2-Second Tip: Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs are made of plastic for a reason: And that reason is MOLD.

Do not use a natural fiber rug outdoors.

This is what three days’ worth of rain quickly made of this natural fiber rug (World Market, 2006).

Do yourself a favor and if you’re going to decorate a patio, either paint a design straight on the concrete or purchase an outdoor rug. If you do so, you may spare yourself the loss of an old rug friend.

Reflections on Yard Work

The most recent photo of our exterior

Living in the hacienda marked our first year of taking care of a yard of our own. So here are some reflections–including a few contributions by Doug as well.

  • Raking leaves is the worst.

One good thing about this winter is that it was comparatively mild. We didn’t get any blizzards or snowed-in days. Unfortunately, this meant that the leaves took forever to fall, little by little. Our street is filled with old houses and mature trees– this translated into LOTS of leaves for a long time, since each species of tree dropped leaves at different times. We must have taken a pickup-bed full of leaves to the dump at least five times throughout the fall and winter!

  • Mild winters are awesome

One–we didn’t have to buy a snow shovel since the previous tenants had left one in the garage. WINNING! Two–we only had to use the snow shovel but once or twice since the winter was extremely mild. I was expecting the worst since in February and March 2011 my car got totally buried a couple of times.

  • Doug loves mowing the lawn.

I’m so happy for this fact. If it were up to me, I’d mow once a month. However, beginning in March-April, Doug started mowing the lawn when he got home from work every Friday (to get it over with before the weekend). Being a sports buff, he liked mowing it on the diagonal to make it look like the sports fields he’s seen on TV since he was little. To mow our “back forty,” the section beyond the wire fence) he had to awkwardly/sneakily cut through the neighbor’s carport so he only mowed that every 2-3 weeks. That section of the yard isn’t used at all, and is mostly weeds, but chopping everything down to an even level every so often really made it look nicer.

  • Related to the above: Edging really makes a difference.

Chalk it up to laziness, but I never saw the reason Doug pulled out the weed-whacker every time he mowed as well. (Eventually, the edging was reduced to every 2 weeks–once it got ridiculously hot). Again, if it were up to me, I would not have edged a thing! Truthfully, I could tell a big difference after edging and I’m glad he took the time to do it (even if he had to buy two extension cords to get all the way to the sidewalk!).

  • Planting seeds works!!

Back in March, we were shocked when a bulb came up all on its own. So I got all excited and planted a few packets of seeds I picked up from Wal-Mart for just a couple bucks each. Much to my surprise, around May, flowers started coming up!! I had seeded really really heavily since I was suspicious of them being picked up by birds or not beginning to grow at all. Big mistake. I really should have put them down with more thought and purpose. Turns out, lots of them grew and eventually ended up crowding each other out. We had to pull out all the poppies in August since they were yellow and withered, and eventually pulled out the cosmos and zinnias too.

  • Mulch makes a big difference–at first.

You can read about our (not-so-exciting) mulching adventures here. The bed looked fantastic until the cosmos and zinnias went crazy, got insanely tall (the zinnias over 5 feet!) and the bermuda grass started coming back through as well. If we had taken the time to weed a few times a week, we might have been able to keep it at bay, but temps were regularly over 100 this summer–and didn’t cool down in the evening like this California girl is used to!! I was not going to spend time out there. Oh, and did I mention how my body overreacts to mosquitoes? No, thank you. I’ll stay in and let the bermuda grass come through.

  • Watering is a huge pain.

Growing up, my parents always had underground sprinkler systems (that they installed themselves!) that made watering a no-brainer. To be honest, I didn’t notice a huge jump in the water bill like I’d been expecting, but hooking up the hose to the sprinkler and moving it around the yard was a huge pain. Not to mention, forgetting it was on at all! Some sections of the yard really benefitted from our forgetfulness. Doug and I had a standoff regarding how much/often to water, and we eventually compromised with watering most days–but not until the sun had started going down. Being a drought-conscious SoCal girl, it is heresy to water during peak/daylight hours (but people in our town do it all the time!!).

Do you remember any impressions you had from the first time you had your own yard? I’m glad we had this experience but, honestly, it’s a relief that we’ll be moving into an apartment complex with professional gardeners! 

Open Your Eyes

If you’re reading this, I assume your eyes are open. What I’m really talking about here is something we really should have done to our home waaaay back last fall when we painted the exterior. Painting the wood sections between window panes.

Here’s how it used to look:

And after the exterior was painted (above picture from last September, below picture from last November):

I don’t think you can tell unless I point it out, but all the wood in between the window panes on the front three windows (and all over the house if we’re being honest) was still painted maroon. Burgundy. Whatever color you want to call it, it certainly wasn’t doing much to make the windows stand out. Which they should, because they are pretty cool!

So, finally we painted all the wood in between the frames with Olympic exterior white and let me tell you– it took forever. I don’t know if it was the paint or what, but each window took like three coats which was sooooo time consuming. I’m talking like a season and a half of Parks and Rec. Yes, I even primed beforehand to attempt to prevent the burgundy coming through, but to get a nice even look, it still took three coats.

Anyway, here’s the house now (in blaring sunlight)… doesn’t it look like the house’s “eyes” are wide open? Also, our flower bed is out. of. control.

With the bamboo blinds down, it looks most dramatic. What an update! And I don’t know if it’s a placebo effect or not, but having all that extra woodwork painted white makes it feel like more light streams into the house than before, when they were dark burgundy.

Isn’t it funny how something minor like that can make a big difference? The maroon is now banished from every square inch of the exterior. Preparing a house for sale can sure light a fire under you to take care of long-neglected details, can’t it?