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Category Archives: Home and Garden

A Garden We Will Grow!

Er, something like that anyway. Since I’m all about being a bit thrifty, I’ve been slow to get my front landscape beds finished. I wanted more dirt and then would cover the area in newspaper for a weed barrier, and then plant a host of other plants I want to get from Bluestone Perennials.

But, my thriftiness has come at a cost. Since it’s taking so long, the front beds keep sprouting weeds and grass galore! A couple of days ago, I started working on digging out the junk again and finally realized that I should probably just throw SOMETHING in the beds to at least take up some space to prevent the weeds from going hog wild in there. So, I called up a friend and we made a trip to Lowes to see what kind of plants they had on clearance.

I scored a bunch of Vinca, some pink Thyme, a significant amount of Salvia, and a couple of Zinnias. I figured I could pair all these with the two purple Coleus plants and another Salvia I got from the Spring plant swap and at least add some color to the bed.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

That was just a small sampling of the plants I’d be working with for the area. I managed to get the plants for under $12 so I feel really good about the cost part of the endeavor, since I’m not exactly confident my thumb is green 😉 And these are special needs plants seeing as how they were on the clearance rack.

So I weeded out the bed….

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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Home and Garden

 

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Lizard Love

The population of Anole Lizards around my home is huge. And I LOVE it. They’ve provided some fantastic photo opportunities for me, and they’re just plain fun to take pictures of!

For instance, I’ve been witness to their combat…

I’ve caught their shadows through Canna Lily leaves…

Makin’ some lizard loooooooooooove…

And then this morning, while watering my plants, a lizard, incognito 🙂

Which is your favorite?

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Home and Garden, Uncategorized

 

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Home Ownership is a Funny Thing

I really hated plants and flowers and all that stuff before I bought my house. All they did were attract flying insects which I felt were out to get me and make my life reasonably miserable by looking like a complete ass while I run from something so small.

But then…

I bought this…

I really didn’t need a lot. Just a simple place to rest my head and keep my dogs. And actually, that was the GOOD picture of the house, from the online listing.

When I went to go view the house for the first time in December of 2009, it looked like this…

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Home and Garden

 

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For the Love of Shade – Pt. 2

So, a few days ago, I posted about my work in building the frame opposite of my house wall to help support this shade sail I got. Well, it’s finally finished!

I got the hooks and tie downs screwed in and decided to hang it….

Ummmm….yeah. That’s just not gonna work….but I persisted and tried hanging the rest of it to see just what my problems were…

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Home and Garden, Uncategorized

 

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For the Love of Shade!

I really do love the simplicity that is my house. I’m in a quiet little corner of the neighborhood and technically have a corner lot, although they didn’t finish out the street on one side of me. I hope they never do.

But anyway.

My house pretty much has NO trees to speak of. There’s woods on two sides of my lot. And I have a noxious Chinese Tallow Tree in my back yard at the back of the lot. Trouble is, the sun travels over my house and beats down mercilessly on the side OPPOSITE the trees. I’ve been here through two summers now and I’m heading into my third. The poor AC unit just hasn’t been able to keep up. When it’s 80+ outside, and you have your AC unit set on 77, and you come home at the end of the day and the house is about 82…there’s a problem. And moreso when the AC will run 12-14 hours per day to try to keep it at 77 which it just can’t do.

I purchased some blackout curtains this year though for the hottest side of my house. And I also got some foam sealer to put in around the windows on the back of the house that catch the brunt of the sun during the day. Since Spring/Summer temps have showed up early, I’ve already gotten to experience a HUGE improvement on doing just those two things. My AC unit can actually *maintain* the temperature it’s set on now. It may run for hours at a time still, but at least it’s not oppressively hot, and it will actually shut off once the  brunt of the day’s heat goes away.

Naturally though, this isn’t enough for me. My kitchen and living room are on the hot side of the house. And my house is brick. So there’s a wall that BAKES all day long in the sun. I’d wanted to install a patio cover or a pergola or something to shade that side but…well…money keeps you from doing the things you want to do.

Well, about a month ago, I happened across a shade sail that was considerably larger than the ones I’d seen previously. See, once the heat started rolling in early, I started having “mini freak-outs” about my electricity bill for the summer months. I started researching the aluminum patio covers you could buy from the big box stores. I started looking at the materials for wood to build my own instead. The aluminum patio covers were easily $1300. The cost for the wood alone for that option was still looking to be about $500 at a minimum. No labor. I was actually hoping to beg and plead friends for help if I went that route. Knowing me, however, I knew that wasn’t going to go over very well. And this was just for an area of about 10×20 feet. So. I started looking around on eBay (yes, I am a bit of an eBay whore…) for alternatives or other ideas. That’s when I came across the MTN Shade Sail, 24×24 for about $140. Still a bit pricey to me BUT! The side area next to my house is about 20×25. So that size sail would be IDEAL to cover that huge area.

I thought about it for a few hours. Mulled over it. Got sad about thinking of spending any money at all on something I couldn’t reasonably predict would help me to eventually pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time to justify the initial expense. And then. It warmed up outside and I was quickly reminded why I’d considered it in the first place.

So let’s take a look at the overhead view of my house so you can see the area I’m talking about adding shade to. Take note of the shadows too.

You see the driveway? Immediately behind that is the start of my fence that “squares up” to the side of my house before angling off. The shade from my fence never reaches the house mind you…

Now, to the project…

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Home and Garden

 

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Eucalyptus

So, I was really trying to work on another blog post. And it’s still there, sitting in draft mode, waiting for me to conjure up the words to really talk more about what’s up there in that brain of mine. BUT! Well…today I got sidetracked!

Ya see, okay maybe you don’t since I haven’t talked about it yet, but I have a yard that needs some love. It’s wide open with lots of grass and pretty much no trees to speak of. The Chinese Tallow tree in the back yard doesn’t provide any shade to the house so it may as well be useless.

Since moving into the house in 2010 and suffering through a couple of brutal Southern summers here in South Carolina, I’ve been on a mission since last year to try to find SOME way to shade my house. I’ve spent hours and hours just looking at different plants on eBay for some inspiration and ideas.

This particular idea didn’t come from eBay though. It came from this house around the corner from where I live. And sorry, you’ll have to deal with a screen capture from Google Maps for now because I haven’t gotten brave enough to just park my truck in front of their house to take a picture of their tree. That might be kinda…creepy.

For some odd reason, I happened to notice the tree one day coming into the neighborhood and it’s growth habit interested me, along with the bark and the leaves. So I snapped a poor picture on a drive by of the house to ask my friends on Facebook. THAT is when I learned that it was a Eucalyptus tree. Hah! Well, that lead me to start researching, because I just simply can’t have something in my yard I’ll hate.

Well! I have to say that doing so has turned me on to a pretty neat little treat for a plant. Eucalyptus trees have natural insect repelling properties. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes don’t really like them. AND they smell good! AND they’re also fantastic for floral arrangements 😉 They also grow about 6-8 feet per year with a height somewhere between 20-40 feet. PERFECT for adding some much needed shade to the house.

Last year, I decided to get some seeds off of eBay and try to grow my own. I set a few out in November, thinking that we’d be rolling into cooler weather and that they’d have all season to kinda just think about growing but not have the obligation to. That backfired on me when it sprouted. So, I brought the little seedling in the house and within a couple of days, it just disappeared. I’m pretty sure I had a small rodent visitor that bypassed all my other seedlings and took out my baby Eucalyptus. I was NOT happy. I abandoned trying to do anymore seeds until Spring came through here. Well, wouldn’t you know it that we kinda skipped Spring altogether and jumped right into early Summer temps for almost the entire month of March?? I set a bunch of seeds out sometime that month. And as of last week, nothing was really doing anything, even the two pots of my remaining Eucalyptus seeds.

Frustrated and feeling it necessary to get the tree started this year, I searched on eBay again to find a seller in Florida, Wellspring Gardens, with young, live Eucalyptus trees. I had some eBay Bucks to use (kinda like free money) and made my purchase. Wouldn’t ya know it though, after I made that purchase, I noticed ONE of those pots finally had a seedling. I’ve decided that I’ll just plant that one somewhere else in the yard as long as it survives. I’m hoping it does as it would be pretty cool to have something I’ve grown from seed in my own yard 🙂

It took a whopping TWO days to get here from Florida (and that’s a good thing by the way). I had already dug the grass out of the area I wanted to plant it in, and when I saw the mail lady in the neighborhood, I started digging deeper at the hole. I’d say there’s about 6-8 inches of quality dirt in my yard before you hit clay. Lots and lots of freaking clay. I chopped up some of the clay I dug out and mixed it, along with some potting soil, in the deeper part of the hole.

I then stalked the mail lady from my back yard, waiting for her to come around the bend and bring me goodies…

When she pulled up, I expected her to have to bring a package to the door or something but no…she opened the mailbox, deposited the mail and drove away. I’m standing there thinking, “Great, I’m gonna hafta call the Post Office and see if I can go pick up my plant now.” But lo! There in my mailbox was a Priority Mail box! I knew the plant would be tiny, but I really had NO idea just how tiny it was going to be!

It’s in a little, 3 inch pot, and really, maybe 4 inches of top growth out of the pot. But oh it’s PERFECT! I’m actually THRILLED it’s this small. Here’s why.

In my research on growing Eucalyptus (this is a Silver Dollar Eucalyptus for the record), it was determined that it’s best to get them small, before they become root bound in their pots and plant them. Apparently, it stunts the growth of a Eucalyptus significantly if they are kept in an environment where their roots can’t spread. So, where a normal Eucalyptus might grow 6-8 feet in a year, one that is root bound in the pot might only gain about 2 feet. That’s pretty significant if ya ask me!

Today was a good day for transplanting too. It was a cooler day with a light rain/mist pretty much all day. I’d say about 15 minutes after arrival, I had my cute little Eucalyptus tree planted…although, it’s hard to call it a tree when I have blades of grass that are bigger than this thing…but I’m optimistic. I’ll soon have a beautiful and USEFUL tree in my yard, both for shade and those annoying pests 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Home and Garden

 

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