Archive for Winter to do list

My Gardening Goals and Dreams for 2017

A new year is starting- time for some new gardening goals!

A new year is starting — time for some new gardening goals!

Hi there! It’s been a hard few months for me, trying to not worry too much about the future, but I’m doing my best to re-focus on what I can do. I urge all to stay aware of clean gardening practices and what we can do for the environment: not using chemicals, recycling/composting, participating in clean-up efforts in our communities, and last but not least, sending your Senators and Representatives a call or an email asking them to keep as many environmental protections in place as they can. You can reach them all at (202) 224-3121. The Capitol operators can help you find your Senators or Representatives, even if you don’t know their names.

We have a lot of work ahead of us! I don’t mean to rant on, but really, who doesn’t want a clean and healthy world? I think we can all agree on that! I think that is my biggest dream. I hope we can curb our losses at the EPA. Climate change is real!

Here in my little corner of the world, I managed to get quite a lot finished up in 2016, but I still have so much to do. This year’s main focus is on improving the areas under and around the deck.

It was time for an edit in this garden. With more shade from a tree, it was out with the sedum and in with a transplanted rhododedron.

It was time for an edit in this garden. With more shade from a tree, it was out with the sedum and in with a transplanted rhododedron.

Here are my goals: I’ll make an designated area to place the trash can and recycling bins that is both out of sight, but still easy to roll out to the curb. This also will improve the area where I store my flower pots, extra hoses, etc.  And, there is one area I couldn’t work on last fall because I ran out of time — I need to lift some of the bricks on the back walkway and level them. After sixteen years, the ground has sunk around the plexi pipe that carries the runoff water from the downspout — should be an easy fix! Third, I will use my brick saw to cleanup the edge of the walkway where it connects to the driveway.

All the cosmetic work will boost the curb appeal, too — always a plus. When spring arrives, the garden around the base of the deck will get some annuals to really fill out the space and give some added color.  Looking at the winter garden, when most everything is bare or died back to the ground for the season, things look bleak, so I will post a  picture when everything has sprung back to beautiful life and show some before and after shots in a few months.

Here's a photo of my re make of the old planters into privacy screens. I removed the rotted supports and replaced with posts I had saved from an old job. These are buried 3 feet into the ground, no cement, so they can be re-positioned later if I want.

Here’s a photo of my re-make of the old planters into privacy screens. I removed the rotted supports and replaced them with posts I had saved. These are buried 3 feet into the ground, with no cement, so they can be re-positioned later if I want. I’ll be sure to post again when everything is in leaf and bloom, but while the bushes are bare you can see the screen more clearly.

When I manage to finish all of that, the upper trim around the house and gutter system needs a complete cleaning and painting. Lots of the basics — weeding, mulching, trimming, mowing and edging — go on pretty much year round. Here’s a winter tip to make quick work of a messy, windswept yard: We find that it is much easier to run the mower over the grassy areas every month or so even in winter to pick up the leaves that blow in and smooth out the clumps of grass than it is to rake the whole yard over and over.

Here is another area that I edited. It had become crowded and one of the bushes had died. I balanced out the azalea bushes on either side of the Holly tree and divided and replanted the hosta in a wave. An edit every few years it helps to keep things fresh.

Here is another area that I edited. It had become crowded and one of the bushes had died. I balanced out the azalea bushes on either side of the Holly tree and divided and replanted the hosta in a wave. An edit every few years it helps to keep things fresh.

Last fall I did manage to finish re-making the planters and arbors and reinstall them. Using the leftover lumber from other jobs that I had stored in the garage, I added extra posts so that the planters could be used as privacy panels (hiding the less-than-pretty necessities that are stored under the deck). Then I planted the rose bushes, which had been in pots before, and divided and replanted the liriope to fill out the garden. Also, five other areas of the garden were edited and simplified. Plants had grown so out of bounds over the years, and it was time to selectively remove and transplant many to new locations. Now there is some breathing room, with nothing crowded. I added another three cubic yards of mulch to spruce up the beds, and then the cold weather set in.

This fun garden ornament has so much personality. It spins and bobs in the wind! I would love to incorporate a few more interesting things throughout the gardens like this.

This fun garden ornament that I was gifted has so much personality. It spins and bobs in the wind! I would love to incorporate a few more interesting things throughout the gardens like this.

On the creative side of things, I’m looking forward to making some stepping stones to access some of the deeper garden beds more easily.

Lastly, I received a really fun garden ornament from my sister, and it adds so much personality to the garden. Thank you, Tracy! It makes me want to incorporate a few more special things to spice things up! More on that later…

What are your goals for 2017 out in the garden? I’d love to hear!

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Happy New Year to All-

Time to start putting those  dreams to reality. All the best to all the gardeners out there-

Time to start putting those dreams to reality. All the best to all the gardeners out there-

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Packing up Christmas

There is a winter storm on the way, and it is forecasted to be of historic proportions.

It was a beautiful Christmas, but now it's time to put it all away-

It was a beautiful Christmas, but now it’s time to put it all away.

I am scrambling to get the last of my Christmas decorations and greenery taken down and stored away so I can focus on snow shoveling when Mother Nature is finished giving us a frosty layer of the white stuff. Possibly 2 to 3 feet of it.

As you know, I love my Christmas things and have some really good tips for storing them so they will last for years and years. I have also come up with some space saving ways of storing them and will share a few of those tips as well. For me, I feel like so many of the ornaments remind me of long ago Christmases, friends and family members, and so keeping them preserved and safe is very important.

These trunk sized bins are great for storing away long items, like garlands.

These trunk sized bins are great for storing away long items, like garlands.

I have purchased plastic bins over the last few years, and I highly recommend using them. They are stackable, moisture proof and with a little bit of thought you can find the perfect size for almost every item. Here are some of my favorite storage ideas:

For the garlands, I like the 3 foot long, trunk sized bins. Most garlands are either 6 feet or 9 feet long, so if you coil them back and forth you only need to bend them once or twice. You can pile 6 or 8 of them in each bin, depending on how thick the garland is. I have three of this style bin for my garlands. They are also good for storing Christmas trees, if you have an artificial tree that comes apart in sections. For my trees, which fold up umbrella style, I just wrap them in a plastic drop cloth and store them standing up.

I like to use the boxes that my ornaments came in to store them safely. Egg cartons work great, too!

I like to use the boxes that my ornaments came in to store them safely. Egg cartons work great, too!

For my ornaments, especially the glass ones, I recommend saving the boxes that they came in. I find that they perfectly stack in the smaller sized 2 foot long bins. (I think mine are 18 gallon size.) For ornaments which have no box, I reuse egg cartons, and even plastic berry containers to store them in. I have also found that shoe boxes work great for larger things — nutcrackers and candles for example. Also, I like to put one or two of the little silica pouches that come in shoe boxes with the fabric ornaments, to keep moisture away.

If you flatten wreaths out before storing them, they take up WAY less space.

If you flatten wreaths out before storing them, they take up WAY less space.

For the wreaths, I usually remove the bows and decorations before storing. I coil up the ribbon and store it with other fabric items. By doing that, it flattens itself out and doesn’t need to be ironed before using it again. (I will do almost anything to not have to iron!) I like to flatten out the wreaths and stack them. It takes only a half a minute to rake your fingers through the greenery to each side to flatten them, and they take up only a fraction of the amount of storage space that way. I can store 25 wreaths in the same space as 6!

I store the trees wrapped in plastic tarps in the closet. Saves time on reassembly next year!

I store the trees wrapped in plastic tarps in the closet. Saves time on reassembly next year!

I really like to store all of this together inside the house, instead of up in my attic, where temps can be well into the 100′s in the summer months. The heat can fade and even melt some things, so be careful what you store in your attic. This closet in the basement works perfectly, so now it’s so long to Christmas decorations until next December.

Still trying to think up a good storage idea for this pinecone tree. There's always something-

Still trying to think up a good storage idea for this pine cone tree. There’s always something…

The only thing I haven’t come up with a good storage solution for yet is this pinecone tree I made years ago. It’s fairly large and heavy, so I might have to make a crate on my own. For now, I wrap it in plastic bubble wrap.

Now that that’s packed away I’m going to use some lemon oil on all my tabletops. Wow, what a difference! Happy Winter everyone!

 

A Quick Reminder Before The Freeze

Back to an old school watering can for now. Time to shut off the outside water for the winter months.

Back to an old school watering can for now. Time to shut off the outside water for the winter months.

What a beautiful day it was Friday! It is hard to believe that the weather is going to turn FREEZING in the next few days. Just a quick reminder to turn off your outside water spigots this weekend before the extended winter cold sets in. My Dad used to always call me and remind me to do this, so in his memory I want to send out this reminder.

Here’s how:

Turn the valve off from inside your home, remove the hose, then drain the remainder of the water out of the outside spigot. Remove and drain your watering wand or nozzle from the hose. Drain and coil your hose. This way if you want to use your hose in the winter it won’t be full of ice!

Outdoor shut-off valves are usually located inside the house opposite to where they are on the outside. Remember righty tighty, lefty loosey!

Outdoor shut-off valves are usually located inside the house opposite the spigot outside. Remember righty-tighty, lefty-loosey! While you are at it, if there is space behind the water pipe, slide in some insulation batting (or a section of newspaper or cardboard) to add an extra layer of barrier from the cold and help prevent frozen pipes.

Once you've turned off the valve from the inside, open the outside spigot to drain the last drops of water.

Once you’ve turned off the valve from the inside, open the outside spigot to drain the last drops of water.

Drain the water from your hoses and nozzles so they won't be full of ice if you want to use them this winter.

Lastly, drain the water from your hoses and nozzles so they won’t be full of ice if you want to use them this winter. I like to be able to wash the car after it snows to rinse the road salts from it.

This is also the perfect time to bring in your terracotta pots and drain dishes for the winter- more on this one soon----- Have a great weekend!

This is also the perfect time to bring in your terracotta pots and drain dishes for the winter — more on this one soon…Have a great weekend!