Saturday, July 23, 2011

The year of extremes continues

  1. Extreme snowfall this winter.
  2. Extreme rainfall this spring (almost every single day!)
  3. Extreme heat last week and coming again this week.
  4. Early this morning, extreme rain.  The largest rainfall ever recorded in Illinois.  We got 7.25 inches on my raingauge.
Know whats not fun?  Digging in goo.  Know what is less fun.  Putting up a deck in 90 degrees with 90% humidity.  It rained off an on today.  Didn't matter.  We were soaked when it was raining and soaked when it wasn't.  Oh well still better than drought and locusts and dust storms and wild fires!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Landscaping the New Area Starts-Sort of

 If you had told me earlier in the year that the mid-point of the patio project would occur with the first tomato, I would have been OK with that.  Now it is here.  That patio midpoint and the first tomato.  

Galinas cherry started giving up her goodness last week.  Oh man these little cherries are delicious.  Not sweet.  Very old tomato flavor.  Very rich and very prolific.  The plant is huge, well over ten feet and very easy to keep in a reasonable shape.  

I'm supposed to be talking about landscaping though so I'll conclude my tomato ramblings with the whine that tomato season is a full three weeks behind, thanks to the horrible spring.  Oh well, at least it has started!

The fence is almost done, they are having trouble with one of that latches because they undersized the gate opening a full inch.  (Le sigh) .  This would normally start me on a contractor rant but its already 85 degrees out there and I have a deck to build.

  Focus on the pictures Stacy..  Right

Well this bed is done.  It was an interesting bed to do because it is deep shade on the far left and full sun on the far right.  The goal was to have four season interest, very low maintenance and some color.

The solution I came up with was was Stained Glass hosta on the far left in chartreuse and dark green,  some really glowy double knock out roses in the center and  a chartreuse and dark green dwarf cypress with interesting texture in the right.  I completed it with some shiny black ajuga, which should be easy to contain in this area near the hosta and then some dark purple salvia for the front.  The salvia are just filler.  I wanted the stars of the bed to be the glowers.  It looks underdeveloped right now, but I think once the hosta gets a bit bigger it is going to be nice.  I like the balance the different glowy greens is giving it.

Today the goal is to finish the balcony.  It is predicted to be a rather miserable job.  It is tropical out there right now and we have learned that while beautiful, Timbertek decking is hot!  We spent a good chunk of yesterday putting in the decking boards.  Today is the railings which are complex enough that they provide a video to supplement their written instructions.  

The next landscaping project at the deck is to landscape this area.  I call it the balcony bed.  This area is challenging for a whole lot of reasons.  The deep shade under the deck, the dog loving this area, the need for a four season view since the foyer looks right on it, the horribly compacted clay that has been tramped down in it, and most puzzling of all, the question of what to do on the end.

The end currently has grass in it.  The grass has to go because there is now way to reach it with the mower now that the fence is in.  What I want to do is tie this new bed in with the existing back bed.  However I don't want to completely re-do the back bed.  I also am struggling with the big bulbous blog at the end of a narrow bed that is going to occur if I don't.

I've decided to start on the easy (Ha!) edge of the bed and then work back.  Meanwhile every evening I sit out on the new patio with my tea and plot what the plan is going to be for this area. 

I'll save the challenges for this area for another day.  They are not only aesthetic and functional issues but also mechanical and technical.  It's requiring a whole lot of research.  
That's it for now, the deck calls.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

FINALLY! Project Starts

As predicted, the whole permit thing took a month.  Really though even without permits it would probably have taken that long to get started due to the bleeping rain every single day since the snow went away!

Finally last week, we got a break.  We got back from vacation and the permits were ready, the weather was cooperating and the contractors were ready to go.  Time to purge the ugly!

It took about five minutes of ugly purging to figure out that things were going to get a whole lot more ugly before the pretty started.  

Excavation went really fast, but those giant piles of clay that got dumped all over my nice soft, lovely black soil, well that smarted.  We agonized over cutting some tree roots from the sugar maple, coaxed the dog that different grass was still OK and mostly tolerated a whole lot of mud and dust.  Yeah dust.  Who knew brick pavers were so dusty?

The bad pain was pretty darn short though.  OK the wallet still stings but the ugly fence is out, most of the pavers are in, the seatwall is in and we are starting to get some glimses of what is to come.  Yeah yeah, the deck is still rotten, the beds are still filled with giant clay mounts and the dog still is freaking out, but we are definitely making some progress!

I might even go to a nursery today!
I'm rather freaking out about the new giant bed that has been created and what to put in it.  The back berm bed is infested with weeds.  I'm having trouble keeping up with the existing beds and now there are two new ones and more to come!  Hopefully when I no longer have to relocate clay piles, that will free up more time for weed control.  In the meantime, the plan is lots of landscaping fabric and mulch!