Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Cleaning

…except outside.

Monday was President’s Day so the hubby and I had a day off together, which is somewhat of a rare thing. We decided to celebrate by getting some yard work done together! Wah-hoo, we live life on the edge. Anyway,  it was pretty nice to get outside and make a dent (albeit a small one) on our front yard. We also got a bonus on our cleaning powers, because while we were cleaning up outside out housekeepers were doing our floors and bathrooms. And, let me say, hiring a housekeeper has been my favorite extravagance by far. It is just so nice to have those basic cleaning issues taken care of for us on a biweekly basis. If you can swing it I would highly suggest looking into getting someone to clean… but maybe that is just because I hate to clean. Hmmm…

Anyway this is what our front yard looked like when we started:


I think the hardest part about gardening at this point in my life is that I am not sure what is a weed and what I am suppose to out there saving.  This is aggravated because this is our first (early) spring (late winter?) in our house.  I know what some of the foliage it, but only if I planted it last summer. The ones I knew were the easy part; those I was just able to trim away the old growth and be excited by the new sprouts shooting forth.  I also planted a bunch of bulbs (crocuses, tulips, daffodils, and what not) last fall and it is fun to see those start to come up.


So far the only thing to bloom are the crocuses, but I am looking forward to the rest, especially because I don’t keep track of things all that well and cannot remember how many bulbs I planted, or all the varieties, or colors, or…

Bill and I couldn’t decided what all should be pulled up, so I just stuck to things I new for certain were weeds. And, let me tell you, there were more than a few of those to occupy my time. I also planted a bunch of seeds I had left over from last year.  I know it is a little early for seeds, but our winter has been so mild I am just crossing my fingers that it doesn't freeze and kill all my seeds. Plus, by planting all of my old seeds I know feel totally justified buying new seeds. I also need to set up my little portable greenhouse and get impatiens started for my blooming bags.

Here’s hoping at least a few of the seeds make it and I get to see at least one representative of all these pretty blooms this summer.


Meanwhile, while I was toiling away on the weeds and the seeds, Bill was busy taking out a monstrous and hideous shrub. I have no idea what type of shrub it is, some people have offered their guesses but never with much conviction. One of neighbors has also been battling hers for the last few years and was commiserating with us over the long hard battle. This shrub is obviously in it for the long haul. When we first bought the house last May we chopped down about half of the height and cut back the half closest to the house (because it was getting uncomfortably close).  However, the shrub was not to be deterred! It sent out tons of new branches from its base. Sigh, so this year we decided we would try to bring it down once and for all. Bill ended up braking a new Gerber handsaw on it, as well as bending our super duty loppers. We filled two lawn waste containers with the branches and leaves, and have enough left over to fill them again.


Here is Bill working away. And here is the massive stump that was left behind. I can’t even imagine how large this plant would be if it had never been trimmed. I am guessing it has been here since the beginning (i.e. 105 years). When we were first looking at buying the house we went down to the local library to do some research and found a photo of the house in 1920 when it went up for sale the first time. I need to track that down and see if the shrub is in fact visible at that point, and how big it is. Anyway, the stump:


That entire mass is all stump. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be dirt, it is still stump (just with a fine dusting of dirt and old leaves). I have no idea how we are going to get rid of that mess. I would be happy if we could get it shaved down to a level area and then I could just plunk down a massive outdoor planter and add some dimension to our front yard. There is another stump a couple yards back that is already flat that I definitely will be putting a planter on.  We have lots of grand plans for our front yard (Hell, we have grand plans for every inch of our house).

The forthcoming improvement is trees on our planting strip. Our neighborhood is taking advantage of an awesome program here in Tacoma where the city will supply free trees for our planting strips. We ended up getting something like 10 houses to participate for a total of 18 trees. We attended a tree planting workshop put on by the city last weekend and the trees are going to be delivered at the end of this month.

Our other major plan for our front yard this summer is putting up a fence. A cute little white picket fence to be exact. That way we should cut back on the neighborhood dogs who poop in our yard (and their owners who do NOT pick up after them). Plus, we would like to get rid off all of our lawn and mulch and landscape it. Dream big!

Here is what our yard looked like once we gave in for the day. It might not appear all that different, but give it a few months and the fruits of our labor will become apparent (I hope!).

IMG_6314-1 And to put it all into perspective here is the whole house shot.


What about all you out there? What kind of gardening and/or yard work are you up to? Or what do you hope to accomplish?


  1. Good going. Definitely not my favorite thing to do.

  2. So far I am having visions of what I need to do for my yard, but I also really have not had the time to get involved. I know that I will need to Aerating/Thatch my front lawn sooner or later.

  3. You guys did so good! I can't wait to see it in person. Or big yard thing is that we have a ton of moss to get rid of. At first, it looks like we have a nice, green grass filled yard, but upon closer inspection you can see it's mostly moss. So this weekend we're going to be on moss patrol. Not really sure what that means yet. We also have a ton of ugly bushes to dig out. That might be a project for next year, though.

  4. The yard is looking good. If you can't remember what you plant and where, you should consider a garden journal. Just a little binder that you can write down what goes in and make a little map of where it goes. You can also mark in your journal what works good for your garden and what doesn't. What the slugs and rabbits ignore, etc.

    Joy, our yard is moss covered this year, too. It looks quite nice :-)

  5. I don't think it would work on a yard, but I have heard that you can lightly sprinkle tide detergent on moss to kill it when it is on your roof. I wonder though, what are the ecological ramifications of putting soap into the ground?

    A garden journal sounds awfully organized. I don't know if I could manage that. Yet. Maybe once my office is put together and I could actually find things that would be effective. Then again, maybe a folder on the computer is the way to go...

    We officially have our first daffodil bloom!