Friday, March 29, 2013

Designing a New Patio or Deck - Part 2

About three weeks ago, I wrote a post on "Designing a New Patio or Deck".  Well, the project is still going on and slowly nearing completion.  I thought I would update you with the progress of the project.  In my last post, I showed pictures of the before.  Here are pictures of the last three weeks and what has been going on with the project.

I removed all the furniture, old stepping stones and plants that would be in the way of construction.  The decision was also made to remove the hot tub.  We did not use it and felt this was the ideal time to eliminate it from the design.
I decided to do a change in the location of the deck stairs and how they came down off the deck. Rather than a straight run, it became a "L" shaped run of stairs.  Before the patio installers could start, the old stairs were removed and new post were installed and set into cement.

The patio installers then came in and marked utilities and the location of the patio and flower bed areas.

We did have a few surprises like this slab of buried cement that had to be removed.  We also had to disconnect the old electrical line that went to the hot tub.

Then it was time for the BIG dig.  All of the dirt where the patio was going to be located was hand dug out and removed. The next step was bringing in gravel and refilling the dug out area.  All the gravel was compacted and a layer of sand was applied over the gravel.

Next the pavers were installed.  Many of them had to be cut to fit in the area they were being used. The pavers will be sanded in the future when the temperatures are higher.
I have several areas for plantings.  Two are around post where I will have climbing roses.  One is under the deck steps where I will plant hostas.  There are several beds next to the house where I plan to plant ground cover for year around color. Adding the planting beds helped to break up the hard look of the pavers and cement. Planting will soften the look and define room areas.

We did have some delays. In the picture above, they had just started installing the decking when it snowed.

And we had more snow!

After the snow melted the project was back on schedule.  The new decking went down and the new rails went up.

The stairs are installed and as I write this blog, the railings are being installed.  The next part of the project is installing the under decking.  This will allow us to use the space under the deck as a nice dry area.  That should be installed next week. 
The last part of the project will be plantings, installing a fish pond, painting, staining and decorating, which I will be doing.  I can't wait to see the garden leafed out and in full bloom with the project complete. It is really exciting to see the design that was on paper coming to life.  Check back for future post on the project.
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Happy Gardening!

Friday, March 22, 2013

More Great Water Features for the Garden

Don't you just enjoy the sound of water in a garden?  Whether it is a fountain, waterfall or the soft trickling sound of a stream, water features add beauty and a relaxing feel to a garden.  I like water features in my garden.  Having a large garden, I can get away with having several in my landscape.  When I go to garden shows or go on garden tours, I like to take photos of the many different types that are available and post them to my blog for others to enjoy and to get ideas from for their own gardens.  Here are some new photos that I recently took of some of my favorites. Enjoy!

Natural looking waterfall and stream.

Three urns on a pondless bed of rock.

An old fashion well pump and a bucket.

Three stepping stones stacked on a bed of rock.

A large lighted water feature.

A large rock in a  pondless water feature.

A waterfall and pond for a very small garden or a corner of a garden.

A large metal water feature made of rebar, saw blades and gears.

The new trend of fire and water.

A copper weeping tree fountain.

Stacked cinder blocks with water and planting spaces for plants in the holes.

The water streams down real pine cones like a rain chain into a pond.

A waterfall and stack stone that looks like a car with tires and headlights.

Copper lily pads as a water feature.

Copper water pipes used as a water feature.

I hope you liked the photos of water features.  If you have been considering a water feature and would like to see more photos, please check my past blog posts on Water Features for the Garden. Get inspired and do something creative in the garden this spring!
If you are not a "Follower" of Garden Thyme with the Creative Gardener, please become one!  I enjoy hearing from and sharing with other gardeners about their gardens, projects and ideas.
Happy Gardening!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - March 2013

Iceland Poppy 'Champagne Bubbles'
This Garden Blogger's Bloom Day finds the weather to still be cold.  The Witch Hazels are still in bloom, but everything else is just waiting for warmer weather.  The weather just has not been cooperating this year.  I am O.K. with it, due to the fact that we are installing a new paver patio. If the plants are not up, they are protected from being damaged during the installation process.  The patio pavers should all be installed by the end of today.  The sand that will be swept over the pavers will have to wait till the temperatures improve.  Starting Monday, the deck installers will start installing new deck materials on the existing deck. Both of the projects are running behind due to snow.

The patio project
Even with the winter like weather persisting, the nursery plants are arriving in at many of the local nurseries.  Which is nice, just to be able to see garden plants arriving, with the promise of warmer weather to come.  On a recent trip to a nursery, I picked up two Iceland poppies for the garden.  Since they cannot go outside right now, I have enjoyed their flowers inside the house. In the house, I have a few orchids in bloom to enjoy and I have been growing my tomatoes and hostas from seed.  Spring will come, with warm weather and hopefully soon!
If you are not a "Follower" of my blog, please become one!  I always enjoy hearing from other gardeners.
Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Love Those Poppies

The other day, I stopped by the local box store.  Like I always do, I wandered over to the nursery isle to see what was new. The nursery stock was starting to arrive and there was a cart full of perennials.  Sitting on the cart were all these poppies and only one was in bloom.  That one, just caught my attention.  It was unusual and the color was very intense.  I started looking around on the cart and found another one blooming in a different color.  The price was right and I left the store, in the snow, with my two new garden plants.
The plants were Papaver nudicaule 'Champagne Bubbles' Iceland poppies. They come in colors of red, orange, white and yellow. They require very little water once they have established and love a sunny location. They are a dwarf plant that grows 10 to 12 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. 'Champagne Bubbles' grows in zones 2-8. They look wonderful in containers, along walkways or in mixed beds where they can give a burst of color. These poppies will require some deadheading to remove spent flowers.  They should be fertilized in early spring and when they bloom in May or July, you will have lots of color.
Two different colored poppies in one container!

One thing that I discovered about this poppy is it's fragrance.  Due to the low temperatures in March, I put my plants inside the house to enjoy the buds that were already set on the plants. They really smell nice! I also was surprised that one of my containers, when it bloomed, had two different colored poppies in one container. I got a bonus plant!

Happy Gardening!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Designing a New Patio or Deck

Have you ever wanted to take on a major patio or deck remodel?  Not sure where to begin? Maybe I can help you get started on that dream.  Currently my patio and deck are being remodeled.  Over the years, I had spent lots of time on planting the gardens and working on our home.  The area in the pictures was the last part to be finished. We have done most of the work on our property and felt very confident in doing remodeling. This project would be a big undertaking.  The pool had already been installed years ago but the area around the pool was not meeting our needs. It was not very big for entertaining or relaxing.

The time had finally come to start the project.  I had looked at pictures in magazines, books and on the Internet for ideas that I would like to incorporate in this area. When I went to a garden show, I would take photos of patios and decks that I liked.  After collecting up ideas, evaluating our needs, I measured the area, got out the paper and pencil and started designing.  I could have hired a landscape company, but I knew what our needs were and what we wanted.

At the time of this blog post the project is already under construction.  Over the next few weeks, I will share with you photos on the before, construction and final completed project.  Here are pictures of the area before the project got started and some of the problems that we have.

In the photo above, you can see the pool and that there is very little patio area around it for entertaining.  The stairs from the upper deck go right down to the pool cover, leaving very little space to walk.

The existing table and sitting area is small with an electrical box to the spa exposed. The spa sits in the corner of the garden on stepping stones and provides very little privacy.
Under the deck, are some very old 16 by 16 inch stepping stones, that over time had sunk and are not level.  Also a septic system clean out is in the area with pipes sticking  up and out of the ground. The  wood deck above, had been painted over the years, but the wood is starting to show it's age and needs to be replaced.
Under the deck, is a vinyl under decking that was designed to keep the area dry from rain, but it is in bad shape and starting to come down.
My husband and I decided that this project, would require more expertise in some areas than we possessed. There would also be lots of  manual labor in dirt removal and that was something we did not want to do ourselves. The deck and patio areas would be contracted out and I would take on the fish pond construction and all the removal and replanting of the shrubs, trees and perennials.
If you take on a project like this, here are some suggestions:
 1.  Research ideas and products. Collect photos of your ideas and know what you want.
 2.  Know your abilities.  Can you do the work, part of the work or do you need to hire someone.
 3. Always check for the location of utilities, septic systems, etc. and have those areas marked.
 4.  Draw up a plan. If your hire someone to do the work, share your ideas and plans with them. You can also hire someone to do the design work.
 5.  Remember you will have to deal with delays, weather, mud and other unknown problems that will occur. Be patient!
 6.  Check with your local neighborhood association for restrictions. Will you need permits?
 7.  Plan more in the budget than what you think you will need.
 8.  If you contract out the work, get three bids on the project.  Ask lots of questions as to who is responsible for what.  Check out your contractor and their workmanship. 
 9.  Read the fine print in the contracts.
10. Avoid trends in hardscaping.
11. Take photos of your garden when the plants are up, if you plan to do a winter project. Those photos will help in plant location.
Our final decision was to hire a landscape company to install a paver patio. I provided my plans for the area and the company who got the job provided us with a CAD drawing of what I had designed.  We also contracted with a deck builder to remodel the existing deck.
If I hire out to have work done in my gardens, I like to have that work done when the plants are not up in the garden.  It keeps me from stressing out when someone is working and walking in the garden beds. Many landscape companies will discount their price to keep their people working in the off season. By the time spring arrives, everything should look great!
Check back for my next blog post on the project. I will be covering how to prepare the area for construction.
Happy Gardening!

'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood

Years ago, I purchased a very small tree that was only 6 to 8 inches tall. It was a 'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood. It had beau...