DIY Tree Ring & Herb Garden

So, we had all these pavers from around the yard that we’ve been pulling out (our yard looks like hell, overall, full disclosure) and I decided I need to make a tree ring with them around the tree closest to our house. The roots were well above ground and I didn’t think it looked that great in all honesty.


A super fast overview for the tl;dr crowd. Blog-TreeRing1

I started out by taking a shovel and digging a rough hole around the base of the tree. This was fairly quick and easy and I was all proud of myself. blog-treering2

I set pavers all around it to rough-in how many I would need. I should have been more careful so I didn’t have to end up chopping any pavers in half but I wasn’t so, in the end, Dale has to use chisel to knock some of the pavers down (also we didn’t want to hurt the roots of the tree so the first row of pavers were chipped out on the bottom in places to accommodate the tree roots). blog-treewring3

Here’s an overview of the first phase, which was the hardest part by far (actually, the hardest part was digging the pavers out of the ground from all over other parts of the lawn and picking them up and putting them in place–it was like a challenge on The Biggest Loser and I won). blow-treering3

Dale and Bela were a big help! Dale helped me by providing me with a long level that allowed me to level the first row of pavers (so I could dig deeper into the ground for some, shore up others, depending on what was needed). Dale did all the chipping of pavers to ensure they fit around the tree roots. Bela was there for moral

We were basically sweaty and miserable and this project was kinda hard? Dale kept me going, tho. You can see how dirty the pavers are as I ran out and needed to dig more out of the ground from around the yard, lifting two at a time and bringing them over to the ring. blog-tree ring5

We went with 3 rows of stone. Dale filled in a couple of gaps and then we had to go buy the dirt to fill it in.
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I was pretty pleased with the result and decided to turn the tree ring into an herb garden–it’s quick and easy access next to our back door makes it the perfect place to snag fresh herbs.

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The herbs grew like gangbusters within a couple of weeks! See that giant hole? That’s where some of the pavers were. It’s filled in with dirt but we still have a LONG way to go on the yard!

(In the background you can see our raised garden beds and Dale’s addition: a topper for the strawberry patch. I’ll post about that piece soon).

We’ve had “a lot” of snow this year!

We’ve had what can best be described as “a lot” of snow this year. Poor Snoopy can barely see over it:

That’s from the end of the driveway.

I, for one, have had enough. Just wanted to snap this pic before it all started to melt this morning.

Curb Appeal

So the yard was a bit (!) overgrown when we moved in last fall:


Note that the front porch is basically obscured and the side of the house has a giant bush taking it over. We plan to pull out the ivy creeping up the side and to hack down the crazy bush at the front of the property.

So, we finally–FINALLY!–had a weekend that wasn’t freezing, snowing or raining endlessly so we set about to hacking out the overgrowth. And I might have been overly enthusiastic to chopping as you’ll see below.

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Dale did a lovely job turning our insanely overgrown bushes into bonsai-style trees. And those stones were already there so we just left them–they look cute. We are basically doing this as a test run to see how it grows in. I love that you can see the shape of the porch. We still might end up yanking them out entirely but this is a big improvement for now!

Another big improvement: The side yard. From the back you can see the overgrown walkway on the side of the house:


You can maybe see that the side of the yard has a cement walkway but it was completely overgrown. The bushes made it almost impassable.

So I started trimming. And then this big ol’ bush fell down, hit my ice latte and sent it tumbling to the ground and I got angry at the bushes.


Yeah, so I hacked it down to size. See how it was scraping the heck out of the siding? Ugh!

sideyard2And then it was gone. Don’t knock over my coffee, tree!

And then I just went crazy:


This is half the pile we created. The other half was in the front yard. side-yard4

And there’s the path! I can see it! And I killed everything else. Well, not everything. But we’ll see what regrows and what might be replaced later. side-yard3Even the overgrown bushes covering the garage window and blocking the stairs are gone.

Maybe we’ll learn to plant things by next summer to make up for it? Eh?

Repainted Front Door

While Dale was very busy with remodeling the family room (I’ll post about that later in greater detail), I was consumed with brightening up our sad front door!


This is what it looks like on the day we moved in. The countrified “Welcome” sign, painted a rusty brown to match the exterior.


Another view…


I found the inside view much worse. It was like a black hole for a front door, basically. I wanted to brighten it up a bit and maybe use this paint job as an “audition” for colors I might like to paint the rest of the exterior–the dark rust brown is simply too dark and dreary! So I went to Sherwin-Williams armed with a coupon and a dream…


The first order of business was priming the front door. I took all the metal pieces off the doors (and only put the locks back on because this project took two days). This endeavor made me realize all the walls in our living room/dining room are yellowy and kinda dreary as well (painting those spaces is on the docket).


I ended up painting the door a nice, bright green!


The view from the outside! I really can’t wait to get rid of that awful screen door! I just want a plain glass one that flatters the lines of the house.


And this is what it looked like from the street. I’m a dork.


When I went to come back in, I found our cat, Bela Lugosi, standing next to the front door. He seems to like the paint job! Honestly, he’s probably been the happiest new homeowner we know. He loves everything about the new house!

The neatest thing about this upgrade was that the neighbors really noticed. We have had three people note how much they liked the color and that it made the whole house seem a little brighter.