Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Finishing Touches - Mulch Makes Everything Look Better

I finished laying the slate patio on Mother's Day. Since then we have enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner...and of course S'MORES on it. It has functioned as the outdoor living area we hoped for.

Although I 'finished' on Mother's Day I did spend another 4 hours making everything stronger the following weekend. I put on the knee pads and used a paint stirring stick to manually compact the stone dust in-between every joint...yes you read that right - every joint with a 2 inch wide stick (there is probably a medical diagnosis for someone like me). Then I filled the newly compacted cracks with more stone dust. Happy to say the slates now feel snug as a bug in a rug.

So now it is finally safe to say....I.AM.DONE.

...or am I? I looked around and the slate patio looked great, but the landscaping around the slates?...not so much. The grass and weeds were growing and the dirt areas just looked...dirty. It is a good thing that mulch makes everything look better.

Mulching Process:
  • Paige and I went around the whole patio and removed all the weeds. 
  • Karen weeded the gardens
  • Then I removed the grass around the entrance walkway 
  • I also went around with my flat shovel and cut a nice 4 inch deep edge around the whole parameter. 
  • Place landscape fabric in as many areas as possible to keep the weeds at bay
  • Cover with 4 inches of mulch
Mulch Colors
  • Premium Brown - This is my color of choice - it is almost black when first laid out or when it is wet, but dries to a dark natural looking brown. There is no dye in this mulch. Does not stain clothing, but will make you look dirty!
  • Dark Brown - this is a dyed mulch. Stains clothes. The dye wears out/fades on top from the rain/sun leaving it not looking so dark brown after a while.
  • Black - Great looking when first spread out, but again this is a dyed mulch. Stains clothes. The dye wears out/fades on top. Looks gray after a period of time.
  • Red - Another dyed mulch. Same problems as above and I consider this the commercial mulch. Every Dunkin Donuts, gas station, medical building uses the red mulch. I do not want my house to look like them. 
  • Playground - Natural wood chip mulch. Light tan color. No dyes. No dirt. Will keep your kids clothes cleaner than any other mulch.
Mulching Tips
  • If planting flowers - I like to mulch first, then plant flowers. Just move some mulch out of the way and plant your flower and push the mulch back around the flower. Flowers are delicate and can easily get trampled or squished during the mulching process.
  • If planting shrubs I usually plant the shrubs first and then mulch. Shrubs need a much larger hole and you will make a mess of your mulch if you mulch first.
  • Notice I said a flat shovel for making my edge. A flat shovel makes a much nicer looking natural border than a spade shovel. The rounded bottom of the spade shovel makes an uneven edge.
  • 4 inch deep edge is important too. This way you can place 2 inches of mulch and still have 2 inches until the top of the edge. This way if grass is growing up to your edge, the grass will stop when it hits the air. If you place your mulch all the way to the top of the edge where it meets the grass, your grass will just keeping growing into your mulch bed. I learned this the hard way.
  • 4 inches of mulch over the rest of your garden area is ideal for blocking out weeds...but landscape fabric is better...unless you are placing the mulch on a steep hill that will be walked on often. If this is the case you may want to skip the fabric because the fabric is slippery and the much will slip down when walked on revealing the fabric - again I learned this the hard way...so I know!.
  • Freshly laid mulch can have an 'aroma' for the first few days after being spread out - and not in a good way - so keep this in mind if you are having guests over...this is one you don't want to learn the hard way...
  • I like to place the mulch into a medium size plastic garbage can and carry it to where it is to be spread out.
  • Yes using a wheelbarrow is less strenuous, but my way is faster and easier to control.
    • Much faster to lay the garbage can on its side next to your pile of mulch and push the mulch into it with a spade shovel than it is to fill a wheelbarrow one shovel full at a time.
    • The garbage can allows me to control exactly how much mulch I dump out and where I place it. 
    • It is easier to tip-toe through the tulips in a flower bed than to maneuver a wheelbarrow around all the flowers.
Some photos to show you what I mean:

How to make a mulch bedHow to make a mulch bed

3 truck loads (4.25 yards of mulch)

Paige getting into the action

 Before & Afters

Before                                                           In Process

How to make a mulch bed and slate patio
After - Nice Mulch Bed
How to make a mulch bed and slate patio
Before                                                          After

Mulch Bed with Slates
Mulch Bed with Slates

Mulch really is the finishing touch that make everything look better.

Now the project is complete!

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