Before we delve into today's post, I want to mention something that is surely weighing on a lot of people's minds. After the horrible events in Boston that occurred yesterday, we'd like to extend our heartfelt sympathy and thoughts to the the marathon runners and spectators, especially those that were injured. We'd also like to express our gratitude to the first responders and officials that are working tirelessly to provide support and safety. I feel saddened and sickened by yesterday's events, but am so grateful my uncle, who was participating in the race, and my aunt, who was cheering him on, are safe and sound. 

It's hard to concentrate on other things right now, so we hope our blog post might provide a moment or two of a departure from the events in Boston.

Man oh man, do we have a crazy long to do list in front of us this week. If you read yesterday's post about our recent curb appeal efforts, you know that we realized we had signed up to host a neighborhood party this month. With little time to spare, we took stock of what we needed to accomplish this week before 40 or so people descend on the house. 

So where are we, exactly, in our to do list? Here's a quick recap of where we stand. Before Friday's event, we need to:

  • Trim the topiaries and plant flowers in the front urns
  • Plant flowers in the front bed, and mulch the area
  • Clean the front steps and vestibule
  • Rake up the sticks and debris along the side of the house
  • Clean out the beds in the back yard
  • Plants herbs
  • Plant the vegetable garden
  • Clean and oil the outdoor furniture
  • Clean the house
  • Oil the kitchen counters
  • Replace the Christmas carol artwork in the sun porch with something less seasonal
  • Purchase wine, cups, and other party items
  • Set up an outdoor buffet for the party

Tonight we decided to tackle item number four on the list. Although not a top priority, the area on either side of our alley wall was in desperate need of a little TLC. On the alley side, general debris had collected over the last several months, to include sticks, leaves, trash, and a few indications that we have inconsiderate pet owners that walk our alley. (I'll spare you photographic evidence of the last item.) Here's a look at what we were starting with.

Sure, it wasn't horrible, but it needed a bit of a spruce up. I got to work, quickly raking the base of the wall, pulling old leaves and general junk from the roots of the ivy. I raked the debris into several small piles, and Alex got to work bagging. 

Meanwhile I spent a few minutes pulling up clumps of weeds that were growing alongside the front of our house. 

After only 20 or so minutes, the area was substantially improved. It's a subtle difference in the photos, but in person it seems more apparent that our home is inhabited by people who weren't raised by wolves.

On a bit of a side note, what we have now is 1,000 times better than what we had when we moved in. Years of neglect left the ivy struggling to survive. Now that we've worked on it for 10 years,  trimming and training the ivy along the way, the old images are both shocking and a distant memory.

The next step involved the narrow alley on the inside of our wall. This tight and rather dysfunctional space unfortunately serves as a catch all for yard tools, broken pots, the sky pencils that used to reside in our front urns, half used bags of soil, and other miscellaneous junk. It's a total eyesore, and unfortunately we've yet to crack how to properly organize this narrow space. (Perhaps a little shed build-out is in Alex's future?)

Nevertheless, a cleanup was in order, so I first got to work trimming back the long strands of ivy.

Meanwhile Alex began identifying items for the trash, as well as organizing the items that were staying. Is hiding junk behind the air conditioner really a solution, especially when it's in plain view from the dining room window? Definitely not, but it will have to do for now.

Even Lulu looked at us disapprovingly for that move.

Once we had the majority of the junk cleaned up neatly tucked behind the air conditioner, we swept up the yard waste and neatly wound up the long garden hose.

All in all, the area isn't "organized" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's greatly improved from the hot mess that it was just a few hours ago.

It's all part of a good spring cleaning, and I'm still grateful for the self imposed deadline that's forcing us to tackle the yard work in a timely manner this year. 

Do you have areas of your home that you tend to ignore? Maybe a space that seems totally unusable? Do you have any ideas on how we can better organize this area? We'd love to hear your ideas.


Comments 9

Comments

Enya
4/16/2013 at 11:01 AM
I love that you are having a neighborhood party -- how did your neighborhood start that? Was it already in progress when you moved to the area?

I'd love to start something like this with our small neighborhood; we've lived here for a year and I'm still meeting people randomly and only because I nearly tackle them when I'm outside and they're outside at the same time. Awkward!
Wendy
4/16/2013
Hi Enya. The neighborhood TGIF parties were started by a former neighbor, who brought the idea from New Orleans. We hold them every other month, and take turns hosting. The host house provides the beverages, and each guest brings an appetizer or dessert to share. During the December party, the sign up list for the next year is circulated. This style party lightens the load of hosting, and is a great way to get to know those around you!
4/16/2013 at 11:45 AM
You all have me itching to clean up the back of my house now. We're in the limbo of "we really need to clean up the area behind the garage, but we can't really use it until we put in a patio, and we can't put in a patio until we enclose the adjacent screened-in-porch" so it just stays a little junky. So basically I can't clean up my yard until I spend $$$ on renovations and a patio. How do you like that logic?

A storage shed would be a fabulous idea! That area may be tight, but I bet you could find a great storage solution back there!
Wendy
4/16/2013
Totally been there! :-) I vote clean up the area behind the garage anyway. It feels so good, especially this time of year, to have a clean, fresh home.
Kelly
4/16/2013 at 11:51 AM
love that ivy and your stone wall, so private. does the ivy stay alive during winter? I'm in PA, I would like to grow ivy around my wood fence for more privacy, but I'm worried the ivy will not live during our winter, and do you think it would rot wood fencing?
Wendy
4/16/2013
Hi Kelly,

Yes, the ivy does live during the winter. It stops growing and turns a darker green, but it maintains its leaves.

I'm not 100% sure about the wood fencing. As long as the ivy isn't trapping water against the fence, I would imagine it would work well.

Thanks!
JC
4/16/2013 at 2:14 PM
Nice. The ivy wall looks a lot better than the mismatched brick and cinder block from before.

This reminds me that I really need to rake the lawn and plant (buy) some grass seed. Last year the city cleaned up some of the bare patches, but they planted more weeds than grass. I also haven't gotten a garden hose yet.

I have plans for a bit of a flower bed, but not until I finish restoring the porch (so maybe next year?) I'm thinking about Peonies and Hydrangeas. Perhaps some white lilies as well (Easter lilies).
Wendy
4/16/2013
We agree! The before was pretty rough looking.

Hydrangeas are one of my favorites. They'll be beautiful!
BBW
4/30/2013 at 2:51 PM
Do you know what type of ivy you have? I've looked into planting some to grow over my fence but there are so many different varieties.
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