Tag Archives: yard work

Oh, hey, 2015

I may have not made enough time for blogging these past few months, but 2015 has been a good year so far. Instead of brushing the past four months aside or doing separate posts for different moments (ain’t nobody got time for that), I decided to throw them all together here. Ready for picture overload?

January:

We celebrated the new year with some sweet friends in Fredericksburg. We love this awesome group and had such a good time talking over a delicious dinner, playing Pass the Pigs and Heads Up, watching the NYE special, and eating 12 grapes at midnight.

Dinner in Fredericksburg

Dinner in Fredericksburg

Ready for 2015!

Ready for 2015!

After talking about it for a while, I saw a dear friend move to LA. Y’all, this sassy girl is awesome and I love hearing about her new life in California. I have so much admiration for her for making this move!

One last dinner with Priscilla before her move

One last dinner with Priscilla before her move

February:

We spent Valentine’s Day in Fredericksburg and visited some of our favorite vineyards before having a great dinner at Arcade back in San Antonio. Each table was given a single red rose; naturally, I felt like I was on The Bachelor.

Wine tasting at 4.0

Wine tasting at 4.0

Will you accept this rose?

Will you accept this rose?

One of the best parts of this year has been finding a home for our foster dog, Molly. This will most likely get its own post at some point so I can share some pictures and more of her story. I still can’t believe we had her for five months and that we were able to see her change from an extremely timid dog that was completely numb to any human interaction, to a goofy and sweet, shy lab. Molly hit the doggy lottery when my dear friend Haley‘s parents adopted her.

On our way to meet up with Haley's parents

On our way to meet up with Haley’s parents

We took a trip to Nashville and ended the month with Ranchopalooza with our youth group.

With Riley and Becca in Nashville

With Riley and Becca in Nashville

March:

Warmer weather in March had us outside working on the yard. We planted some new grass in areas that the dogs had worn down to dirt and put some new plants in our garden. We finally did some landscaping along the fence of our backyard… twice. We planted some azaleas before we realized they are poisonous to dogs… oops. Thankfully we bought these plants at Millberger’s and they have a great return policy. Those azaleas came out and Indian hawthorn went in.

Wrigley's such a good supervisor

Wrigley’s such a good supervisor

Wrigley's all "Seriously, mom?"

Wrigley’s all “Seriously, mom?”

Back flowerbed once we planted the Indian hawthorn

Back flowerbed once we planted the Indian hawthorn

Gerber daisies have kept our garden looking good

Gerber daisies have kept our garden looking good

April:

April was spent preparing for Fiesta Arts Fair and coordinating volunteers to work throughout the two day event. I’m so thankful to be part of a team that made my first Fiesta Arts Fair so great and to Chip who worked the entire weekend with me. Other highlights to the Fiesta season were the River Parade and party at La Fogata.

Viva fiesta!

Viva fiesta!

Fiesta Arts Fair

Fiesta Arts Fair

Fiesta Arts Fair

Fiesta Arts Fair

Fiesta Arts Fair

Fiesta Arts Fair

The perfect card from one of my coworkers

The perfect card from one of my coworkers

Fiesta River Parade

Fiesta River Parade

So VIP...

So VIP…

At the La Fogata Fiesta event

At the La Fogata Fiesta event

May has already been off to a great start with the birth of the royal baby and having my little brother get engaged! So excited for Alex and Teresa!

Engaged!!

Engaged!!

A couple of last pictures of Wrigs…

And now we’re pretty much caught up. Hooray.

Hello, Spring

Hello, spring

Hello, spring

The weather may have changed more in the past three weeks than the wardrobe of an Oscar’s host, but spring is in full swing here in San Antonio. Two clear ways to tell despite the changes from cool afternoons to warm mornings to rainstorms: 1. The bluebonnets have been blooming along the side of the highway and 2.I’ve been sneezing everyday for the past month (thanks a lot, oak count).

Love those blue bonnets

Love those bluebonnets

Despite the sneezes that continue to interrupt my days, I love this time of year in Texas. This is some of the best weather to go for a walk with Wrigley, eat outside, try to get rid of my sock tan from our day at Enchanted Rock with the youth group, and do yard work. We’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as possible lately since we know that the 90 degree weather is inevitable and will be driving us back indoors (I don’t get along with humidity).

To get ready for spring, Chip spent some time working on the lawn. It had gotten a little dry and light in color during the winter, so he spent a few weekends fertilizing the front and backyard. Let me just say that I now want us to fertilize once a month (even though I know that’s completely not possible). It turned our lawn so¬†green and helped the grass really spread in the front yard. Chip also used some beneficial nematodes based on a recommendation from a church friend. I’m still not exactly sure what they are or what they do, but it really helped some of the brown patches we had in the back so those little nematodes are welcome whenever :) Great work, Chip!

Stalking Chip from the kitchen while he fertilized the yard. I was probably cooking or doing dishes like a good wife.

Stalking Chip from the kitchen while he fertilized the yard. I was probably cooking or doing dishes like a good wife.

Hooray for green grass! PS Wrigley is special

Hooray for green grass! PS Wrigley is special

We’ve also spent a couple of weekends working on the garden. We had done some initial work a while ago to clean out the dead plants and get some of the really rocky dirt out, but (according to Chip) we still had more work to do before planting new stuff. What was this work? Oh, just back-breaking shoveling. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but it does not discredit how sore my back was the next two days. We shoveled out about a four-inch layer of dirt on the veggie side of the garden and then replaced it with some organic soil from Garden-Ville (I shopped for plants while Chip took care of loading up the dirt in his truck). With that, I was finally able to plant – new tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, basil, cilantro, mint, cantaloupe (which will need to be replaced since Chessie accidentally destroyed them), and strawberries. Not going to lie, I’m really excited about those strawberries! We also got some new flowers to plant, but overall the soil on that side of the garden was fairly decent so we left it as-is (and I really just didn’t want to use a shovel any longer).

At the start of the day

At the start of the day

Shoveling out some of the old dirt

Shoveling out some of the old dirt

Wrigley did a little digging to help

Wrigley did a little digging to help

Ready for new dirt

Ready for new dirt

Organic dirt: check!

Organic dirt: check!

New plants: check!

New plants: check!

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Flowers on the right side of the garden

Flowers on the right side of the garden

Trying out some new plants this year

Trying out some new plants this year

So far, everything seems to be growing alright. We’re already seeing some little tomatoes and strawberries, so I’m trying really hard not to get overly excited and over-water everything like I typically do. I love my plants and tend to drown them. Oops.

Gerber daisies

Gerber daisies

Little strawberries

Little strawberries

I see some baby tomatoes

I see some baby tomatoes

My geraniums are doing so much better in this pot instead of the hanging baskets (good call, mom)

My geraniums are doing so much better in this pot instead of the hanging baskets (good call, mom)

We still have lots of work we want to do in the backyard, like take care of the patio floor, get a new table out there, finally do the garden path, get some cute outdoor lighting and plant along the back fence line of our yard. We’ll see how much we actually get done this spring ;)

Some much needed TLC for the garden

As many of you know, Chip and I planted our very first garden last spring. Much to our surprise, this garden started to flourish like crazy a few months after we got it started. It soon reached the point where our plants were getting so big that they were actually starting to kill each other as they all tried to get their necessary sunlight. We’re talking squash plants crowding their space and watermelon vines wrapping around nearby plants. Who would have thought gardening would be so intense?? Not me. Despite some of the chaos and learning curve that we experienced, we did get a lot from our garden. We had plenty of tomatoes and basil to go with our homemade pizzas and even had some squash and bell peppers grow.

Our garden in its heyday

Our garden in its heyday

At one point in the summer, while I was out in the garden diligently watering my plants when I realized that overnight, almost of the tomato leaves had disappeared. As I continued to stare at my tomato plants in complete confusion, I found the biggest, fattest caterpillar going to town on my plants. In the words of Stephanie Tanner from Full House, all I could think was “how rude!” This caterpillar was definitely not invited to hang out in our garden. Thankfully, Chip came to my rescue and quickly disposed of this pest. However, the damage was done; he had eaten the leaves off of the three large tomato plants and had made some significant impact on my cherry tomato plant, too. I was so personally insulted (a little dramatic, yes; I blame my Lopez genes for that) and am still surprised how one bug could take the wind out of my sails.

Also around this time, I stopped overwatering my plants. FYI, If I’m going to kill a plant, it’s usually from over-loving them in this way so be forewarned if you ever ask me to watch some plants for you while you’re out of town. I think this initial neglect came from the despair of the infamous caterpillar and his monster teeth damage, but I was so surprised (and slightly offended) that a lot of our plants were doing better without all my watering and attention. So I went from watering every day to really never watering at all and instead having our garden survive on our sprinklers going off once a week and any occasional rain. Yes, I realize I went from one extreme to the other. Since I was no longer spending time every day in the garden, I kept feeling so taken aback at the amount of growth and weeds whenever I went back there to get basil or check on some of the flowers. Then came fall and colder weather and I spent even less time outside. Then came a couple of freezes… as a first time gardener, I completely forgot about the need to cover plants during freezing weather. Oops. So we had a few losses from that this winter, which sadly included my faithful gerber daisies and our hearty (and slightly out of control) basil.

Chip had been trying to gently encourage me to not be intimidated by the work that needed to be done in the garden (thanks, Chip, for being patient with the however many hundred times I said “I promise I’ll work on the garden soon…”!). So while he was out this past Saturday morning getting some studying done, I finally got to work. Here’s how it looked like when I started Saturday morning:

Eek, what happened?

Eek, what happened?

Not pretty. It actually wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but I started Saturday morning expecting to pull just about everything out. Luckily, about half is actually staying. Our succulents did fine through the winter, although they need some cleaning up, as did our rosemary (so thankful for how neatly these continue to grow!), bell peppers, gardenias and lavender. The tomato plants never really grew their leaves back (but still managed to produce tomatoes… my photosynthesis knowledge isn’t good enough to figure this out), so those will be taken out and replaced this spring. The basil that had once gotten out of control died with the cold weather, as did the gerber daisies. There were also leaves everywhere from all the trees around the garden. I decided to work on the leaves first and started raking all of them over to one side to get them out of the way. With the leaves taken care of, I could then see where the different weeds were growing and work on pulling these out. Within an hour, I felt like I had made a lot of progress on getting the area cleaned up. I was also able to dig out the three different basil plants and clear space for some new ones. I stopped short of taking out our tomato plants; I saw a neat little spider web between them and didn’t feel like facing whatever spider had made its home there (i.e., I really don’t like bugs and had already run out of the garden several times at the sound of a bee).

I’m really encouraged that just a couple of hours dedicated to the garden made such a difference and that we seem to still have really good soil. We’ve started working on a game plan for how to keep our garden going and not feel overwhelmed by it this time around, so stay tuned for what will hopefully be a very fruitful spring/summer (pun intended!).

My best buddy helping me rake the leaves

My best buddy helping me rake the leaves

Front yard flowers, round two

For the most part, Chip and I have put most of our yard work efforts in the backyard. We spend way more time out in the back so naturally that’s where we decided to focus our first few projects (getting grass put in, staining the fence, planting a garden). But we still talked a bit about the work we wanted done in the front yard and had only done one project there so far. We tried planting flowers once before around our big tree, but those have since died… we (mainly me…) didn’t do a good job keeping up with the weeds that had originally covered that area and within a couple of months, they had reclaimed that base for themselves. We have plans to pull those suckers out again and then cover that section with newspaper before laying down some nice mulch, but we haven’t made that little project a priority yet. Instead, a lot of our conversations had turned to the actual flowerbeds we have in our front yard. We had cleaned out one side months ago and tried planting some blue plumbagos, but I accidentally loved them too much and overwatered those poor plants… oops. The other flower bed had two large green bushes that we just didn’t like at all and had no intentions to keep. So over the course of a couple of weeks, Chip did some serious work digging out all those plants and starting to shovel out some of the bad clay dirt we get here in San Antonio. All of that early prep work made it much easier for us once we actually got started on these two flower beds over Labor Day weekend (thanks, Chip!).

We both had a four day weekend from work for the Labor Day holiday, so we got that Friday off to an early start with a trip out to Milberger Nursery. If you live in San Antonio and haven’t been there yet, you really should go check it out. I was a little overwhelmed the first time we went there, but now really appreciate the huge variety of plants, flowers, grass, dirt/compost and anything else outdoor related that you can think of that they have there.

Pretty flowers at Milberger’s

We had a pretty good idea of some of the flowers we wanted, but we still walked around the entire property at Milberger just to make sure we knew what all our options were for some easy flowers. The staff there was really helpful and gave us some tips on what other plants we should include so we would have green in our front yard year-round. We also bought some Texas landscaping books that the ladies working the cash registar highly recommended (hey, I need all the help I can get!).

Loading up the truck

Must read these books!

Here’s what the flower beds looked like when we got to work on Friday: not pretty.

Empty and ready for flowers

Overwatered and flower-less plumbagos

Now that we’ve had a few rounds of yard work projects, we’ve become a little more experienced in the planting process. Our official steps are:

1. Shovel out a good chunk of the clay and rocky dirt. We did several wheel barrel worths for each section and then brought in an organic topsoil/compost mix.

2. Rake out the new topsoil/compost mix to level out the area.

Raking the dirt

3. Space out the plants (probably my favorite step).

4. Plant! This part has gotten pretty fast for us as Chip has become a pro at digging holes for all my plants :)

One side with the newly planted flowers

Other side!

5. Water, water, water. We were advised by the staff at Milberger to give these plants a really good soak the day of planting and then wait a couple of days before watering again. These are supposed to be low-maintenance flowers, so hopefully we will only need to water 2-3 times a week.

We were able to add mulch to the flower beds later at the end of Labor Day weekend and were really happy with how it all looked. They’ve lost some of their blooms since then, but I have faith that they’ll be fine (definitely getting enough water with all this rain!). We’re still hoping to add a nice stone border around these flower beds, so hopefully that will be one of our next projects!

Reclaiming the garden

When Chip and I first planted our garden, we really didn’t expect it to be a complete success. This was our first time really planting anything substantial so we assumed some things just wouldn’t do well. As of yet, our garden has been much more a success than we had ever anticipated. We’re seeing tomatoes and squash already grow, seeing the beginning stages to bell peppers and have utilized our basil and cilantro for multiple dinners.

While we spend time in our garden everyday, the size of our plants really snuck up on us. It seemed like all of a sudden, the plants were taking over the garden with the main culprits being the squash, cantaloupe and watermelon. One of our squash plants has gotten huge and is producing lots of little baby vegetables. SA friends, I’m hoping all of this squash will grow well and that we will soon be giving produce away. The cantaloupe and watermelon vines have gotten much longer than the little Lowe’s plant tag said it would. Our front cantaloupe was expanding towards our flowers across the future pathway and our watermelon vines were starting to tangle up with our zucchini. We also noticed that our tomatoes were no longer growing straight and were starting to lean with the weight of the fruit. It was garden chaos! I was feeling overwhelmed at the plants’ growth and getting anxious over how sloppy the garden was looking. So after talking to some friends and doing a little bit of research, we set off to Lowe’s on Sunday to buy some support rods. The plan was to use these on the tomatoes to help straighten them out and then get some taller rods so the cantaloupe and watermelon vines could grow up instead of out (and then whenever we hopefully see some fruit start to grow, we can let those vines down so the fruit won’t weight down the rod).

It took a bit of work, but I think the garden looks cleaner (although it kind of looks like a jungle…) and this should also help each plant get more sun. The watermelon was definitely taking over its area and hogging all the sun, so I’m not sure how much zucchini we’ll actually get, but that’s alright. It’s all about learning this year, right? And we have definitely learned a lot… we’ve already decided that next year we will do more tomatoes, way less squash, only one cantaloupe and one watermelon and less basil and cilantro. We’re still hoping to get some mulch back here and work on our path at some point. Here are some pictures from our work this weekend!

Before. Check out the cantaloupe vines creeping across…

Tomato plant struggling to stand up

Stands from Lowe’s

Supporting the tomato plant

Helping get the tomato plants back up

Reclaiming the garden path from the cantaloupe

First signs of a bell pepper!

Our garden!

Garden flowers

Check it out, another yard work related post! haha in all seriousness though, Chip and I have had a great time working together outside on these projects and trying to make our home more and more special. As I mentioned in my last post, we were able to get our vegetable garden planted a couple of weeks ago. Next on the list was getting the flowers planted on the other side of our garden area. So with last weekend upon us, I went to Lowe’s Friday afternoon (our first of four trips there for the weekend) and stocked up on flowers, including different gerber daisies, gardenias, hydrangeas, petunias, marigolds and lavender along with some little white flowers I can’t remember the name of.

We started tilling Friday afternoon, but since we were doing it by hand this time instead of using the awesome, big rented tiller, it took a bit longer than we had anticipated. We also had to be careful since we had a few sprinkler pipes on this side of the garden that we had to keep an eye on. And yes, we did hit one and poor Chip spent a significant part of Friday afternoon trying to fix it (I was able to stain more of the fence during this time since I have absolutely no knowledge on sprinkler systems). Luckily it was all sorted out by mid-day Saturday, so we could get back to tilling and getting the clay dirt out. Then it was on to adding in good garden topsoil and compost, re-tilling and then planting! We still have a little more work to do in this garden, but I think the bulk has been completed. We’re hoping to stain the garden fence in the next couple of weekends as well as work on the center pathway and get some lighting out here. We’re so excited to see how it will all look when the work is completely done! I think we’ll also enjoy having a weekend free to relax more than we have been lately… :)

Pesky sprinkler pipes...

Back to tilling!

My favorite part of yard work - mapping out the plants!

Love the sunny marigolds

So excited Lowe's had hot pink gerber daisies

Flowers planted!

Veggies growing well so far!

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 :)