Sunday, March 27, 2011

Easy like Sunday...afternoon

Miss Minnie knows exactly how to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shrubbery, Part 2

"We want...A SHRUBBERY!" --the Knights who say Nee,
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Our newly de-shrubbed areas around the front of the house now have new shrubs, as of last Sunday. We were originally going to put crape myrtles in the bed by the front door and abelias along the front of the house, but while goofing along in Home Depot looking at all their shrubbery, we changed our minds. Now we've got African daisies by the front door and golden euonymus along the front of the house--lots of happy yellow. We also bought a red Gerbera daisy for a pop of color in the liriope bed along the front porch. It turned out pretty well. Also, the fescue we had seeded in all the shady, bare spots in the front yard is beginning to put out tiny, fine grasses, so the yard should look better this year.

Here's some nice color for ya. The fellow in the first pic is our across-the-street yardman; he came over to check out our work--after A. had dug nine holes for the new plants, of course.

Yes, that is indeed Sister A. wearing a Pioneer Woman sun bonnet. I bought it for her year before last, I think, from a woman on eBay who makes them. A's skin gets weird in the sun--it's like she's allergic to it. And this after a lifetime of gardening! So that's why she's all covered up.

Here are some close-ups of the purty flowers.  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pointy business

Sister A. wrote this about the brick repointing we had done to the house yesterday. At last, I know why it's called "repointing"!
----------ooo00000ooo----------
When we bought this beautiful little brick house, the inspection mentioned the fact that some mortar between the bricks needed replacing. We had already noticed this ourselves and made it a condition of the sale that the owner repair this. Humph. He dabbed at a few places with those little tubes of sanded grout intended to be used for bathroom tile repair. It looked terrible, but was not one of the major things we had on our list of to-dos.

So.....when we pulled out all the old shrubbery last weekend, it became very obvious that *all* the brick that had been hidden behind them all these years desperately needed repointing. That's what re-mortaring your brickwork is called. We decided it couldn't hurt to get an estimate and if it was anywhere near reasonable we would get it done.

The estimate was a little over our wish level, but not so badly that it negated the whole thing. So now we have newly repointed brickwork all over the whole house. They matched the old mortar exactly and if you didn't know it had been done, you wouldn't notice it at all.

Four guys descended on the house yesterday with a total plan of action. Guy #1 went around using an electric grinder to remove loose, cracked or otherwise damaged mortar. Guy #2 followed behind him cleaning out all the joints with a large, stiff brush. Guy #3 came next, stuffing fresh mortar in all the empty spaces. After it set for a few minutes, Guy #4 came along with a tool called a "pointer" and made it look like it had been smoothed out with someone's thumb. You all know how it looks when it's well done. So by this time, Guy #1 and Guy #2 were going around with brushes cleaning up the bricks themselves and wiping away excess mortar. Guy #3 and Guy #4 went around the house a 2nd time, looking for any spots that got missed on the first circuit. It was totally amazing to watch.

In the meantime, the boss showed up every 45 minutes to an hour to check on everything. They were all done and showing me the results in 3 hours. Everything got cleaned up off the sidewalks, patio and yard and they were gone in a flash. We are totally pleased with the results.

Do NOT set your sprinklers so that they water the brickwork on your house. It ruins the mortar after a while. And it leaves a water residue on the bricks that is reeeeeeally hard to get off.

This weekend we plan to start putting some shrubbery back in around the foundation. But we will plant them well back from the bricks and will never soak the bricks when watering them.

Our brickwork looks like new and our flower beds are ready for new plants!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shrubbery, Part 1

We assigned ourselves quite a job for this morning: sawing out the nasty, thorny pyracantha bushes and stinky whatever-it-is-that-smells-like-cat-pee bushes in front of the house, to wit:

The top two pix are (left) what we started with when we moved in and (right) what they looked like after I trimmed a buttload of overgrowth off of them. The bottom pic is what we accomplished today--NO nasty, smelly bushes at all. We've put kill-goop on the stumps and will let that do its work for a week, then we're going to plant 2-3 abelias in the part-shade section under my bedroom window and 2 crape myrtles (Red Rocket, if we can find them again this year) in the full-sun section by the front door.

The pic of the abelia below (left) is off the 'Net and I'm fairly sure it's correct, although I don't know what color we're getting. (I'm not a very accomplished plant person--that's Sister A's area.) The second pic below (right) is one of the crape myrtles we planted in the back last year; we want 2 more like that. They're all gonna be purty, and without any dang 4-inch thorns!

The cats were mighty confused by the sudden disappearance of their prime hiding places, and Minnie was particularly incensed. That's where she goes to hide from Sammi! I'm afraid the new bushes won't be big enough to hide behind for quite a while, but they'll get over it.  :)  Gee, maybe they'll learn to play together instead of Minnie running away from Sammi all the time--wouldn't that be nice!

After our little adventure this morning, we are absolute dead people. If we don't sleep like logs tonight, there's just something wrong with us.