Venturing into Urban Gardening

Basil! Radishes! I can’t believe Andy’s gardening adventure is already paying off.



Oh, I guess I should tell you how we got here.  With the lack of blogging and all it was probably to miss that we built a veggie garden (although I did post about it on Instagram {ThisSarahLoves} – you should follow me there for little in-progress project snippets).

We meant to build a raised garden bed last summer, but never got around to it. We saw a DIY vinyl kit at Costco a while back, and almost bought it, until we realized that 4’x8′ was WAY too big for our backyard. Instead, we found this 4’x4′ cedar kit at Home Depot. We added organic dirt, and grabbed a bunch of seedlings and some seed packets to fill it.

The kit was SUPER easy to put together. In the time it took me to run to the car and back (to grab the weed barrier pins) my dad and Andy built pretty much the entire thing!

Backyard - Garden Bed Build

We filled the bed with organic raised planter bed dirt (we just found it at Home Depot) and used twine and a staple gun to divide the garden into 16 square feet. Next, with Penelope’s help  we planted our seedlings and seeds. We bought a selection of herbs and veggies. (The unlabeled one, is bee balm, to help attract bees and butterflies to our garden).



It looked a little sparse when we first planted everything, but we probably should’ve been a little more careful about the size some of these would get! The poor lavender in the back corner is being a little over-shadowed by the Zucchini, and two dill plants were probably one too many.  Oh and we realized we don’t really like basil all that much…


Here we are one month in! Can you believe how much everything has grown?! The carrots stand a chance now that we pulled out the crop of radishes in the front-center part of the bed. The basil also looks a bit healthier after a trim.  Oh and the rosemary got a bit of a haircut too to help season the leg of lamb we had this evening.

Can you believe this is where we started about 18 months ago? Shrubs, shrubs, and more shrubs!

Backyard - Before



A Usable Backyard (Finally!)

Bet you didn’t expect to hear anything from me any time soon! It’s been so quiet here at This Sarah Loves.  Luckily, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been doing anything around the house – in fact I’m really far behind in updating you on all the happenings around here. Today I want to show off how great our backyard looks.  After 18 months of barely using our backyard, we have a gorgeous, fenced in, yard!

Backyard - BeforeBackyard After

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Straightening out the Backyard

I think this is the first time I’ll be showing you before and after pictures where the before pictures look substantially better than the after.  I guess the good news is that the “after” pictures are just progress pictures and soon enough the real after will look much better than the before.

This is what our backyard looked like when we placed an offer on the house.  The yard ends just past those hedges (the pride of India is in the greenbelt, not in our yard).
Backyard - Before from Back Door 2

Here’s the view from the other side.  Lush, but crowded, making the back yard feel tiny. (That giant shed doesn’t help anything either…)
Backyard - Before from Greenbelt

This weekend we put our family visiting from overseas to work and they helped us pull out the last of the hedges, take apart the stone flower beds, build a new bed along the western fence line, and level out some low spots on the patio.

Here’s the bed as seen through an upstairs window (ignore the dirt for now).

Backyard - New Bed from Inside
Here’s the view from the green belt.  There’s obviously plenty still to be done, such as getting that shed out of there and replacing it with a significantly smaller one, fencing in the yard, and then filling in the planter bed. Eventually we’ll also build some free-standing vegetable garden beds along the fence on the eastern side and add a patio dining set.

From this angle you can also see why we need that bed.  Our yard sits about a foot lower than our neighbors, and to avoid a substantial slope in our yard, we had to create a step down. The fence will sit on the upper level and the garden bed will minimize the height difference between the yards.

Backyard - New Bed from Greenbelt

As much as I’d love to fill up this garden bed with day lilies (like the ones we have blooming in the front yard), I also like that the bed serves as extra seating, so perhaps something a little less unruly would work better.  Whatever we decided on, it will have to wait until we have the fence up.

Backyard - New Bed from Back Door

Oh and here’s a shot of our newly leveled patio.  Thanks to my cousin for removing the sunken stones and adding the dirt necessary to straighten things out.  Hopefully this solves the standing water puddles we’ve been dealing with after the rain. We’ll be adding some river rocks in the dirt beds on either side of the door (under the water meter and under the drain pipe).

Backyard - Leveled PatioDid you trick any relatives into doing hard labor this weekend?

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Just a few things

My parents and cousins came to visit over Easter and we had a great time being tourists in DC, working in the garden, showing off all the work we’ve done in the house, and in general, just having a nice visit!

Although most of the cherry blossoms got rained off right before my parents arrived, we found a couple of trees at the Tidal Basin that still had blossoms and we took tons of pictures.  I’ll spare you the vacation picture slide show, but here’ my favorite one.

CherryBlossoms in DC

We also visited the tulip garden again, and I think they were even prettier this year!  Tulips on the Mall


Back home, we ripped out some old shrubs and lots of weeds.  We also transplanted hostas into the garden bed on the side of our walkway.  I can’t believe how much the plants have grown in about a week!

Here they are a few days after we moved them:
Hostas in the Garden I


And here they are yesterday (about a week later!):

Hostas in the Garden II


Oh and instead of DIYing this weekend, we bought a new car.  My 10-year old Civic did not do so well this past winter and it was time for an upgrade!  I can’t wait to go thrift shopping with all the trunk space!



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