A Nerd in the Garden – Busy Spring

Spring Tulips

Cappuccino Lily

Cappuccino Lily

last year we spent a couple of months clearing out a lot of weeds and preparing our garden space. We put in 7 raised beds and planted them. We also mulched heavily with hazelnut shells. The mulching worked like a dream. This year there were very few weeds and they were easily pulled. The entire garden space looks neat and well cared for.

We learned also that the squash, pumpkins, zucchini and like vining vegetables will take up all the space they can. We had 20′ vines, possibly even longer. they have been banished to the side yard.

Gunnera

Gunnera

This year we put in two more raised beds and have been cleaning up the side yard. We have a problem with Himalayan Blackberries, which are very thorny and grow very fast. They are all but impossible to get rid of once they have gotten a foothold. Every year we tear out so many sharp thorny vines. The thorns go right through leather gloves. Those are probably the worst of the offenders, although no one told me that Clerodendrums propagate underground so I have to pull some Clerodendrum shoots every year. Likewise catnip. I planted it many years ago, all unaware of its propensity to propagate underground, for the neighborhood kitties. I’ve almost got the catnip out for good but it’s been a battle.

Of course there are the usual suspects too: Dandelions, thistles, broadleaf weeds, clover, various grasses and bindweed. There is a lot of weeding to do and clean up takes a lot of time and effort. It’s very satisfying when it is done though.

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

You may notice the inverted pot on the side of the raised bed. This is to set my sprinkler on. It gets it high enough that I’m not wasting a lot of water watering the sides of the beds and the pathways.

We have a gorgeous garden this year and at long last the flower bed we’ve been putting in the side yard is starting to look like we want it to. The attempt to dig up and move the Crocosmia was unsuccessful. It came back where it was dug up and did not grow where it had been planted. In the fall I will try again.

Rose Taboo, Mallow, Dutch Blue Iris and Crocosmia Lucifer

Rose Taboo, Mallow, Dutch Blue Iris and Crocosmia Lucifer

We planted dutch blue iris and they came up beautifully. Likewise lilies and earlier in the season tulips. The Gunnera is finally thriving. It’s a swamp plant so I have to water it frequently but I love it. We had to mulch it heavily to get it through the winter but it survived and has rewarded us by getting to a height of 4 feet. The leaves are easily 3 feet wide.

Spring Tulips

Spring Tulips

The area will take several years to get all of the weeds out and mulched, since we are doing it ourselves. Sure we could hire professional landscapers and they’d do it in a weekend but it would cost thousands of dollars that we just don’t have. By spreading out our planting, and our clean up and preparation we are dividing the project into manageable chunks and spreading out the cost so that we can pay as we go. It also gives us a chance to correct errors as we learn. Sure it’s going to take years to get this yard looking the way we want it to but it won’t consume too much of our time at one time and it won’t break our budget.

In the fall I planted a lot of tulips and lilies. It was a delight to see the tulips bloom this spring. The lilies are starting to bloom now and will carry through the late spring/early summer. Then the roses will be in full bloom. This year the roses got an early start.

Flower Bed

Flower Bed

Purple Prince Lily

Purple Prince Lily

A Nerd in the Garden loose in the House: Remodeling

Tile and Paint Chips

Demo Begun

Demo Begun

After a long absence from blogging I am back. I do apologize for the derth of posts in the last 6 months, gentle reader. Rest assured things have continued on. The remodel project has grown, along with the budget. Since it’ll take me approximately forever to save up the cold hard cash for all of these projects I’m starting small, prioritizing and shopping for the best deals I can find.

We decided to start on the inside in the bathroom. It was old, 70’s style and small-ish, not tiny but not large either. We’re mostly doing this ourselves so it is very slow going. What it’s costing us in time is saving us quite a bit in labor.

When calculating the budget I also included the design and everything one would generally pay for if they had someone else come in and do the project. There is no reason to ignore design costs just because you are doing your own design–it gives you a more accurate idea of how much money you save by doing certain things yourself.

To calculate the budget I googled the average cost in my area for each piece of the project I’m looking at doing. This gives you a realistic starting point for saving up to have something done without breaking your overall budget.

When starting a remodel it’s wise to figure half again as much of your budget for unexpected surprises. For example in the bathroom, since it hadn’t been remodeled ever and it had all of its original fixtures, and the house was slapped together in a hurry I expected water damage, mold, and the normal things one finds behind the tile in a bathroom. The flooring was cheap linoleum, ugly cheap linoleum, I expected bad things in the floor.

When we pulled the tile off the walls (the only tile in the bathroom was the surround around the bathtub/shower) it had been put on straight drywall, not even backer board for tile. As things go, a very minor surprise but it made us worry about where we might find mold or water damage.

That all being said, we were pleasantly surprised to find very minimal water damage. The floor was pristine, and there were only two spots of damage on a stud. We didn’t even have to replace it the damage was so small–just a little discoloration.

New Tub

New Tub

Since the bathroom is small we chose a tub with shelves for small items like shampoo and conditioner, washcloths, razors, shower gels and the like. Also we have to paint the walls white because white walls makes a space look lager than it is.

We are also going to cut a small shelving unit into the wall. It’ll only be about 5.5 inches deep but we can make it the width of the space between the studs which will give us quite a bit more storage. It’s enough for toilet paper, washcloths, toothpaste and other miscellaneous items that go in a bathroom. We’ll put an illusion door over it so it won’t just be some opening in the wall. It will go behind the door.

Now a stark white bathroom is boring, really, so we are going with black and white marble tile for the floor (and we’re getting proper backer board) and oil rubbed bronze faucets. We are also selecting a trim for around the tub. It should be very modern looking when finished but with the oil rubbed bronze still a bit warm, rather than stark and cold.

Tile and Paint Chips

Tile and Paint Chips

It took quite a bit of searching but I found the tile on super sale, same brand, same style as I had found in a store, and I bought enough for both bathrooms in the house. Even though the next bathroom will have to wait quite a while for the remodel, at least I have the tile and with it being the same as what we’re using in the first bathroom it’ll carry a sense of continuity throughout the house.

This is a work in progress and it’ll likely take several months for us to finish.