Monday, May 26, 2014

Starter yard progress!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to share our progress with the yard so far. It's not perfect, but we have done a hell of a job so far. We have been given compliments by our PM, the current sales rep and many neighbors so I thought it would be nice to share what we did to hopefully help others! I'm not gonna lie to ya, it's A LOT of work. We spend about 2 hours a day tending to it, but let me tell ya, if you work out, you can skip the gym! So please don't for a minute think what RH does is a done deal, it's ongoing!

So first off, we live in the NE United States (OK, OK, I don't mean to be insulting, our blog name kinda gives it away, but I'm trying to be thorough here) and our development was built on former farm land. So deep down the soil isn't bad (we discovered this by digging for the trees). But on top and the fill, oh VEY! It's crap dirt, if you can call it that. So when we did our flower beds, we took out almost EVERYTHING and put top soil in.

They came out and hand seeded the week after we closed- so the last week of April. They put down the straw mats on the sides of the house and then just loose straw in the front and back. If they haven't done your yard yet, INSIST on the straw mats. You'll see in the following pics the sides are much more established. Also make sure they don't put down too much straw underneath the mats, the places where we have bare spots is where they put straw underneath the mats then the mats right on top- the grass does need a little breathing room. So the following weekend we went out and did the first round of re-seeding. We did it right over the mats and straw, the second you water, it sinks into the ground. We went with Pennington. Just from our research, it had the best reviews. We used the North East blend starter mix. So it came with seed and starter fertilizer. Key word here is starter fertilizer! One of the neighbors didn't think there would be a different between this and regular ol fertilizer and they paid the price! Then about two weeks later (last weekend) the sides were kickin ass and taking names, so we pulled up the mats on the side, used one of those hand cultivators in the bare spots in the front, re-seeded the front (this time with Penn State blend) and put the mats on most of the front. If they would have put mats down all over to begin with, we would be doing a lot better at this point. Didn't know so I didn't ask, so I hope someone can learn from my mistake!

Daily we water, unless there is a good rain. As it's gotten warmer over the last week and in the upcoming weeks I'm sure, some days twice. The key is about a half an inch depth gets a good drink. Too much water is bad too! (Ah, so many rules!) NEVER water in the middle of the day, most of it will evaporate and then start to burn stuff up as it gets warmer. So we are out there between 6-7am then again around 7pm (if needed). We have a whole system going- where the sprinklers go, what areas get a little more cuz it's under more sun and how long. From our experience, the places that get more sun and get bone dry in the front are the areas that aren't growing (my fault cuz the first two weeks they didn't get enough water, lesson learned). We are out there every day pulling weeds and digging up rocks, I mean boulders! They had hay that wasn't de-seeded before they graded our yard to prevent eroding and we are paying the price for that- it's definitely seeding out there. The straw they used was actually pretty decent, not many seeds in it.

It's been a learning process, that's for sure. I wish I knew on day one what I know now! And hell, we may be doing the complete WRONG thing, but it's working for us and our region! I hope the pics can be seen OK, I took these pretty early this morning and the sun is a shining!

Front on the left hand side
Left side yard
Left side yard again, this time I'm in the back looking towards the front
Left side looking into the back- our pile of extra straw in case we need it!
Kinda in the middle of the back, now looking towards the right side. There's my magnolia! She will be an amazing neighbor blocker one day! And the house doesn't sit right on the woods/trees, we were so happy about this!
Right side of yard from the back (for reference, that is the magnolia again)
Right side, this time looking from the front. Love our big side yard- plenty of room to fence in one day. The right of the pic is a pussy willow (My mom had one on the side of the house when I was a little girl, who knew that things like that would one day mean so much?!) Those patches- where they hand laid the straw THEN put the straw mats on it, it was just too much
From right hand side (actually standing in neighbors driveway- you can see on the bottom of the pic he didn't do much with his lawn and it is seriously just weeds). You can kinda see the Red Bud we planted in this one, he's a little guy, for now!
Front again
And now from the front right corner- again can see neighbors weeds on the bottom
And this is a view from the deck, it greened up nicely. You can see a few of the bird feeders in the trees and we have two hummingbirds as well that come to their feeder! See all those vines? I'm gonna make em my bitch :) You can kinda see where we have started hacking. If we can't get the vines off, we will have to have the tree taken out, they are just strangling the poor fella. I think we can save it if we get em off soon.

So again, is it perfect? Not even slightly, especially the front where we didn't get mats, grrrrr!! I can say where there are patches, grass is coming in, so I'm excited to see what the upcoming weeks bring us! I honestly don't count what RH did, since we had a monsoon the day after. So I count from when we started seeding and that was about 3 weeks ago. Not too shabby. As I keep learning, I will keep sharing!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

30 Day Inspection and updates

It can't be! 30 days already?? It's insane! It's like you pine and moan and whine to get into the house and then poof, there goes 30 days.

Nothing too major to fix, some sticky sliders, a door that needed adjusted, filled in a crack in the garage, a few patches of drywall mud fixed, some funky nails on the outside by the garage, fixed drywall in the bedroom closet where they rocked over our guardian box so the guy had to "hunt" for it and there were a ton of spots where the adhesive from laying the floor was on the floor itself. FYI- don't bother trying to get that off yourself. The two big things were a corner on the outside of the pantry was, um wavy, is the best way I can say it. They tried to float it and it looks better. If I'm not happy with it at the 11 month drywall touch up, I can have the corner bead ripped out and a new one put in. The other was that we noticed in the basement TONS of the floor nails were missing the joist for the main level. We don't have a squeak or a creak. So my PM marked it down now so if we have future issues, even beyond the warranty, it's covered. He promised that they went back through and put more nails in, they just don't take the old out. He said it happens all the time. So one little squeak and 1-800- RYAN HOMES I shall call (OK that's not the number but you get the point).

We have been busy! So busy actually that we are gonna take a few weeks to just enjoy a bit, then back to it! We have put up a nice bit of decorations/pictures/etc, put the pulls on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, hung curtains, got new office furniture, re-potted all our house plants, re-seeded the lawn (3 times now), pulled up the straw mats on the side of the house and placed them in the front, built a nice stone border for the flower bed, planted a red bud tree in the front yard, pussy willow on the side, magnolia to block out neighbors from the deck (OK, OK in 10 years, ha!) and washed our car in the driveway for the first time to name a few, woo hoo!

The neighborhood is just amazing. It's quiet and quaint, but not so much that you want to lose your mind. All the neighbors we have met so far are just super nice. We even had a welcome to the neighborhood goodie bag in our mailbox the other day!

Oh and remember that rain storm with the 4 inches? The basement DID leak! It was coming in around where the municipal water supply enters the house. Concrete guys came out and fixed that followed by the insulation guys to put up new insulation. Problem fixed! And we have had another good rain storm since and she is dry as a bone.

Here's a few pics. I've been really bad with taking pictures when the house is clean! I think about it the second it looks like a gorilla invited her friends over for a romp! I will get better, I promise!

 The morning room with curtains up, what a HUGE difference! Next project, get that table black!
 The cabinet and drawer pulls. I love them, they are modern yet elegant yet classic. Good combo! Made a big difference in the kitchen.
This is about 2 seconds after we moved the straw mats and watered. So she will be a bloomin beauty in a few weeks!
Here is another pic from a different angle- filled with perennials an annuals for color
 Family Room! We love it! Still have projects on the list for this room but it looks great and is super cozy. On the left, still need to get a color to put in the candle holders and as bad as I wanted a gallery wall- that's a lot of commitment for this girl! So I found this idea on Pinterest- "gallery shelves"- GENIUS! The look without the commitment
 We picked these up at Kirkland's. Adorable. I have NEVER decorated my bedroom, never really had something big enough to decorate, so this room will be a very large project!

Again, apologies for not many pics, will get better!! I need to get some of the yard, we have a TON of grass. Our PM said people who can't get their yards going- he's gonna send em our way because we have the best starter yard he has seen. YES! I'm so competitive, I love it!

And last thing and I will zip it.... I read about Kirkland's on someone's blog here, I forget who and apologies! OH EM GEE! Best store ever for decorating! We have been there now 3 times since we moved, it's just a great place to get some decor for rather cheap.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Big thanks to all of you who have or are currently serving, you rock!