Keith started by digging up the sod in the area to the left of the porch and a small area to the right. The left side is a shoe-in for a flower bed, since it is completely contained by sidewalk. Without thinking about it much, I thought we would just focus our energy there, but Keith suggested cutting out a bed on the right side to balance things out. Turns out, that was a pretty good idea.
While Keith cut sod and loaded it into the wheelbarrow, I took it around the side of the house and piled it up. We laid it grass-side down, hoping to kill off the grass and then have a pile of nice soil we can add back into the garden or use in another raised bed next spring.
After all that, we had a
dirt pit flower bed that looked, um, less than flowery. We had our couple hand-me-down plants in the ground, but that was it.
As luck would have it, a few days later we got a coupon for a local garden center (the same one where we got the flowers for the hanging baskets) in the mail. We decided to head over one evening when Keith got home from work and pick out some perennials that would be of varying heights and colors and do well in an area that is shaded for a good part of the day.
The next day, Bert and I planted all of our new plants. I wish I had taken some photos of that, because Bert was filthy. But between trying to get plants in the ground and keeping the little man out of the street, I didn't even think of the camera. Every time I dug a hole, Bert came over and sat next to it and put his feet in. He also sat on several plants and tipped the watering can over twice. Needless to say, he was a mess and the project took much longer than I anticipated. But he had fun and all the work still got done.
I wanted to add a little patch of mint somewhere on the quarter-acre, but was concerned about it spreading too much. Keith came up with a plan to use our old fire pit to create a mint patch, which will hopefully keep it somewhat contained. He dug out a hole and and placed the basin from the fire pit inside, after drilling holes in the bottom for drainage. Then he lined the basin with stones. The plan is to fill it with potting soil and plant some mint in there that my mom is bringing next time she comes to visit.
We also used the stand from the fire pit (originally the basin sat on top of it) as a little fence for the mint patch. I think it adds some dimension to the flower bed and ties in with the porch railing (even though we don't really like the railing).
The right side still looks especially empty, with only one little plant near the sidewalk, which you can't even see in this picture. Our plan is to put some tall ornamental grasses along the side of the porch. Closer to the sidewalk, we want to create rock feature (I suppose that's what a landscaper would call it), by which I mean a nicely arranged pile of rocks with hens-and-chicks and maybe some other succulents tucked in the crevices. We saw one at the garden center and thought it was really cool.
Things certainly are not finished, but I think in a couple weeks the plants will fill out more and make it look great. We are also keeping our eyes open for rocks for the rock feature and maybe pavers or some other kind of rock to use as edging, especially on the right side where we want to keep the grass from creeping in. We'll hold out for another coupon or deep fall discounts to get the ornamental grasses. Since becoming a one-income household, we have definitely slowed down on projects. But by keeping our eyes open for coupons, hunting down deals like the wicker furniture from Goodwill, and using plants that friends and family members separated from their own flower beds, we have been able to spruce up the front of our house. We have also come to accept that these projects don't have to all happen in the course of one weekend (remember I found the wicker back before Easter?) That helps us to really think through our plans and to spread out the cost of our projects. So for about $200, we now have a house that we feel, in the words of Nate Berkus, rises up to greet us. Or at least it lifts it's head and nods a hello.