Patio: Before

17 Jun

Now that it’s summer I wake up every day to the same chorus from Isobel: “Outside? Outside? Outside?” We’ve been spending so much time outside this summer that I’m developing a pretty decent tan–weird!– the first in about ten years. I’ve also been noticing how sad my patio has looked lately.

Our backyard is a homeowner fail. We’ve lived in this house for about six years and have done improvements here and there. We spent our time and money fixing the things that required our immediate attention. Hell, we still need a new roof and carpet–both are original from 1987. Our carpet is especially disgusting.

Before Isobel we really didn’t use the backyard a whole lot so it sort of got left behind in the homeowner’s shuffle. The lawn really isn’t a lawn. It’s a glorified patch of prickly dry weeds and Bermuda grass that we mow into something resembling a lawn. We have a dead tree back there that we nicknamed ‘the stick.’ Mostly we used our backyard for barbecues and eating outside so I didn’t so much mind the yard looking like Hell as long as the patio was nice.

I’ve never been a successful gardener when it came to planting things in the ground but I could always manage growing things that were potted. I’ve pretty much given up digging in the dirt unless that dirt is some sort of container. I started growing plants on the patio the first summer we moved in. I used to tend to the plants on the patio at least once a year during summer vacation: I’d re-pot, sweep, rearrange, and add new plants to the group. Last year I was pregnant and so not in the mood to be sweaty and messing with plants so the patio this year is a miniature overgrown jungle. Every time I take Isobel out to play I’m reminded of the work ahead of me. Ugh.

If I post the before photos up here I’ll have to do something about this mess, right? I’ll feel required to fix the situation and post after shots? Oh I hope so. I hope my sense of obligation is enough to conquer my laziness.

Currently, my plans include:

  1. Re-pot root bound plants
  2. Rearrange things so the spider plants don’t take over
  3. Get a new cupboard for the backyard
  4. Paint the patio furniture (can’t decide between red or orange)
  5. Hang lamps or lights that actually work
  6. Sweep debris and spider carcasses away
  7. Prune plants that need it
  8. Divide succulent babies from parent plant

That cupboard thing that some of my plants are sitting on? It’s supposed to be some sort of electric grill. I don’t know, I don’t really understand it. It was given to us as a housewarming present and instead of trying to figure out how to use it I just stuck plants on it. I’m a real go-getter. Ideally I’m going to find something while thrifting to replace it. It looks ugly but it’s been very handy to have a cupboard there for our barbecue supplies, gardening miscellany, and fish and bird food. I really hate the way it looks but it’s too useful to get rid of without replacing.

I bought those gorgeous green candle holders for the shop and I’m trying to convince myself not to keep them. Trying. This photo isn’t helping.

Remember the pumpkins?

Sometime around Christmas I posted this photo of our pumpkins that showed no sign of fading. I invited my friends on flickr to bet on which pumpkin would last the longest before it got all disgusting and I had to throw it away.  It’s June, and all of them are still in the running:

Now if you notice the larger one isn’t looking so great. Neither is the yellow one, which used to be white. The other three don’t look half bad, though. We moved them to the patio and Isobel really has fun carrying them around the yard. I’m sure this cheers the pumpkins and helps them last longer.

I’d love to hear your picks for Longest Lived Pumpkin or what kinds of things you do to spruce up your patio in the comments.


9 Responses to “Patio: Before”

  1. Edgar June 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    It looks like the two I picked are still doing okay. I don’t envy you the task of patio re-do. Be glad you don’t have ivy! I’m not at all fond of ours…the ivy is an enthusiasm of Ron’s. 🙂

    • LittleBig June 18, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      Ivy doesn’t like our hot dry climate. When people do manage to grow it here it inevitably becomes infested with slugs. Ew.

  2. asiajane June 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    Paint the furniture reddish-orange! If I could remember the name of the Sherwin Williams color I used I’d tell you what it is… begonia or something?

    I want to learn how to take care of plants. I keep buying them and expecting my husband to take care of them.

    • LittleBig June 18, 2010 at 10:05 am #

      If you remember, let me know. I’m going to be on the lookout for reddish-orange. That sounds perfect!

      Plants are so complicated. That’s why I mostly have cats.

  3. Adrienne June 19, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Ugh, I am a plant killer. I killed a succulent…how is that possible when you barely water them in the first place?! (Or maybe that’s why I killed it…) The only plant I have now is a couple aloe plants I put in a pot to salvage from our “garden” out front.

    Although, isn’t it ironic how even when you try not to, you end up destroying plants you want, but try as you may you can never destroy those beasts that take over your landscaping? Touche, nature. Touche.

    • LittleBig June 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

      I know some people praise the hardiness of succulents but I think they mistake ‘low maintenance’ for ‘takes a beating.’ They are actually delicate. They don’t need a lot of water but they are picky how they get it. They don’t mind heat but are picky about direct sun. They need lots of ventilation and drainage, warmth and indirect sun. Violate that even a bit and you’ve got a sick succulent on your hands. However, if you can meet their meager goals you can keep them around pretty much forever.

      Plants are tricky. I really tried growing tomatoes and strawberries my first year here and they instantly withered and died. A plant in the front yard that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about flourished with no attention. Sheesh!


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