Pool Liner Prep Work

Our pool has never been in good shape while we owned this house.  On closing day, the liner was stained and falling off the track.


We pulled it out to uncover a solid base, with three-foot tall fiberglass side panels.


Due to the way the pool was originally constructed, it will always need a full liner.  Before installing the liner, Ben had to fill any cracks.  A few in the hopper of the pool were large, which Ben used mortar to fill, in addition to the broken main drain.



For smaller cracks, he applied a heavy-duty sealant, smoothing it with a putty knife.

Pool House Patched Cracks in Pool Overall


Gaps between the fiberglass panels and hairline cracks in the concrete could potentially show through the liner.


A new aluminum track will surround the pool coping stones, with the liner lip tucking in the groove.


Speaking of the coping stones, they were looking a bit rough after the construction mess.



I stocked up on Magic Erasers and scrubbed off the grout residue and old caulking.


Thankfully, it all came off pretty easily and looks as good as new.  While I don’t love the white fiberglass tile, I think once the white terrazzo liner is in, it won’t be such a stark contrast against the dark tile.


Green Cabinets & Walnut Handles

This weekend was a productive one, filled with small tasks that have been on our to do list for a while.  Filling cracks in the pool base, ordering the new liner, and finishing the pool kitchen cabinets.


Last I shared, I had painted the cabinet boxes Rolling Hills from Benjamin Moore.  The color is beautiful, but didn’t have enough contrast for this space.  I brought the quart back to the store, hoping to have it tinted closer to Forest Floor, the darkest color on the swatch strip.  Unknowingly, the paint guy accidentally added too much black, making my color a bit darker.


I tested it out, thinking maybe it read more black than green like I had in mind.  Even still, I knew on the larger door fronts it would be a more accurate representation.


After realizing the hinges we had weren’t right, then exchanging them for the right ones, Ben hung the unpainted panels.  Knowing they all fit, I set to work priming and painting the panels.  If you have two-sided paint projects in your future, get paint pyramids to cut your time in half.


Waiting for paint to dry isn’t a strength of mine, but it is crucial for a durable paint job.  After several days to cure, we attached the hinges to the doors, then doors to the frames.


A few more days of waiting, then I marked the placement for the custom walnut hardware.  With that step, the pool house kitchen is complete, minus styling.


With the vast amount of stainless steel in this space, I knew I wanted warm hardware.  I considered leather, but worried about durability.


When I asked Ben if he could make walnut handles, he asked what exactly I had in mind.  Something simple with clean lines.


Using the table saw, he cut a strip of walnut to width, then made a few passes to notch out the side.  The result is an L shape, perfect for grabbing the side.


Each handle has so much character, and I love the warm tone against the deep green.


Each handle has a standard hole width, making it easy to swap out if we ever decide we no longer want these.


The handles bring just a touch of the walnut shelving and vent hood wrap down; a warm contrast against the sleek stainless counters.


The pool liner and mechanical components are all that remain to finish in this space.  With our current temps hovering around 100 degrees, I’m so ready to have water to jump in whenever the mood strikes.

Our Summer View

With client work and busy summer schedules taking up the majority of our time, progress on our own house has been slow.  Not that there’s much left, mainly the pool liner (and hooking up the mechanics to make it function) and the pool kitchen cabinets.  Some outdoor progress happens while needing little effort on our part.


Our CorTen rust steel siding continues to patina and darken, creating a look similar to stained board and batten from the road.


Plants have gone crazy since the last garden update two months ago.  In early June, I added nine more lavender plants along our road frontage, and they’ve doubled in size since.  It’s hard to beat that bright purple, the heavenly scent, and the low water usage.


An Autumn Joy sedum is ready to burst open with flowers.


The row of Karl Foerster grasses are over five feet tall, and a far cry from the puny little plants from three years ago.  Russian Sage have seeded to other areas down the slope, nestling in areas that would be impossible for me to add a plant.


Placed between the road and the front walkway, the grasses create a living privacy fence of sorts.  The Limelight hydrangea is a late bloomer, just now filling in with white flower clusters.



Another row of grasses soften the tall front deck railing, and the row of Black Eyed Susans in front add a burst of cheery yellow.



New this year, I planted a low growing succulent to soften the front of the fountain.


A stray Virginia Creeper vine has crept through the deck, growing in a little cluster behind the fountain.  Virginia Creeper spreads quickly, overtaking surrounding plants, but it’s relatively contained here.


In the back, the Snowball Viburnum planted three years ago has gone crazy, proudly standing over 6 feet tall,


Both Russian Sage and Catmint are drought tolerant and attract bees.  Both have gotten huge!  The Catmint was over four feet in diameter, taking up half the walkway, before I hacked it back.


A Honeysuckle vine is quickly covering the metal garden sphere, filling the air with that beautiful scent.


Our landscape was definitely a challenge for me, desperately wanting greenery without the impracticality and expense of grass.  Now that the plants have had time to mature, the previously rock covered hillside is looking less barren by the day.


An Annabelle Hydrangea near the house has thrived, producing flower balls bigger than my head.



Native Yucca continue to pop up at random, no hole digging required.  Ignore the chipping patio pots, lesson learned: don’t get painted planters.


As time allows, I water plants and pull weeds that keep coming back.  Sure, it takes some time and effort, but it beats a high water bill and mowing weekly.


What was once an obstacle to this novice gardener has become a highlight.  The slope is dotted with height, texture, and color grass could never accomplish.  I’ve only started caring and learning about plants in the last three years, but I no longer feel overwhelmed with what to do.


A Classic Wooden Pergola

Back in March, we had clients ask us to build a pergola on their back patio.  The pad had been poured in the fall, with landscape progress in various stages, but they wanted to create a great hang out space for their family.


After measuring, planning, sketching, and pre-cutting and staining all of the pieces, we got to work assembling the structure.  First, two posts connected to one beam, secured in to cleats.


Followed up with the other side, then the beams connecting the two pieces together.


Joists spaced 16 inches apart make up the overhead structure.


Our clients didn’t know how dark they wanted the inside, so we spaced the top slats 12 inches on center apart.


This allows for added slats down the road, if they decide they need more sun coverage.


Arched braces look great while firming up the overall frame.


Once complete, the 16 foot square structure adds a lot of character to their backyard.



The pergola connects the house to the fire pit, offering multiple zones to hang out and relax.



Under the pergola, the slats add a graphic grid of shade to the dining table.



Along with new landscaping, these clients now have a backyard oasis to relax and watch their kids play.


At the end of the long work day assembling the pieces, our clients were thrilled with the results.  And we are/were so grateful for such wonderful people to work with and for.


Plans & Plants for the Culvert Planter

In May, we pulled out a cobbled together stacked rock planter at the end of the front walkway, dividing the two sides of our tightly curved driveway.


For weeks, we waited for our 6 foot diameter section of culvert to come in, living with a hole in place.


The day before I left for vacation, the hunk of steel arrived and we put it in the garage.  While on vacation, Ben set the cylinder and started to fill it and the surrounding space with the dirt excavated out.


It’s still not finished, but over the course of the next few mornings, I plan to move the remaining dirt over.  After that, I’ll spray the exposed parts with acid to start the rust process, getting it to match the rusted steel on the house.


I’ve been researching small ornamental trees to place at the center of the planter.  On my requirement list is something suitable for zone 4, maxing out around 20 feet tall, and doesn’t drop messy fruit.  Pretty flowers or fall foliage is a bonus.  At a local nursery, I spotted a Japanese Lilac Tree and it is the Goldilocks of my tree search.


My plan includes one tree at the center with three lavender plants surrounding the tree.  An annual sweet potato vine would nicely trail down the front of the tallest southern face.


Freshly cut metal can be sharp, so we asked the company to roll the top edge, finishing it off nicely.


With the way the driveway slopes, the north and west sides are exposed only 6 inches.


A two foot space between the planter and walkway will get filled with my favorite succulent, Stonecrop Angelina.


Several years ago, the pine tree that had been in the rock planter died from wood boring beetles.


While it did feel more open after cutting the tree down, it feels too open.


Adding a deciduous tree with branches higher up the trunk will keep the driveway feeling open, but will provide coverage and height to the walkway.


I’m worried about planting a tree in the middle of summer, but I’m so excited to get this project finished, I don’t think I can wait!  Before I go buy the Japanese Lilac tree, are there any others you know of that might be better?