Wednesday, May 25, 2011

sometimes less is more

The incredible amount of rain we’ve had this spring has made our landscape green and lush—and overgrown!  Mix years of landscape neglect with 15 inches of rain and it’s prime breeding ground for weeds threatening to take over the flower beds.  
We have a big stone planter box along the front covered porch that had shrubbery that had seen much better days.  Not only were the shrubs woody and sad-looking, they blocked any kind of view of the front door for visitors.  Dex (hubby) spent one rainy Sunday this spring ripping out shrubs so we could re-plant in the box.  I’m not sure what we’ll do long-term, but for now, I few different kinds of flowering annuals fit the bill.  Since it’s a pretty shady area, we looked for shade-plants like Coleus, impatiens, and salvia (I think).  Never heard of Salvia before the Miley Cyrus debacle!  Now Now we can actually see the front door!  And in a few weeks, the flowers should grow pretty big and add some nice  color to the front entryway.

ripping out overgrown shrubbery

These shrubs were pretty sad looking.

Planting new flowers.  You can see the front door again!
I took off last Friday to get a head start on weeding—and boy did we need  it.  It actually cleared up on Friday to be a beautiful day…and I took full advantage of it.  I started out by clearing out the leaves and dead vines from the ivy that runs along both sides of the walkway along the east side of the house.  I’m not a big fan of the stuff, and it doesn’t appear to be the healthiest, so I do think it will be replaced at some future point.  But for now, it’s staying.  As I was clearing out leaves, I noticed what looked like a piece of bluestone under a bunch of the ivy.  I lifted up the vines and found a beautiful bluestone wall! Who knows how long this had  been covered?!  It’s the little things that make me happy—I tell ya!

Overgrown ivy along the side of the house. (Before)

Finding a wall we never knew was there (After)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Has (Finally) Sprung!!

After a brutally snowy winter and a washout of a spring, we finally got a beautiful week of sunshine this past week!!  Our trees and flowers have finally blossomed.  It's been fun seeing the landscape come into full bloom for the first time.  When we saw the house last year, we didn't really see the landscape in its full spring glory.  We are so thrilled with this nice little surprise of a flower package--it is absolutely beautiful. 

Dex and I were sitting out on the porch last night, just talking and enjoying the scene. Today it is raining (again) but the flowers are still beautiful. 

Our Screen Porch Renovation--Part 1

One of our most favorite features in our new house is our screen porch. It extends right off the living room, which is on the second floor of our home because of the walk-out basement.  The ceiling in the porch is a 2-story post and beam structure.  The screen porch looks out over our huge Pennsylvania bluestone patio and beautiful yard.  At 12’ x 20’,  it truly is an extension of our living room in the summer.
When we had the house inspected before we bought it, we knew there were some issues with the screen porch. The inspector said that the main header beam was rotten and that it would need to be replaced.  Luckily,  I have a very handy Dad who is retired and was willing to help us fix it.  The only problem is that Dad lives out of state and runs his own handyman business so he doesn’t always have as much time to spend on our projects.  But I have his only grandchild as incentive to come visit! 
Dad and hubby started to get to work on the porch very shortly after moving last August.  Unfortunately the porch was in worse shape that we realized.  Pulling off the trim revealed rotten structural beams, and a floor with dry rot.  The header was replaced, many of the beams were replaced or repaired, and the floor was  replaced.   After much consideration, we decided to replace the original wood tongue-and-groove porch floor with Aeratis, a PVC porch floor product.  It was much more expensive than wood, but the thought of a maintenance free, splinter-free floor appealed to us a lot.  And it really does look beautiful.  We researched alternative products like Trex, which would have been cheaper, but ultimately decided that we needed tongue-and-groove porch flooring because we didn’t want bugs to come into the porch through the gaps in the floor of a traditional deck.  And two local lumber yards highly recommended the Aeratis product.  It was a big investment in time and $$, but I think it was worth it.

Stay tuned for Screen Porch Renovation--Part 2.
New Aeratis porch floor.

New header and support structure.

Another view of the porch