Hosta La Vista, Baby

Garden Sign

OK, so maybe that title is a little misleading. This weekend we planted some hostas, and thus far they haven’t left.

Front Yard with Pruned Plants

This weekend’s weather was perfect for being outside and we took full advantage by clearing out some dead trees and stumps, trimming and pruning every shrub and planting some new plants, including some hostas of various colors.

Freshly Planted Hostas

Hosta Sprout Close Up

At this point they are nothing more than little sprouts in the garden, but that’s a start for sure. I feel pretty confident about what we’ve done, despite not really having the greenest thumb. My parents both are really good with their gardening but I don’t know if that has been passed down to me.

Peat and Potting Mix

Our soil is kind of sandy, and we’re in the middle of drought right now. To try and combat that, we planted the hostas with a mix of peet, potting soil and osmocote. Oh, and lots of water.

Front Yard in April

As I said, we’re in the middle of a drought. Our grass seems overrun with weeds, but we remain confident. We’ve been quietly working on it here and there since we moved in. I’ll monitor the progress of our garden for the rest of the summer, and hopefully keep posting updates as things improve.

Here are two final pictures. One of another hosta from the front yard to show you what they will look like and then a shot of the new ones from yesterday.

Full Hosta in April

Hostas Day 4

A Little Yard Work Never Hurt Anyone

It’s that time of year! Autumn/Fall/Harvest/whatever. It is quite possibly my favorite time of year. I enjoy the fall so much that I really don’t mind all the yard work. My Dad might have told you otherwise when I was 16, but hey, those were different times, man. You’ve gotten to know our yard, the vacant lot behind our house and the patches of grass that I keep mowing even though they aren’t mine. But I’m not complaining or anything. The small amount of maintenance needed on a yard like ours is well worth the effort.

Autumn leaves from the roof

The vacant lot still holds onto its remnants and debris from Hurricane Irene, and I think our yard absorbs a lot of the leaves that fall from the surviving trees back there. I think the end of summer and excess of leaves falling has taken its toll on our lawn. Both the front and back lawn have been looking patchy since we moved in. We also have a good bit of overgrowth in the form of weeds and ivy all over the place.
Spraying Ortho GroundClear
With the assistance of Lawn Ace’s Kevin Fidyk, we treated the ivy and weed patches with Ortho’s Groundclear.
Ortho GroundClear weed killer
It worked really well and cleared the areas except where the ivy was very dense and dark. Those patches cleared up after the second application.
Scotts E Z Seed
We also treated the baldest patches with Scotts E Z Seed before we got married and left for Mexico.When we got back, the patches were fairly full and healthy. Like magic. These were the areas we had heavily dropped the E Z Seed and had heavily watered. The rest of the lawn got a casual dusting followed by 2 days of rain. Those areas didn’t fair as well. If we have the time, I think we need to do a heavier spread across the entire lawn.
Tree pruning from the roof
The next task that needed tackling was tree pruning, so my Dad and I climbed up on the roof. Using a telescoping tree pruner that we bought at Lowe’s, we trimmed the branches that were jutting out over the roof and house. Not only did we get a lot done, but the view from up there was pretty cool. Maybe someday there will be a blog post about me building a secret roof deck. OK, probably not, but it was fun while it lasted.
Tree pruning big branch

Meanwhile, back on the ground… We had this one branch sticking out into the middle of the yard at eye level. You can see it in the photo above. We trimmed it and that really opened up our view of the backyard.

Backyard Tree Branch CutHopefully we’ve done enough work to keep our yard healthy through the winter, and if time allows we’ll put down some Fall/Winter fertilizer. New Jersey winters have always been unpredictable, and last year’s was a harsh one. We lived in an apartment and I felt like I was doing a lot of work. This could be an interesting next few months as we prepare for our first Winter in this home.

A Rush of Blood to the Shed

We recently built a shed. I know that sounds impressive, but its probably not exactly what you’re thinking. The image I conjure up when thinking about building a shed is the “raise a barn on Monday, soon I’ll raise another” part of Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise.” It’s kind of like that but not really.

amish paradise raise a barn on mondayAs you may remember, we have a shed behind the house but it isn’t ours. It is on the subdivided/sold-but-vacant lot behind our property. The original owners of the house owned two adjacent pieces of property and when the time came to sell, they were sold separately. So now we have a huge vacant lot with a big ole shed and lots of hurricane debris sitting just beyond our backyard. Sounds exciting, but to be honest I’m glad the ole shed isn’t our responsibility. It’s kinda smelly. This new shed looked real spiffy in the brochure and it was on some sort of sale, so we jumped on it.

rubbermaid shed brochureThe shed is a Rubbermaid resin shed that comes delivered from Lowe’s by an old man with a forklift* and a big truck.

shed parts backyardYou can see the pallet in the background and the pieces starting to look like parts of a shed. Everything came labeled and the instructions were real simple.  The weird thing is that at the end you’re left with a pallet. What am I gonna do with a random busted up pallet?! Where’s a bonfire when you need one?!

shed floor level groundI picked the location for this shed not based on how level the ground was, but how cute I thought it’d be. Well, that’s only half true. The ground should have been more level but this spot was too perfect to pass up. This bold decision would ultimately come back to bite me in the ass later, but it ended up OK. If I have one bit of advice for a future junior shed builder out there, it would be to make sure you try and level your ground, even if it’s just a little. This pocket of our yard is full of sandy soil, so I was fighting a losing battle.

raise a barn shedAs it’s going up it all feels real flimsy, but it ends up fitting together. (Obviously, or else we wouldn’t be here talking about this shed). Everything snaps together with limited drilling and screw-driving.

shed one wallSee that soap there? Yeah. The shed requires a little bit of old fashioned lubing to slide the walls together. Way less messy than industrial graphite. I know from experience, bro.

shed finishingHere’s the part where the level ground is crucial. All of the components fit into place nicely, but then BAM and you need to slide some pins into the roof to hold it down. While doing so I sliced my hand and we both got real frustrated. In the end we just gave up on 1 of 6 pins. Everything seemed level and secure so we didn’t sweat it.

completed Rubbermaid resin shedThere it is, done in time for sunset over the Waackaack Creek. From the front yard and driveway that are just behind it, it is barely noticeable, and from this view it is nestled between the fences. The area needs some landscaping, but that will come in due time.

The resin makes the inside of the shed feel really muggy when it gets warm and there is moisture in the air. Luckily there are optional “gills” that can be cut near the roof to let the thing breathe. All in all, it took 2 people about 5 hours to complete. Not bad considering we’ve now got 7′ x 7′ of outdoor storage space we didn’t have before.

And now what you’ve really been waiting for. Amish Paradise.

*No old man guarantee. Lowe’s delivery policy subject to change.