Building a Flower Bed Using Mortar and Limestone!

Along with all the blessings of plopping your house down on a raw piece of land (peace and quiet, you can leave up your Christmas lights..etc.) you also accept the responsibility of setting up all the infrastructure. You build and maintain the roads, fences, and landscaping for your “neighborhood”. While landscaping was offered to us as part of our build, we passed on spending that money and like most things around here, preferred to do it ourselves. But, two years later, after the road (click to read about that here), the fence (we did that one twice! Here AND here) the gardens, the chicken coop…well, life….Ya know? It hasn’t ever been bumped to the top of the long list of to dos.

Here’s the house when we first moved in- tire tracks all through the yard!

But this year, we are determined to get the ball rolling for spring and are off to a great start!

This past weekend, we tackled building our front flower beds using left over limestone from our build and some white mortar mix.

On a recent, warm day, we set out our rocks in a way we thought we would like. We lived with it for a few weeks to be sure we were happy with it.

To prepare for the mortar, we unstacked, being very careful to keep them in the order we had very thoughtfully put them. They don’t fit together just any way!

We started by digging a shallow trench for our rocks to sit in. Be sure to dig wider than the actual rock, you can fill in with extra dirt later.

We then poured half a bag of this white mortar mix into our wheelbarrow. (Wear gloves, and avoid breathing the mortar dust.)

We slowly added a cup full of water at a time until the mortar made a paste. Add water slooooowly so that you avoid adding too much and having to add more mortar mix. And then more water….you get it. Once you mix it, you gotta use it.

Once we had a nice paste, we used a trowel to spread the mortar onto the bottom and side of each rock. We pressed down firmly, and even though a lot of our mortar mix oozed out the sides, we scraped it up and spread it on the next one. Waste not, want not….

This is while the mortar is still wet. Don’t worry, after smoothing, and dry, it looks much better.

After an hour, and half a bag of mortar mix, we had finished the back flower bed, and done a good portion of one of the front flower beds.

Back flower bed. This is where our strawberry patch and basil grow in the summer. There’s currently rosemary and leeks growing.
So far, so good! Lunch break!

Quick side note, we have been “working on” our difficult, rocky soil in these beds for a few months. By signing up on GetChipDrop.com, you can put yourself on a list to receive free (YES, FREE!) mulch in your area. Tree trimming/removal companies often chip the trees they remove and/or trim and then need to responsibly dispose of their mulch. We have received two truck loads and used it in many ways (hmmm. Future blog post maybe?!).

The truck drops the pile at the front gate, so it’s up to us to get it into the truck and bring it to our house. Another way we stay “ranch fit” 🙂

The moisture from the mulch helps softens up the soil, adds good bacteria and makes it much easier to work with.

Nothing like a picture of the ground right?!
I do love the look of mulch and, bonus: how it helps our soil.
We used mulch for our front walkway here.
Better shot of the front walkway.
Planning a post soon, sharing how we built these sweet, little gates.

We have already begun some little seedlings indoors and once Spring finally comes, we hope to have some plants ready to go in.

We ordered these seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

As always, I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you so much for reading about another adventure here at our Yellow House. See you next week!

(If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of my quirky diys, outdoor projects, or ranch life musings, be sure you subscribe to my blog by typing your email in the “Follow” widget above. I appreciate every single follower, so thank you SO much. )

Summer, I love you.

Today is the last Friday of the school year for us and I am really excited for summer! Summer has always been my favorite season. Yes, I know, it’s hot. People always feel the need to tell me that.
“But it’s so hot.” Yes, it sure is. I’m a native Texan, this is my time. I love the heat, I love the pool, I love wearing flip flops, the lazy mornings, church camp, summer camp, fireflies, snow cones, running through the sprinkler, family vacations, grilling, keeping your pool pony tail for DAYS, reading tons of books, the beach, the lake….it’s just the best. I’ve always loved it.From my deep pit of teenage angst, I counted down the days until summer camp like a survivor on a desert island. Scratching a tally mark for each never ending day until I could finally be “rescued” and go back to where I “belonged” : Camp.  Mom, dad, sorry about being a dramatic and unreasonable teenager.

So, here are a few outdoor projects we’ve done just in time to be enjoyed this summer.

Bring on the Summer!

 

This swing used to hang out by my grandad’s pool. The tree we hung it from is a bit outside our dining room window and had a swing-worthy branch on it, for sure.

The swing is chippy, and a bit weathered but I liked the look so I gave it a sanding to smooth it out and sprayed it with water seal spray.

 

Brian did some research and found that the most humane way to hang something from a tree is actually by screwing your hooks into the branch. That way the tree can continue to grow around the screws. (Hanging chains over can dig into the branch) We screwed in the hooks, then used “s” hooks to hang our chain.

 

A “nature tea table where I can have a tea party with all my dolls” was requested by Ms. C. She and Brian drew up some plans, looked at some wood scraps and put this sweet little table and benches together in an afternoon. The benches are blocks of limestone, and the table is a stump with a board screwed into the top. C picked out a fabric scrap that we glued on and waterproofed. The animals and dolls have been talking about it ever since. It’s the best outdoor tea party any of us had ever been to. 😉

 

Over at the Ranch house, we re-mulched the bed and planted a few new native plants, like Mexican sage and rosemary, but also portulaca and sweet potato vine. This little chair has been broken for years, but we have had it stored away. We just knew we could think of something to use it for. I pulled out some screws, shimmied that pot in there and again, I waterproofed.

 

This old crock was another old treasure we’ve had for a while.

I just love that old fence. We are slowly replacing the fence around the house, but this fence stays. Since it’s elevated off the ground (it’s built on a rock wall), we’ll leave it for “looks” and sentimentality. There are pictures of us as kids, out by the pool and that fence is there. It looks much less “rustic”, but I just love how authentic it is and to me, it epitomizes the ranch house. “I’m hanging in there. I still work-kind of. I was built by hand, and built well.” Turns out even a well-built fence can’t remain functional for 60 years.

Anyone else favor summer? Do you like to be busy? Just hang out?

Whatever you do-remember, it’s hot. 😎

Thanks for reading!! -Steph