Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Saddest Little Corner in the World

September 2013

Welcome back to our saddest little corner of the world, I am looking at you Southwest backyard corner.   We had a party in three weeks and nothing was more pressing then the cinder block monster that was now o so visible with the pine tree removal.  I honestly just couldn't stomach dealing with it. Luckily, I had done some free-lance design work on the side for some contractor friends and they still owed me. I asked if we could do a work trade instead of payment. They agreed to skim coat the cinder block wall and paint it for free if I provided the paint and mortar mix. DEAL

So I took a trip to Lowes bought 15 bags of mortar mix and a gallon of paint.  In one day they roughly applied a skim coat of mortar to the wall.  The wall was in bad shape, it was missing mortar between the cinder blocks, someone had nailed several large metal spikes into the wall for hanging baskets and it was generally pretty gross. Since we were not actually using stucco all we did was trawl on a layer working it into the mortar joints.  The final product was that we were left with a large gray wall that looked slightly better then the masonry wall of sadness.

We knew we didn't want to paint the wall any color to grab attention, that ruled out our blue house color, white paint, or the dark red of our porch.  We decided to pick a cedar brown color that would hopefully blend in if we ever replaced the fences with wood. The color was a little more red then were are expecting and is maybe a little more Tuscan then woodsy, but it looked 800 times better then the unfinished cinder block wall and we were only to happy to live with it.

Unfortunately, no actual pictures were taken in September, these were from December- blog fail
After the wall was painted we had to address the landscaping or more accurately the lack there of.  The first step was to get rid of all the random stuff we had stacked back there.  Trash cans were filled with broken concrete, plastic pots.  Wood branches, logs, leaves, and pine needles were made into fire wood or placed in the lawn debris bin.  For some reason, we unearthed 9 plastic soil bags the previous owner had laid down back there as well as a plastic dinosaur (bonus).  We also found several old rotting stumps and a random assortment of rocks.  After picking out all the rocks and doing a quick pick axe to the stumps we broke out the rototiller to level and freshen up the dirt.  We now were left with a clean but barren landscape.

We decided to keep the single rhodie that had been hiding back there.  Feeling tight on cash and already out the $400 for the tree removal we struggled with what to fill the area with that was cost effective.  We went to the nursery and bought 3 trees. We went for the biggest ones we could get in our price range.  First up was one additional Donard Cypress for along the back fence and then two Sekkan Sugi Cedars (aka. Golden Japanese Cedars).  We picked them for several reasons, first I liked their fuzzy nature, second they seemed to go with our lime green cypress trees and third they grow to only 20-25' tall and only get about 5-10' wide. After our large pine we had no interest in creating a huge issue down the line with a too large tree that would block out the sun or take over the yard.

We filled out the area with some more limelight hydrangeas (because I can't help myself) and a weeping hemlock.  It stills feels sparse, but everything grows and hopefully in a few years it won't seem so bare. I can't wait for spring when everything takes off!

Below is a view from inside the porch in October, you can see the additional Donard Cypress and one of the Japanese Cedars in the corner.  Unfortunately, you can also see the expanse of our horrible pinstriped cyclone fence. Grow trees... Grow!