Thanks for your kind words about the shed painting project! It really has made a big difference.
The best part of your comments, though, were a few readers who insisted there is something pretty and purple growing in the yard, and I had to break the news that what appears kind of purplish in the photo above is actually brown dirt. Indeed, our lawn is in terrible shape. No amount of paint on the shed can change the fact that we have a ton to do out here.
But we do hope to have some pretty purple groundcover eventually, and today I thought I’d share another shed project and then the master plan for our landscape so that you can rest assured that this is going somewhere. I think.
First up, the project I did this past weekend: building some trellises on the front of the shed. Even though the blue exterior is a huge improvement, it’s still a big featureless box. In anticipation of planting things back there eventually, I decided to go ahead and build some trellises on either side of the door. I will use the same style to build a surround for the AC unit and build some screening around the deck to cover the crawl space doors and cement foundation, so it will be a nice visual tie between the two ends of the yard.
It was a pretty straightforward project. For the supports I used 2×3″ studs (which are $2.21 for an 8′ length) and for the cross pieces I used 6′ pressure-treated fence pickets that I found on sale at Lowes for $1.25 each. That means altogether this project cost me $42, as I needed four 8′ studs, 20 pickets, and a can of wood stain. I already had brad nails and a few screws on hand, but that would have added another $10 to the project if not.
We bought a new car over Memorial Day weekend (well, a used car — but new to us!), and we picked it up on Tuesday. I drove it straight from the dealership to Lowes, where I loaded up my supplies. (I bought a ton of fence pickets, because as mentioned I plan to use a bunch for structures on the deck, too).
Building the trellises was pretty easy. I started by cutting the studs to length, opting to go with 6.5′. I used my compound miter saw (“chop saw”), which was the star of this project. Then I stained the studs with my wood stain — Minwax Espresso. (I only needed four studs for this project, but I stained a few more for the other deck projects down the road). The reason for staining them first is that it would be much harder (or impossible) to get in all the cracks once the cross pieces are mounted, so it’s better to completely stain the support pieces first.
Next I mounted them in pairs on either side of the door, using a 3″ screw at the top and bottom of each to secure them.
Next I used my chop saw to cut the pickets to length — about 4′ long on the left side of the door, and 2′ long on the right. I was able to cut 5 boards at a time (which I clamped together while cutting), and for the narrower trellis I was able to get two pieces out of each picket.
Attaching them was as simple as using my brad nailer to secure each one in place, using a picket as a spacer to keep everything level and equidistant.
Finally, I applied a coat of stain to the pickets. Ta da!
There are a lot of awesome trellis designs out there that I was drawn to, but I wanted these to match what I do on the deck — and since the deck structures will be used for screening some eyesores like the AC and crawl space doors, I’ll want the cross pieces to be pretty tight together to make it harder to see what’s behind them.
And before I go, as promised I wanted to share the master plan for our outdoor space. My close friend Shelby is a landscape architect, and she was generous enough to offer to work up a plan for the space. Actually she worked up four plans with different aesthetics, and then we talked about them and settled on a final plan. It has been so helpful having her expert advice, because not only does she have an amazing eye and creative vision, but she’s also able to say what will thrive in our yard’s light conditions and what will be low maintenance (which was the number one criterion I gave her).
One thing she said particularly struck me, which is that built objects are at their peak the moment you build them — but landscapes are at their peak 100 years after they’re planted, or in residential installations more like 5 years. I have found that to be so helpful as I think about how this is going to turn out, and the patience we’ll need.
Okay so without further ado, here’s the final plan:
She sketched that in like 5 minutes once we settled on the final vision…I wish I had her talent for drawing! But I do not. Instead, I made a computer version of where we are now and where I hope we’ll be in 5 years:
Here’s a breakdown of the projects involved, and which ones I hope to tackle this year:
This year: Items 1 – 8
1. Build screen around AC, crawl space doors, and foundation, and build planter box for growing trumpet vines up the screen covering the crawl space doors.
2. Build planter box to “finish” the screening that the arbor vitae and lilacs have started.
3. Stain the deck a dark black/brown.
4. Edge the lawn with steel/aluminum to give it more definition.
5. Make the lawn green.
6. Plant a hedge of oak leaf hydrangea.
7. Plant a dogwood tree in the corner next to the shed.
8. Plant a cottage garden in front of the shed, and grow climbing hydrangeas up the side of the shed on the trellises.
Hopefully next year: Items 9 – 14
9. Paint the back porch white, with a black floor and stairs, replace the lattice with horizontal slats (to match the deck screening/shed trellises), and build a door on the right of the porch so that we can store trash and recycling under the porch.
10. Build a path of bluestone pavers from the back porch around the deck, and plant some sort of purple spreading ground cover around the pavers and arbor vitae hedge.
11. Repair the front steps and give the steps and porch a fresh coat of paint; replace the lattice to match the new back porch lattice.
12. Build planters to grow something up the lattice of the back porch.
13. Plant ivory halo dogwood bushes in front of the back fence.
14. Plant hosta in the bare strip near the basement door.
Hopefully by 2019: Item 15
15. Arbor vitae and lilacs have grown into robust hedge.
2020 – 2022:
Maintain and let everything thrive!
Maybe someday: Items 16 & 17
16. Tear up the mix of concrete, asphalt, and brick near the steps to the back porch, replace with bluestone.
17. Tear up a strip of our driveway, plant some screening trees.
So there you have it! Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Let’s see in mid-October how far I’ve made it in my grand plans for 1 – 8….
Also, THANK YOU SHELBY, YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!!