In the Garden

Playing in the Dirt

As I hoped, I got to spend some much-needed time playing in the dirt this weekend. When I think of the landscaping on our property, I think of it in zones: front garden, front side garden, back garden and back side gardens. If I thought of it any other way, I would be totally overwhelmed because….well, we have a lot of gardens and to tend to them all in one day is impossible! On Sunday, Mother Nature granted me a gorgeous day, so I got down to work on the front gardens (solo, I might add, as Ted was in Montreal for the Grand Prix — lucky guy!)

I was so gung ho to get started that I forgot to get before photos of the front garden. Really, it wasn’t in bad shape — it just needed a heavy de-weeding, some plantings and a serious mulch session.

But, since everyone loves a before and after, here is the before picture — like “circa-2008-what-the-heck-have-we-gotten-ourselves-into” before picture.

Yep. It needed some work… in new interlocking, roof, upper windows, garden beds, plants, trees and overall curb appeal. Granted, when we moved into the house in 2007, there were gardens in the front with shrubs, perennials and other plants. However, being the over-zealous, eager, first-time homeowner that I was five years ago, my Dad and I ripped out the front garden (I see a trend — Ted was also away that weekend at the Grand Prix in Montreal) and then it sat empty for over a year. Dreadful. The neighbours hated us young kids.

As you can see, over the past four years, we have done a lot of work to the front. The interlocking, new roof, upper windows and landscaping have all been completed. We’re at that nice spot in our home ownership experience where we are in maintenance mode, not major project mode.

But, back to Sunday. After I gave the garden a good weeding and tilling, I made up a shopping list before heading to the garden centre. I always find that this helps me focus my plant search, rather than wandering around aimlessly and choosing plants that may not be the best fit for our garden. I knew that I needed ground cover and two more hydrangea to add to my lonely, single hydrangea.

I ended up purchasing two Endless Summer Blushing Bride Hydrangea (which will bloom lovely light pink flowers just like my existing hydrangea) and eight White Nancy Lamium plants for ground cover around our boulders and ‘Pendula’ Weeping Pea Shrub.

I looked at a few ground cover options, but I ultimately chose the White Nancy Lamium in honour of Ted’s sister Nancy who is moving across country in a matter of days. It seemed fitting — like a part of her will remain in Ontario, even though she’s in British Columbia. *tear*

The hydrangea seem happy in their new home and I look forward to enjoying their blooms all summer long.

With the hydrangea in the ground, I got to work on the Lamium around the boulders…

…and under the Pea Shrub.

After that was all done, I lugged bags and bags of mulch (solo!) and put down a nice generous layer to keep the weeds at a minimum and the moisture in.

It was a successful day!

Next weekend: tackling the front side garden.

But, first, I need a massage! Sore. Muscles. Whoa.

Linking up with…
{aka} design
House of Hepworths
Liz Mare Blog


Last Friday I shared some snaps of our lilacs. They are still going strong (full of blooms and all) and, with all of the rain last weekend and this week, the rest of my garden has been blooming like crazy. My ground cover (pictured above) has tripled in size, which I’m totally jazzed about because more ground cover means less weeding.

This year, I didn’t plant as many annuals in the garden. The pressure to keep them watered consistently was too much for my busy schedule last year, so this year I opted for less. This approach seems to be working and my annuals are happy.

Here’s to a lovely and relaxing weekend ahead!

What are you plans? I hope to play in the dirt a bit and get some much-needed gardening work done (with maybe a haircut and a mani/pedi in between!)


This is the first year since moving into the house that we haven’t been tackling a huge landscaping project. This summer, we’re actually able to sit back and smell the roses.

Right now, my lilac bushes are full of blooms. They are gorgeous and smell like heaven.

I wish they could stay like this forever.

Cheers to a great, rainy weekend ahead! Get outside and go splash in some puddles!

Finally! After four years….

….our interlock is sealed!

It has been a project on our to do list for a looooong time, but it never got done. Part of it was fear — “What if we do it wrong? What if we wreck the patio?”

It was also very daunting. We have a large patio in the back — a lot of surface area needed to be covered.

But, after so many years of neglecting this must-do job, we finally did it. We couldn’t have had a better weekend for it — sunshine, still air and comfortable temperatures.

Doing one coat of sealer took about three hours.

The fumes? Noxious! Even outdoors.

I swear, I was high. My fine motor skills were compromised and my head was pounding!

Four cans of sealer later, the first coat was done. We still have a second coat to go, which will bring the colours of the interlock out even more.

The backyard has come a long way since we bought the house. One day I’ll pull together a “before, during and progress” post. It’s been a wild ride!

Completing this final step is kinda a big deal!

Bedding Down for Fall

Fall has definitely arrived in Southern Ontario. The mornings are in the single digits and the air is crisp and cool. Fall happens to be one of my favourite seasons — the welcome of warm sweaters, hot cider and fall colours makes my heart pitter-patter.

With the dog-days of summers behind us, there is still plenty of time to play in the garden. In fact, fall is one of the most important seasons for gardeners. The work you do to your beds in the fall will help ensure that your trees and plants winter well over the colder months and spring back to life next year.

Want to know how best to bed down your garden for fall? Check out the following Fall Garden Checklist (adapted from here):

Early Fall

  • Clear debris from the base of trees and bushes – dead leaves can hold disease, which you don’t want near your plants.
  • Water, water, water – your plants and trees need a great deal of moisture to survive through fall and winter. Give each plant a really good soak.
  • Improve your soil by tilling and adding fertilizer – this will ensure your beds are ready for next season.
  • Plant your spring bulbs, as well as shrubs and evergreens. Early fall planting gives new plants enough time to get their roots established before winter.
  • Plant fall annuals to bring added colour to your garden – mums, pansies and ornamental kale are great choices.

Mid Fall

  • Lower the height on your mower – a lower cutting height helps the soil dry out more quickly in spring.
  • Divide and cut back perennials.
  • Rake fallen leaves to ensure they don’t suffocate your garden beds and lawn.
  • Dig up summer bulbs and store accordingly for the winter.

Late Fall

  • Feed your lawn to ensure it has the nutrients it needs to survive the winter.
  • Empty hoses, fountains and irrigation systems and store in a dry place over winter.
  • Bring tender container plants indoors.
  • Clean up vegetable beds by removing weeds and other debris.
  • Dig up annuals and add to the compost heap.
  • Protect cold-sensitive plants with mulches or screens after the first frost.
This weekend, I will be tackling the early fall to-do items to make sure my garden and lawn are prepared for the upcoming Canadian winter.

Of course, my checklist also includes a few other items, like decorating our front porch area. I see corn stalks, pumpkins and mums in my near future! Here’s a snap from last year’s fall vignette — gourds, hay and colourful mums.

Do you have any fall gardening tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

Drab to Fab: Outdoor Side Table

Here’s a quick Drab to Fab update to show you one of my recent projects — a rusty, old outdoor side table revamp.

A few summers ago, Ted and I bought a patio table with four chairs and this side table from a garage sale. We paid $50 for the whole set and it served us well for three years. Finally, after saving our pennies, we were able to upgrade our set to a beautiful outdoor sectional couch with cantilever umbrella (more on that in another post).

We ended up selling the patio table and four chairs, but hung on to this side table because it was handy to have beside the BBQ. As you can see, it was looking worse for wear, so I wanted to spruce it up a bit.

Drab outdoor side table (and Mason!)

Spray painting the table was an obvious choice, so I headed to Home Depot and bought a can of Rust-Oleum Hammered Spray in Brown. I chose to go with a hammered finish, since the table already had imperfections — I didn’t want to highlight them with a flat finish.

My originally plan was to dismantle the entire table and remove the glass to make the job go quicker, but the glasses didn’t want to budge. I had to cover the glass in craft paper on both sides and tape it off. Then, I went to town spraying the table (and a few other projects which I’ll share with you later).

Spray painting in the garage

After a few coats, here is the final product (sorry, my iPhone doesn’t take the best photos).

Finished table — made fab!

It’s the perfect fit for right beside the BBQ and it doesn’t look like such an eye-sore anymore. It’s great for holding sauces, brushes, plates…or, if you are my husband, a beer!

Putting the table to work beside the BBQ

So, there you have it — a drab outdoor side table turned fab outdoor side table! Considering we sold the patio table and chairs for the same price that we bought them, but kept the side table, this project practically nets out to $0! My wallet and I love it!

What’s your favourite spray paint project? I’d love to hear about it!

Linking up with:
I Heart Organizing
Thrifty Decor Chick 

Sneak Peek: Our Garden Project

Well, the weather in Southern Ontario has been ridiculous lately with rain and grey skies every day. On Saturday, I decided that I had enough of the rain and made my way to the garden centre to pick-up some annuals for our garden. The garden centre was DEAD….it seemed like I was the only one there! I didn’t let that deter me — I managed to fill my cart up with beautiful annuals that will bring instant life and colour to our gardens.

I managed to get the front garden done, but by the end of the day, I was a soggy, wet mess. I opted to leave the backyard gardening for another weekend.

However, I’m too excited to wait to post some photos of our gardening projects! But, I will. I want you all to see the whole project, from start to finish, which started….ohhh, four years ago! :)

Here’s a sneak peek at our gardens with a few tips to help you get your own landscaping projects underway without spending a lot of dough. Remember, my goal for every project is getting that big bang, for little buck!

Find your focal point

Ted and I toyed around with the idea of creating a focal point using a water feature in our yard. The cost of water features can be quite pricey, plus they require electrical, so we decided that for our purposes a water feature would be nice, but not necessary.

We turned our attention to finding an urn to fill with overflowing flowers. I didn’t want to fork out a lot of money to buy an urn, so I put my thinking cap on and poked around our shed to find something else that would work — like, this decorative drink cooler.

Drink cooler turned garden urn

First, I drilled four small holes in the aluminum barrel to allow for drainage. Then, I filled the barrel with a few heavy rocks to ensure it wouldn’t tip over in a storm. I purchased a large hanging basket from the garden centre, placed it in the barrel and cut off the hangers. And, voila — instant colour and impact, creating a beautiful focal point that you see when walking into the yard.

Invest in perennials

Perennials provide lasting beauty and impact year after year. When we started to plan our landscaping projects, I made sure to include a variety of perennials in our gardens. Since most perennials only bloom for six to eight weeks, I made sure to plant a succession of blooms to ensure that our garden is full of colour throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. There are thousands of perennials to choose from with all kinds of colours, shapes and sizes.

In our gardens, I planted a few varieties of Phlox for some springtime colour. This patch of Phlox just started to bloom this week.

Phlox in bloom

Think outside of the garden centre

When starting our gardens, the costs of plants and shrubs was adding up very quickly. I had to find other avenues to help keep the cost of our plants on budget. Since I knew I wanted to plant a variety of perennials, I decided to see what other gardeners had for sale on websites like Kijiji or Craigslist. The spring is a great time to find fellow gardeners looking to part with plants, as many perennials require dividing when they become too large.

I found a lady in my city that was dividing her hosta plants. She was selling individual hosta plants for a $1. Sure, they were on the small side, but look at how large they are one season later.

Hosta in bloom (and our dog Mason)

Depending on the variety of the plant, size and maturity, the cost of hosta plants can add up — anywhere from $4 – $5. I was able to buy 20 plants for $20. Not bad if I say so myself!

So, there you have it. A sneak peek at our gardens and a few tips for good measure. Here’s hoping that the weather for Victoria Day Weekend is dry and sunny so I can finish the back garden and show you the entire project, from start to finish!

Linking up with:
Centsational Girl
The Cottage Chick