Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Our Side Porch Renovation

I'll be honest - we didn't give a single poop about our side porch.  With plans to one day replace it with an extension of our current driveway into a circle drive, we really didn't care about lending it any love.  And then out of the blue I was inspired.  Maybe I'm high on all of that spring time pollen floating around, or maybe I'm just being more rational these days, but I got the itch to make over our lackluster side porch into a dreamy summertime lounge pad.  Here's how this idea happened:

Chris' coworker offered us a free grill (ummm heck yes, we'll take free), and a family friend gifted me five baby strawberry plants in need of a garden abode.  Problem was, we had no place to put a grill or plant those sweet 'lil berries.  Since the driveway thing isn't happening for a couple more years, we figured it'd be a grand idea to spruce up the side porch and make some use out of it while we have it.  This plan was chock full of positives, like having a place to grill right off of the kitchen, having beds to plant the strawberries (and other veggies) in, and finally turning our fugly side porch into something better appreciated by our neighbors (hello, curb appeal).  The best part about this makeover?  It cost less than $100.

Really the biggest part of this outdoor renovation was removing the horrible evergreen bushes that lived in the beds alongside the porch.  My plan was to remove the bushes, tear out the roots, replace half of the old soil with new compost, and plant my very first veggie garden.  No big deal, right?  You obviously have never met the bushes that used to live on our side porch.  They're overgrown, scraggly, harbor tons of weeds 'n vines, and have needles that will easily puncture your skin without the protection of full body armor.  Here's a pretty decent way to describe them (just pretend Samuel L. Jackson is talking about the bushes instead of a haunted hotel room):

Those bushes were horrible, but nothing my Jeep, some tow straps, some lawn clippers, and some very heavy-duty leather gloves couldn't handle.  First, I exposed as much of the base of the bushes as I could by clipping back limbs.  Then I decimated those bushes one-by-one by tying tow straps around the base, and casually yanking them out via the force of my heroic Jeep Commander.  To say that uprooting those bushes wasn't in some way hugely therapeutic would be like saying Samuel L. Jackson is a sissy.  I'm totally flexing right now.

In order to keep my ever-focused husband on track with his basement renovation progress, I enlisted in the help of my Father-in-law to help me remove the bush carcasses.  To my surprise, he and my Brother-in-law surprised me by swooping in and removing them before I got home from work one day.  Whoever said in-law's were a burden obviously didn't get as lucky as I did.

The next day when I asked my lovely husband what his plans were for the day, he replied by saying that he was my slave for the whole day.  Oh, heck yes.  With the brush out of the way, we quickly got to work removing the weeds, vines, and root system left behind by those evil f'ing bushes.  We then removed half of the dirt in the beds and relocated it to the back of the house for grading (another issue that we'll hopefully have resolved by summer's end).  Then it was time for some compost.

We loaded up the Roon and drove our happy little worker-bee family over to a local family-owned garden center where we purchased a yard of compost.  If you're unfamiliar with dirt measurement, a cubic yard is equivalent to about 324 square feet of inch-deep compost coverage.  It was the perfect amount to cover our entire front yard garden (for fresh planting in a couple weeks) and to fill up our newly emptied veggie beds.  The new compost ran us only $26.50, which would have cost way more if we purchased compost by the bag-full at Home Depot or Lowes. 

Now it was time for the fun part -- plant shopping and planting!  I'm quickly becoming a garden nerd, so I was more than eager to peruse Pinterest and my gardening books for information on what to plant in my new garden beds.  With a list of plants in mind, I headed to Home Depot where I took advantage of a 4 for $10 veggie plant sale.  I came home with four tomato plants, a cucumber plant, a green bell pepper plant, a jalapeno plant, and six marigolds.  All of the plants grow well together in full sun (which our beds have lots of), and the marigolds serve as natural 'n aesthetic insect repellants.  I planted all of my new veggies and my strawberry plants nice 'n spread out so they have room to grow.  I planted some of the marigolds in the veggie beds, but I also planted two in pots that I can move around the porch as needed.

Once everything was planted and acclimating, I drug our two yellow Adirondack chairs out of the shed and gave 'em a good hose down.  I'm thinking a small little table between the two of them would be great for a happy hour lounge spot, so I've got my eyes peeled for a flea market/Craigslist deal.  I think my favorite addition to the side porch are my new wind chimes!  As a kid I always loved hearing the chimes at my family's beach house in the summer -- they're so soothing and peaceful!  We still need to pick up our free grill, but we have a spot waiting for it in front of the basement stair railing.  We're also noodling on the idea of putting up a temporary privacy wall or fence to give the porch a little more seclusion from the many drivers that drive past our house.  We'll let you know how that goes.

I gotta say, we shouldn't have hated on our side porch as much as we did -- it had a lot of potential that we could've seized a long time ago!  Now we have a veggie garden and grill station located right outside of the kitchen, as well as a nice spot to sit and hang out with friends while we grill.  We also did our neighborhood a solid by cleaning up our junky porch and making it pretty; there has been a lot of rubbernecking in the past couple of days!

Now all we need is a little bit of summer sun to grow our veggies, and some balmy evenings to enjoy a few cold drinks and grilled dinners with friends and family.  In the spare spring days before all that good stuff happens, I can at least crack a window and let the soothing songs of our wind chimes fill our house with anticipation of warmer weather to come.  Ding-dong, winter is dead!


  1. Your porch looked peaceful and wide once those bushes were removed, DIY Squirrel! Haha! And I couldn't contain my laughter when I watched the video and imagining about the bushes! Anyway, I think you just have to power wash your porch flooring. There are some algae on it that might be cause accidents, since floors with algae tend to become slippery when wet.

    Kylee Groves

  2. Home renovation is really a great idea to give new look to your old and boring home.

    Builders Cleaning Perth

  3. Aww. I think the end result of the "renovation” of your side porch is lovely. I just love how you were able to use something that used to be an eyesore for you and turned it into something completely spectacular. I love the flowers and the look of the grill. Kudos. :)
    Arthur Bryant