Tuesday Get an (Eco)Peek

Hola everyone…Alright so last week we got to see our backyard garden and how we’re doing the veggies and flowers and berries and such, and this week I wanted to show you the front and side of our house looks like and how we keep it Eco šŸ™‚

The front of the house has transformed just as much as the backyard in the 10 years since I bought it! It started out as a little pale yellow house with grass and a picket fence and a big boxwood in front, surrounded by overgrown laurel hedges on both sides. The boxwood went before the first photo was even taken, then over the next 6 years I took out the lawn, adding rose bushes, herbs, and other pretties. In 2010, my neighbor and the guy I was dating back then built the deck, and a couple years later a handyman built the railing as I couldn’t decide what I’d wanted initially šŸ™‚ By 2012 I had the new 300+ gallon cistern in place and in 2014, a few months after we got married we painted the house my favorite shade of blue, and moved the lilies next to the driveway. And finally in 2015-2016, you’ll see we’ve just been filling in the bare spots, particularly along the new fenceline as the building of that ghastly 3 story house took out our laurels and so we’re doing our best to plant fast growing tall things near it šŸ™‚

Here’s the overall evolution over the years…

Kinda crazy how it’s evolved, eh? The grass was all taken out by yours truly, with a garden twisting tool thingy my former neighbor loaned me to pull it out in chunks, during the summer I had been laid off. I tried a lot of things in the parking strip out front, which used to be shaded by a nasty ailanthus, so when that tree came out I first did the lilies then moved them (see before and after later in this post) where they could spread even more – not to mention allow people to get out of their cars without stepping on them), and we now have – my husband’s idea – a Mediterranean theme, with an olive tree and herbs like oregano, sage, and rosemary that are all pretty self sufficient and barely need any water…and by the way, these were planted by dividing existing plants. Sweet. by the way, see that white blob on the lower left of the final/current picture? Four years ago that was ONE $3 start I bought at the nursery…now I have to keep it from eating up the whole yard (no matter how pretty it is LOL).

So here are some of the many fun things we are growing (clockwise from top left): agave, allium, hops (just for fun), clematis (already blooming!), roses (my favorite, inherited from my dad), thyme, strawberries, snowball tree, our cistern we water everything with (300+ gallons and believe it or not I found it on Amazon so it was delivered for free..it arrived in a dull brown so I painted it); and in the middle, huckleberries (top) and our olive tree with lots of little buds (bottom).

Another Before and After: We have always had this ugly strip between our driveway and our neighbor’s, one they showed no interest in helping maintain. For a number of years (as shown in this old photo of my dear departed Daisy, my rottie who passed on in 2012) I planted sunflowers, and one year a few raised beds, but it always got super weedy. So in 2014, I planted a whole bunch of day lilies as well as irises, and as you can see, they’ve really filled in beautifully – plus of course over late spring and summer, they’ll be absolutely gorgeous as they go crazy in bloom! šŸ™‚

How We Keep it Eco (& affordable)

  • Knowing how often (twice a week, that’s it) is crucial and our rain cistern is even more crucial. Last year’s drought (it basically stopped raining in early April) meant our cistern emptied by June, which sucked, but most years it’s able to last all summer. Water from the sky is awesome.
  • Planting drought friendly plants like sedums (hens & chicks are the most popular), agave, and herbs like rosemary and sage are super helpful.
  • Learning how to divide plants you like – or if you don’t have one but a friend or neighbor does, asking if they’d be willing to let you have a cutting. Google how to do it – it’s way easier than it might seem. For our sage, we just cut a piece off including a bit of root and put it in a new place and watered it well.
  • With that we also like things that re-seed easily, like borage and chamomile. Sometimes they seed like rabbits but boy do they fill in the blank spots nicely and the bees love the borage big time!
  • Make sure you buy from a nursery that does not use neonicotinoids on its starts, as they are known killers of pollinators.
  • The deck was built using local, sustainably grown/certified cedar which I got at the environmental building store, and happened to have a Chinook Book coupon for extra savings.
  • Our bark/mulch spread on the ground was free! Local arborists don’t want to pay to get rid of the chips from the trees they trim/remove so they will give it to you for free. In Portland they’ve gone a step further and the site ChipDrop was built so that homeowners and arborists are matched so you get a whole truckload.
  • Not long after buying my house, I had the downspouts disconnected for free as part of a city program, so that stormwater would no longer go into the city’s sewer system, a big cause of overflowing yucky in the rainy season. (The program ended but there is a great how-to-DIY link on the page – not a hard thing).
  • And of course we take advantage of the edibles! I was just chirping to my husband last night about how I loved making my rosemary olive oil bread because I could just walk outside and get my seasoning šŸ™‚

Questions? Comments? Bring ’em on!


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