Y’all, it is really getting to be summer weather around here! We are supposed to hit 90 degrees tomorrow. The heat has me loving laying in our hammock with a cold beer in the shade and just relaxing in the evenings. I’ve been on such a porch swing kick lately (I want a big bed style swing so badly but we don’t have a spot for it!) so I thought that it would be fun to share a porch and yard swing round up! All of these are via Amazon.
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This is our first spring in our home and one thing that I am so excited for is building a garden and improving our yard. The previous owners actually rented the house out for the last 5 years so the yard was in rough shape! Our priorities have been grass, bushes/shrubs, adding some floral color to the front of the house, and adding a vegetable and herb garden. We started planting in March and thought that this would be a good time to check in and let you know how everything is going!
First of all, as far as how to decide what to plant, I have a bit of advice.
Make a list of what you like. Dream big. Your favorite flowers, herbs, and plants.
Walk around your hood. What do your neighbors have? What looks lush and healthy? What looks dead? Compare this to your list and amend as necessary.
Go to a garden center. Honestly a high end stand alone garden center is probably better that the one at Lowe’s or Walmart. This might sound shady, but you don’t have to buy anything there. Just talk to them and get their advice. Take a soil sample or a clipping of grass. Take your list. Ask them what they think. You can buy a couple of things there or go and buy things elsewhere, but they will likely be the best specialists in your area.
So this has been an issue. Our grass is extremely patchy because the backyard gets full sun and the front yard gets full shade. Both of those conditions are difficult for grass. We started by spreading weed and feed to try to kill weeds and replenish the grass. Well, not a single weed died. And no extra grass grew. Then we used Scotts EZ Seed to try to plant centipede grass in the bare patches. We picked this product because it touts itself as seed, mulch and fertilizer in one bag. Well, we spread that, water the crap out of it, and nothing happened. They offer a money back guarantee though, so I think we are going to try again and this time just bury some straight up seeds by themselves, water, and hope for the best.
When we moved in, basically every bush around the yard looked terrible. We weren’t able to pull them all out this year, but we did pull out five in front of the house, four where the veggie garden went, and seven on the back of the house. That was a TON of work.
In front of the house, we planted hydrangeas to replace the old bushes. We started with 3 hydrangea bulbs which did not take off growing like I thought that we would. I got impatient and added 2 foot tall hydrangeas to the mix.
Florals are fun because they add color and are pretty, of course! When we moved in we had pretty much nothing flowering going on. I have gone a bit crazy buying plants but am using this year kind of as an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Wisteria – I ordered 2 purple wisteria plants from Fast Growing Trees (I don’t see any available right now but their stuff comes in and out of stock). They arrived in great shape but were just sticks + root balls. I will tell you, they have really taken off! The plan is to train them up the sides of the hammock pergola. If you are familiar with wisteria then you know that they have huge purple flowers and smell really really good. We are so excited about these & I really hope that they bloom next spring.
Dahlias – We got 10 dahlia bulbs from Costco early in the planting season. Sean dug out all of the scraggly bushes along the back side of the house and replaced them with these. They are growing slowly but surely. Hopefully in 5 years they will be full and lush, but I have my fingers crossed for blooms before then.
Lillies & Annuals around the mailbox – I picked up this lilly off of the discount rack at Lowe’s. I’ll tell you – if you are up for a bit of a challenge, the discount rack is the spot to get some great deals. It only had a few blooms left on it (hence the discount) but it will come back every year. So, I planted it in this simple 2×4″ raised bed that Sean build around the mailbox (literally just 4 equal sized boards screwed together in a square). I filled it in with dirt since our soil is terrible and then filled in around it with X and X. They are annuals so they will just last the season but they sure are pretty.
Hydrangeas– We are having a win/lose hydrangea situation. At the beginning of the season, I planted 3 small bulbs in front of our porch (where Sean removed scraggly bushes). They have shown 0 growth. Since they are my fave, I decided to try again with larger (1.5 gallon) plants. They died instantly and are sitting dead in front of our house. I picked up 2 more, actually 50% off the sale rack at Lowes because they were withered. Fun fact: hydrangeas need a TON of water & drink through their petals, so by soaking each flower bunch with tons of water, I was able to revive them. They are staying in their pots & doing great that way. I think that they must hate our sandy soil.
Wild Flowers – One of the first things that we did this spring was toss out some wild flower seeds. They came in a big bag from Lowe’s and I was excited for some fun color. Well, they have grown to really look like weeds but are finally starting to bloom a little bit. Hopefully they bloom a lot more!
Avocado Trees – I am hoping to do a line of fruit trees along the side of our fence. I decided to pick up 2 trees a year until I have 6 or so, just with the hope that by focusing on only 1 variety at a time I will have a higher success rate. On the right above you see our Hass and Hearty Avocado trees. I have had them over a month and they’ve only grown a few inches, but there is no sign of death or disease so I am remaining hopeful for their slow & steady growth.
Vegetable and Herb Garden
Sean built me 2 things for the garden very early in the season – a raised garden bed & herb planters that hang on the fence. Our soil is pretty much 95% sand so we were told that it was important to add new soil, hence the raised and potted edibles. We planted everything the first week of March and then had a super late freak random freeze about 2 weeks later. Everything but the kale died and we had to replant. It was disappointing, for sure. Everything is in the growing stage now, and we will be sure to update you at the end of the season with what worked and what did not.
Luckily we were able to bring all potted plants (including the herbs) into the house so they lived. The Rosemary and Mint are actually a year old now since they live through winter. We have:
Garlic – TBD if these grow, you pull them late summer
Mint – doing great
Rosemary – doing good, no major growth
Cilantro – going CRAZY producing a ton
Potted in the porch:
Basil – I cut it all off too soon (I needed fresh pesto y’all) and it didn’t come back. Whoops. Planted 3 more and doing good!
Flat leaf parsley – growing strong since maybe November
You might remember that I picked up this set of table and chairs for FREE on the side of the road. It was in fabulous condition but had no glass tabletop and no cushions. The cushions were easy to replace (Thanks HomeGoods!) but the tabletop was a different story. I looked into getting tempered glass cut but it would have cost over $150. I instead decided to DIY a wooden tabletop as an inexpensive alternative.
I picked up a piece of project wood from Lowes. It was actually exactly 24″x48″ which was the size that I needed but you could cut and sand a piece if you needed to. This was just under $20.
I brought it home and gave it one coat of stain and three coats of sealant. That’s all that it took! I love the look of the wooden table top (it almost looks like butcher block!) and am super pleased with the cost savings of this project.
I love my cat so much. Sometimes I think about how she can never go outside and I feel sad for her, for how small her world really is. But, we keep her inside to keep her safe. She is very lucky to have a screened in porch where she can almost be outside. She really spends a ton of time out there (every morning she literally sprint down the stairs and meows at the door to be let out!) I decided to make her a cat garden to enjoy and oh my gosh she went nuts for it! This will have to be an annual project for sure.
DIY Cat Garden:
What you need:
A heavy pot (so it will stay in place if they push on it)
Add the grass and cat nip to the pot. If you are planting seeds, follow the directions on the package to grow.
Place in a sunny spot for your cat to enjoy! This will grow inside or out.
Water regularly to keep alive as long as possible.
Have you ever made a garden for your pets? What other things did they unexpectedly love?
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There is nothing better than relaxing in a hammock on a beautiful day. Our yard is perfect for a hammock – we have plenty of space and look out over a pond – but there are no trees in the backyard to hang a hammock between, I was surprised that when I searched “DIY wooden hammock stand” online that not that many results came up with actual tutorials. I used some images I found to kind of make our own design because we really wanted a permanent wooden hammock stand for our backyard to overlook the lake on a beautiful summer day.
The first thing we did was pick the location in our yard, which we chose the shady corner under the oak tree that would be great for late afternoons in the summer. The space there was big enough that we could angle a hammock stand with posts 13 feet apart. The basic design is below, with two 10-foot 4×4 posts in the ground, two 16-foot 2x6s running along the top and perpedicular 2x4s running across the top top.
Once we had the location, we measured out the two holes and dug two holes a foot wide and three feet deep. We dropped in the two posts so that they were now 7 feet exposed and 3 feet in the hole. Then we screwed one of the 16 foot boards to each of them to keep them lined up. Finally, we screwed small boards at the bottom to act as a level brace for the posts for pouring in the concrete.
We dumped the concrete right in the hole and mixed with water using a long metal pole to stir it around. No need for a wheelbarrow. We let the posts set overnight and then filled them the rest of the way with dirt in the morning.
The next step was adding the 2×6 beams across the top. These 16 footers were behemoths. We used two, 8 inch long 3/8 inch wide bolts to attach the beams to the posts on each side. We pre-drilled the holes through the beams and then held them up to drill through the posts.
Before securing the beams up, we cut an angle on the ends of each beam. We chose a 45 degree angle, but didn’t start it at the top corner because that would leave too sharp of an end. We wanted the beams to look decorative, not like spears. Funny story- Morgan thought that they sold pergola boards with that cut already and was amazed when I did it myself…
Once the bolts were secured through the beams and the post, we added 15 perpendicular, 3 foot long 2x4s across the top with the same 45 degree angle cut out. I attached these by drilling 5 inch deck screws straight down through the top and into the 2×6.
Almost there. Next, we used 1×2 boards perpendicular to the 2x4s to run across the very top to add more of a trellis look. These we just used six 8-foot boards to create three rows.
Next was the easiest step, which was hanging the hooks on each post for the hammock to hang on. Determine the height best for you, but we hung time about 5 feet off the ground.
The final step was stain. We used Thompson’s Water Seal outdoor grade stain over all the boards to make sure they last a long time.
I lied- the final step is to relax.
This DIY wooden hammock stand really wasn’t very hard. It took awhile because there were a lot of steps and some waiting, but man was it worth it. It’s in the shade under the oak tree and now we can just relax after a hard day of work. Can’t wait for summer!