There are times when starting with a blank slate can be downright terrifying. Even more so? Combining ‘blank slate’ with ‘garden.’ With these two, that’s not only terrifying, but almost laughable. But! Spoiler alert – we survived (with a lot of help!) and have a teeny, baby garden to show for it.
Let’s back up.
With nothing but rain in the forecast last week, spotty showers over the weekend and more rain to come, our plans to stain our front porch floor went out the window – fast. (And with thunderstorms on the horizon for the coming weekend, it’s looking like all signs point to another week of hell no.) In any case, we didn’t want that to get us down, so we moved forward with another outdoor agenda – the garden!
Our front yard needed a pick me up, and we needed someone to tell us what to do. When it comes to anything leafy, we’d rather not over think it (for once) and dive in with some instruction. And so, after snapping a handful of photos on our phones and jotting down measurements, we went to Sprout Home, one of our favorite city nurseries with a great selection of perennials – perennial being the operative word, as we wanted a good base for layering in annuals as our moods and tastes change each year.
We talked with one of the specialists, Michael, for a long, long time – waffling here and there, but trusting his input and advice on what won’t work, what will work, and what we should keep in mind for the future. In the end, we came home with ONE) 2 Juniper Witchita Evergreens, TWO) 3 Green Velvet Boxwoods, THREE) 5 Blue Fescues and FOUR) 5 lavender plants.
Using the evergreen trees as our jumping off point, we stuck with a mostly blue-green leafy theme and worked on our levels – trees and shrubs in the back (which will grow, grow, grow!) and the more wild blue fescue and lavender up front along the grass line. These plants would be our starting point, and next year, Michael suggested that we could add color in the middle once everything had a chance to take root and fill out.
The next day, we worked on the actual shape of the garden, starting with a wider base where it meets the concrete (5′ deep) and getting smaller where it meets up with the edge of our home (2.5′ deep).
We planted everything according to the instructions, and after a lot (and I mean a lot) of debate, we ended up using garden edging to keep everything separate from the grass. In all honesty, we had planned on installing a small walkway across the front of the garden (to connect the front of our house to the back without leaving a wear pattern on the still non-existent grass), but decided to nix it – for now. Full disclosure, that decision was based on the mounting costs, exhaustion and the insane amount of supplies needed.
In the meantime, we decided to give ourselves a lush patch of grass in the front for the cost of 3 bags of lawn soil and this Turf Builder. We picked up a hand held grass seeder and went to town (again, following the bag’s instructions) after digging up all the weeds (which left us with a bare lawn!) and raking in a thick layer of top soil. If we decide that omg, we have to have a sidewalk!, then it’s certainly something we can add next year!
For fun, can we take a look back to the start of the season? (Eww!)
And now? A garden! A little baby garden that’ll grow up (some day) and a big patch of dirt that’ll sprout pretty green grass (some day); we’ve got ourselves a painted porch, an unstained floor (for now!), and…
… Caps on those beat up cinder blocks!
While our garden is in the very early stages, the staff at Sprout suggested that we keep our eyes open during the course of the summer, making note of any colorful plants that catch our eye. We told Michael that we loved the look of purple Salvia, and he agreed that it would be a great filler for the middle row once our boxwoods have had a chance to beef up. Next year! (Patience, patience.)
If the rain can hold off for the weekend, we’d like to get the rest of the porch floor stained, but we really doubt it’ll be dry enough to do so (and we’d like to avoid peeling paint/stain down the road; it’s all about the prep!). Never mind, we’ve got a punch list that doesn’t want to shrink and baseboards that need paint (yup, still). But! Here’s how we’re shaping up out front:
Swap out the old outdoor lights for new ones
• Paint the front door
• Paint/Stain the porch floor
Finish the staircase hand rail
• Paint the staircase – that is, once the pressure treated wood has dried (boo)
Top the downstairs cinder blocks with caps
Install a path from the pavement to the side of our home, alongside the garden (NOPE)
• Porch swing!
Rain, rain, go away… anyone?
PS… the blurry paper in our transom window is our test template for address numbers! We decided on the matte gold Americana style from House Number Lab. They’re currently on order, and we can. Not. Wait.