Posts Tagged 'exterior'

Getting into the Gardening Mood!

oldplanterYep, it’s that time again! It all started when I walked outside to get the mail the other day and stood looking around the front deck in disgust. The build-up of fallen leaves, tracked mud, mis-matched shoes, and other bits and pieces just finally pushed me over the edge. Time to Spring Clean the deck! My two large planters looked so sad with their dead annuals and crusty dirt. So I decided to get pansies and liven up all the pots on the deck, then clean up the mess when all the planting was finished. I nabbed two flats of pansies while doing the bi-monthly grocery shopping, then promptly came down with a raging sore throat, fever, and chills, and the poor plants sat on the front deck for a week with no one to think of them (or water them!). By the time I was up and around again, the pansies looked like a lost cause. But I decided to plan them and just see what happened.

plants

The most promising of the pansies...

I grabbed my potting soil and tackled the dirt in the two large iron planters. The soil was so compacted and tough that it took a while to get the crusty layer out and mix up a nice layer for the plants. But the pansies looked a little happier to be in nice, loose soil and have some water.

planted2

I tackled the next iron planter, then the two large “terra cotta” (plastic) planters:

messydeck2

toplantYou can see the mess of dirt and leaves waiting to be swept. But I wanted to finish planting first, and I’d fallen for some roses while shopping, too! I picked up two Chicago Peace bush roses and two coral-colored climbing roses for $4 each. Naturally, the package said, “place in ground immediately,” but mine sat out with the rest of the flowers while I was sick. They didn’t look the worse for wear when I finally got to them. Roses are tough. I used to be afraid of roses. I thought only master gardeners could care for these wonderful plants. I quickly found out this is a myth! Roses are easier to care for than almost anything you can plant. You only have to be vigilant through Japanese beetle season and watch for black spots on the leaves that can indicate mold — watering  early in the day prevents this, as the sun has a chance to evaporate the water and dry the leaves. What’s most wonderful is that roses positively thrive in a hot, sunny environment like the one in which I happen to live. Serendipity! So I happily picked up new roses to put in front of the deck.

Last year I planted annuals in this spot just to have some color. Now, with more time to plan, I was ready for more substantial, long-lasting plants. My children helped me prep the flower bed by raking out the leaves so we could work the soil and loosen it up a bit. We didn’t get rid of the leaves, since those are wonderful for compost and can also serve as mulch. Here’s a picture of the bed, ready for roses:

preppedbed

Next, I dug the first hole for the climbing rose I wanted to put at the far left edge of the deck:

dighole holedug

Now it was time to put some good soil into the hole and settle the roots of the rose:

addsoil

Then my oldest son and I crumbled the native dirt and filled the hole the rest of the way, leaving the “bud” of the rose about an inch above the soil line (this is where the rose branches out):

crumbledirt

Finally, my daughters grabbed handfuls of leaves to mound around the rose, since we weren’t quite past the danger of a nighttime freeze:

rosemulchclose

emptypotThe girls got into the spirit of gardening and quickly brought me an old pot they’d found behind their playhouse in the back yard. They wanted to have flowers in front of their doorway, too! So we scooped the leftover potting soil into it, and the girls planted the remaining pansies in their little pot:

plantingpot3 plantingpot

sweptcleanWith all our planting done, it was time to clean up the deck. The boys matched up all the outdoor shoes and lined them in a row. The girls gathered the toys and miscellaneous items into a pile to go inside. I swept all the fallen leaves out of the crack between the deck and the house and added them to the growing compost pile. We kept working our way from one end of the deck to the other, the boys stopping to exclaim over a long-lost Lego and my oldest daughter declaring, “This looks like a house now!” Because, of course, a messy deck just can’t look like much of anything, right? 😉

The finished results gave us all a smile. How nice to have flowers nodding from their planters and a clean, swept floor to greet the eye!

finished-deck

With more days of sunshine and water, the panies perked right up and looked fresh, too.  The welcome mat is out, so come on in!

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Livening up the front door

First coat!

First coat!

While I don’t mind white in my kitchen (where soap and water are always handy for clean-up), I can’t stand a white front door. It always looks dirty, particularly with little hands (and feet!) constantly on the door. So with the approval of our landlord, I got a pint of “Spanish Red” (like a dark mulberry) from Lowe’s. On a day when the humidity wasn’t as extreme, I gave our front door a quick makeover!

The first coat of red over a non-primed surface is always scary. It looks hot pink (no matter how dark that color sample appears). If you opt for red on anything light, be prepared for at least three coats, if not more. If you prime first with a dark grey, it will still take at least two coats. This door took four coats before it finally looked solid and beautiful, as you’ll see in the photos below. I used a high density foam roller–the same kind I used on the kitchen cabinets–to get a nice, smooth finish with no visible “seams” or bubbles. If I’d been aiming for a totally professional look, I would have removed the door hardware or at least masked it off with painter’s tape. I did neither, as this was one of those spur-of-the-moment redos. The nice thing is that latex paint peels easily off of stainless steel, so I had no problem cleaning up the door knob and deadbolt later.

Here’s a close-up of that first coat of paint, plus a shot of my roller so you can see what it looks like:

Here’s the door after one coat of paint (looks frightening, I know!):

The second coat started looking better, but it was still “choppy” and pinkish in tone:

By the third coat, you start breathing easier and feeling like this is going to be a beautiful front door!

With the fourth coat in place and nicely dried, we have a beautiful, deep red front door. I love it! This exterior Latex is washable and weather-hardy. Best of all, it really doesn’t show handprints like the white door did. This door makeover took about an hour total (because the day was warm, each coat dried enough to paint over in about 20 minutes). It’s so easy to make a quick change without the cost of replacing a door!

Ta-da!

Ta-da!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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