Next step on our phase 2 backyard reno was to bring our tropicals outside for the spring/summer/fall and then get ready to plant our big veggie garden.
Prior to that we had a good discussion with our designer Diana, at Fun City Design, about meeting up to discuss the final planting plan and the reality of what we’d be able to do under the current economic squeeze. Also, we wanted her to see the space and how it had evolved since last fall. Our meeting will be in a later post.
So all the tropicals made it out, either in the “seating area” or out by the shed (for now). Adding more greenery made a huge difference in softening the space.
Before we could move forward with planting the veggie garden, we turned the soil once more (fourth time now?) and began to layout markers to dig for our garden blue stone path.
Diana’s plan had the garden broken up into four quadrants, with a bird bath in the center.
Proposed original plan, Fall 2008
In order to maximize our planting area, we opted to try out three long rows, with stepping stones in between the rows. This would align our plantings north/south and allow us to experiment as to how much we can cram in (or not) into the garden to max out our output, i.e. live off our garden this summer!
So, we got busy with strings and stakes, making our beds approx. 48 inches wide and our area for the stones approx. 12 inches. Now, Mr. Tikihouse’s brilliant plan was to dig a level trench two inches below grade, tamp down the earth and lay in the stones. Later on we would come back and set them with dirt/sand. Again, we are reusing more blue stone from our original 2006 patio and our growing collection from the neighborhood.
Photo: Bamboo stakes, string and trench
Photo: Stones set in place. Is that ditch too low?
The whole project went well, with more than enough stone to set…and room to walk. We unfortunately experience the Mr.’s folly that evening. We had a huge downpour, and damn if those trenches did not fill up over the stones!
Photo: The canals of Tikihouse’s sunken gardens.
We joked at the time that rice patties might work. Thank goodness the water drained throughly in the garden and stone paths (and in the bamboo box too), but we knew we had to redo the stepping stone paths and bring those stones upto grade.
Here’s the overview slide show:
During the wait till the following weekend, our first bit of furniture arrived. Mrs. Tikihouse had been doing quite a bit of research on outdoor furniture. A teak bench would have been perfect for either the patio or out by the shed. But, with finances being tight, most everything she found was way out of our price range. That was until she came across a cool company based in Lexington, KY named Teak Closeouts.
Their basic overview is:
“All our items come from various teak manufactures across Indonesia. Our company consists of about 30 employees who search, clean, prepare and market all the teak we buy.
Although we have a small manufacturing department, we do not produce the teak. After spending nearly 8 years in Indonesia, we have an extensive collection of factories, craftsmen, friends, and an array of sources that call us when they want to offer excess product….
…Teak Closeouts prides itself on offering real deals on quality teak in the mid-range construction quality. Some of our closeouts will rival the quality of the American-made teak catalog companies.”
And that is basically the point. We could not afford the “Ferrari” of teak benches, so we opted for their VERY honest assessments of their items: “quality teak items that the majority of Americans can afford.”
We picked one of their 48 inch “Boma” bench, crossed our fingers and purchased the bench (now out of stock)
We could not have been more happy when it arrived. It was an above average in quality and at least 60% less than we would have paid elsewhere. Definitely a great trade-off and deal if you can handle a bench that’s not 100% perfect by some folk’s standards. The owners were fantastic (and funny as heck) and we highly recommend you check out Teak Closeouts if you are purchasing outdoor teak furniture (we will be).
Here’s the bench:
Unpacked the box and had the bench assembled in 30 minutes.
Just before then, we had been at Green-Wood Cemetery to grab some of their FREE bark mulch to add a layer to the bamboo planters. The wind was drying out the roots, so we felt a layer would keep the roots moist, away from the wind and heck, bamboo loves decomposing organic matter…and looks darn nice too. You can get your own mulch at Green-Wood via their 25th Street/5th Avenue entrance. Once inside the first gate, make a hard left and follow the road to the pile of mulch behind the stand of pine trees on the 24th Street side of the Cemetery. We used contractor bags to haul our lot home.
Photo: Two inches of mulch from two contractor bags
Back to the garden. After our first hiccup, we decided to turn over the garden (again!), level out the grade and redo our pathways, this time laying them into the dirt and leveling them with a mallet. While not 100% perfect, it does the job and will work for this season’s planting. We may explore something permanent down the road (i.e. 2010) as well as building our own hand made bird bath (for a later post).
After we reset the stone, it was time to plant seeds: lettuce, mustard, Swiss chard and beets. After that was finished, off to Home Depot and Lowes to pick up the first of the veggie plants and some annuals.
Photo: Reminding us what we planted and redone stone path
While at Home Depot, we came across some natural reed fencing. We were psyched. To back track, another research project of Mrs. Tikihouse was finding some natural fencing to cover the “batting cage/warm up” green fence. While we found some great bamboo products based in Cali, the shipping was going to be more that the actual product. Our biggest desire, besides covering the fence, was to have something 1.) natural and 2.) in place before the condos next door went on the market, thus showing folks from day one that there will be a natural fence there of some sort and 3.) economical.
The price on the natural reed fencing was just right ($28 a length– we used two) and the 6 foot tall, 16 feet long sections just fit. Using some wire “bar ties” made for bagging sand/rock (Home Depot), we attached our new fence in approx. an hour to the lovely green fencing/poles. And man, does it make a difference!
Photo: No more green fence!
Next the basil, tomatoes and hot peppers went in and the day was winding to an end. We chose simple bright/cheery annuals since we did not ultimately know what/where we will be planting most of our items. They went in existing boxes that define the ledge of the patio (and so no one walks off the edge!)
We were exhausted, but very happy with the work.
A recap slideshow:
Next up, meeting with Diana and making some decisions about the planting plan…and planting. Stay tuned.