Category: Yard & Garden

Yard, landscape, hardscape, xeriscape, garden, and lawn

Backyard Creek Ideas

Dry creek on green lawnOne of the loveliest things about our yard is the creek and waterfall.  The beauty and tranquility it creates is fabulous.  Now don’t get the wrong impression!  We do NOT have a large yard or one of those magnificent yards you see on BHG or HGTV!  What we do have, is a son with a talent for landscaping and some big equipment to do the job, AND a natural slope to our lot. However….you don’t need to have all that.  The natural slope is very helpful and it doesn’t have to slope a lot.  And even if you don’t have that there are some landscaping and grading tricks you can use to acquire the slope you need for a wonderful and natural looking creek.  (That is, if you think having a creek in the back yard of someone who lives in an urban subdivision natural).  But you know what I mean.

The trick is to use the natural slope of the ground, NOT to build a mountain or even a mole hill in the flat of your yard.  That is anything but natural looking.

Design the creek bed beginning at the top, level (or almost level) with your existing grade; digging deeper as you go toward the end.  You may have to dig deeper than you might think at first, but remember, you are going to add the pond liner and then fill it with river rocks so it won’t look as deep when the project is done.  You will use the dirt you are digging to form your ditch banks.

Basic materials you need are:

  • Shovels/picks depending on the soil you have.
  • Rocks – varying sizes from pebbles to 6-7 inch to boulder size, and river rock, depending on the look and the affordability you are after.
  • Pump kit (can be purchased from an aquatic & pond store)
  • Heavy pond liner (some experts suggest using carpet scraps to lay down before the pond liner)
  • Black foam (to be used to glue rocks in place and to divert water and seal leaks)
  • Receptacle (to hold retaining water)

When designing your creek, it’s a great idea to take some pictures of your favorite natural creek in the wild or a picture from a great website J.  Take notice of the banks, the way rocks are placed by nature, the plants that grow nearby; the fact that streams do not run in a straight line.  That is the most fun of all.  Creating!

When you think you have all in place and turn on the water for the first time, be prepared to be very disappointed!  The water will go everywhere but where you want it to.  That’s when some patience and work come into play.  The black foam (sold in nurseries, aquatic, stores, and even Lowes garden center) is your best friend.  You will begin to seal rocks together, seal underneath those you have stacked on one another, add some more over here to divert the water over there, and so on.  It will take you some time.  It took us about a week AFTER we thought the project was done, just to get the rocks in the right place.  Remember water runs downhill!  Your “downhill” needs to lead to the end of the creek, where, by the way your receptacle and pump will be with a pipe that runs back up under the ditch bank to the beginning of the creek.

As with any DIY project do some homework.  There are tons of resources out there. Have fun!

Backyard Creek Ideas creek in backyard 2

DIY Potting Bench Project

DIY Potting Bench ProjectMy Very Own Potting Bench… I would have never thought... planting, potting, seeding, starting, and even a little cooking

This wonderfully fun project was a gift from my cutie-pie husband.  I just told him I would really like a potting bench in the garage and he went to work.

I wish I had some “work-along-the-way” pictures, but I don’t.  I’ll break down the components for you though.

Let’s start with the back of the bench.  The “barnwood” is 1 X 6 cedar fencing stained with a gray stain.  Ken dog-earred it with his trusty miter saw and we applied the stain.  So easy, and I was shocked at how much it looks like authentic barnwood.  He screwed it to the walls and it goes all the way to the floor.  That way it forms the back of the bench.

The two countertops are (1) a remnant piece of laminate from a cabinet shop and (2) a remnant piece of granite from a slap yard.  I didn’t care if they were the same, in fact I preferred they were a little different.

The sink is, well…a utility sink from Lowes.  Not much else to say about that.  Unless of course that I am grateful we had the builder stub out a hot and cold water line to the garage.  WOW!  Is it ever nice to wash dirty hands in the garage with warm water.

As you can see, the cupboard doors are made from corrugated tin.  Such a cute look for this project I think.  He still has to put on a rubber protector on the edge of the door.  It’s sharp!

The shelf above the bench is one he made a long time ago and stuck up there and the other organizers and hooks are from the all-time best organizers store ever…IKEA.

Backing up a bit, first we painted the wall an apple green.  I love it.  It’s always bright and cheery and reminds me of summer.

I have loved this, my very own, work space.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  Whenever I cook bacon I cook it on the griddle on my potting bench. That way my house doesn’t smell like bacon for 3 days.  Also, sometimes when I cook a slow-cooker meal I get really tired of the smell of the food after 12 hours!  I take my crockpot out on the bench and we have the most delicious smelling garage on the block!

Garden Curbing vs Trench Edging

Garden Curbing vs Trench Edging

Garden curbing vs. trench edging

……….which do you prefer?

We have both.  I have posted pics of our yard with each of these styles of edging.  Along the one side of our house, the garage side, we have garden curbing.  I love the flowing lines my son designed when putting in our backyard.  Garden curbing can create a false sense of security however.  It does not prevent grass from growing into your planting or mulched area. It helps, but in order to improve upon that metal edging should be installed between the curbing and the mulched area.  Garden curbing can be stamped and stained, too.  Very attractive.

Trench edging is just digging a shallow trench that separates the grass from the planted area.  I like this look, too, but it is more difficult to mow and easy to fall off the edge of the grass buzzing the lawn.  I hate when that happens, and so does my husband.  A way to prevent this is to install metal edging along the grass roots to prevent them from encroaching into the garden then backfilling the soil from the garden up to the metal edging.  This works pretty well, not perfect by any means!  There is still some maintenance to do as the stubborn grass roots find their way underneath the edging.  I will post a picture with metal edging and without metal edging.  The edging should be at least 6” wide in order to prevent most of the roots from invading. I say most.  And if I were you, I would have the metal be 8” wide.

There are other options when edging your yard.  Stone and bricks for example.  Whatever architectural feature you choose I would definitely recommend sealing the deal with a metal barrier of some kind to keep the lines crisp and clean.

Garden Curbing vs Trench Edging                   Garden Curbing vs Trench Edging

Garden Curbing vs Trenching                   Garden Curbing vs Trench Edging

Beautiful Ground Cover Ideas

Beautiful Ground Cover Ideas

Creeping Phlox

……..a blanket of blooms

 

In the springtime I don’t think there is another ground cover that is any more beautiful and eye-catching as Creeping Phlox.  It is gorgeous and blooms from mid to late spring.

This ground cover grows about 4 inches tall on a rather prickly bed of green foliage.  Planted in mass it will cover a slope.  It will splash from an overturned pot or whiskey barrel like a cascading waterfall.  It has such a dense bed of foliage it chokes out many weeds.  In fact, it even choked out a purple salvia of mine this year.  But that’s okay.  It looked fabulous!  It does best in a lot of sunlight.

It comes in brilliant colors of pinks and purples and a variegated candy stripe (not as colorful or as prolific a bloomer as the others). When it is through blooming cutting about an inch from the top of the plant will insure a cloud of color the next spring.

Stand back and take a look at your yard.  Picture where you would want some spring color next year.  Now is a great time to buy spring flowering plants.  In the spring nurseries can’t keep these beauties in stock, but right now, well the foliage doesn’t offer a lot of reason to buy this plant so you can get a great deal on them.  Don’t let the bedraggled look of the plant dissuade you from buying it.  Just you wait until next spring!  It will be a real show stopper.

This short little plant will cover a lot of area.  You won’t be disappointed if you give Creeping Phlox a try.  I promise.

Beautiful Spring Ground Cover IdeasBeautiful Ground Cover IdeasBeautiful Ground Cover IdeasBeautiful Ground Cover Ideas