Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let's Start At The Very Beginning...

(A very good place to start...)

When Michael and I moved into our home two years ago, one of the biggest selling points was the low maintenance yard. Our neighborhood has a yard crew that mows our lawn and takes care of our shrubs. The side yard--our responsibility--is about the size of a closet. We were in heaven... for the first year. Last summer, however, we realized that not doing anything with our lawn was killing us. We love being outdoors yet our yard left much to be desired. 2010 was the summer of concrete staining, potted plants, one row of English ivy, and more mulch than one yard should ever allow. We also learned that our yard, while still small, is much larger (or at least longer) than we realized.

The mulch was a temporary fix, so last month we met with a landscaper to see what he would suggest. We really wanted to plant sod, which he nixed immediately due to the lack of sunlight. He mentioned river rocks and said he'd email us a quote.

You guys. Holy cow. He gave us two separate quotes: $1331 and $2955. The quotes included prep work, weed cover, and two different types of rocks. That was it. Not only were both quotes over our price range, but for $3000 I better see diamonds amidst river rocks. We decided we would take our last year's DIY project to the next level and plant English ivy EVERYWHERE. That would take care of our need for green as well as stay within our budget.

I typically don't discuss money on this blog (thank you mom and dad for teaching me good manners), but in this case I want to break it down for you because, well... I'm super proud of us. I am seriously considering sending the landscaper a link to this post in hopes that he stops ripping off the American public.

One last thing--we have absolutely ZERO knowledge of plants/soil/flowers/etc. This past month has been a labor of love (we have insane blisters, back pain and red necks to prove it), but we fully realize that no one would look at our yard and think we'd hired a landscaper. We understand that and we're ok with it. We also realize that ivy is a process and it looks downright funny this year. But next year? It'll look better. The year after that? The ground could be completely covered in beautiful green ivy. And when that happens, we can sit back and realize these painful weekends in 2011 were absolutely worth it.

And now, let's break it down! (If something was on sale, I included what we paid for it as well as the original price because GOOD LORD I love sales!)

Ground cover
English Ivy (8 flats): $150
Pond pebbles: $30
Mulch: $10

Hibiscus (2): $45 (original price: $60)
Jasmine: $20
Croton: $20
Azalea bush: $25
Purple spike plant (See what I mean? No clue): $20
Begonias: $40 (original price: $55)
Hanging basket flowers: $19
Hanging basket: $0 (recycled from last year)
Flower pots: $0 (purchased last year)
Watering can: $0 (purchased last year)

Patio Furniture: $400
Plates (6): $26 (original price: $36)
Napkins: $0 (wedding gift)
Table decor: $60 (original price: $75) (total splurge)
Bird Bath: $50
Chiminea: $65 (original price: $130!!!)
Garden stool: $70 (original price: $90) (total splurge) (But also great when we have a 5th guest!)

Tools, etc.
Gloves (2): $8
Tiller: $20 (I would've paid $300 for this--it was a lifesaver)
Concrete stain for touch-ups: $0 (purchased last year)
Sealant for concrete: $15
Hose: $15


Don't get me wrong, I realize $1108 is still quite a bit and we're now eating ramen noodles to compensate, but knowing that we did all of the above for less than what it cost for "prep work, weed fabric, and native gravel" makes me one very happy lady. :)

Last year, before the stain:
Last year after the stain:
Align Center
Front yard - kept it simple with begonias and a hanging plant

Sideyard (like I said, looks a bit goofy right now...)
Thinking ahead for fall!

Ivy we planted along the wall last year

Terrible picture. It's a dark blue. LOVE.

Our river rocks (of the $30 variety)

A bird bath outside our bedroom window.
Plants/flowers in front of our kitchen window.

My personal favorite - hibiscus

Jasmine ivy--smells AMAZING.
The table is set!

Our first meal served on the new table.

Rows and rows (and rows) of English ivy. Just looking at this makes my hands, arms, and back so tired.

When I bought a flat of pink begonias this little guy hitched a ride (he hadn't bloomed but I assumed he was pink). As soon as I saw a white bloom I dug him up. Michael then replanted him in his very own pot. Is it weird that I'm talking about a plant like it's a person?)
Unfortunately, the hail storm beat the crap out of some of our plants. Poor Mr. Croton...

This gorgeous azalea bush now has three remaining blooms...
Thumbs kept us company while we worked!

Our star performer for the next few months...

What are you waiting for? Come on over--we've got beers in the fridge!

Actually, can we re-schedule for tomorrow? We are exhausted. GOOD NIGHT!


katandkarl said...

sound of music now lodged in my brain!

Great pics - sorry I've been such a crappy commenter lately. Still love reading!

Cari said...

Looks gorgeous Mere! Nice work. Nothing's better than some pretty flowers and grilling out on the patio!

Susie said...

Can't wait to see it in PERSON! You guys did a fabulous job! My back aches just looking at all of the hard work!

Leslie said...

Beautiful! That ivy is going to look so nice when it all grows in, and I'm sure it will happen before you know it! That's the plus of living in've got a nice long growing season for things like that to really thrive! Next time I visit I definitely intend to sip a margarita on that patio with you!

Kaitlin said...

And now I've got that song in my head. It looks SO great!! LOVE the garden stool & you guys will really enjoy the chiminea (unless of course you're in a burn ban area like us and can't use it right now, grr). I'll be over tonight for a beer (I wish) :)

Laura said...

Very impressive! Everything looks great now, and like you said, that ivy will just look better and better!

Jax said...

Way to go, girlie! And way to save some cash! Good job on a great budget!!! :)

Haley Nicodemus said...

I think it is going to look awesome! And thank you for the pictures...I was trying really hard to picture what "side yard" you were referring to. :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Yeeeep that's a lot of work! But it looks great. I especially love the stained concrete.

And it's not weird that you talk about your plants as if they're people. When my mom planted flowers for me this year she told me that I need to sing to them every day. Every time I talk to her she asks if I've sung to my flowers yet. Even I think that's a little weird. ;)

emily said...

Very impressive Mere! I, however, would still like to see a photo of the "purple spike plant." I'm trying to picture it in my head! :) Also, great job on the pics of sweet lil Riggs! I'm so impressed!

Aubrey said...

Well done, guys! Love the results!

We name all plants in our house. Wanda J (a Wandering Jew), New Norfolk (a Norfolk Pine), Fichus Fred (you'll never guess...a fichus), etc. For what it's worth, I don't think you're weird at all. :)


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