Sunday, July 10, 2016

Landscaping Part 3 – Adding the Plants

And I’m back.

So about a year ago I said my next post would be about adding the plants. The truth is, we’ve now been in the house for two years and we've done a lot around the house since it was completed. During that time we've been making the house our home and have never really stopped adding "finishing" touches. However, while I’d like to start posting about current things around the house, I feel like I have to finish the whole construction thing first. Without doing that, I feel like I’d be leaving chapters out. So here we go, back in time, and on to adding the plants…

Ready for the plants

At this point the grading was for the most part completed and we were ready to add the plants. Initially, my better half and I were going to have all the plants added but we decided that we wanted to do a lot of the work ourselves. So we had Brooke and Henry add some of the larger plants like the trees and bushes and we would do the rest. 

Side Walkway

Next to the side walkway we had small hydrangeas (I need to find the types) added along with an upright holly near the porch. We selected low growing hydrangeas because we did not want a wall of bushes over the driveway. When blooming, they have a deep purple color. The holly is also slow growing and we keep it trimmed so it doesn't overwhelm the entrance.

Red Dragon Maple

At the end of the walkway, we selected a Red Dragon Maple to provide an end of the walkway sort of feel. Since it was planted has bushed out very nicely.

Endless Summer Hydrangeas

Because we wanted an open porch, we didn't have a railing installed. To keep that inviting look and not block any view while at the same time blocking the view of under the porch, we went with Endless Summer hydrangeas. They were planted about 4 feet a part so that they will have room to grow and bush out.

Rock Island

Over near the road, we partially buried the large rock that was discovered during the foundation work. Around it we placed Red Twig Dogwoods, Spirea and Sedge grass. The island provides a nice visual barrier between the house and the road. Since the time, we've added many more plants. But this was a good start.

Columnar Sweet gum

On the northwest corner we wanted some type of tree to soften the corner of the house but didn't want anything that grew wide and caused a problem. Brooke suggested a Columnar Sweet gum.  It was planted about 6 feet off of the foundation and the leaves are very condensed and wrap themselves tightly around the tree. I think it was the perfect plant for that type of location.

Columnar Hornbeam

Near the back patio, we wanted a tree the would provide a pseudo visual barrier while again not wanting something that was overwhelming. We liked Brooke's suggestion for a Columnar Hornbeam. We planted this about 10 feet of the foundation, and true to spec's, it grows tall and narrow. The tree provides just enough of a visual barrier to not be overwhelming.

North side of the Property

Along the north side of the property, we wanted to provide a visual barrier between our house and the neighbor's driveway. While there were a number of bushes remaining, we wanted to add bushes that would eventually grow tall thus providing higher visual blockage. We went with three River Birch with multiple trunks so they would bush out, a number of Northwind Switch grasses and an arborvitae (which my wife tells me it is not an arborvitae but apparently neither of us can remember what it's called).  

North side of the Property near the Front

Because the north side of our property runs right along the neighbor's driveway, we wanted to make sure that when snow was plowed, the plants would not be damaged. So, we swept the garden back away from the driveway with a narrowing grass border. This also allowed us to have two sides to the garden. Besides partially burying another rock, we surrounded it with Red Twig Dogwoods.

Ready for Us

Now that the basic gardens were laid out and the major plants added, it was now time for the irrigation to be installed so we could start growing grass. It was amazing how just adding these few plants, after all this construction work, made the house look like it was time to move in. I know we were more than ready. But the inside wasn't quite there just yet. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Morning

Dahlias from the Garden

It's Sunday morning and it's the morning after a rainy night so everything is wet and the air is cool. 

View off the Back Deck

It's the perfect morning to reflect on the past week, plan the day and think about the week ahead.

Patio View

Today also seems like the pause before the cold. It gives me time to think about all of the things we've done outside around the house. I think about the many plants that we've put in and what should we add next year. Or what should we move soon so it will be in a better location next year?

Landing at the Bottom of the Deck Stairs

It also reminds me how we've spent a lot of time outside planting and watering and of course weeding with little time left to blog and share our building story. We've had a great summer and enjoyed every minute of it.


But the season change is coming and that means I will soon be back on line writing more often. I still have more stories to tell and fortunately, unlike time, the stories stand still and yet, are still timely. 

Back Deck

But in the mean time, with the still air around me and the feel of cold rain puddles under my bare feet, I'll enjoy the moment. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Landscaping Part 2 - Grading

It’s been a while. But let’s start with Happy Father’s Day to all including you Moms that have played both roles.

Winter is long over and after a slow spring warm up, we’re finally heading into warmer weather. Today has been spent with torrential rains soaking us but I won’t complain. We need it. I have a lot of catching up to do with the blog so let’s get started.

Landscape Plans with the growing Plant List.
It takes a lot of research including seeing the plants up close to help decide which are the right ones. Having a professional Landscape Planner like Brooke from SunFlower Designs helped us a lot.

While the house building continued, we spent time with Brooke from Sunflower Landscape & Designs, designing our landscape plan. 

Plants, Plants and more Plants

We had also made a couple of trips to Sylvan’s Nursery in Westport , MA to check out the five million, three hundred gazillion plants that they have in order to get an idea of the suggestions that Brooke was making. The planning was now complete and the decisions were all made. It was now time to begin the landscaping.

Patches of... Weeds

A Front Yard of Dirt

Landscaping a new house is not like landscaping an older home that has years of growth that just needs to be moved, removed or re-educated. Starting from the ground up (pun intended) is a daunting task. You can do it slowly over time and fight the weeds that inevitably spring up or you can work to get 75% of it done and poke away at the remaining 25% over time.

The area around the Wall had a Moonscape look

We chose the latter. And by choosing to have it done quickly (I really wanted to spend my weekends cutting grass...), we found that not only does it take time to landscape correctly, it also takes money. Lots of money. We have an analogy here on the coast, “A boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into.” 

Can you even imagine Grass growing here?

 Well, I have a new one; “A new house is a hole in the ground that you pour money into.” 

What to do with a Large Pile of Boulders?

Secretly, I enjoy the work, not the money part, but the work of finding the right plant for the right spot and digging in the soil. I do enough of it that once somebody stopped by and saw me out there in my bright green lightweight shirt, work shorts and a boonie hat and I was asked if Mrs. was home. She thought I was the landscaper.

Bringing in the Top Soil

At any rate, it’s takes lots of top soil to start a new lawn. Particularly given that the fill that had been brought in was sandy and had been heavily tromped on and packed down. Only the best of weeds would grow in it. 

JM Equipment also places Loads on the Side of the House
Talk about great driving.

JM Equipment brought in over 60 yards of topsoil. Once the soil was delivered, Henry and his crew from Pereira Brothers went to quick work.

Grading alongside the Patio

 First they regraded the area around the house in order to get the right slopes and levels. This first step is important because you want the rainwater and snow melt to drain away from the foundation. 

Need Rocks?

This also involved removing the excess rocks and other stumps and what not. We did save a couple of the larger boulders that were to be used later in our landscaping.

Staging the Boulders

Moving Top Soil along the Foundation
This the start of the gardens.

Once the grading was completed, topsoil was piled up against the foundation and shaped into a rough outline to provide a base for the future gardens. 

Flipping the Boulder Around to get the Right Look
I need one of those to dig around in the backyard.

Then under Brooke’s watchful eye, the large boulders were moved into place and flipped around and turned over and over until they had the right appearance.

Top Soil Leveled and Ready for Grass Seed.

Placing a Boulder where a Future Garden will be
I can hear Brooke telling Henry, "No, it needs to be two feet over."
This is where a Landscape Designer makes a big difference. I would have just rolled it into a deep hole.

 It was a lot of work to get to this point but the hours of planning and preparation were beginning to show positive results. Atleast we had a lot of dirt and boulders anyways.

Next Time – Landscaping Part 3 – Adding the Plants

Enjoy your week.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Winter Blues - Part 2 (or I hate snow)

After posting Winter Blues - Part 1, I thought it would be good to post what I think of snow now.

Ya, it's pretty now...

More snow, this is getting deep and I'm starting to have problems moving the snow. My back is starting to ache.

The Hydrangeas are slowly disappearing

The cold has frozen a 6" ridge of sharp, frozen ice at the end of the driveway left courtesy of the plow driver. Of course, after I finished shoveling. I think they wait for everyone to finish clearing before they go by. And unclear.

Drifts everywhere

When I walk through the snow it gets into my boots and thaws around my feet. Ya, that's such a great feeling. I curse.

The snow was falling so fast it looked like tracers from the clouds.

It's like it will never stop. Storm after storm.

More Practice than I needed

The snow blower throws the snow to the wind.The wind then catches and blows it all back in my face making me think this must be what the North Pole is like.

The Garden Angel has become a Snow Angel

It's so freaking deep now I can't see anything in the yard. I wonder if the deck will collapse from all of that "pretty" snow.

Another night, Another Snow storm

The newspaper is no longer skittering across the snow. It burrows under the new snow, completely disappearing in the driveway. I find it later with the snow blower which shreds it and blows fresh confetti everywhere.

A "Small" Snowdrift on the Deck.

The snow mounds along the drive way are now shoulder high forcing me to lift the snow over my head to add to the ever growing pile. My shovel is breaking. So is my back

Heavy Slush

We have a temporary thaw. Moving the slush around is like shoveling cold oatmeal. And its three times as heavy.

More Drifts

We now have no where left for the snow drifts to go during each storm. So they build new ones on the porches. Everytime it snows.

I had to get this Shot of the Icicles on my Neighbor's House.
We call them "Widow Makers"

My gutters are frozen solid with shear walls of ice sitting 6 inches higher than the gutter. Icicles look nice on Christmas cards. Not roofs. Companies are charging around $80 per worker to clear roofs. You'll usually see about 5 of them on a roof. And it takes hours to clear.

It Looks Nice. Until the Sun Comes up

The roads are dirty. My car is a mess. My garage floor is covered with chunks of dirty, icy water.

You can see the Driveway Markers on the Side of the Driveway.
Then they disappeared.

The plow driver comes in the middle of the night doing his job. Leaving work for me.

The Falling Snow even Blots Out the Streetlight

Everything disappears underneath piles and piles of the white stuff.

Some folks have heated walkways to melt the snow. Not us.

We have no where left to put it.

Yay! This is Fun. No it's not...
I've had to do this so many times that I don't know which 
storm this was.

My neighbor doesn't mind that I blow the snow towards their driveway. I clear their's too.

Our Neighbors Over the Border

Seems like the only fun to be had is by the creative folks on the Internet.

Even the Game Shows are Getting in on it.

Funny. Who thinks of these things?

What the Day Brings

It wouldn't be so bad if it would melt. But it's been too cold.So it just sits there waiting for the next storm to pile on more.

Wishing for spring

The Hydrangeas have all but disappeared.It so cold the snow on the roof isn't even melting.

Look! Even the Weatherman Looks Unhappy.
We're at the bottom of the 6". Um, that's 6" of more snow.

On Saturday night, the local weather was saying that we we're going to get another 3" - 6". It's now snowing and I know I'll be shoveling it all before I go to work.

But Wait! There's more!

Tomorrow morning there will be 6" of new snow. And now they are saying there will be another storm on Tuesday! That's it. I'm done. I've had enough.

I hate snow. And the cold. I hate that too.

Enjoy your week. I'll probably be shoveling. Or maybe I'll build a snowman. Or an igloo.