It’s That Time of Year Already: Reclaiming the Yard (Pt. 1)

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Spring is in full swing with summer close at its heels. Which means it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and dig in.

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Sad lawn

First stop: the lawn. The patchy, crabgrass-and-weed-ridden lawn that has been a sore spot the last few years. And if you’ve been following along thus far, you know all too well of my lawncare gripes and my lack of a green thumb. (I did not get that gene despite having several family members who are fantastic gardeners.) As far as the yard goes, we’ve done little lawn care this last year except spreading Scotts Weed and Feed when we remember to. The past two years, I have patch seeded a few of the bare spots which worked for a short while but the new grass was soon choked out by crabgrass and other weeds. At this point, I had all but laid my dreams to rest, of a lush, green lawn brought about by my own hands. The hubby and I began to discuss using a professional company to do the job since it seemed we had all but failed. Not that we had two extra pennies to rub together for such luxuries, but it was a thought nonetheless.

This year we – or rather I – decided to put forth one last ditch effort to have a lawn isn’t quite as cringeworthy. Since I’m home all day, most of the yard work falls to me and I’m determined to have some success this season. We put forth hours of research from various sites, came up with a plan and off we went. Home Depot – our home away from home – here we come!

Step one was dethatching
the lawn. Scott’s describes thatch as “a layer of living and dead grass shoots, stems, and roots that forms between the grass blades and the soil surface”. A little bit is okay, a lot is problematic. Too much thatch can reduce the amount of oxygen and moisture that are able to reach the soil and grass roots. De-thatching removes the excess material so air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer can reach the soil better as well as allow your lawn to drain more effectively.

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Now that you’ve had your vocabulary lesson for the day, it’s back to the work. Over the course of a few days, I cut the grass then worked to dethatch the lawn with the garden rake. (My back and shoulders were none too pleased about this.) It’s not the optimal tool but we tried to work with what we had, not wanting to put forth money for fancy tools we might only use once or twice. Again a rake wasn’t optimal and some areas were definitely harder than others, but after lots of sweat (and a few tears), it got the job done, leaving us with several piles of dead grass material.20180509_152242 (1)

Step two was to aerate the lawn. I’ve found the best time to do this is when the soil is damp, which makes it easier to puncture the ground. Now there are two types of aerators, the first being more machine than a tool (at least all the ones I’ve seen are). A core aerator has hollow tines and pulls 2-in. deep plugs or ‘cores’ of soil and thatch up from the ground. You push (or pull) it along depending on the type. Since we have a very small yard, it seemed unreasonable to buy one (read $50+) and there were none available for rent the day we stocked up, so Plan B it was. Instead, we purchased a spike aerator with four ‘spike’ tines which create a row of 2-in. holes in the ground. You move across the lawn, stopping about every 8 inches to push it into the ground. It’s not quite as effective as the core aerator but it was much more budget friendly. My spouse was kind enough to do this two weeks ago when we first purchased. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to get to the backyard and so I went over the lawn with the aerator once more to be safe.

The final step: spread a thin layer of topsoil over the lawn followed by a mixture of grass seed. We used a mix since neither of us was certain what type of grass was actually growing in our lawn. That and we keep the lawn well watered and wait. It will be a couple of weeks before we see any success or failure so … fingers crossed!

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Paintbrush in hand and here we go!

It’s been a busy few months for us at Parkside. Life just keeps rolling by (brakes anyone?) and we’ve been hard-pressed to keep up with everything going on. At least now that the holidays in full swing, I have a moment, albeit a very brief one, to stop and play a bit of catch up on all these projects.

Our biggest update to the house in recent weeks has been painting. It’s only taken 3 years to get to this point but it’s finally happening! That’s right – we PAINTED. I’ll let you have a moment to let that news sink in. (Technically we did paint a couple years ago but since that wall had to be skimmed over, I’m going to say it doesn’t really count so shhhh! Also, there’s the fact that the color we had previously used turned out much darker than I had originally thought and I ended up not really loving it.)

But back on track now – with the walls of our side (main) entryway painted a lovely soft gray, all that’s left to do in there is hang trim and our closet organizer. It’ll be our first fully completed room project since we started. There aren’t enough words to express how excited I am! Stay tuned for more excitement to come!My husband did a good bit of the painting with help from my stepson who was all gung-ho about it, jumping and practically chest bumping the walls to maximize his limited reach. It was quite entertaining to watch.

 

 

 

We Built This Cat Tower

Taking a break from our regularly – although not so regularly – scheduled remodeling crud to bring you something fun-ish.

We built a cat tower!!!

It’s something we’ve been meaning to do for awhile, debating back and forth about the details of a cat tree – whether we buy or build and when. We do have scratcher boxes all over the house that we’re constantly tripping over (or maybe it’s just me being a total clutz.) Regardless, the cats seem to ignore them half the time, even when it is RIGHT THERE. Do they walk the extra foot to the scratch box? No. Instead, the little boogers opt to dig their claws into the carpeting. I am thankful they pretty much ignore the furniture but is it too much to ask to ignore the carpet as well? Apparently.

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Now you might be wondering, why build a tower when you can purchase one? It’s way less labor intensive! First: they’re fracking expensive! $70+ and up! We bought one a few years back and it fell apart in under a year. Definitely wasn’t worth the price we paid for it. I love my cats and all but that’s just too much money. Particularly if we want more than one. Second: After finding a relatively simple plan from dadand.com turns out we had most of the materials we needed since the carpet guys were kind enough to leave us the excess off the roll.

Saturday was build day or at least day 1. A quick trip to Home Depot and then husband and stepson got right down to business.

 

In spite of initially proclaiming that the tower wasn’t epic enough (someone was watching too many cat mansion youtube videos), the kiddo got pretty excited once it was all put together. He couldn’t even wait for us to put carpeting on and started running around the house calling for the kitties.

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Complete and ready for carpet!

Onto the fun part of carpeting and rope. The boys measured and cut and I got to attach everything.

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The carpet was stapled on and the rope attached with hot glue. I also added staples in the back of the rope roughly every 4-6 inches for added measure.

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2 1/2 days later it’s finally complete. Or at least it’s as finished as it’s going to get. I would have liked to have added more rope so that all the wood was covered, but then I’d have to go buy more as well as spend the time attaching it which required just a bit more effort than I was willing to give at that point.

 

It’s a little crooked in places and a little messy but it’s sturdy and really that’s all that matters right? There’s sweat in my bra, rug burns, and scrapes on both my knees, hot glue burns on both arms, hand cramps from stapling and a blister on my left hand of unknown origins. It was painful, tedious, and not quite as much fun as I imagined, but it was all worth it. The cats are in love with their new tower and they’ve pretty much stopped clawing the carpet. And while the kiddo wasn’t here to help us finish, I’m sure he’ll be just as thrilled as the cats are with the final product.

Project cost: About $60. We had leftover carpet and 2 x 4’s from previous projects. $15 for the MDF board, $15 for the glue gun and glue, $9 for 50-ft of 3/4 in. sisal rope. It would have been cheaper but our staple gun all but gave up the ghost halfway through our project. Tack on an extra $25 for staple gun and staples. As a finishing touch, we attached the string of a broken cat toy for their added entertainment.

For now, I rest. At least until the next project.