She Says… Nesting

So, the boxes are all unpacked. (Ok, ok, there are a few in the garage and basement that we haven’t unpacked, but they may stay packed up for awhile since they are in storage — so I’m just gonna call us “unpacked”!). It feels SO GOOD to get all of that cardboard out of the house and look around at all of our things in their new homes.

Now we’re into Stage 2 of moving.

NESTING.

You know, the fun part. Putting art on the walls. Framing pictures. Tidying desktops and vacuuming corners and settling in. Last weekend we schlepped over to Lowes and bought something that symbolizes our new status as suburbanites. We already had the minivan (that video still makes me laugh every time), so all we needed now was… a lawnmower.

We had a yard at our old house, but it was a teeny tiny postage stamp of a yard surrounded by patio and driveway. It barely grew any grass because it was shaded by these huge trees in our neighbor’s yard, so it was really more of a mud pit than a grassy yard. Perfect for Schnitzel to poop on, but not much more. At the time we didn’t really need it for anything more than that. We took care of it with a few passes with an old school rotary mower and that was that.

That is no longer the case. Since we’re still in a pretty densely populated area, our new yard isn’t huge (thank goodness), but it’s at least quadruple the size of our old yard. And it has GRASS. Grass that needs to be cut. Often. Cue the silliness of Benjamin and I putting the lawnmower together and getting it started.

We’re not actually idiots; we just don’t have any experience with lawnmowers 🙂

While Benjamin cut the grass I moved on to taming the gardens. Again, we had a little garden at our old house. I gutted it when we first moved in and planted a little smattering of rhododendrons and hostas and other hardy plants that could withstand our shady urban spot. We even built an above-ground vegetable garden and grew some yummy edibles and herbs. Turns out I have a [surprise!] green thumb; almost everything grew really nicely (you know, except those beets I planted and the darn squirrels feasted on). Either that or I got super lucky. We’ll soon find out which it was, because I’m trying my hand at the gardens here at our new house too.

First order of business: Pull all the weeds and figure out what in the heck is planted here already. I grabbed my gloves and trowel and went to town, thinking I could get the front beds cleared during Owen’s morning naptime. I quickly, quickly realized I was WAY out of my league. This garden had not been touched all season (we signed the papers for the house in February, so the owners just let everything grow out of control in the spring) and now there were literally weeds taller than me. With roots as thick as my ankle. A little trowel was not the tool I needed. More like a bulldozer.

After an entire day of working through both naptimes and after bedtime and enlisting the help of my big, strong husband, we made it through the two front beds (and completely ignored the side yard and the little beds in the backyard). With bags and bags and bags of yard waste to show for it. Next step is to add a few new plants to fill in some of the bald spots, mulch around everything, and wait until next year to spend a lot more time or money on it. We have too many other things to do!

Anyone have gardening tips for me? I really have no idea what I’m doing.

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12 responses to “She Says… Nesting

  1. Oh man – I can barely keep plants alive at my office at church.

    However – I have noticed that with our vegetable garden this year constant weeding seems to be the key (ugh). We both spent about an hour weeding around our peas and they seemed to have shot up overnight! We really had let it go too long (it shouldn’t have taken us over an hour), but when I realized how much better they do with the weeding, I’m going to give it a better effort now.

  2. Just be glad you have a yard small enough for a push mower…although I think my husband enjoys riding the mower around (he always is trying to see how fast it will go!)

    I have no gardening tips other than hire a landscaper to get it started and then just maintain it. That’s what we did and it’s been 2 years. Just tell them that you don’t want to fuss with it and they’ll plant hard to kill stuff 🙂

  3. I’ll tell you one thing, you made the right move not getting an electric mower… we have one, yeah, with a CORD that you have to try not to chase the entire time you mow = major annoyance. I know i won’t get one of those for my house! 😉

  4. Why would they let it get like that!? They still had to live in the house all that time no? The weeds would’ve drven me crazy!

  5. We moved into a house with awesome landscaping and managed to kill most of the flowers and plants in the backyard the first summer, so no advice here! We can grow some pretty good veggies though.

  6. love the pics! you can just pull out all the current landscaping and plant tomatoes? edible landscaping! lol.

  7. I LOVE gardening, but I’d say wait. Wait until you know the light patterns and winter wind patterns. Walk around your nearby neighborhoods during summer, fall, winter and spring, and then you’d be able to know what you like and what begins to look sad fast! But, if you want any sort of bulb flowers next year, you’ll have to decide that before next summer. I think your weed and mulch idea is perfect. You can always add a few pots of green and color to quench the immediate need for green!

    Believe me— our old place had dozens of garden beds, and I was in bliss (http://oregonkaisers.blogspot.com/2010/09/waterproof-chickens-and-garden-update.html). But this one isn’t a rental and it’s our home… so we’re taking our sweet time, living with what we have (which isn’t a bare palette, but still), and taking note of what we want, based upon nurseries and surrounding neighborhoods. It is so frustrating, but I know it’s a lot better to go slowly than to regret, dig, and replant. At least, that’s our two cents worth

  8. Fun! Trial and error has been my MO… buy things I like and see if they work. I agree with Jessika about walking the neighborhood and seeing what you like and taking your time. It’s always going to be a work in progress! Mulch hides a multitude of sins. I also keep a notebook so I can jot down ideas for the next year and what worked or didn’t work this year.

    See if there’s a website specific to your area’s planting zone that you can use for troubleshooting and ideas (like in GA I frequently go to http://www.walterreeves.com or Southern Living).

    In our vegetable garden, we’ve found putting newspapers down when we plant (wet them with the hose) to be super effective at helping with weeds. We top it with lots of pinestraw to keep it from flying away when it dries, plus the pinestraw (or whatever mulch) looks much nicer.

    For the lawn…don’t use weed and feeds…they are worse because they make the yard look great for a bit, but then it thinks it needs all that fertilizer and will do worse. If you really want to use a weed and feed, there are commercial ones that are more effective (says my cousin-in-law landscaper) that you can purchase from a supplier. We use organic fertilizers/compost and just try to keep weeds under control in the lawn by keeping the lawn healthy (1 inch of water/week) and and we just pull weeds. Supposedly corn gluten is a good pre-emergent for your lawn if you’re trying to not use chemicals, although we have not tired it.

    Start a compost bin if you have a good place for it. Your plants will thank you and so will your garbage can. It’s one of the best things we did.

    Plant lots of perennials. I have a few that bloom every season. Keep the annuals limited to a few small areas and pots (especially with a little one, you won’t have time to replant a ton every season).

    Have fun! I love, love working in the yard, but with a 2 year old, it’s a lot harder! We’ll have a sitter (or grandparent) come play every so often so we can get more done together while she is entertained. Happy gardening!

  9. Thanks, ladies! These are great tips. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

  10. I am not much of a gardener,my husband and I are in the process of buying our first house and it already has an amazing but over grown garden. We had my mother-in-law walk through it and I recorded our conversation about what to pull out, names etc. Her best tip is to use the garden as a spring board to get to know the neighbors, when you see someone out in their garden ask what they planted and what does well. If any of your plants will tolerate it offer to do a plant swap with some perennials. Dividing them from time to time is apparently good for them and you can meet some other people in the process. Have fun!

  11. Jennifer Eckstein Coon

    I have really gotten into my yard since moving to NJ. I agree completely with Jessika – wait until you get a good feel for the light and take notes (how long each area gets sun everyday). We trusted our landscaper/grass guy for the bed in front and there are some plants I wouldn’t put where they are located. They do ok, but not as well as more appropriate spots. I adore our grass, we use Jonathan Green Black Beauty seed. But if you’re not willing to put the time/money into watering, don’t waste your money. We watered with moving sprinklers for 3 years and we just put in a sprinkler system. As my mother said, that is life changing. Put a system on the wish list if pretty grass is a priority for you out there.

  12. Jennifer Eckstein Coon

    Forgot to note – if you do water the yard a lot or get a sprinkler system, definitely get a different meter put in for that water so you don’t pay sewage on it. Around here the sewage cost is more than the water cost.

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