May flowers

Not to be self congratulatory or anything, but Heath and I are basically American heroes for making good on our promise to the garden to give it some much needed TLC.  Austin’s been gifted with a pretty spectacular spring season, which made it nearly impossible for us not to get our hands dirty these past couple months beautifying the grounds of House Doodle. Veggies have been planted, bottle trees erected, new fences built—a productive spring season indeed.

raised beds and chicken cooptexasnativegarden

texassucculents

greyhousegreendoorraingarden marblemulch  doodlehouseroses crushedgranitepatio _DSC7936  _DSC7940 doodlehouserosebouquet bottletree _DSC7935

patio

_DSC7939

 

 


Garden Growth– One Year Later

Last summer, good ole Gretchen (my garden guru) came to stay with us for a week to help us garden beginners install her customized landscape plan in our front yard. The visit was a great success and we went from dead, brown and lackluster to manicured, verdant and promising.

frontyard_beforeafter

We couldn’t have asked for a better change (an upgrade that felt even better since we shed our own sweat to achieve it), but nearly a year later, it’s pretty magnificent to see how the plan has really taken shape.

Last June…

curved yardThis May…

frontyardflowerbed

Last summer…

paver pathway This spring…

summergarden

2012…

The front yard as seen from the driveway.

2013…

frontgarden

Watching the garden morph through the seasons has been more than gratifying, it’s been a valuable learning experience. Through trial and error, we’ve gotten used to practicing regular weeding, pruning, re-mulching and other necessary upkeep tricks of the trade. What fun it’s been to figure out how to keep a garden alive, happy and thriving.

irisgardendoodlehouseyardbulbine

We’ve also experimented with ways to make watering more efficient. In the front bed, Heath repurposed an old pvc pipe to make an irrigation system we can effortlessly hook up to the hose for hassle-free watering.

homemadeirrigationdecomposedgranitepath

We can only guess how it will change from now til next year.

 


Projects to ponder: fences made of old doors

One to-do or not-to-do project that Heath and I grapple with is whether or not to invest in a privacy fence. Really the only reason we have for not is the price tag. Choosing to put in a privacy fence would mean ultimately giving up a vacation or another project we desperately want to cross off our list. So what’s a girl to do to when she wants to be shielded from the neighbor’s relentlessly barking schnauzer but doesn’t want to be robbed blind by the cost of fence building? One potential possibility: doors.

Doors? Yes, doors. The Habitat for Humanity Restore had an abundance of old doors for about $10 a pop. Interesting. Very interesting. And it turns out, I’m not the only person who thinks the door-as-a-fence idea works. Photos from Pinterest.

776edaeaf407e622eaf53b735e4d1928 Door+Fence_3_logo P1050874 2c405e63e11faa6bcdc6ca3607620645 81fe4fa09c59a3d89d60590b2bb6e7c4 DSCN8967

c2de5c0ecb27a59a110e96a2e4914411

2c1680a7c9d1eb769a4cbf52891ea069

Perhaps it’s time to do some quick algebra.

1,308(inches) / 32(the average door’s width in inches) x $10 (the door’s cost = $408.75.  Adding in taxes and the cost of posts and other miscellaneous  materials, that price tag still comes in much lower than a traditional fence, and I kinda dig the funky mismatch vibe. Plus anytime you can reuse old materials and practice green construction, it’s a good thing.

Maybe this door fence idea isn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but it certainly isn’t the worst.


Picnic anyone?

Whelp, the time finally came for Bro to move out of the doodle house. His departure came about a month ago, and with him went the Foosball table (at our request), which meant it was time for us to look into more sit-able table options for our newly naked back patio. Muah ha ha, another weekend project to put on the books.

I did some fact checking and number crunching and figured the best option for us would be to pick up a prefab picnic table from Lowe’s ($88) and gussy ‘er up with a bright coat of paint. It would be affordable. It would be easy. It would be done!

090489098070lg

I chose to paint it what my pals calls “P-Terry’s blue” a sort of seafoam blue/turquoise color that is one the trademark colors of my favorite Austin hamburger chain.  I’ve eaten many a meal on their blue picnic tables and it seemed as fitting a color as any to bring to the patio. Plus, I’ve gotten so accustomed to painting furniture and walls in shades of blue that not to just seemed wrong some how. You know what’s not wrong? The finished product…

seafoampicnictablepatiopicnicYES!  We are picnic ready! Heath, who by some miracle never questions my bizarre color choices, was smitten with the finished product, saying it looked good enough to eat. Whoop, whoop!

In addition to prepping the picnic table, we also spent some of the weekend sprucing up the garden and freshening up things we had let go over the winter. The pallet planter got updated with some hardy succulents and we put in a handful of fast-growing, drought-tolerant natives along the back and side fence to give us some future privacy from the neighbors (and their incessantly barking schnauzers). Soon enough, I hope to have a really nice backyard space in which to romp with the doodles and host fancy pants backyard garden parties.

turquoisepicnictablesucculentplanter

succulents_palletplanterAnd, with luck, we will soon have edible goodies to fill the empty space on our PTerry’s picnic bench.  Heath stayed busy by tending to the veggie garden, planting sugar snap peas, lettuce, onions, potatoes, broccoli and carrots.

sprouting onion

sprouting onion

lettuce coming in strong

broccoli coming in strong

sugar snap peas going nuts (Pardon our mess in the background, we are protecting them from cold and chickens, a brutal dynamic.)

sugar snap peas going nuts (Pardon our mess in the background, we are attempting to protect them from cold and chickens, a brutal duo.)

I’m so excited by all that has developed in the backyard in the last two weeks with the rise in temperatures and rise in our morale. I better enjoy garden season while it lasts, because heaven knows by May the triple digit temperatures will be upon us again. Until then, who’s down for a picnic?

doodlehousepicnic


One year later

A little more than a year ago, we were making our way toward the 2011 ACL music festival when our realtor called to tell us the sellers of a little house on Corona Drive had accepted our offer to buy their place; a month later they handed us the key. Even though the process of buying our first home happened fairly quickly, in many ways this one year anniversary of life in our first home seems like it took a lifetime to reach–especially when I think about all the projects I wanted to accomplish in the first year.

I had a lofty checklist of things to add, modify and remove in the new house. Admittedly, I was a little too ambitious. I wanted wood floors within the first month and new counter tops within the first two weeks. Fast forward 365 days and the original counters and carpets are still here. I still don’t have a dishwasher in the kitchen, and we still let the dogs out into the backyard through a window and not a proper backdoor. But while there are many, many, many improvements I still haven’t found the time or money to make, I’m careful to remember and be proud of all that we have accomplished in one year together in our first place.

For starters, we (with A LOT of help from my mom) we were able to install some much needed landscaping in the front yard.

The uninspired and lackluster front yard before we got our hands (and feet and faces) dirty with gardening.

And here it is today.

We put in a path that leads to the front door.

And planted lots of native color.

Echinacea is forever smiling.

We painted and added windows to our front door for much needed character.

And in the backyard we did even more.  When we first arrived, the only life in the backyard was a 30-year-old pecan tree.

The bare backyard.

So we added a shed and built a new and improved chicken coop for our feathered friends.

We put in raised beds for veggies…

…and a rain garden to help with drainage.

We built a fence to help with privacy.

And we added some spunk to the patio with a pallet planter, and dining area.

Inside, we got things done too…like painting more walls than we can count.

The bland walls before we got our hands on them.

And after many iterations of furniture placement, we  finally found the perfect layout for our massive living room.

We put up invisible book shelves in the office.

And I finally found the perfect way to incorporate a map wall into the house.

In the kitchen we refinished the cabinets and added new hardware, bringing some much needed shine to a kitchen that was in the running to be named one of the country’s ugliest.

Dinged up faded cabinets and rusty black metal hardware makes for a creepy kitchen.

A little shine goes a long way. At some point we’ll get to updating the backsplash and countertops.

We also stripped the knotty pine paneling to make room for more shelving and storage.

For me, knotty pine is beautiful in small doses. The original kitchen had more than what I prefer.

On top of the big projects, there were dozens of weekends and evenings spent painting furniture, framing artwork, hanging curtains and performing the many other tiny tasks that culminate in having a happy house that feels like home. I didn’t get to a lot of the big projects, but I’m learning to cope with our revised timeline. As my older and wiser home-owning cohorts have told me, the list of home improvement projects never goes away, it just changes over time, and that’s part of the fun. So on our one year anniversary, I’m opting not to lament the projects we have not yet gotten to and instead will celebrate what we have accomplished. Plus, we still need things to keep us busy as we head in to year two.


Seasonal and Sensational

I think it’s safe to say my favorite thing about having a vegetable garden is eating the veggies. But I’m fairly certain my second favorite thing is observing how much it changes not only from season to season but also from week to week. It’s constantly evolving and Heath has become a champion at monitoring its progress, knowing what’s in season and being able to prep the soil for the future.  We have not yet been through a complete year with our ever evolving garden, but when I look back at pictures of our veggie sprawl from the day it was born to now,  I’m tickled by how much it has morphed.

Early Winter: the “garden” last December when we first put together the raised beds though at this point, it was more dirt than anything.

Early spring: the garden is full of lettuce.

Early spring

In March: no leaves on the trees, few greens in the garden.

Early spring: sugar snap peas from seed. We planted late February and harvested late April.

Mid spring: Heath picking the sugar snap peas.

Early summer: peas are still growing, but we added baby amaranth and New Zealand spinach to the mix.

Today: corn, amaranth, New Zealand spinach and lima beans

Today: corn and lima beans are in season.

Today: lima beans.

Today: corn

Today: amaranth and New Zealand spinach


Let’s see what our pals in the front yard have been up to

I love reading fellow Austin-based blogs like Digging and The Grackle, and comparing their landscaping blooms to ours. It’s nice to see that other gardeners share our same struggles, and if they don’t, they can offer us some gardening guidance. It’s been especially nice now that we actually have some front yard landscaping to tend to. Earlier this summer my garden guru came to help us install a new garden in our front yard. I know Austin summers are not the best time of year to put in new landscaping, but that’s the time we had available and you gotta do what you gotta do. So I’m pleased to see, despite the odds, two months later there is a respectable amount of growth and development in our front yard garden.

The front yard as seen from the driveway.

Roses and echinacea coneflower have been blooming all summer.

Roses and yucca are an unconventional but really fun landscaping combination.

Pride of Barbados is blooming like crazy all over Central Texas.

I fell in love with desert globemallow after a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I’m pretty jazzed about having two plants of our own in bloom.

Autumn joy sedum is doing its thing.

Gomphrena fireworks…because everyday at the doodle house is a celebration.

The succulent planter, thank heaven, is always lush even in the harshest of summers.

Echinacea is forever smiling.

I’m happy we’ve had few flora casualties this summer, and now that September is just around the corner, I’m eager to see what glorious surprises fall will bring.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,470 other followers