When it Rains, It Pours

I wish I had a finished or fun project to share today.  Due to weekend storms, I have a damage report.  If you follow on Instagram, you’ve already seen a few pictures.  Friday afternoon we had a 10 minute down pour.  At the time, we thought it was a lot of rain.  The waterfall looked like it was on.


More water gushing out of the bottom.


Rock stairs over flowing.  Suprisingly, my new plants survived both storms.


And a mini river on our road.


I wasn’t able to get pictures of Saturday night’s storm because it was so bad and dark, so trust me when I say it looked at least 10 times worse.  Piles of dime sized hail, near constant lightning, and rain like I’ve never seen before.  Two inches of rain in twenty minutes rushing down hill never looks good.  And our back yard really shows that.  What looked like this on Saturday afternoon:


Looked like this yesterday morning:


About a foot of mud slid down the hill, over the waterfall, and piled below.


Mainly from this natural crevice turned raging waterfall.


Ben and I ran from end to end of the house during the storm, monitoring damage, completely helpless.  So we fully expected to wake up to this:


Not this:


Water didn’t make it in the house, and I’m positive it is because Ben installed a drainage system under the rock.  Though during the peak of water, it was nearly level with the top of the deck.


There’s so much mud and debris in the waterfall and rock that we’re pretty sure we’ll have to pull it out, sort the rock, and toss it up.  Again.


On a positive note, seemingly no structural damage was done.  The beam stairs are still standing.


Even with a gaping hole cut around one of the support posts.


Most of the front is unharmed.  But a major drainage trench runs along the side, which dumped tons of water and mud, moving all rock away.


Mud in the bocce court.


Rocks piled everywhere.


A giant delta in the road.


Our fountain has two inches of rain, but obviously was higher.


Of course, just as we neared the end of our landscaping, we have to start over.  Not all is lost, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.  We’ve talked to many of our neighbors and most fared better.  A few with a little water in unfinished basements.  Most with debris to clean up.  Right now we’re thankful everyone is safe and we don’t have house damage and giant rocks stayed put.  But it was scary.  So now we’re in clean up mode, getting ready to fix this.  The bathroom remodel will have to wait again.

Court Rules

This landscaping bit is no joke.  We’ve been working our way around the yard since early April.  Leveling low spots, transplanting plants, and spreading rock to keep our yard as low maintenance and weed free as possible.  Here’s part of our front yard before:

Lots of dirt, weeds, a few dead or dying plants and that’s about it.  After weeks of work, here’s where we are today:


When discussing and planning the front yard, we knew we didn’t want to water, mow, and keep up a small patch of grass here.  What to do instead?  Houzz.com gave us the perfect (for us) solution.  A bocce ball court. 

Once spring rolls around, we’ll stock up on plants to green up the rock.  But, that hasn’t stopped us from playing a few games already.


To edge the court, Ben used steel (it came with the wood deck beams) for a clean edge.


We also pulled the giant concrete fountain out of the pool house and put it in the front yard.

New-House-Pool-Room April 13 2012

It’s centered on the pool house door, but off-center of the bocce court.


And this little area is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  Home Depot had 1 gallon hydrangeas for 9 bucks each, so I grabbed two.  At first, I didn’t know where I’d put them.  Then realized the part shade end of the deck would be perfect.


Now I’ve got to get a hammock to hang between those trees.  They’re practically begging for it, right?!  And I just might have to get a few (or several) more hydrangea plants.  One can never have too many beautiful flowers.

Rockin’ Around the Clock

Last week, spring seemed to have sprung.  Temps in the high 60’s and sunshine.  So we made hay.  Not literally, but we got work done while the weather cooperates.  Landscaping the back yard.  Montana is dry and our lot is essentially a dirt pile, so we’ve decided to use rock to help cut down the dust.  Boy, our house gets dusty quickly!

Boulders from our property at the base make a natural retaining wall.


Close to the pool house, we have to build stairs to connect to the stairs to nowhere.


After lining with weed-proof plastic, we layered large crushed limestone.


And filled in the gaps with small crushed limestone, meeting up with the stream and waterfall.  Later this year, we can add plantings to soften the slope and add interest.


Over the weekend we tested the waterfall.  (More about it soon).  And love it.  The sound, the look, it’s relaxing.

Once we get rest of the rock on the hill, we hope to pour our concrete patio.  Because right now we’ve got a dirt/mud pit.


Who’s excited to spend more time outdoors?  I don’t know it I’ll want to leave the yard once we’re done.

Blue Bench Pillows

Before heading out to Minnesota, I made a stop at Joann’s just to see if there was anything I should know about.  Luckily, our Joann is liquidating their stock because they’re moving stores soon.  So, I stocked up.  Because hoarding fabric is fine, but hoarding cheap fabric is even better, right?  I got a few quilting weight fabrics, a mustard yellow vinyl, a few zippers, and a fun blue geometric print. 

Because the blue was the heaviest, I decided to use it for outdoor pillows.  Ten or so minutes later, following this method, I had two new pillows for our bench. 

Along with the blue, I bought a tangerine floral print, but I’m concerned about using the quilting fabric outside.  The original pillows are still there. 

Certainly, it’s a small change, but I’m liking the new color.  I’m still hoping to add a contrasting color, like orange. 

What’s your favorite orange fabric?  Or your favorite patterned fabric?  Do you lean toward geometric patterns or floral prints?


Yesterday afternoon, Ben picked up another load of foam insulation.  Just as he came home with it, I went out to the post office.  In the twenty-ish minutes I was gone, Ben did something.

Can you tell?

He cut down (most of) the apple tree.  We had talked about this for a few weeks, not certain when it would happen, but eventually it would.  While we both love trees, heck, Ben planted 17 fruit trees at our last house, this one wasn’t working for us.  First off, it was too close to the house.  Structurally speaking, the roots could damage the foundation.  It also blocked a lot of our view and darkened the kitchen and breakfast nook.  Now we can actually see our back yard from the kitchen.

But the main reason Ben cut it down yesterday afternoon is this:

Hauling bulky insulation to the pool room.  With the first load, Ben and Handy Sammy walked up the stairs, maneuvering around the big rock.  Now that the tree was out-of-the-way, they could easily set the insulation on the landing, and haul it in from there.

Once through the door, the boys loaded it in the pool.

Inside the house, it’s wonderful not having the tree.  From the outside, it looks so bare.

When Ben is ready, he’ll pull the rest of the stump out and we can get to work on the landscaping.

Until then, he’s got several tons of shingles to install.

After we get our hardscaping done, we’ll figure out what plants and trees we want to add for shade and greenery.  We’ve already talked about fruit trees and a pergola for shade.  Despite being a ways off, I’m getting excited.

What are your favorite shade trees?  Do you have landscaping ideas for us?