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It’s the end of July and I’m still chipping away at my outdoor summer to do list. I’m trying to finish up the list before I go back to work in two weeks (saaayy whaaaaaaaat?!!) and I think I did it! Here’s where we left off with our backyard to-do list…
-Paint Electric Meters (what a difference this made!)
-Create outdoor wall art or a vertical garden or window flower boxes (Faux Wood Flower Box Tutorial)
-Add Flowers to back landscaping (hydrangeas!)
-DIY a new doormat/possibly a wreath (a DIY doormat that takes LESS than 10 mins)
-Hire an electrician to add electricity outside (we currently have NONE, which officially makes us look like the Grinch on the block come December)
-Create a straight line on the back of the house’s landscaping
-Update Outdoor Rug
Before I cross off those final tasks on our list, I wanted to share the deets with all of you.
Add Electrical Outside:
Before this summer, we had NO outlets or electricity outside. This meant that we couldn’t put up Christmas lights, we could never plug in lawn tools outside (hello awkward cord running out the window), and we had zero lights outside on the patio (which is not very functional if you want to have people over past 8:30pm). What’s so ironic about this whole situation is that we have about 5,000 different wires on the outside of our house. I cringe. (see below)
The hardest part of finally getting some functional electricity outside was finding an electrician. When I finally got a referral from a family friend, I was so excited to get started. He worked for just a few hours to put not one, not two, but THREE outlets outside. One on the patio, one on the back of the house, and one on the other side of the house near the front. <– who knew three outlets would ever make me this excited?!
PLUS, the electrician also installed a sensor light in the back of the house. If we ever have people over in the backyard (bags tournament?) or if any creature scampers through our yard in the wee hours of the night, the sensor will click on and illuminate our yard.
Rookie Tip: I actually learned that a device on the fixture is what makes the light become a sensor light, any bulb will work and magically start “sensing” based on the settings you choose on the device. We used two efficient Cree Flood LED Lights for this project, which you can pick up at Home Depot. They’re only about $5 and have a 10 year warranty, meaning I’ll be close to 40 when I change these suckers… yikes! And because they’re energy-efficient, they’re supposed to save us $150 over the course of that time, compared to a regular lightbulb <– with all these new outlets installed around here, we’ll take all the savings we can get. The bulb uses 85% less energy than other flood lights, which literally blows my mind… HOW?!
Being the dorks we are, Matt and I put our new flood lights to the test (because that’s what you do when you’re both teachers on summer break with nothing better to do). We did a little hyperlapse video throughout the night to see the new light in action. Spoiler alert…. not too much happening in our backyard throughout the night.
Hahaha, we’re such dorks…. but how cool are those lightning bugs?!
We also used the back outlet to hang string lights on our patio so we can have people over PAST 8:30pm. Crazy, I know! If you thought I was excited about the outlets, you haven’t heard anything until you hear me talk about these new string lights. #obsessed
Project Hide Wires:
Like I mentioned, we have about 5,000 random wires on the back of our house, most of them inactive and a total eye sore. It was time to cover those babies up. This simple fix is not a perfect solution, but it’ll do for now.
A little white trellis + some vine-y plants to mask the maze of wires! Hopefully by next summer this plant will be sprouted and successfully covering the wire wall. <– one thing I learned about gardening… instant gratification isn’t really an option. So as much as I wish these vines would grow all over the back of our house by the time I wake up tomorrow, not the reality. #bummer
Straighten out the landscaping lines: (Thanks mom!)
See this uneven line of grass/mulch. It’s literally been taunting me all summer. Call me crazy, but I feel like it makes a nice space look a tad “unkempt.”
My mom came over one day, and we cleaned this baby up! Not a fun job, and one that took some serious muscle, but one that (I think) made a big difference. We used a straight edge shovel, some twine, and a tape measure to get a clean line, which actually is A LOT harder than it sounds. #dontbefooled #likeiwas
Thanks mom!! I think of you every time I look at this nice clean line and really hope I can maintain this look so we never have to do that again.
Update the Outdoor Rug:
Tip for buying outdoor furniture: wait until mid to late July and you will get everything A LOT cheaper. My old Target outdoor rug had seen better days (it was almost 3 years old!), so I thought it was finally time to splurge on a new one. When I saw this rug at Target on clearance, I was smitten…. until I had to travel to 5 different Target stores to get my hands on the 8×10 size!! (sold out online too).
I guess it was meant to be because I was finally able to find one. While I was in and out of a series of Targets, I also bought a few new CLEARANCE pieces to change things up on the patio. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love my patio furniture but if I had to start over, I probably wouldn’t buy a full matching set. I like mixed & matched items and these few new items allowed me to start to work in that direction while still using my original set. #babysteps
If you also noticed, I brought my office table to the patio (crazy, I know). I fell in love with a gold trunk for the office makeover (more on the $10 score soon!) and this table was left homeless. After a little brainstorming I brought it out here and never looked back. It’s functional, the glass is secure so it won’t blow away/break, and it allows me to mix and match without having to buy a new table. <– a win in my playbook.
Flower Box Updates:
Those dang flower boxes. If you remember from way back in May, the flower boxes and I started out on rocky ground, but they have definitely redeemed themselves by sporting these beautiful, overflowing blooms. These flowers add such stunning color and life to our landscaping, now I can’t imagine our house without them. Take a look at how they’ve shaped up so far this season….
Not bad, right?
And last but very not least, let’s catch up on the 4 hydrangea bushes we planted earlier this summer. I am digging the progress of these beauties and really can’t imagine our backyard without them.
But I do have a few questions for any avid gardeners tuning in. These blooms started out blue, then slowly transitioned to purple, now they’re kind of a white-ish/pink. Not that I don’t love the pink, but is there a way I can help turn them back to blue? Any tips or tricks are very welcome!
And as much as I love watching these beauties grow, a friend was over earlier this summer and encouraged me to ENJOY the fruits of my labor and cut the blooms to display inside of our home too. I was hesitant at first, but I’m so glad she pushed me to do just that. I have cut lots of hydrangeas this summer and used them as hostess gifts, get well soon gifts and have even used them in our house too. Knowing that the flowers were grown in our backyard makes me appreciate the blooms that much more.
WHOA… sorry for the novel! I’m glad I could update you guys on some of the projects I shared earlier in the summer, but wow I didn’t expect to turn this into a rambling hot mess.
Bottom line: my outdoor list is DONE… well kind of. The anticipated items on the to do list have been taken care of, but an unexpected one has been added. The trees that were planted when we had a drainage system installed on our property two years ago have died. Like almost all of them…. legit dead.
So right when we thought we were in the clear, we will be tackling quite possibly the biggest outdoor project of them all this fall. Wish us luck…. we’ll need it. And if you have any advice, we’ll take that too!!