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Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has sprung! My backyard oasis in progress — how’s yours coming along this year? Plus, check out my adorable new little patio set. 😉

Spring has sprung! My backyard oasis in progress -- how's yours coming along this year?

It was randomly 85 degrees here in Chicago on a late April day yesterday (you know… after snowing last week, and thunderstorming today…), so I’ve made the most of the balmy weather whenever possible. Since we just moved into this house at the end of August last year, this is my first spring making the outdoors my own — and, my first spring seeing what I have to work with out there! I don’t really know what I’m doing, but am figuring out as I go along. 🙂

So, here’s some of what I’ve been up to outdoors, making my new house feel like… home. How’s your own spring cleanup and spruce up going so far this year?

Out with the old, in with the new

brush and yard waste on the curb

Since absent owners had rented out my new home for the past several years, not much had been done here for a while. Overgrown ground cover and vines were choking out the bushes, pulling out the downspouts, and grabbing at the siding; weeds had taken over the garden; brush was obscuring most of the plantings.

But the yard, as they say, has good bones. After chopping out some large dead roses Secret Garden style, digging out layers upon layers of fallen leaves in various stages of decomposition, clearing out the brush, digging out dead bushes, & cutting back the out-of-control shrubbery and ground cover and vines, it’s high time to get going on the new! And yes, the city is raking it in (no pun intended) off of my yard waste stickers this year…

Roses from Costco & ALDI

knockout roses from Costco

The poor house was looking pretty bare after I removed several large dead bushes in the front. So the other day, I impulse bought two of these knockout rose bushes from Costco for by the front porch — $16.99 each, and a good size already. They’re supposed to bush out nicely and bloom until fall, so I’m hoping they take well there and add a little color to the front.

pond needs cleaning out

I also planted two smaller bare root rose bushes from ALDI ($6.99 apiece last week), in the back near my sad non-working pond. This, I’m in the process of skimming out and de-mucking to see what I’m dealing with, then need to get a new pump in there before it turns into mosquito heaven this summer. (If anyone has backyard pond advice, I’m all ears — it could be so pretty once it’s going.)

Flowering shrubs from ALDI

lilacs old and new

Spring also revealed a couple of lilac bushes hiding out in the back of the yard, so I also planted a new little one from ALDI ($8.99 in this week’s ad). This replaced a dead boxwood, and hopefully will grow out nicely to hide the lovely drainage pipe behind it. ALDI has been dangerous — when I’m there every week picking up my groceries, I keep impulse-buying plants on their weekly gardening sales. Oops. 🙂

ALDI also sold small bare root $3.99 flowering shrubs a couple of weeks ago, so the front of my house now sports forsythia in place of more of that darn dead boxwood. We’d planted these at my old house years ago, and I remember forsythia growing very quickly and happily there. We’ll see if it does the same here — but, even the bare ground was better than those sad dead bushes.

Annuals from Home Depot & ALDI

purple flowers in a pot

Some pretty annuals from Home Depot add a beautiful pop of color to the back patio. A few packs of these went into existing pots, and really make it feel like spring! Speaking of existing pots, ALDI provided me with a couple of $3.99 hydrangea to plant in large containers on the back patio. My used coffee grounds are going into the soil each morning now, to help them bloom beautifully blue when they start filling out and work with the purple-and-blue theme I have going back there.

hanging baskets from aldi

I also picked up a couple of $6.99 hanging baskets from ALDI for the deck. These were sad and unloved, but are already starting to fill out and perk up after a few days of water & sunshine.

I love my new (to me) little patio table!

blue mosaic patio set

Look at this adorable little mosaic patio table set from Facebook Marketplace, with its fortuitously matching cushions from ALDI! (Two for $19.99, and so worth it.) A little coat of black Rustoleum spray paint, and this set will be almost as good as new. This is the perfect place to sit and watch the boys on the trampoline.

new trampoline this year

Oh. Did I mention the trampoline? That’s this year’s big purchase, and has been worth every penny in getting pandemic-bound Middle School Guy back outside and off of video games. I went with the longer 9’x15′ rectangular one instead of a round one so that he can practice his Xtreme taekwondo moves on there. (The price on this Skywalker trampoline went up LIKE CRAZY since I bought it in early March, too — everyone is thinking summer now, apparently.)

More to do…

large hosta needs dividing

It’s raining today, so the bags of mulch in the garage will have to wait. Then, I’ll get back to clearing and weeding again — and, these crazy large hosta are coming up all over the place. I have a vague idea you’re supposed to start dividing these, yes?

roots on green onions

After that: The garden awaits! In addition to planting these green onions that have been rooting on the windowsill, I usually at least put in herbs, peppers, and tomatoes. What else is easy for a new garden and a fresh start this year? So many possibilities…

amazon wicker patio set

Then, the deck and front porch need a little more work. I picked up this affordable three piece patio set on Amazon last fall — it does need a good cleaning right now, but otherwise is actually very comfortable and useful. As more of us get vaccinated (I’m almost 2 weeks out from dose 2), I hope to be able to have friends over this year to enjoy my back yard oasis-in-progress.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to! How are your outdoor projects coming? To be honest, the outdoors has been pulling me away from the recipes lately. But, this should be the most involved year in getting to a good starting point; hopefully every spring after this one should be easier.