The Great Outdoors

May 20, 2012

A few posts ago I had dug up this huge bush and wanted to get the front yard island area cleaned up. After a few weeks of planning, contemplating, thinking, visiting garden centers, and talking with my mom, I decided on what I should do. I finally planted my flower garden. Now that it is planted, I can’t wait for it to fill in a bit. I am very happy with the progress and way it makes the yard look so much more colorful.

The very front row of flowers (white) are Candy Tuft. The second row (blue) are Phlox. The third are Hostas. The two behind it are Hydrangeas. There are a total three Lillies on the ends of the flower bed.
Front yard island area

Candy Tuft





View from top of yard

May 20, 2012

In our backyard there is a kennel doghouse area. In the doghouse area there were lots and lots of blackberry bushes. Now there are none. When we first moved in, this area was invaded with blackberry bushes. After living here for a year and a half I have overtime tackled each bush and cut them back and cleaned out this dog kennel area. My hope is to clean this area out completely and make some useful space out of it. But I’m still thinking about what that useful idea is exactly.

In the meantime I did some more yard work. I honestly had no intention of doing what I just did. All I had on my list to do was trim a tree, cut the blackberry bushes, and take some weeds. Next thing I knew I was chasing blackberry roots and had pulled some of the tall grasses out the lawn mower or edger hadn’t gotten.  Then I had a bit of the lawn torn up and was planting flowers I had for another place. Although the original place I had these flowers for we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy that well so having them out in the yard where we can look out and see them is wonderful!

I planted lillies, white and purple alyssum, Apricot Sunrise Dahlia, and inbetween each plant I plan to have a Morning Glory.

Sometimes it is the littlest things than make us happy.

Dog kennel area (see the flowers right in front?)

New flower bed

April 30, 2012
It ended up being a wonderful-working-in-the-yard weekend. The sun was shining but was a bit cloudy and not raining. The project I completed turned out to be a little easier than I anticipated. (yay!)

In the front of our house we have a pea gravel parking area. Right next to the pea gravel area is the grass for the front yard. There is a paver barrier but overtime the pavers have gotten buried in the grass and dirt and weeds have overgrown the area. I told my husband what I wanted to do and he was all for it. :)

I started by digging up each paver. Once I got the first the rest were easier to dig up. By the time I got done I had a nice small ditch and contemplated on what to do next to distinctly mark the grass and pea gravel.

My helpers! They were so happy.

I looked to see what the neighbors had done and then the light bulb came on. The pavers I had dug up were flat but had the scallop tops on them. I didn’t want to stand them back up like they were so instead I reused the pavers I dug up and laid them on their side and connected them one by one, making sure they were as level as I could get them considering the area I was working slopped. I have to say it definitely looks better, but not as perfect as I had hoped.

However, now you can distinctly tell the grass from the pea gravel. Here are the before and after pictures.


The rest of my weekend I got to cleaning out the backyard area- trimming trees, and cutting blackberry bushes in a confined area, and pulling weeds. It was a disaster, but now looks much better (except for the piles of tree debris and blackberry vine still sitting in the backyard)!

Now I’m off to plan my flower garden–The front yard island area where I dug up the big ugly bush. My mom came over one afternoon for a coffee visit and garden tour to see what all I had done in the yard. She gave me some advice on what I could do with the area. I can hardly wait to get started. (Thanks Mom!)

April 23, 2012
One thing I am really bad about is taking before and after pictures. I get so excited to start a new project (especially a big one) I don’t even remember to photograph what I am working with until it is too late.
With the beautiful weather we are having in the Northwest, my weekends have been spent working in the yard. This year, I have taken on a couple of large outside projects. I have been inspired to work in the yard and get it cleaned up and looking beautiful. Although that will take perhaps many years to get it how I would like it, I have to start somewhere.

I had some good garden soil delivered a few weeks back. My son (who is 5 1/2)and I shoveled wheelbarrows full, pushed it around to the backyard and dumped each dirt load into the garden area where we prepped to get ready to plant. This past Saturday we got our snap peas, beans, and onions in the ground. We plan to finish and plant sunflowers, watermelon, brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, corn, and probably some other veggies I have seeds for.
Fresh new garden soil (2 yards) delivered from Great Western Supply

This is a little hard to see but straight down from the window is the garden area. This is a before picture on what we had to do to clean it all up. Weeds, weeds, and more weeds.

This is the garden area, currently weed free, new dirt and a few veggie seeds planted.

I recently took up a really big project that took me the last three weekends to clean out.

In our front yard we have a rather large island area where there are two trees, lots of ivy, bushes, lots of tree debris (needles and pinecones), and then this really super ugly, spiny like bush. I have no idea the name of it but it is just ugly, really ugly. I decided to clean up the area and completely remove this bush from the island area. I started trimming branches to make it smaller to work with and got a little further into it and thought I had created myself a monster to deal with. With the help of my two children (ages 4 and 5) we worked away for the past couple of Saturdays to get this thing out.
This past Saturday, my husband was home. We finished getting this bush out, chasing roots that were many feet long. It took two of us (my hubby and I) to pick up the remains and put it in the yard debris pile. We had some leftover garden soil sitting in our front yard and used to rest to spread around in the large island area. Now the bush is gone, the dirt pile is gone, and all that is left is a big eyesore of a yard debris pile to get rid of.

The nasty bush we dug out - that is the roots

More of the bush

Another picture of the get the idea.

The big pile of yard debris (I can't wait to see this go away)

I’m still trying to decide exactly what to do with the large island area. I definitely want some color (flowers), but would also like it to be easy care. Perhaps a couple of hydrangeas, hostas, pansies, and next year be prepared to plant some (bulbs) daffodils, mini daffodils where they will have time to come up in the Spring.

The island area.

The cleaned out island area. This is where the bush was which filled up about this whole space of dirt you see.

More area of the island to plant flowers.

All the space I get to fill up with flowers I like!

I am quite a new gardener. It is very fun to have a yard but at this point it is kind of like trial and error to see what grows where when. I am keeping a journal and hanging on to flower labels that come with the plant so I remember what they are called and what I like.

A few weekends ago I got my front flower bed planted by the front door. There was already a plant there when we moved in (a year and a half ago) and wanted to leave it to see what kind it was. It was definitely a climber and turned out to be a clematis (which I love!). In front I planted Dahlias, and white princess flowers. Last year my Dad built me a small flower box made out of extra deck wood. This year, I put in four different colored gerberas (my favorite flower) and now the front door area is so colorful. I have to stop and smile every time I see it. I just love this time of year.

The flower bed by the front door. I planted dahlias (pink) and the white princess (white). These will fill in later in the season and looks gorgeous when the clematis blooms.

Colorful Gerberas (my favorite flowers) in my favorite flower box made by my Dad.


January 19, 2012

Yesterday we got 8-10 inches of snow and a fabulous day building snowman, sledding, and playing in the snow.

Last night, we got an ice storm. We woke up to tree limbs snapping and crashing and snow falling off branches. Everything has that shiny look to it. There are icicles hanging off the eaves of the house, the cars, trees, everything. It is just an amazing sight to see, but also crazy at the same time.
Icicles hanging from the house

January 18, 2012

We have had a fabulous winter with not much rain, sunshine, and just gorgeous weather. It has been years since we have had such decent weather in the winter time. It is usually so dark and gray for months and it doesn't stop raining.

This morning we woke up and got 8 inches of snow dumped on us. We have had so much fun playing in the snow, making snowman, and sledding. It continued to snow all day, and got some freezing rain too. By the end of the day we could of easily had 9 or 10 inches of snow. We may be stuck at home for a few days since there is no way we can go anywhere with our vehicles.

The view of our deck and backyard

Another backyard view

The Snowgirl I made

My son in the snow tube

A ruler showing 8 inches of snow


When I was growing up in Southern California I remember lots of sunshine and not much rain. We would go to the beach in the summertime, help plant our family garden, play outside in the backyard, visit my grandparents and go swimming, and we always took a summer vacation.

Also growing up my mom always had beautiful flowers and plants all over the yard. She loved to garden. She also had an interest for birds and nature. I on the other hand didn't like either very much.

In 2000, my parents and I relocated to the Northwest. It was quite the change from sunny Southern California to wet, cold Washington state. My mom started on her flower garden and my parents have been improving the yard every year. It looks amazing! I still didn't like to garden or have a real interest in birds but did help my mom in the yard from time to time. Gardening in the Northwest made everything so much better and the soil was so soft and much easier to work with than in California.

It wasn't until my husband, the two kids, and I moved into our house. I felt inspired to keep the yard up and wanted to make a good impression on the landlords. There was so much potential in this yard and wanted to add my own personal touch. I have spent more time in the yard this summer working on little 'mini-makeovers' in the corner of the yard, or pulling out 7 bushes, or making sure the garden area had all the weeds pulled and not letting them grow back...thats where it all began. With my mom's help, we planted some flowers by the front door that have just been beautiful and am absolutely delighted I didn't kill the plants from lack of water, or too much water, or for any other reason. I also planted gerberas and they lasted for months and are still blooming. There is a Clematis plant started and had about two little strings on it. I got a small trellace and strung it up and the Clematis literally exploded with blooms and has added such color to our front yard. Now that I have actually been working in the yard and have kept a few things alive, I like to garden. In fact, I love to garden and spend time outside even if it rains every other day up here.

I also have a big pole with 4 birdfeeders mounted to the deck so we can all watch the birds come and go and have taught the kids what each bird is. They love to see all the bird activity and they enjoy throwing peanuts out for the Steller Blue Jays on the deck and watching them come get the peanuts.
The whole bird feeder setup purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Blackheaded Grossbeak on suet feeder.
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