least something close to it. Because Rich is loving and generous and self-sacrificing. And perhaps because by now, he thinks it best to pick his battles, he obliged. But Rich doesn't do anything halfway so he completely tore up the area...

We actually thought about just extending the deck, but if we did, we'd always be looking into our neighbors' yards, so we thought a patio best. To disguise the lattice behind and the awkward muddy spot beneath, Rich put up privacy lattice at the front edge of the deck, which I think is much more attractive than the regular wider kind. In a perfect world, lattice wouldn't be part of the equation at all, but it does the trick. I had Benjamin Moore color match Restoration Hardware's "Slate" in a solid exterior siding stain and used that to paint the lattice. We still need to refinish the deck so I'm currently toying with ideas for that. Suggestions?

The whole project gave me an excuse to indulge my black thumb. And I'm very happy to report that it's more of a muddy gray than a pure black these days. Not quite green, but we're getting there. I managed to plant about 50 types of seeds in those little seedling containers. And I managed to kill close to 40. All but one of my veggies bit the dust. Call it bad luck. Or lack of daily watering. Or cold-hearted neglect. Whatever the case, my lone surviving vegetable is my little tomato plant (Rich calls it my "nemo"... all the rest of its kin are history) which still needs a permanent home in the ground.

However, quite a few of my flower seeds sprouted along with the lovely pictured at the top. I'm not sure what it is anymore, but it just bloomed today which prompted this post. I don't think I've ever planted anything so exotic or beautiful.

The other survivors are morning glories which I'm training to climb up the lattice. I've replanted them approximately 100 times, but they seem to be handling the trauma like regular champs. Huge fan!

Ok, now on to the pictures....

One more BEFORE:


The perfect spot for cocktail hour and early morning coffee. And after completing this bear of a project on his own (with a bossy wife looking over his shoulder) Rich deserves both...esp the cocktail.


  1. Huge transformation! I hope you are now getting to enjoy?? I always get a thrill when I hit your blog, and wallah a new post!! Thanks! I must tell you that your blog started a fight between my husband and I!! A few month ago I spent about 3 hours re-doing my blog, I was so proud! John my husband was over my shoulder while I was showing him my new "look", I then somehow found your blog, he said, "now this is what I like, clean, simple" he was talking about your blog. Now we laugh about it, but at the time it wasn't funny!! I too enjoy the simplicity of your blog. Thanks Shirley Slee

  2. Wow Leah, it looks amazing! Congrats! I can relate on the black thumb. I have the best intentions but something just always gets in the way! LOL

  3. It looks great and I wish I lived close enough to come hang out on it. Also, it made me laugh because I just did a post about how I also kill everything I try to plant. Jimmy and I started tons of little seedlings also and he was very upset when I had to explain why they all died.

  4. That is a fantastic transformation. I would be happy to be invited over for cocktail hour at your new outdoor space. I am so not a gardener but I long to be someday!!

  5. Your efforts are well and truely worth it. Looks great. How cool to live next door to sis!!

  6. You guys are amazing. Do you mind crashers for early morning coffee and/or cocktail hour?

  7. Lovely...just the spot for enjoying the summer! Perfection personified and I do hope you have many opportunities to enjoy your lovely retreat!

  8. Leah it is definitely loungeworthy makes me want to take up smoking again, wtih coffee in hand. Been meaning to call you!


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