Backyardaholic – it’s a new word I’ve invented. It means addicted to hanging out in my backyard (as I’m doing right now after a long day’s work in it) and enjoying an alcoholic beverage (it’s currently white wine, it was beer earlier, and it might be something else later). I warned you this might happen – see here – and referenced this problem when I talked about why I haven’t gotten started on any of our 2017 projects yet. Another reason why I’m addicted to hanging out in our backyard is because I’ve had several garden projects on the brain. There are three and all are currently in the works so I’ll take you through them right now.
We have lots of gorgeous plants, both perennials and annuals, in our front and back yards, most of which I post about on Instagram. If you’re not following me, you should be (@reginelaboss)! I know I’m late to the game on this one, but I’ve also started using Instastories so, between that and regular posts, you can see where I actually am in the process of any given project (including these garden projects), my backyardaholicism in real time, and also just see how pretty our home is, like this photo I posted last week.
And even though our exterior is quite pretty…
…it could use some more pretty, hence the three garden projects I’ve taken on.
The first garden project was turning this dingy and muddy side alley into something else. I wish I had a better and true before picture but I can’t seem to find any that I’ve taken. There are wires hanging off the house (do we even need them all?!), a drainage pipe and other ugliness. When we first moved in, our neighbors had a tree that kept this area totally shaded and covered in leaves. They got rid of the tree, exposing how dirty this side of the house is but also letting in more light into our house and, of course, the ground. We got rid of as many leaves as we could (I think there were several years of leaves there) and then I planned what to do with the area. While it gets more sunlight than it used to, the side alley still doesn’t get a lot of strong natural light enough of the day. That meant growing grass was out. Also important to note is that our pup Molly runs up and down this area a lot. In fact, her running throughout our yard is the main reason why we barely have any grass so this was another reason not to bother with trying to grow a full alley of grass. We thought about turning this into a bocce court but when I realized how much work would go into that and potential cost, we said no, especially because that would mean cutting our dog’s running area. Instead, I decided to turn it into an overgrown alley that will just look better with time. The goal is verdancy that can handle a dog.
At the end of the alley are two potted lilacs that were left behind by the previous owner. Back in October, my mother-in-law and I planted nine – it was all the nursery had left – Irish mosses and creeping thymes. I chose them because they spread well, stay green almost all year and can handle being trampled on. In fact, Irish moss is commonly used between pavers in walkways. All of the ones we planted survived the winter and started greening again in April. At that time, I went and got 20 more Irish mosses and creeping thymes and filled in the alley, being careful not to overcrowd any single one so they can each spread over time. I also added grass seed in the hopes that whatever grass did grow would just help with the verdancy but not be the focus of the alley. And then, to add to the greenery, I planted several ferns along the fence that I hope will get bushier over time. As far as I am concerned, this project is done, but I never seem to mean it when I say that.
The second garden project is to fill in some empty spots in our garden. I’ve written before about how the house came with beautiful front and back gardens but, over the past two and a half years in this house, we’ve created some holes to fill. I really want large, plentiful, and colorful perennials that have large, colorful blooms, as well as other kinds of colorful perennial plants. I debated azaleas and rhododendron but, frankly, I only like them when they are in bloom and that isn’t long enough of the spring and summer for me to buy those. We’ve talked about potential fruit trees or weeping trees but we’re not sure if we have the space for that kind of root system.
There are three areas that need to be filled. For the first, we added a mountain laurel shrub that is supposed to have really cool blossoms. You can see it in this picture below. It hasn’t blossomed yet and I’m a bit worried I may have killed it.
The second area that needs to be filled is in the lower level raised bed a short distance behind it. That is where I had originally thought a rhododendron could go because it could look pretty against the fence, but I decided against it. Friends suggested a dwarf cherry tree or nandina. There isn’t a large enough area for the cherry tree root but I could consider nandina as it will be a beautiful warm red – a perfect color for fall – the whole year and satisfy my need for color back here.
And the last area that needs to be filled is the back section of the raised bed. It’s tricky because half of it gets a ton of sunlight and the other half is shaded at some points during the day throughout spring, summer and fall because of that beautiful hydrangea. Last year, I planted a few huecheras, but they didn’t survive the winter or our dog trouncing on them. I think I will plant them again, but that still leaves room for large, more vertical plants for me to consider.
And now for the third and final (?!) garden project of the year. I spend so much time looking at this ugly cement wall that is the side of our garage facing the back part of our garden. I’m going to hold off on telling you what I plan to do with it but when it actually gets done, I’ll reveal the reasoning behind this project, the inspiration for it, and details on how I did it.
For now, though, just please help me pick a color! I’m choosing between Crystal Rapids (the lighter, slightly bluer one on top) and Tropical Trail (the darker, slightly greener one on the bottom). Both are Behr paint from Home Depot. The one thing to know is that the paint color will fill the entire wall and be partially covered when this project is complete.
Please vote in the comments section or on Instagram this week about which paint color you think is better for this outdoor space (Daniel and I currently have a frontrunner but we are testing it out all week) and feel free to provide plant recommendations below.