Thursday, July 23, 2009

I had some time and helpers!

We worked in the backyard today and cleaned up the patio. My helpers stayed for maybe 40 minutes before they gave up and went inside. It was hot and humid, but now we can walk around the table and it's finally clean enough to enjoy a meal out there again. In the background, you can see my ferns have gotten huge, the blue gingers are looking straggly, and the ti leaf and crotons need to be trimmed down. I hate just throwing away good plants, so I'll have to make cuttings. Which means I need a place to keep my babies while they root. SIGH>>>> I make so much work for myself.

Eventually, I want to make a grill cover, but that will have to wait till I finish some curtains for my home. Anyway, I think we will plan a family dinner outside this weekend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weed Killer or not?

NOT! My DH offers to help IF he can use weed killers to get rid of the weeds. I said I'd do it myself. I refuse to use weed killers in my yard no matter how "safe" they say it is. Roundup is supposedly safe to use and biodegradable. I've found research that suggests it may not be as safe as claimed. Whatever the verdict is, I prefer to keep my children and the environment safe.

Click here for an article from Scientific American about Roundup.

Yes, my yard has lots of weeds, and I'll get to them a little bit at a time. But I have a plan to keep the weeds down to a minimum. Yes, it'll be tons of work. Yes, it'll take lots of time. And Yes, it'll have to be done slowly, one baby step at a time. My yard might NEVER get completed, but my family will be living in a non-toxic environment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July's update picture

This is the view from my front window now... Much better than when we started. I moved the little mandarin plant into a shadier spot and it seems to be recovering. And my cheap $0.78 dahlias and blue flowers (what is that?) should help ad some instant color. My yellow callas might be coming up soon, looks like one of them is breaking ground. Looks like it's time to cut the grass again and get more work done on the rest of the yard.

So I'll work a little on this spot and make sure I also spend time maintaining the rest of the yard. The strip along the street is looking really bad again, but I want to redo that one too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Making a bit of progress

It's the beginning of July and I've made a little bit of progress. Pictures will come in the next post... really. It's just too dark to take them right now and I didn't realize I didn't have my card in my camera this afternoon. DUH.

The little section along the wall is starting to take shape. I have a few callas planted, though I'm still waiting for some of those rhizomes to come up. Yesterday afternoon, there was a mongoose playing amongst my callas... I thought he was going to kill them so I chased him out. He was rolling over the leaves and chewing on them. It'll look pretty empty till the callas grow in, I'm considering planting some dahlias or something till they do. Then I'll move them into the future flower garden in the backyard.

The gardenias are looking good. I hope they grow here. I had a couple planted by the front porch, but they died. And it looks like the little mandarin plant will need to be moved. I got it at the Urban Garden plant sale for $1.00, so if it doesn't make it, I won't feel bad. But it's so pretty with it's orange middle... I'll have to dig it up and move it to a more shady spot.

And of course, I finally got all 3 arecas in. I will have to start doing this in the evening since it's starting to get really hot out there during the day... Except coming home at 8pm doesn't leave much time for me to get out there and work.

Gosh... I can't believe it took me 5 months to get this little bit done. Hopefully by the end of the year I'll have the whole front yard finished.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update June

Over the past week, I've dug out a little bit more grass in the front but it's not ready for another areca yet. In the meantime, the grass on the side yard has been trimmed, gingers cleaned up again, and a little bit of weeding has been going on. So basically, I've just been doing a bit of maintenance.

We've also been working on cleaning up in granny's yard and it's looking quite nice now. I'm thinking of trimming her stephanotis and fixing her wall. Except I'm not sure I'd be able to do it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ooooo! Look at this!

The patio I CAN make... Simple and basic round brick patio
I made one similar, but it looks a mess now and I want to replace it.

The Sunset garden videos have some good info on making tomato cages, compost, and all kinds of good gardening stuff. Click here to see it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Progress Report

This weekend, I planted 2 of my arecas and a couple of calla bulbs into the ground. I don't know if they'll grow in that spot between the arecas, but I have a couple in the backyard between my ti-leaf plants that are doing really well. Now, I need to take out more grass, plant the last areca and place a border to keep the grass out. I'll also have to get more of that free mulch from our local community college so I can mulch around my arecas so they don't die out. I hope there's enough space for them there, I planted them about 3 feet away from the wall and 4 feet apart.

Here's a pic of my progress.

This week, I'm going to go back to spending about 15 minutes on weekdays to maintain my yard. The weeds are getting big and the grass needs trimming. My whole yard needs some maintenance since I've let it go for a month. Here I thought I'd spend a couple hours rather than a few minutes a day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Removing sod

is such a pain.

I spent a couple hours this weekend, rather than 20 minutes a day, to remove some of the sod along the wall. I'm also shaping that area so I can plant my areca palms. But I can see it'll be several weekends before I'll be ready to put in the edging strip. I'm considering just laying bricks and making a simple border for the time being. Then I'd be able to do a little bit at a time and still plant an areca palm every week or so. I WAS going to use that plastic landscape edging stuff, but if I can find something nicer, like rocks, I'd use those.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

not much got done...

Well, a sick child meant not much outdoor time for me this week. DS was sick and home from school all week, which meant not much time for me to get anything done outside... or inside. I barely got the errands done. He's finally better though, so I hope to get out in the yard next week. Probably spend a couple hours one morning unless more work comes in.

I sent DD outside today to weed and trim our little flower garden in the front yard, so at least a little bit of neatening up got done. I will fertilize next week... I didn't put in fertilizer when we planted... shucks... we were too excited about getting them planted.

I also found this inspiration for a neat little patio feature... I did something similar, but I wanted to redo the backyard pavers. This is really nice and will probably be incorporated into the design. Not sure how I'll do it... hmmm..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I found this wonderful idea for a dry spot in my garden... a tropical reef made with echeverias... You can find them at this website:

Hybrid Echeverias

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fishtails GONE!

But the spot looks so barren and ugly now. Of course, I have lots of work to finish it up yet, so I don't feel bad. I spent another couple hours yesterday to clean it out since I did hardly any gardening this past week.

It will improve... then there will be nicer pics. Over the next week, I will plan and start transforming the front yard. It's a big job so I might only tackle it once a week for a few hours on my "day off."

In the meantime, Here's some inspiration I found...

Slide show for the sidewalk planter aka Hell garden.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Plans... but I need more ideas!!!

I finally drew out a simple plan for the front area of our home. Roses, flowers, and I don't know.... I need inspiration and ideas. Guess my evenings will be spent searching for inspiration. Here's the front yard plan so far. Not much, but it's a small space. I don't know if all these things will grow, but we've had some luck with the flowers the kids planted. THey're still alive and blooming. I think they need to be fertilized though.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Clearing out the fishtail fern

I didn't do much during the week, but I did spend today working hard in the yard for a couple hours. I cleaned up the weeds along the wall and started clearing out the fishtail fern. It's so overgrown and was difficult to pull out, but progress has been made. I'll continue to keep working this week. I really want to finish planting those arecas soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Back to work...

Okay break time is over and I really should keep up with my outdoor chores. The kids are back in school so I can resume my regular 20 minutes/day schedule. This week, I'll work on zones 1 and 2. Mostly just keeping things neatened up, but I'd like to have the area by the wall ready to plant an areca palm or two this weekend. It would be nice to have some shade and something nice to look at by the front window. This is the mess we see now...And the afternoon sun shines right into the front room making it HOT! No one enjoys working on LEGO projects at that hour.... A few areca palms along the wall to filter the sunlight would make the view from this room much nicer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Taking a break this week

This week, I'm taking a rest from the gardening. I'm drawing out a plan, getting input from the kids, and enjoying Spring Break with them. We did take out the bunny pen together, and put it up in granny's yard. And I trimmed the area where the pen was, but that's about it.

Next week, I'll post the plans for the different zones. At least they're fairly neat now... compared to what it was one month ago.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zone 4: The backyard

There is a lot to be done here and I know there will be big changes... eventually. These pictures are actually after 1 week of work. The grass was cut, some weeds pulled, and the patio was tidied up a little. A whole bag of rubbish was thrown out, filled with stuff that was sitting around on the shelf and all over the ground. So I know we've made some progress.

This weekend, I plan to remove the bunny pen and draw up a plan for our backyard.

Overall, I think this 20 minute/day plan is working out really well. I take a break from work at around 2pm, work for about 20 - 30 minutes then run out to pick up kids.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Update on Zone 3

The week was spent on the side yards, and there has been a little bit of progress there. The gingers are much neater now, the grass is trimmed and I've picked up most of the rubbish along the other side with the ferns. All this in just about 20 minutes a day. Occasionally I miss a day and do a little extra the next day, but I really don't think I've spent more than what would amount to 15 or 20 minutes per day. What you can do with those few extra minutes! Wow.

I didn't completely finish the tasks of removing the fishtail fern and bunny pen. The pen will be removed soon, when I have a bit more time on the weekend. Then I'll be able to trim the mess behind the pen and neaten it up as well.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zone 3: Side yards

Before pictures of Zone 3

They grow so lush and beautiful! A little too lush. The two sides are regenerating themselves much too quickly! This is a view of our ferns, herb garden and ti leaf garden from the back yard. It's a total mess... including the back porch. No pic of that, but you can tell it's overflowing into the sidewalks. I really need a place for the tools.

And on the other side, here's the red ginger strip, filled with fishtail ferns, smaller ferns, and beautiful red gingers. This is what we'll be working on cleaning up for a couple days. I think I can spend a good 20 minutes in the yard now that work has slowed down.

Tasks for this area will be to trim gingers, cut grass (I had to get the backyard cut already since the children wanted to play in it), weed out the fishtail fern (maybe repotting some), and getting rid of the bunny pen. I probably won't get to all those jobs before the week is up, but any progress is better than none. If I keep neglecting the yard, it'll take over and our house will disappear in the mess.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

today we plant... a little bit

Well, at least this week we got one little section planted and weeded. There still is a lot of work to do here. But work has kept me very busy so I haven't done quite as much as I wanted to. We worked for a few longer sessions, maybe a total of 1 hour and was able to get quite a bit done. I did most of the clean up and prep, and the kids did the planting and choosing of plants.

Here's a couple of pics of the section we worked on. We also cleared the extra shoes off the porch, but I still need to get a shoe shelf....

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I took a day off today, we're preparing for a birthday party and I have a deadline coming up for work. But the daily 15-20 minutes I did over the past 3 days is beginning to show some progress.

As of right now, it isn't worth taking a picture. I've cleared a spot for the kids to plant their flowers, but everything around it is still a bit of a mess. The porch has been cleared of excess footwear, and swept clean. It isn't beautiful, but it's fairly neat.

I'm working on a plan and hope to have it done soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Zone 2: Front yard and porch

I decided to just move our zone schedule down a week and start from zone 1 again come March. The whole yard needs tending to, but since these are the most visible zones, we'd better work these first.

So Zone 2: the front yard and porch, will be cleaned up this week.

Before pictures:

We will also be helping my mother clean up her yard (and home) during the week. She's been meaning to do so forever.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Zone 1 cleanup

Zone 1 cleanup is looking good. This is the last day we'll be working this area. It's not perfect. The grass still needs trimming, the plants need fertilizing, and there's a lot of TLC needed here.

But time's up. Today my 1 helper stayed with me for 30 minutes while the neighborhood kids visited us to chat while we worked... That's another 1 hour of work done today.
It looks acceptable enough to move on to the next zone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

15 minutes x3

I recruited help from the children, so our 15 minutes session was actually about 45 minutes of work! WOW! It made a big difference... We got most of the weeds out, and started in on trimming the pikaki plants. But time was up so we quit.

No Pictures till the end of the week. Tomorrow, we will trim more pikaki plants and pull a few more weeds. THEN it'll be picture time again!

While cleaning up, I was thinking about what we need to purchase to help make our work go a little easier. And I think we will get one of those water hose winder upper thingies. And maybe a new hose. I'll see how it works out first. As of right now, the water hose just sit out on the grass or is piled up on the sidewalk. JUNK! ICK! And so unsightly.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today is the day!

Today we start! Well, it's raining outside, so all I can really do is plan. When the rain stops, I'll get some before pics.
Let's start with Zones and the calendar. Hmm.. if I spend just 15 minutes a day in the zone, how much progress will I make? I will need to take monthly pictures...

2/12/09: We have to switch week 1 and week 2 this month. We got the WARNING NOTICE!

First week of the month:
Zone 1: Sidewalk planter

Clean out the weeds
Water and fertilize grass.
Trim pikaki plants

Second Week of the month:
Zone 2: front entry and front yards

Sweep porch
Put away all the extra shoes
Weed and clean
Cut Grass
Make THE PLAN for the front yard

Third Week:
Zone 3: Side yards
Weed and clean
Trim Red Gingers
Repot what I want to use later

Fourth Week:
Zone 4: Backyard
Weed and Clean