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house blog

projects around the house

 

a small front garden fence.

jenn pan

we're slowly working on upping the curb appeal of the house. well, except for the yard, which we've stopped watering the lawn because of the drought so that's dying a slow, ugly death. anyway, there are utilities in the front of the house, that then run along side it. the pipes are painted the same color of the house, and there's a small garden bed in front of it, but they're still pretty visible.

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in addition to that, at some point there were wired lights put into the garden, but they have never worked since we first bought the house, and they were even starting to fall apart. we finally decided to do something about it!

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first we dug up those busted lights. at some point, the pipe just ends and becomes buried wire. that's not dangerous or anything... luckily, they were literally not connected to anything, and we were able to just pull them up!

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one of the lights actually ran under the gas and water mains, and since we felt uncomfortable trying to dig it around those things, james just ended up sawing that one off several inches into the ground.

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we cleaned up everything toward the back of the garden, moved a few plants, and started working on putting in a small redwood fence to match the fence and gate that went in a few months ago. we used some string to mark where we wanted the top front of the fence to go and then dug three one-foot-deep holes for posts.

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we used pressure treated two-by-fours and quickrete fast-setting concrete mix for the posts. after letting it set overnight, we filled the remainder of the holes with some drainage rock, and used a circular saw to cut off the excess post.

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we bought eight foot long six-by-one redwood for the fence itself, which matched most closely with the big fence. for this project, we bought some new toys from harbor freight! a three gallon air compressor and 18-gauge brad air nailer, both central pneumatic. we were going to just use a drill and screws, but this matched the way the fence was done and was so much faster, and easier, and totally worth the purchase.

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the circular saw came back out to clean up the edges and then we stained it with the same penofin clear redwood stain that was used on the fence (pluse, we still had plenty leftover). some of the plants actually touch our new mini fence, so we had to get creative during the staining process..

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after the stain was dried and the fence was finished (yay!) we added landscape barrier, stepping stones and pea gravel just to clean up the space and make it really look like a nice access area for the utilities.

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we are pretty proud of ourselves! this is our first real DIY construction project! we've been slowly building up the tools we need over various small projects, and it really felt like we finally had the right tools to get this done without spending ridiculous amounts of money. getting this and the rocks into the side yard has made us really excited to get back to doing house projects again. i'm really hoping we get through a lot of fun outdoor projects this summer, and i can't wait to share them all!

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the slow exterior beautification continues.

jenn pan

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we needed to remove the two trees on the side of the house, as seen above. the one further down, that is in its own little circle, was pretty diseased. the one closest to camera was doing just fine, but right next to the house and foundation, which made us rather uncomfortable. we were sad to remove the trees, especially since our back and side yard is basically all concrete otherwise, but we really felt like we had to.

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with the trees gone, the side looked sad with its little dirt patches, so we decided to do a little bit of cleanup.

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we started by just tackling the patch right up against the house. knocked out those brick liners, raked the dirt clean of roots and other big pieces of debris, and used a cement block to tamp it flat.

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then we put down landscape barrier and covered the whole thing in red desert rock.

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tada! much cleaner right?

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we have big plans to deck over much of the concrete you see, plus put in some raised garden beds over the red rock. it's been awhile since we've really done any hands-on house projects of our own, and this really got our juices going! we've already finished up another project that i haven't gotten around to blogging yet, but look for that soon!

a new composter.

jenn pan

we started composting a little over a year ago, with just a basic container. we've been adding kitchen scraps to it regularly (vegetable and fruit ends and skins, eggshells, coffee grounds) as well as any sort of mulchy paper material (usually the containers you get produce like eggs or mushrooms in). we hadn't actually tried to get any compost out of it even after a year, because it never really filled up, and we couldn't tell if it was actually doing anything. 

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even then, i've considered it a success because it allowed us to greatly reduce the amount of trash we were generating. besides, the compost pile was continually shrinking, and wasn't stinky, so we just assumed nothing bad the right thing was happening.

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happily, when we started migrating our compost to the new one (more on that in a second), we found that we actually had really dark, beautiful, wormy compost in the bottom two inches. we were definitely not expecting it whatsoever - we didn't even add worms, but there were dozens of them!

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i wanted to switch from a top-down to a tumbler composter so that it would get hotter, be easier to turn, and hopefully compost faster. we ended up getting the good ideas compost wizard jr because it was relatively cheap, required no assembly, and would sit low to the ground. it also holds only about half of what our previous one held, which i think is better for the amount of compostable waste we generate. unfortunately, worms don't do well in tumblers so i'm kind of sad to lose their composting benefits, but i didn't even know we had them in the first place.

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the barrel has a big twist-off opening, which should make it nearly impossible for animals to get into. the base has wheels built into it, so you can just spin the barrel on top of it. the barrel is also inherently easier to transport even when full - just roll it to where you need it! i have some sort of raised garden bed in the plans for later this year, and i would love to be able to use "homemade" compost in it!

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