3 yards

It’s not a football thing.  Even though this weekend is all about football. It’s a mulch thing. Three yards cost $120 delivered.  And it took 20 hours of work to dispurse it.  That is exactly what I did over labor day weekend.  Again, with the prep for putting the house on the market, I tackled the biggest job.  The outside.  The stager said that curb appeals gets people in.  I put this off because of the amount of time I knew it would take.

3 yards.jpg

The stager said our yard looked overgrown.  I’m guessing that a landscaper would charge about $500-$600 to remove some bushes, trim and mulch the yard.  I really wish I would have taken a before picture.   There were several bushes that were just crowded and webworm looks like it did some damage on Indian Hawthorn bushes.  It took 40 minutes per bush to take out mini bottle brush.  Indian Hawthorn were easier to remove.

plumbago gone.jpg

front

The dump truck came and dumped the mulch.  And I tried to protect the driveway from the stain.  FYI  that makes it harder to shovel the mulch into a wheelbarrel when you have it on something plastic like a tarp.  I started Friday after work with the trimming.  I took out plumbago which is a pretty blue flower that fills in like a weed.  I cut it to the ground, so sadly, it will try to grow back. For now it looks fantastic.  We just need to sell and get out of here.  I am really tired of throwing out stuff and keeping the place looking pristine and it’s not even on the market yet.

Also, Google is awesome!  The stager said I need to remove some rust stains from an iron door mat.  I found that muratic acid removed those stains and it did!  So I don’t have to buy a new mat.

front door.jpg

I’m happy to have saved the money and wonder what I could have done with 20 extra hours.  I did manage to go to a baseball game, play tennis, spend a little time with my daugher and go to a nice lunch with my husband.  I’m thinking at this point camping is a great option.  No upkeep!  Speaking of which I can’t wait for Big Bend!!!!!!!!!  I put in that lock by the way.  The last lock got to the point that you had to shoulder in to get the door open. It was pretty easy to change the door hardware and I’ve been pleased with the results. Just picked that bad boy up at Home Depot and replaced it.

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3 yards

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

In preparation for selling our house , I am trying to tidy up some things.  It cost ways too much money to have landscapers do things.  There are some things I need them for that I can’t get too, like trimming the palms, they are just too tall.  I never thought I postage stamp size yard would require so much landscaping.   My husband says we live on 1/6 of an acre.  Anyway, the one day freeze reeked havoc on our plants.  I had to take out the 1 year old dwarf oleanders and trim back the bottle brush that were completely brown and were not coming back (this is where I used the chain saw).

bottlebrush1

I asked the neighbor if he would move his gazebo which currently houses farm rabbits. (I am pretty certain this is not allowed in our neighborhood…they smell like bat poop).  Anyway, he just said go for it.  I didn’t damage his gazebo and I tried really hard not too.  I have bottle brush tree dead limbs in my garage, behind the waterfall and behind the garage.  It’s going to take a lot of work to get it to the street for garbage pick up.  Ugh!

Next up was replacing the Italian cypress trees in planter boxes.  I fit these babies in a camaro!  whoo hoo!

italian cypress

Lastly for the backyard is the replacement of the oleanders.  I love the hot pink ones, but couldn’t get them in dwarf size.  So peach it is.  I waited at least a month for the local nursery to replenish supply.  They didn’t.  Oh well, this is for the new owners.

oleanders

I think our backyard is nice.  My daughter and I enjoyed the hot tub last night.  So I am the pool man too and have had a hard time keeping the pool clean and algae free.  In our new place we will not have a pool.  I never thought I’d be ok without being around water. I am ok with it for now.  Our new place will have such a better layout and a large covered patio.

I will miss some things but not others.   I won’t miss the neighbor across the street with their cars.  I will miss my tennis club and friends, how convenient it is to get to the store. I’ll miss my one neighbor for sure.  Who would have thought after so long being here, she would be the one that I have the closest bond with?  Our lives have changed so much. I think it’s time for a change.  And I’m excited for our new adventure!

 

 

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Spring has sprung

It’s hard to ignore the fact that it is and will be raining all day.  It seems unfair to someone who lives for being outside.  Last week, determined to get my 20 miles in on the bike, I completed my goal in the rain and suffered a flat that had to be fixed away from home. That was the first time using CO2 cartridges.   Not chancing that again today, I am determined to do a little rain gardening.  The weeds have been really bad and the one cold snap that wiped everything out has created a ridiculous amount of trimming.  Over the last month and 1/2 I have been chipping away at a mountain of a project.  There is definitely an improvement and it may not be perfect.  It will look better with mulch.

Below the foxtail fern was cut back all of the way and is starting to come back.

The bougainvilla along the fence below looks like deer antlers,  They had to be cut all of the way to the ground. From the picture it doesn’t look like there is much work.  However, it took multiple trash cans full of branches and I’m still not done!  They are piled behind the garage.  The firecracker bush pictured below left is completely brown.  It was cut all of the way down and it is growing back pictured right (looks like a weed, but it’s not!)

This is the first year I’ve had to cut the Oleander back to the ground as well as the Esperanza.  By spring we usually have some flowers, it’s going to be a while.  The bottle brush normally are in full bloom, but the freeze this year really harmed the plant.  I’m not really sure if it will once again be healthy looking.  Sometimes hardy plants, like the oleander suffer from the severe heat and then a freeze and never return back to full health. They look half dead half healthy, not pretty!  I spent hours one year pulling them out and then replanting new ones.  The flowers are so pretty.

So what is blooming?  I planted some begonias (pictured below with a snail friend)  They do well in the spring and early summer then look like asparagus in late summer with the Texas heat!  The trees that lost their leaves are leafing out.  And we are in the middle of the annual pine pollen dumping.

flower

Bluebonnets the Texas wildflower are in bloom as well.  They are so pretty on the side of the highways in between cities.  I am looking forward to the shades of brown turning into green with splashes of color.  And for the rain to take a break!

bottlebrush

Spring has sprung

Fall Gardening

The summer heat took a toll on some of our plants.  Knock out roses are so beautiful unless they are half dead!  This time of year the nursery is advertising 70% off.  These kind of sales are most likely a gimmick.  You know, they post a crazy price then with the “sale” you pay a decent price.  Who cares, the price is good right now for the little 3 gallon roses ($6/per plant).   Fall is a perfect time to plant!

Here is before and after pics.  It’s funny when you look at something and think, I’ll get that done in no time…no problem!  Then, you discover the plant really doesn’t want to go and it becomes a battle!  To remove 6 half alive mature knock out roses, it took at least 3 hours.

knockout

knockout2

You can tell who is not meticulous about the lawn, by the weeds in the cracks.   There are some yards in the neighborhood that I really admire!  I do my own lawn.  It usually only takes about 45 minutes a week to maintain and it is enjoyable! My parents hated  yard work, and by contrast my aunt and uncle loved it!  Consequently, my aunt and uncle are outdoorsy people…and I love that vibe!

Most suburban Texas lawns are sod with St. Augustine grass.  Which is supposedly durable in standing up to the extreme heat and water conditions.  By the time summer is over, the lawn looks completely done!  With pest damage like chinch bugs, fungus, drought and sun damage the lawn looks pitiful.  This year we have web worms which produce some kind of moth and it really damaged the lawn.  Of course those lawns that I admire don’t seem to have this problem.  I wish I knew their secret!  So in looking into repairing St. Augustine, I thought seeds!  Seeds should be good, but no one sells St. Augustine seeds.  I’ve read St. Augustine seeds don’t really take and instead you need to patch the lawn with plugs of sod (or 2 foot squares).  If you’ve ever pulled up sod, you know this is a horrible way to spend time in your day. And, if you think fertilizing will do the trick, you might discover it only causes further damage to the lawn by burning it.  One other thought is to sprinkle bermuda seeds.  Bermuda is a different kind of grass, and in the summer the St. Augustine may crowd it out, but I’m pretty sure we tried that before and it wasn’t a good solution either.   This year, we are going to try grass paint.  Yep fake it till you make it.  I’m pretty sure that the lawn will go dormant and then when spring comes all will be better.   Sometimes to fix things you just need patience and time.

 

 

Fall Gardening

Texas landscape

What a beautiful day in south Texas!  It’s January almost February and it was 76 degrees.  I really love the outdoors!  And I like to spend time in the “garden”.  For suburbia that means working in the yard.  Lots of people hire people to do the yard work.  We do not, only because I enjoy it.  Besides we have what I consider a postage stamp size yard and it takes about 45 minutes total to mow, edge, blow and sweep.

We do get a nice break between October and March.  There is very little mowing going on at this time.  In fact, maybe once a month your yard might need a little edging.  This is the time of year that some people trim the crepe myrtles.  The crepe myrtle is my favorite ornamental tree.   It has beautiful flowers in the summer time and they can be pink, red, white or purple.  They say this tree grows in the south, however, being from the south and not Texas, I don’t remember seeing them anywhere until I got to Texas.  Then I was like wow!  That is a pretty tree.  As I mentioned they can be an ornamental tree if you trim them.  Some people call this the practice of crepe murder.  I can understand that is a little disturbing to lovers of this tree.  The thing is, the crepe myrtle can grow to be quite large.  If you trim them, they stay ornamental.  During the winter they lose their leaves and in the spring they grow their leaves back and do not actually flower until summer.

I love keeping an eye on the budding, leaf sprout and finally the flower. I have no idea why I get so excited to see the first flower. I have three crepe myrtles with a very dark pink flower.  Two of them must be a different variety because I have trimmed them all the same and two are much smaller than the one.  Or maybe it’s the sun exposure…I doubt it though.  I use a lopper to trim them.  This year on the big one I used a 9 foot electric pole saw and that just made my life a whole lot easier.  I would spend hours on a ladder with a lopper on this one tree.  But not this year.  I got that puppy trimmed in no time.  Ready for spring now!

trimmed myrtle

Before:

untrimmed myrtle

Our yard has transformed over the years.  I spent a lot of time on the back yard planting palm trees and all of the other plants in the landscaping.   Another one of my favorite ornamental plants is oleander.  This one also flowers white and pink, but it doesn’t lose its leaves in the winter.  This past fall I took out the three oleanders I had growing like trees.  They become massive and it’s really hard to manicure them.  After about 10 years and some years of drought parts of the plant die so it doesn’t look quite as healthy or uniform.   I love this plant not only for its beauty but for its hardiness.  I don’t water them, so they take the Texas heat.  They don’t drop their leaves in the winter and most of the year they have their beautiful flowers (especially, spring, summer and fall).  If you ever want to take one of these out.  Be prepared for battle.  I think I spent 2 hours per oleander cutting and shoveling it out of the ground.  It is one strong plant.   I planted oleander again.  I just can’t get enough of their beautiful flowers and ease of care.

Texas landscape