Mar 9, 2013

Making the Scenic Route

Landscaping work has officially begun!  We did decide to start with the north side of the house because we think it'll be the easiest area for us to update-- we already know how to do everything we'd like to do back here, and none of the projects require a big time or money commitment.

We started by simply raking out the gravel along that side of the house.  I had hoped I'd be able to rake enough out to use some in our driveway, but after nearly two years of sitting untouched on bare dirt, most of the gravel had already sunk into the soil and was staying put.  I briefly considered digging this area down a couple of inches, but decided that it'd be fine as is.  All that raking gave me a more even surface and pulled up a lot of rogue weeds and moss that had made it through the winter.

It looks uneven, but that's just our neighbor's bowed fence.

I wanted to put some shallow steps at either end of this walkway to keep the gravel in place and help with the elevation change.  After discussing it with Steve, we decided that it'd be easier to use some of the existing pavers the previous owners had left to create a sloped transition on the east side (easier to get a full yard waste cart back and forth that way).  Steve was also pretty sure that putting in a step or some kind of transition on the west end of the walkway would mean re-doing the gate at that end.  And although the gate has sagged a ton and is in pretty rough shape, that's not a project we want to tackle yet, so the west end of the walkway is being left as is.  I started setting the pavers into the dirt on the north end, knowing full well that they'd be nearly covered with moss in a year.  At least moss is green, people.

Tunnel vision.

Steve also started making planters for me.  Since the walkway is about 5 feet wide, and these planters will add interest and camouflage some of the less attractive elements of this side of the house (A/C and crawl access, anyone?), we wanted the planters to be about 2 feet wide.  Steve used 8" cedar planks to construct two planters for me.

Gratuitous photo of productive manliness in action.

They're very simple looking, which I love.  I want the stars back here to be the plants, not the planters.  And the scale was PERFECT.

You're getting, hidden, AC unit!

Since Steve made two of these bad boys, and we used cedar, it wasn't exactly super cheap.  What we've decided to do is build the rest of the ground planters out of fence planks.  They'll look a little different, and they won't last as long, but they'll cost about a third as much as the cedar ones.  So the pretty cedar ones will live at the farthest ends of the walkway, since they'll be the easiest to see, while the fence plank ones will cover the space between.


As Steve and I were talking about scale and arrangement, we found a happy accident.  My dad had made me window boxes for my birthday, fit to the windows in front of our previous house.

You can see the window boxes to the right in this photo.

I love them so much that I moved them with us, even though they wouldn't fit the front windows in this house.  But you know which windows they do fit?  The ones outside the office and the guest bedroom, along this side of the house.  And they'll help draw attention away from the power box and the bevy of cables that run out of the house between the two windows.

Now I need to stain the new planters and clean and re-stain the window boxes.  I'm pondering stain colors-- I love the red cedar look but am also playing with the idea of using a super-dark black or espresso stain.  Thoughts?


  1. My vote goes to the black... Trialing plants look amazing against it. The black is also calm and will blend with a gravel.

    1. Mrs. Autumn, your vote counts pretty heavy with me! :)