Apr 17, 2013

The great outdoors

  I don't know how it is where the rest of you live, but around here it magically decided to become spring. Which means I’ve finally had time to assess my jungle yard. According to my neighbor, the original owner was an avid horticulturist and was out working on the yard every chance he had. Fast forward to the year 2013 and it resembles the way Dorothy found the emerald city in Return to OZ. It’s completely overgrown and and in total disrepair. From what I’m told it has been at least two years since anyone has taken care of it. I’m guessing thats a conservative number, considering my hedges are so large they cover portions of the driveway. This full blown wilderness is now in the hands of a man who has never owned a yard and suffers from severe allergies. More then once, my friends have referred to me as “bubble boy.”

  Like most things I know nothing about, I shrugged and proclaimed “how hard can it be.” Relying on a combination of faith, raw luck, and general chutzpah I’ve made a first stab at getting things under control. I can tell this will take years rather then weeks, but I have a vision and to be honest I'm finding yard work to be strangely relaxing. Maybe it’s because I spend my days on a computer, but its nice to go out and play in the dirt.

 I always thought a yard was three feet, then I started mowing the lawn. ~C.E. Cowman


  1. You've got some nice hyacinths poking through in there. I bet those beds are loaded with bulbs. That BBQ is great and the paver patio looks to be in great shape (minus some weed cleanup) too. We're starting our outdoor work too - kinda just cleaning things up and watching what is growing so we can make a plan to move bulbs and replant next year. What condition is all that railing in? Still solid just rusty?

    1. Still solid, with only a few rust spots. In bad need of painting though. Its one of my summer projects. The patio is in great shape. Only needs some minor weeding and a good power wash. The only area with weeds is the BBQ. I'm like you, Im waiting to see what grows so I can plan for next year. I know for one thing most of my yard needs to have the grass redone. its been taken over by many different things. Thats a far off plan though.

      By the way, I saw the pictures of your place on the last retrorenovation.com picture upload. Its looking amazing. What do you use to get your tile so dang shiny?

    2. That's awesome - at first Mary and I were sure we would replace a lot of our black railings but once I painted them and we exposed the wood floors they looked awesome. A suggestion I learned painting various railings here: you'll get better results if you brush on an oil-based black paint, instead of spray painting.

      Also, you might be able to encourage the grass a bit just by using weed control fertilizer and aerating it so that the good stuff grows back in.

      On the house pics - thanks! As the week went on there were some crazy things (pretty awesome though) that appeared on there. It was fun watching it.

      I do a three step process for my vinyl tile floors...I got all the materials at Home Depot:
      1. Clean it with "Krud Kutter" spray. This stuff is awesome. You spray it on, let it sit for 30 seconds or so, then give it a good scrubbing. You'll notice that your tile will return to it's original unfinished matte look. I did this with rags on hands and knees for best results.

      2. Using a damp microfiber mop (they have nice ones for $10) put on Zep Stain Resistant Floor Sealer. I do two coats - you wait about 10-15 minutes between each coat. The stuff self-levels so you just spread it on with the mop and are good to go. You'll notice a light sheen coming back on the floor. This step prevents anything from staining the floor if it gets on it.

      3. Rinse the damp mop and switch to Zep Wet-Look Floor Finish. I put on 3-4 coats, waiting 15-20 minutes between each one. You won't notice it getting real shiny until the 2nd coat dries. This also self-levels so you just make sure you don't miss spots and you'll be fine.

      I didn't need a lot - one gallon of each of those covers something like 300-400 square feet. The other cool thing about the Zep products is that while they are shiny, they are not slippery. Apparently they formulate the wax so it shines without turning your tile into a skating rink, which is awesome. The very first time I waxed the foyer floor I used old-school SC Johnson Wax (the original stuff) and buffed it. It wasn't as shiny as I wanted and it was downright dangerous, unless we were doing Tom Cruise "Risky Business" re-enactments.

    3. You, sir, are a wealth of information. I can't thank you enough for this and every other tip. I will definitely give that floor process a try!