Thursday, May 5, 2011

Springtime in the yard

First of all, I have to say, I don't know if it's because I've been living in some sort of new baby parallel universe, but while everyone else has been lamenting the weather, I've actually been feeling like this winter was... not so bad. I mean, yes, there have definitely been cold days and we did have one miserable snap when Callum was a week old (and of course exactly when my parents were here visiting) where the temperature was below zero and it was gray and snowy for days on end.

But overall it's been mild, I think. I'm pretty sure our average annual snowfall is around 60 inches, and I don't think we've gotten anywhere near that this year. We've had lots of sunny warm days, even shortly after Callum was born in January, where we were able to take him out in the stroller for walks. I've had a standing date with a woman from my childbirth class to go for a walk in the park once a week for over a month now, and we've had lovely weather for every single walk. We've even gotten some rain, which is a rare treasure here in semi-arid Colorado.

Anyway, with things feeling springlike for awhile now, we've taken the opportunity to do some work in our yard. Like homeowners. Adults. Isn't that weird?

It started with a few things: a gift, a Groupon, a gift card, and a windstorm. And now we are thinking of all sorts of things we'd like to do, and assessing which of those things could be feasible on our budget.

First, a very dear friend gave Callum a redbud tree as a baby gift. Actually, since she lives far away, she gave him a gift certificate to a fabulous local nursery with a request that we use it to purchase a redbud tree, which of course we did. It's now planted in the yard. It's still teeny, and just starting to bloom. Once all the blossoms open, we'll take a picture of Callum next to it, and turn that into an annual tradition so that we can watch him and the tree grow together. The same friend gave the same gift to my sister's baby, so Callum and Morgan can have matching redbud photos throughout their childhood.

Here's the tree currently:

Of course, while we were at the nursery we discovered all sorts of wondrous other plants and yard things that we'd love to have. So we had some discussion and decided that since someday when budget and time allow, we'd like to relandscape our yard completely, rather than planting a whole bunch of stuff in the meantime we would do one barrel of flowers on our front porch. So we did:

Then along came a Groupon for another local nursery. And once the redbud tree was planted, we thought wow, we should really put a couple more trees on the lawn so it doesn't look so bare. But not giant ones, because we don't want it to be overwhelmed. So maybe shrubs would work well. And the nursery just so happened to have lovely small lilac trees and snowball bushes for almost exactly the price of the Groupon:

Conveniently, some lights Torsten's parents bought us at Lowe's last year turned out not to be what we were looking for, so we returned them for a merchandise credit and used that gift card to buy some mulch and tree edging, as well as some fertilizer and grass seed so that we can reseed our yard, which as you can see is very much in need of it. We also finally got around to calling an irrigation company to check out the built-in sprinkler system in our yard, and learned that it seems to be nearly functional and should (knock on wood) be fully functional, or close to it, with just some minor repairs, which will hopefully be happening tomorrow.

We also pruned down our rosebushes and put new mulch in the front flower bed where the tulips grow (still waiting on them to bloom, but when they do, they'll be red and yellow):

And in the backyard, we had an awesome wildflower garden last year. Some of them are perennials but others are not, so we put down some fresh seed on top just to make sure it'll grow back nicely. Most of it still has a ways to go, but some lovely purplish blue flowers have already bloomed:

Oh, and the windstorm. Well, that sucked. We had a fence that looked like this (and still have this fence on one side of our yard):

But then it was super windy one night and when we woke up a giant panel from the fence on the other side of the yard had blown over and was lying in the grass. The whole fence was rickety and nearly 50 years old to begin with, so we knew it really just had to be replaced. Luckily our neighbor agreed, and there was no fighting or anything about who had to pay. We split the cost 50-50 for the side fence, and Torsten and I of course paid the full cost for the front part of the fence with the new gate, since that is on our property only, and just a few days later our fence looked like this:

Of course there are still a lot of other projects. Most of them we're holding off on because wow, this stuff is so expensive and time-consuming. But, Denver does an annual mulch giveaway for residents, all created from the Christmas tree pickup, and it's this weekend, so we're borrowing a neighbor's pickup truck and going to get as much mulch as we can carry, so we can mulch the treebeds by the driveway (and also maybe prune the bushes?)...

...and the treebeds where the aspens grow in the backyard:

Of course, there's one staple that we absolutely love and have no intention of changing, ever, and that's our willow tree:

Isn't it lovely?

What are you guys doing in your yards this spring? Or what would you like to be doing, if time and money were no object?


  1. The tree baby gift is such a lovely idea!

    I just wanted to say please learn from our mistake: Trim the bushes and THEN spread mulch. That way, the mulch covers up the clippings and it looks neat. Otherwise, you have to place an old sheet around each bush, collect the clippings, and compost them. Maybe you already knew this, but I thought I'd mention it as we were very aggravated we thought of it afterward! :)

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of giving a tree as a baby gift. So loving. And good to the environment (no wasted wrapping paper!!). And, as you suggested, something you get to watch grow as Callum grows. Sweets' folks planted pine trees in their yard when Sweets was a babe. Those trees are 35 years old now and about 30 feet high. Pretty remarkable.

  3. Oh, thank you for this! I love outside projects and landscaping so this is so interesting to me.

    Our current project that we are beginning this weekend is a deck on the back of our house. I'm figuring this deck will take all our allocated "Project" money so my relandscaping ideas will have to wait until next year. We did plant a willow tree a few weeks ago and I'm super exciting to watch it grow, I hope it looks as big and pretty as yours does in the future.

    And love your fence! It really looks very neat and clean.

  4. Ooh! Love the new fence. Our fence looks the same as your old one (many places are held together with either twine or wire). Was a new fence terribly expensive?

    Our neighbors (the ones with the pitbull) have expressed an interest in splitting the cost of a new fence, but we'd still have 3 other sides to pay on our own (the other two neighbors don't have a fence).

    Also? Willow trees are the best!

  5. We just priced fencing in the rest of the yard and it was a whopping$1500. Hopefully we will get to it this summer...but we have an ac system to replace.

    I love what you guys are doing. Aspen bed! What a great idea! And the tree baby gift? Holy goodness, that is a great one. If *I* had the time and money? I would have the entire yard raised with good soil (it floods) and would have a kick ass vegetable garden, a back deck with french doors off of the master bedroom, a gated shade garden complete with water feature and bistro table and chairs, moss and a stone walkway. AND I would have flowering pear trees all along our fence and paint the barn a proper barn red and and and....

    I would do a lot. And I will! One step at a time.

  6. Inspiring! You've done a great job so far and I especially love the fence. (I know that's weird but as a kid I helped my Dad put up a fence once (really!) and a brand new one always speaks to me somehow. i just realized that, just this minute, actually!)

    We planted one little flower bed this year (purple petunias, coleus, red dianthus) that is doing well despite all the storms we've been having in GA. I hope to plant another little bed, and two containers (probably impatiens), but haven't managed it yet.

  7. I just discovered Groupon! Why did I not know about this before? :)

  8. We planted 2 apple, 2 pear and a peach tree last year. We are so excited for fruit! We have about 2 dozen baby peaches already. (The other trees will take longer, as they are smaller)
    This year we have our garden, which is doing great, and I planted some cosmos, wildflowers and pansies, and some poppies in the front yard and along the fence. Hopefully it will all come up!
    I'm glad you guys have had decent weather - ours has been insane this year!

  9. I love the baby tree gift idea--it helps that you know you're going to be in your house a long time. Both of the houses we were living in when our babies were born now belong to other people (*wistful sigh*).

    Oh! Our yard! We are already beginning what we want it to be, and even from last year it looks so much better. Last year we put in raised beds and took out a full roll-off dumpster of overgrown shrubs and carpenter-ant-harboring logs. This year we'll put in perennials--the perennial beds have been shaping up gradually over the past few years (mostly in my head)--I'm thinking we'll emphasize grasses. I love grasses. And in our very sunny side yard I've already begun to improve the soil to plant a cherry tree and an espaliered peach. I'll also plant herbs there, rosemary and sage and lovage, and maybe some yucca plants.

    I could go on forever.

  10. I love the idea of planting a tree for a baby as well; at the house where I grew up each of my siblings had a tree that was ours and it was my happy place, I'd crawl into it's branches and imagine all sorts of fantastic things.

    I am a little floored that Denver didn't have a harsher winter, I think we--your not too far to the West neighbors--are at something like 200% of our average snowfall!


  11. A tree is such a sweet, neat baby gift idea! We don't have a yard currently, but before we sold our house I wanted to plant a few rows of flowers in front of a huge oak we had. We just mess around in my mother in law's vegetable gardens which is quite fun!

  12. How much do I love that mulch giveaway? Well done Denver. We're about to move to a brand new house which needs landscaping. Hoo boy is that pricey. We keep cutting back what we want and have finally settled upon a plan that we are happy with, knowing we have forever to make it the backyard of our dreams.

  13. The tree baby gift is such a cute idea!

    We have been VERY busy landscaping-raised beds, taking out two large trees, 6 yards of loam/compost were delivered last weekend and we moved all of it by Sunday night, etc. We are TIRED!!

  14. We can't do anything with our yard. Not entirely true I suppose, but we are expected to make the yard looked as it did when we moved in, so we haven't bothered to get attached to the yard. When we have our home I will want to do a ton in the yard as I love flower gardening.

  15. The female in the garden frequently jumps up several inches to catch flies. She’s an efficient insect eliminator and fun to watch. steel fence