Tag Archives: backyard

Weekend Gardening

After a lot of time talking about it and trying to plan everything out, Chip and I finally planted our garden last weekend! Let me tell you, we are so excited to have this (mostly) done. Ironically, last weekend was Earth Day, so I guess we did our part for the planet by spending the day outside planting away.

We went to Lowe’s last Friday to buy all of the plants, top soil and compost so we would be ready to go on Saturday. Chip had also rented a tiller for the weekend so we could get the soil out there in the best condition possible before planting everything. Now we both had commitments Saturday morning, so when we got home around noon it was time to get to work. Before I get started on all the work, I would like to thank my parents for the gardening supplies they sent us as a gift. They’re pretty experienced in the yard work arena, so they sent us some gloves, hats and sunscreen to help us get started. I did feel a little goofy in my pink hat at first, but its functionality can’t be denied!

His and hers garden supplies

The rest of this post will be broken out in all of our planting steps…

Step 1 (after applying sunblock and getting cherry limeades from Sonic, of course): Till the ground! Probably one of the best decisions we made for this garden was to rent a tiller. The dirt back here was terrible to start with, so with the tiller we were able to break everything up and then shovel out a bunch of this bad dirt and bring in better topsoil and compost. Yes, it was loud and a serious forearm workout, but it definitely got the job done with flying colors.

Step 1: Till the ground!

Wrigley didn't like the loud tiller and barked at it most of the time. Please note the partially stained fence...

Step 2: Shovel out a good amount of the bad, rocky dirt. Together, we shoveled out about 10 wheelbarrow’s worth of this dirt. We then brought in around the same amount of organic garden topsoil and leveled out that side of the garden as best as we could.

Leveling out the topsoil, or as Chip joked "shoveling sh*t"

Pile of shredded newspaper

Step 3: Shred newspaper for the garden soil. Now, one of Chip’s coworkers has a pretty good garden at his house and one thing they did was put shredded newspaper in their garden soil. Apparently the wet newspaper in the soil attracts worms which is supposed to help gardens. Since we really want this garden to be a success, we decided to heed their advice and include shredded newspaper in our soil.

Spreading out all the shredded newspaper

My preferred way of spreading out the shredded newspaper...

Step 4: Put compost on top of the topsoil and shredded newspaper.

Chip pouring out the compost

Step 5: Re-till everything so all the dirt and newspaper would be nice and mixed up for planting.

More tilling!

Step 6: Map out where everything will be planted. I had a general idea of how I wanted to separate the veggies, fruits and herbs but wanted to space everything out before planting. Confession: we bought an arbitrary amount of plants at Lowe’s last Friday. We literally walked around their garden area saying “How many tomato plants should we buy? Three? Yeah, that sounds good, let’s just do that.” Somehow, everything actually spaced out perfectly! (which only motivates me to buy my flowers arbitrarily, too….)

Spacing out the plants

Step 7: PLANT!! By this point it was about 6:00ish, so we were both more than ready to be wrapping up. I also need to praise Chip at this point for being so encouraging with another one of my projects. He did all of this yard work without any complaints (except for when we accidentally hit a sprinkler pipe while we were tilling… still need to fix that… haha) and worked so efficiently the whole day. He has also become an expert hole digger for my planting, so we were done with this last step in almost no time! Here’s what the planted garden looked like when we finished. I’m convinced some of them have already grown a bit, especially the tomatoes :)

Completed left side of the garden!

For those that are curious, here’s what we planted from right (where the big gate is) to left: different tomato varieties, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, orange mint, watermelon, cantaloupe, cilantro, basil and rosemary. After we had finished all this planting, we decided to go celebrate our gardening efforts at one of our favorite restaurants, La Fogata. We love this restaurant, but we’re convinced it’s an even better overall experience when you sit and eat outside with a glass of sangria after a long day of yard work :)

Blurry picture while we waited for a table at La Fogata

Delicious sangria with dinner

Enjoying the mariachis play a song someone else requested

Now we still have some more work to do on the garden, some of which we’re hoping to get done this evening. While we have all those veggies and herbs on the left side of the garden, I’m hoping to get some different flowers planted on the right side. We also need to work on the path down the middle of the garden which we’re currently planning as mulch and large stones and then put in a little bit of lighting (I really like this idea I saw on Pinterest from Your Cozy Home) . And of course, we still need to finish staining the rest of the fence. Whew! :)

The dogs are always there to supervise our work

Another great day outside together :)

Project: Grassy Backyard

Chip and I enjoy spending time outside together, and we’ve spent many afternoons in our backyard envisioning a lawn of green grass… but this definitely isn’t what we had up until two weeks ago. When we moved in about a year ago, the backyard had been neglected for some time. We saw some patches of St. Augustine grass, but overall, there was a lot of dirt. And a lot of weeds. But again, we didn’t want to put time or money into the yard last summer thanks to that crazy drought. So this is what our yard looked like a few weeks ago:

Not exactly a lush backyard...

Dirt in front of our shed...

With spring upon us, Chip and I were more than ready for for some green grass! Not only would grass look so much better than this dirt/grass/weed medley we had going on, we were excited for some great grass so we could spend more time outside with friends. I was also very excited to have the dogs bringing in less dirt and dirtying our floors… try as I might, those two just can’t learn to clean up after themselves! :) Anyway, Chip and I knew that we had a small window of time to get this grass planted. As one guy told us at one of the nurseries here in town, if we didn’t plant by the end of the month there would really be no reason to try to have grass this year and we would be better off waiting until next year to give this another shot.So we spent time at different nurseries and a Saturday morning at Milberger’s feeling all the different grasses we could try to grow in our backyard. In the end, we went with the Texas standard St. Augustine grass.

One obstacle we had to deal with before even laying down grass was leveling our yard. Prior to a few weeks ago, the yard actually sloped toward the house, which means all the water would drain by our porch. Not good. Not only was this shifting our foundation a bit, it meant lots of muddy paw-prints in our house. So for foundation reasons and for my sanity, we had to get this addressed. Chip did a lot of research and found a company that came out and did a great job addressing this leveling issue. And since Chip and I have never planted grass and would need lots of manpower to install all the pallets of grass ourselves, we had the same people that leveled the yard install the grass themselves. While this was something we had been planning and looking forward to doing ourselves, we were worried about several things:

1. Our yard requires a lot of pallets of grass, so we would be making multiple trips to the nursery to get this done, which means a line item of gas for Chip’s truck in our grass budget sheet.

2. Time: With Chip needing to allocate as much time as possible to studying, it was hard to justify setting aside a few weekends to get this project done ourselves. It just didn’t seem like a good use of this resource.

3. We have minimal to absolutely no expertise or knowledge on grass. We were so worried that we would be spending all this time and money laying down the grass all in the end of doing it incorrectly.

So in the end, even though it took a good chunk of our tax return, we are so glad we had our grass professionally done. All it left to us was making sure we adequately watered the grass to help the roots really get settled in. We also had to keep the dogs off the grass as much as possible for a good two weeks, which was fun to figure out. For the first few days, we kept them in the empty enclosed garage while we were at work. Luckily this grass project overlapped with getting a small fence built for my garden area, so once that was done we were able to keep the dogs in this space while the grass took root.

Day 1 of leveling the yard

We had two of these cement blocks in our yard from old drying lines... they were a couple of feet deep and a pain to get rid of. Chip got one of them out a couple of months ago and the guys did the second.

The cement block Chip dug out

Wrigley likes helping Chip in the yard

Wrigley checking out the second hole from the cement block.

Leveled backyard!

Backyard ready for grass!

Now that we have grass and are watering a lot more, we realized we needed to seal and stain our fence to help it last longer. So a couple of weekends ago, we got started on this! We still have another probably 2/3 of fence to go, but I’m hoping we get this done within the next week or so. We also want to figure out some lighting for the yard so we can be out there at night and may put in more seating (we’re thinking some type of porch swing along the fence that’s already stained). And of course, we still have my garden to get planting… hopefully we’ll get that done this weekend! :)

Grass taking root!

Grass!

Staining away!

Awesome garden fence! Why the chairs, you ask? Because of sneaky Wrigley, who would climb the windowsill there by the fence and hop over on to the grass...

The dogs are happy with the grass

 

Let’s plant a garden

I’m pretty sure I’ve never really planted anything in my life. Growing up in Arizona, I would help my mom try to keep her plants alive… and by help I mean I would occasionally water for her. So needless to say, my green thumb experience is pretty limited. Despite this, one thing Chip and I were really excited about when we first bought our house was to take full advantage of the front and backyard. We loved the idea of spending evenings playing outside with Wrigley, having friends over for barbecues, having fresh cut flowers, etc. However, we haven’t really done anything to our outdoor space yet. By the time we got back from our honeymoon in May, summer was in full swing here in San Antonio and we really didn’t have the time needed to bring this yard to life. We were also hesitant to try planting anything last summer. We didn’t want to waste time or resources trying to get something to grow in the scorching San Antonio summer, during one of the biggest droughts the state has experienced. So we decided to wait until this spring before we got to work on our yard. Instead, we used this time to envision what we would like for our front and backyard. With spring now quickly approaching, we decided it was time to get started on this project. We’re hoping to get new grass and flowers in our front yard and grass and a small garden in the backyard. Since this is going to be a lot of work, we thought it would be smartest to start out with the garden I was planning to have, instead of spending days tilling the yard, laying down compost and soil and then try to get some grass in and possibly doing various steps of this process incorrectly or inefficiently. So my little garden is officially our test project for the rest of our yard work :)

Garden Space - Before

There’s a small patch off the side of our back patio that is going to be the perfect little space for this garden. It gets a great balance of sunlight and shade, so hopefully our plants won’t melt away during the summer. I’m hoping to get some flowers, vegetables and a few spices here (we’ll see how it goes!). As you can see, the soil here isn’t the best. Since my gardening knowledge is near non-existent, I spent some time after church on Sunday at Arbolito’s Nursery to learn the best process for getting a good garden started. The staff there was extremely helpful and very patient in all of my Gardening 101 questions. Based on their guidance, Chip and I spent some time Sunday afternoon spraying this area down with Round Up so we can kill off the weeds that are currently residing in this space so they hopefully don’t come back when we plant everything. Since we were spraying these chemicals out on the ground, we had to block off this area so the dogs wouldn’t get sick. Looks classy, right? :)

Preparing the garden area

We’re really excited to get going on this garden and eventually the rest of the yard. If this nice weather continues, we could be ready to start tilling the soil here as soon as this coming weekend. Wish us luck!!

Mountain laurel giving us hope for our garden

The dogs imagining a grassy backyard... they'll have to wait just a little bit longer!