Our Baby Garden

There are times when starting with a blank slate can be downright terrifying. Even more so? Combining ‘blank slate’ with ‘garden.’ With these two, that’s not only terrifying, but almost laughable. But! Spoiler alert – we survived (with a lot of help!) and have a teeny, baby garden to show for it.

Let’s back up.

With nothing but rain in the forecast last week, spotty showers over the weekend and more rain to come, our plans to stain our front porch floor went out the window – fast. (And with thunderstorms on the horizon for the coming weekend, it’s looking like all signs point to another week of hell no.) In any case, we didn’t want that to get us down, so we moved forward with another outdoor agenda – the garden!

Our front yard needed a pick me up, and we needed someone to tell us what to do. When it comes to anything leafy, we’d rather not over think it (for once) and dive in with some instruction. And so, after snapping a handful of photos on our phones and jotting down measurements, we went to Sprout Home, one of our favorite city nurseries with a great selection of perennialsperennial being the operative word, as we wanted a good base for layering in annuals as our moods and tastes change each year.

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We talked with one of the specialists, Michael, for a long, long time – waffling here and there, but trusting his input and advice on what won’t work, what will work, and what we should keep in mind for the future. In the end, we came home with ONE) 2 Juniper Witchita Evergreens, TWO) 3 Green Velvet Boxwoods, THREE) 5 Blue Fescues and FOUR) 5 lavender plants.

Using the evergreen trees as our jumping off point, we stuck with a mostly blue-green leafy theme and worked on our levels – trees and shrubs in the back (which will grow, grow, grow!) and the more wild blue fescue and lavender up front along the grass line. These plants would be our starting point, and next year, Michael suggested that we could add color in the middle once everything had a chance to take root and fill out.

The next day, we worked on the actual shape of the garden, starting with a wider base where it meets the concrete (5′ deep) and getting smaller where it meets up with the edge of our home (2.5′ deep).

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We planted everything according to the instructions, and after a lot (and I mean a lot) of debate, we ended up using garden edging to keep everything separate from the grass. In all honesty, we had planned on installing a small walkway across the front of the garden (to connect the front of our house to the back without leaving a wear pattern on the still non-existent grass), but decided to nix it – for now. Full disclosure, that decision was based on the mounting costs, exhaustion and the insane amount of supplies needed.

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In the meantime, we decided to give ourselves a lush patch of grass in the front for the cost of 3 bags of lawn soil and this Turf Builder. We picked up a hand held grass seeder and went to town (again, following the bag’s instructions) after digging up all the weeds (which left us with a bare lawn!) and raking in a thick layer of top soil. If we decide that omg, we have to have a sidewalk!, then it’s certainly something we can add next year!

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For fun, can we take a look back to the start of the season? (Eww!)

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And now? A garden! A little baby garden that’ll grow up (some day) and a big patch of dirt that’ll sprout pretty green grass (some day); we’ve got ourselves a painted porch, an unstained floor (for now!), and…

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… Caps on those beat up cinder blocks!

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While our garden is in the very early stages, the staff at Sprout suggested that we keep our eyes open during the course of the summer, making note of any colorful plants that catch our eye. We told Michael that we loved the look of purple Salvia, and he agreed that it would be a great filler for the middle row once our boxwoods have had a chance to beef up. Next year! (Patience, patience.)

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If the rain can hold off for the weekend, we’d like to get the rest of the porch floor stained, but we really doubt it’ll be dry enough to do so (and we’d like to avoid peeling paint/stain down the road; it’s all about the prep!). Never mind, we’ve got a punch list that doesn’t want to shrink and baseboards that need paint (yup, still). But! Here’s how we’re shaping up out front:

Swap out the old outdoor lights for new ones
Paint the front door
Paint/Stain the porch floor
Finish the staircase hand rail
Paint the staircase – that is, once the pressure treated wood has dried (boo)
Top the downstairs cinder blocks with caps
Garden!
Install a path from the pavement to the side of our home, alongside the garden (NOPE)
Porch swing!

Rain, rain, go away… anyone?

PS… the blurry paper in our transom window is our test template for address numbers! We decided on the matte gold Americana style from House Number Lab. They’re currently on order, and we can. Not. Wait.

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  • Paige @ Lux Per Diem - June 26, 2014 - 7:37 AM

    It looks so much better! Great job!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - June 26, 2014 - 8:29 AM

    Love your new plants- what excellent choices you made and I love the placement and everything. So nice :-)
    Hoping for a rain free weekend for you all. And I hope CC is feeling better!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 26, 2014 - 10:11 AM

      Thanks, Rachel! CC is back to acting like her usual self, but she is NOT loving her pill routine 3x a day! We did, however, pick up Pill Pockets, and they changed our lives. Thanks to everyone who recommended that!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - June 26, 2014 - 8:32 AM

    Looks so good!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - June 26, 2014 - 8:55 AM

    What a difference! I think it’s a great start so far. The plants you chose should fill in the space nicely. We’re working on our front yard too, but haven’t gotten as polished as you yet (probably next year we’ll take a more focused approach). We did plant grass like you did though. Tip: it may take a while to come in (and may not come in evenly at first). Be patient – ours is finally growing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 26, 2014 - 10:49 AM

      Good to know! I’m so sad that there isn’t really anything growing yet, but… patience!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - June 26, 2014 - 9:02 AM

    What a great start. It such fun to watch a garden develop. In the meantime, you can always add a few hanging baskets from the porch. I can see two boston ferns or petunia baskets.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 26, 2014 - 10:10 AM

      Scott really, really wants some ferns, so I think we’ll likely end up with some!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda G - June 26, 2014 - 10:44 AM

    It looks so good! Maybe a small stepping stone path might be an easier/cheaper solution than a full path. Can’t wait to see more updates!ReplyCancel

  • Jaimie - June 26, 2014 - 1:20 PM

    Aw, it’s a great start! Our house was covered in vines when we moved in last summer, and that was about it for “landscaping”. We pulled down the vines immediately after closing (they were growing through the attic vents and siding), but we waited till this spring to start adding some new plants in. I’ve been trying to stick with native species, since they’re drought tolerant and beneficial to the native fauna, but I picked up a few naturalized ones as well.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 26, 2014 - 2:20 PM

      SMART MOVE. If it wasn’t for the help we got at Sprout, who knows what we would have ended up with!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - June 26, 2014 - 1:52 PM

    Maybe you’ve covered this elsewhere and I missed it, but are you painting those pesky baseboards by hand? Or are you using your paint sprayer + tons of masking the floors and walls? We are confronting the same decision and are not sure what might be faster in the long run!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 26, 2014 - 2:22 PM

      A little bit of hand, a little bit of roller. For every room so far EXCEPT the living room, I’ll set up the baseboards on saw horses and roll them with paint, then when they’re installed, I’ll touch them up. For the living room, we just wanted to get them up there (and the lengths were SO long), so I’ll be painting them on my hands and knees. (Yuck!) I’m not convinced that spraying them would be worth it after having to tape off SO much – but that’s just my take! I’d love to know if anyone else has done it that way! At this point, we’re trying to take it one step at a time, but as I’m sure you can sense, the baseboards aren’t my favorite task…ReplyCancel

      • Hannah - July 7, 2014 - 7:32 AM

        Thanks for this information! Since we are painting every.thing. in the apartment we’re moving into, we might try the sprayer (since we wouldn’t have to mask the walls, just the floor, since the walls are getting painted anyway?) The whole hands-and-knees-whole-house thing seems like a major drag. Good luck with your living room painting – all the trim is looking fabulous, it’s worth it!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - July 7, 2014 - 9:40 AM

          Just a heads up that we’ve learned – too much of semi-gloss overspray from painting the baseboards can be a bitch to roll over with a more matte wall paint. It will usually take at least an extra coat of wall paint to cover the semi-gloss, so I’d still try to be as careful as possible with the sprayer. Best of luck! It will be SO worth it in the end.ReplyCancel

  • Looks great! Waiting is by far the hardest part! (Reasons I prefer renovation/building over landscaping.)

    You’ll surely get some weeds in your new grass thanks to that fertile top soil. Aaron likes to do a Weed and Feed treatment each spring and fall. It makes a huge difference! I’m not sure if there’s a particular brand he likes, but I can ask him if you want.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 30, 2014 - 9:49 AM

      Oops, Heather, I found your comment in spam! We did use Weed and Feed in our backyard to tame the CRAZY weeds, but it seemed to also kill a lot of our grass… we are such newbies in the outdoor department!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - June 26, 2014 - 3:52 PM

    Nicely done!! I love purple salvia and mine grew quick! I bought a $1 clearance plant three years ago at Lowes and it doubled the next summer and is now at least tripled in size. Bees love it too!!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - June 28, 2014 - 1:01 AM

    Looks great! I wish my boyfriend would put as much effort into deciding on plants. He loves to just buy them and throw them in willy nilly. Its annoying…ReplyCancel

  • Mikki - June 30, 2014 - 3:49 PM

    Great start! I like your selections. Already a huge difference in your curb appeal. Just a thought from someone who has landscaped many a home… grass seed is very tough to grow this time of year and you may get spotty and average results. For a quick and instant improvement… just roll out some sod on your topsoil. It is such a small space… won’t cost much and will look so much better instantly. Just have to keep it watered. Good Luck with the porch staining!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 1, 2014 - 11:07 AM

      Thanks, Mikki! We did consider sod, but just decided to give grass seed a shot instead. We have had SO MUCH rain in the last couple of weeks, and the grass is growing ling a champion! We’ll have to see how it holds up, but we will definitely consider sod if our efforts don’t turn out as lush as we’d like.ReplyCancel

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