Monday, 23 September 2013

the front of our home... so far

for more details and some 'before' shots, please keep on reading... 

 i'll tell you a little bit about the decisions we've made for our front yard:

-right from the get go, three years ago, we knew we wanted to change the whole house to a dark grey colour scheme. although i love white and light colours on the inside of our home, i've always loved dark coloured exteriors because it makes surrounding greenery really pop.

-my dad replaced our door with the one of his standard colours available (saved money to not special order a colour): charcoal grey.

-then again, we chose one of the darkest standard colours available (saved money) for,siding: smoke (i think that's what it was called...)

-i didn't want to introduce a whole other colour for the brick that needed to be painted, so we tried our hardest to match the paint to the siding at the top of the house. i also painted our water meter the same colour, in hopes that it'll sort of blend in... ? (i find that they tend to stick out if you really try to cover them up with a planter or box of some sort)

-we painted the divider between our house and the one attached to us an off-white colour. we added a few hooks so that we can hang wet umbrellas and onni's wet collar since we don't have an actual mudroom.

-since we knew the windows are fairly new and won't be replaced for a long time (my dad who's an installer said they're really good ones), we chose to replace all the soffits and gutters and such with white ones so that the windows wouldn't stick out quite as much (my dad's very against painting window frames). i would have loved to have picked all darker greys, but we're working with windows that won't be changed.

-because we've used so much grey, we used wood for all the planters and such. though they will be stained next year, most likely another grey colour, i still think it's a warmer looking texture than using stone. and of course, wood was a more affordable option for us since mikko was able to do the work himself.

-the walkway in front of the long planter used to be a foot wide.... it was ridiculous trying to get a stroller around. so we widened that to the same width as the concrete stone leading up to the front step (which is now under the landing). the landing was a solution to cover the badly cracked concrete stone and make it easier to maneuver our stroller.

-last year the water meters in our neighbourhood had to be switched to the outdoors (it was previously in our basement). in doing so, they had to break the side of the porch. so mikko built a door that opens upward so that we always have easy access if anything needs to be reached under the porch.

-we bought the red mailbox, house numbers and wall lamp right when we bought the house... it just took a while to hang them (!) 

-the lanterns have been kind of fun (!)... i initially bought four to create a separation between the porch and lawn (most houses have a railing, but i didn't want to close off our porch completely). someone stole one. seriously. just one. so i replaced it right away and we bolted them down to the porch. i like to switch up the things inside: candles, christmas lights, easter eggs, mini pumpkins, christmas balls... the list goes on.

-we replaced the dark chairs less than a year after buying them (i was able to sell them for the same price as i bought them for!) because i found they kind of just blended into the grey. i thought white chairs would also help to make the window frames less of an eye sore.

-this summer, we were determined to get rid of our terrible, terrible lawn. we would love to landscape the area professionally (i've always said if we could pay someone to help us with one area of our home, it would be in landscaping), but that really isn't in our budget. so we looked at other ground cover options and $10 worth of white clover seed was just fine! i've always loved the sweet shape of clover leaves and the sweet smell of their flowers. when mikko leveled out the ground around the tree, it turned out that we only had to buy a few bags of soil to add to the planter, so that turned into a very inexpensive project. we of course had to buy the wood to build up those walls, but we were also blessed with that: mikko bought enough wood to make one 'frame' around the yard, then a neighbour came and offered enough wood to make another frame (he had kept it in his yard from another neighbour's over-buy). ***note: the clover is coming in beautifully! the first twenty days were critical for keeping the seeds moist at all times. we watered for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening (we have a timer on our sprinkler). if it was a really sunny day, i watered it more during the day. since then, we've only watered it on a few really hot and dry days. haven't mowed it once. it definitely needs re-seeding on parts (that was to be expected), but it isn't terribly noticeable from afar. i'm kind of worried though that it might not come back properly next year... so far there is only one flower! ha! we planted the seeds at the end of june, so maybe we should have done that earlier in order for the flowers to have grown. oh well if we have to pay another $10 for seeds... p.s. mikko pulled up all the grass before laying down the clover seeds (some people chose to sprinkle the seeds into the grass, but we didn't want to deal with any grass mowing in the area)

-in the planter in front of the porch i wanted to plant some bright green leafy perenials, but not bushes. so i found a medium length ornamental grass (i didn't want them to be too tall) and 'creeping jenny' (heh...). they grew beautifully the whole summer, but for some reason about a month ago, one of the grasses dried out (as you can see, second from the left)... we'll see if i need to replace it next year.

there you have it - our front yard so far. although we've taken a lot of inspiration from other's yards in our neighbourhood, in the end, we've worked with what we have and what we can afford. i'm very happy to call this place 'our home' and feel that it makes a good 'first impression' of who lives here and 
again, keep reading if you'd like to see photos of the progress of our yard.

february 2010: the house was 'nice' when we bought it... creamy yellow, old wooden door and fairly new windows. we just added our own chairs and replaced the three flower pots with some lanterns to create a separation without building a railing.
but the yard was always hideous... it was winter when we put in an offer on the house and had no idea how bad the yard really was since it was covered in a mountain of snow...

spring 2011: mikko ripped off the yellow siding... our neighbour that we're attached to has a nice red brick, so we were hoping for the same... we first had to deal with a layer of red paneling on the bottom and multicoloured shingles on top.
it turned out that the 'mountain of snow' wasn't all snow... the teeny little yard had quite a hill due to the tree roots pulling upward on the soil and grass weeds.
the pavers were almost non-existent since grass was growing on top of them.

 fall 2011: a family friend replaced the siding and all the metal that came down with it... nothing was worth painting; they were in such bad condition and there were animals' nests hiding within empty spaces.
my dad replaced our front door... although the wooden door was quite charming, it really wasn't practical for our family: we wanted the maximum amount of daylight to pour into our living room and the wooden door had a self-locking mechanism that prevented us from opening the door from the outside without a key (basically there was no door handle to use).

fall 2012: mikko replaced the planter in front of the porch and replaced the narrow walkway of pavers.
summer 2013: mikko built an edge around the whole front yard, evened out the ground and planted white clover as a ground cover. he then replaced the front step with a landing to cover the severely cracked concrete underneath (which would have cost too much to remove and replace)

fall 2013: we are waiting to have our roof done... 
summer 2014: we will stain all the wood and repaint the front porch (the floor itself)


  1. That's a lot of work!!
    The clover looks amazing!

    We started mowing our clover every two flowers just about every 14 days ...the lawn looks better than ever

    We have some other weed that is taking over too...who knows what it is, or where it came from, but it's 10x more lush than the clover, and short to the ground, so it fills in all the gaps. i hope it doesnt crowd out my clover!!!

    your yard looks great!!!! way to go!

  2. thanks shannon!! i guess it is never-ending work when you own a house... ha!

    ok... so maybe i should mow it once this fall? i hope something will come back next spring even though there were no flowers this year... i read somewhere that it's normal for flowers to only show up the second year...?

    maybe you should start selling those weeds?? side business? ;)