Archive: Apr 2009

Won’t You be Our Neighbor?

I have wanted to make this post for a while. A few doors down from us a beautiful old bungalow was recently renovated and it went from being a complete eyesore to being one of the nicest looking houses on the street. Steffi and I had a look in the house before it was renovated, so we have some great “before” and “after” shots. It has a lot of the original details, and the quality of the work is top notch. I think the photos speak for themselves.

The house is for sale, so if you are interested in being our neighbor contact Nia Knowles.


Exterior Before

Exterior Before

Exterior After

Exterior After

Living Room Fireplace:

Living Room Fireplace Before

Living Room Fireplace Before

Living Room Fireplace After

Living Room Fireplace After

Dining Room Built-in:

Dining Room Built-in Before

Dining Room Built-in Before

Dining Room Built-in After

Dining Room Built-in After

Kitchen Built-in:

Kitchen Built-in Before

Kitchen Built-in Before

Kitchen Built-in After

Kitchen Built-in After

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Plants, plants, plants

We’ve had quite the eventful week. With temperatures hovering around 70 in the day and 50 at night we determined last weekend would be the weekend to go plant shopping. Initially we anticipated going Saturday, but knowing how busy our favorite nursery (Growers Outlet in Loganville) gets we decided to skip out of work a little early (that’s like crazy talk for us!) and go on the mini road trip on Friday afternoon instead. Can you tell we’re spoiled intown people who consider anything further than 10 miles away a road trip? Haha. So we made the one hour ride up there. I was so excited I had butterflies – how dorky am I! I’ve been trying to come up with a good garden plan for the area next to the shed for a little while. Since our back yard gets pretty shady in the summer when all the trees are grown in, and since the bed I was planning was on the north side of the shed I had to make sure the plants were shade loving. Plus we want to keep as many plants perennials as we can.

So some hours and $97 later we ended up with around 60 plants. (More if you count the fact that some plants came in six packs.)

Plants from Growers Outlet

Plus our friend from West End gave us a whole bunch of hostas! Thanks Debbie!

Hosta present

So of course it was night and we wouldn’t get to planting until Saturday, but at least we could plant all day instead of spending half of it at the nursery. Which was clearly needed time with all those plants! So we finished dinner and I was in the process of pre-rinsing the dishes and…”Oh crap!” (me)…”What happened?!” (Patrick)…”I cut myself with the steak knife” (me – staring in shock at my cut between the index and middle finger with flesh just floppin’ around under the running water). Well that didn’t really fit in with my plans of planting. *big sigh* Such an inconvenient spot too where you can’t really put a bandaid or anything. Interestingly enough it didn’t hurt at all. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say “at all” because it obviously wasn’t comfortable, but the pain was less than the three days I always suffer from an ant bite! Needless to say I was more of a planting assistant the next day…

One of the things we finally were able to plant was the raised garden bed that we built a few weeks earlier. It looks like this year we’ll have a garden bed with only tomatoes and bell peppers. From left to right we’ve got the bell peppers, “Sweet Million” tomatoes, “Roma” tomatoes, and “Celebrity” tomatoes.

Raised garden bed

So like I mentioned, my big project was the north side of the shed. In previous years I think we’ve done bad planting, not being conscious of the requirements for the plants we were putting there. (I’ll use the “I’m a newbie gardener” excuse.) So we tore out the dead rose we bought our first spring and transplanted the other living rose to the southern side of the house. Then we planted three Cast Iron plants, two McKana’s Columbines, two Tiger Stripe Foamflowers, four Chocolate Chip Bugleweeds, and one Lungwort Opal.

Plants by shed

In the space by the back steps we dug up the Weigela Carnaval we planted the first spring and transplanted it in a pot for the time being. In place we put another Cast Iron plant and Debbie’s Hostas. I’m not sure which kind they are. Same scenario as the north side of the shed, this area seems to get a lot of shade in the summer with all the trees, so I think between the shade and the fact that the area floods during rain the Weigela wasn’t happy in that spot. Hopefully these plants should fare better in this location. I’m liking it in any case!

Plants by back steps

On the other side of the steps we’ve planted Purple Fountain Grass the past two years (annuals). This year we thought we’d try three little Fiber Optic Grass. The ivy that we’ve moved around for years in that spot seems to be following the rule of “the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps”. It’s been rather contained up until this point, but this spring it’s really exploded and is growing up the side of the stairs. I know I’ve been cursing the English Ivy growing all over our property, but as long as we can contain this one I like the idea of it clinging onto the ugly cement stairs.

Patrick planting

In the front step pots (the ones that have the Confederate Jasmine) we planted a Verbena, a Creeping Jenny, and a Potato Vine (left to right).

Front porch potted jasmin

We planted three more of Debbie’s Hostas in our “woodland garden” behind the shed. Then our neighbor decided to cut the tree off his shed one evening this week. Back in November a neighbor’s tree fell, landing on their shed and partially ours. Back then the neighbor cut the tree on our property off, but had left the trunk lying on his shed until now. To our dismay we found the trunk on our fence and woodland garden the next morning. Not sure what he was trying to achieve by rolling the trunk off the shed’s roof and onto our fence? I know the fence was only crappy chicken wire and I want to get rid of it real bad, but that didn’t mean I wanted it crushed by the tree in the meanwhile! Although our bigger worry was probably our poor little plants getting crushed! All things considered if it had to crush any plants, the plants it fell on were the best option. It smashed one new Hosta, which happened to be the smallest of all the ones we planted, and one Fern. Who knows, maybe the Fern will recover and the Hosta come back next year?

Fallen tree

I missed taking photos of a few other things that were planted so I’ll post about them next time. In the meanwhile my fingers are still wrapped up from my cut. I’m eager for it to heal now! A week of wrapped together fingers is getting annoying.

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Flooding and Pile-Be-Gone

The weekend before last we had a rather unpleasant experience. While trying to shower we noticed the water wasn’t very warm. The hot was turned all the way up, no cold on at all, and the water felt just bearable to shower under. We thought that was strange and went on about our day, running some errands, etc. When we got back we thought we’d look if something was wrong with the hot water heater, which is located in the crawl space. When we opened the door we found a rather unpleasant surprise – standing water, about 6 inches deep! Our basement had flooded! There had been about 5 days of non-stop rain and apparently the earth couldn’t soak it up fast enough. We haven’t had that happen before. I mean, we don’t go in the crawl space on a regular basis, so I wouldn’t know if there’s been any standing water before, but obviously this was high enough that it put out the gas flame on the hot water heater.

So of course we panicked. We scrambled to get some buckets and attempted to fill them and pour them out in the yard. Of course the yard itself was still so saturated with water that there were tons of puddles everywhere, which didn’t exactly help! Then we tried using the ShopVac, but that didn’t get us anywhere quickly. I think we tried like 3 or 4 other methods of getting the water out of there until it started getting dark and we were frustrated. We called some neighbors who happened to have a water pump that we were able to borrow from them. The plan was to do it the next day.

Well, the next day came and we were all prepared to get pumping, only to find all the water had disappeared on its own over night! What a relief. Thankfully the water heater was alright too.

Flooded crawl space

Flooded crawl space

This past weekend felt much more fulfilling. We removed a dead electric wire going from the house to the garden shed and an old exterior light dangling from the side of the house. The only thing I’ll be missing about the wire is the pretty birds that liked to hang out on it.

Patrick on ladder

Patrick also decided to tackle the bathroom built-in drawer while I was racking up some more leaves. I think we had removed the majority of the paint on a previous occasion, so he was able to sand it down so that we can paint it again. Look at our vibrant tulips in the background!

Sanding bathroom drawer

And last, but not least, we got rid of all of our big piles of junk on our driveway!! You know, the piles that made us look really, really trashy! We’re so excited!! One pile was made up of the concrete remains from the front path and was sitting on the driveway at the front of the house. The other pile has been accumulating junk over the last two and a half years on the driveway in the backyard. And because we have some awesome neighbors we were able to get rid of both of them. The front pile we were able to remove several weeks ago when our neighbor Jim let us throw all the concrete debris in his dumpster. Somehow we managed to miss taking photos of both the pile when we made it (too focused on building the path), as well as when we got rid of it. The other pile we were able to eliminate this past weekend because our other neighbors, Paula and Wesley, had a dumpster for their renovation that they weren’t going to fill up all the way. This has been huge for us! They were big piles of embarrassment and now they’re gone. (Thanks Jim, Paula, and Wesley!) Now if that rain tomorrow will just wash away the rest of the dirt…preferably without flooding our crawl space again.

Concrete debris pile

Cleaned up concrete debris pile

Oh, and speaking of neighbors, our street is rockin’ it! We’re about to have three new neighbors. Even more exciting – they’re all homeowners. And funnily enough they’re all moving in at the end of this month. In general I feel like there’s been a swing of new people (homeowners!) buying houses in the vicinity. It feels really refreshing. I’m glad to see we’re making progress and filling some of these empty homes. My prediction of 2009 being a big year for Westview seems to already be proving to be true….

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A Not So Giant Sequoia and a Raised Garden Bed

When we got married five years ago we went to San Francisco for our honeymoon. One day we rented a car to visit Muir Woods, and they were selling Giant Sequoia saplings in the gift shop for just a few dollars. We thought it would be fun to bring one back to Atlanta. For the first few years we lived in an apartment and then a loft, so the Sequoia had to live in a pot. It didn’t grow very much, but it hung in there. We swore as soon as we bought a house it would go in the ground.

Soooo now we have owned the house for over two years and the Sequoia finally got planted in the backyard! We couldn’t decide where to put it, and lets face it – this isn’t like planting a rose bush. This tree is supposed to grow fast and tall, so we wanted to make sure where we put it wouldn’t block the sun and would allow it enough space to do its thing. We won’t live long enough to see it reach full maturity (over 200 feet after 100+ years), but it will be exciting to watch it grow.

Not So Giant Sequoia

I know it looks like the Christmas tree from Charlie Brown, but it was a lot smaller when we bought it.

Sequoia in the Yard

Grow little one, grow!!

In addition to the Giant Sequoia we have been preparing to plant our vegetable garden. The past two years we planted the vegetables straight in the ground, and the results weren’t near as good as we had hoped. This year we decided to try a raised garden bed. We have read about them quite a bit in magazines, and people always seemed to speak highly about them.

We built the bed out of untreated pine 2x10s. They will slowly rot away, but treated wood is not good for you or your plants. We also saw these wonderful stained beds online, so we couldn’t resist dressing ours up a little. The red stain is water based, so it hopefully isn’t toxic. (It is advertised on the label as being “safe” – whatever that really means.)

Basic Raised Bed for Vegtables

We constructed the frame for the garden bed on the driveway. The spikes in the corners hold it in place.

Special Dirt

We went to Green Brothers Landscape Supply and bought some special dirt for the raised bed. It has crushed granite, which they claim is the “secret” ingredient.

Filling it up...

Steffi filling it up. Check out the red stain! Our raised bed has style.

Today it was snowing in Atlanta, but this should be the last of the cold weather. We are hoping to plant some of the crops this weekend, and we will make sure to post frequently about the progress.

Posted in Gardening, Our Bungalow, Westview Bungalow | 1 Comment