Fleur de Lawn – flowering lawn!

So since I am currently mesmerized with the idea of using my entire front yard as a zone 1 food forest, edible landscaping I am thinking of using THIS idea for my backyard! It is a wonderful option for people in the desert like me but it is also cold hardy while still drought tolerant. It is a “flowering lawn” or a “mow-able meadow”! Who wouldn’t love that! I found this idea when I came across this guy’s video on YouTube and you can find it here in the YouTube link! His channel is worth following if you’re interesting in Permaculture or edible landscape!

 

Low_maintenance_Fleur_de_Lawn_at_a_cabin_large

How gorgeous is that! It doesn’t get super tall and it is a mix of drought tolerant grass, wild flowers and clovers!

 

Here is where you can get the product:

PT 755 Fleur de Lawn®

 

 

3261583553_43ce097580_o_large

 

Ciocc272DSCN5527_large

Doesn’t that look so soft to walk in!?!

 

IMGP1601_large

And if you love the flowers and blooms (like I’m sure I will) you don’t even have to mow it. It doesn’t get really tall like other grasses or weeds would but rather stays fairly low to the ground. So if you were walking around in it it isn’t over your shins or anything, lol! For my backyard for the kids and my dogs to play in I think it’d look just gorgeous and provide some green to my desert but also start to help rebuild my soil back there and add some flowers, color and life where it is much needed! I think I will shoot to try to do this this upcoming spring in 2016!

 

 

.

sw-water_large

 

If you or anyone you know has done something like this before or you have a review of this particular product by chance please do comment below and let me know! I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback on this idea!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

Share Button

How to re-use washer gray water!

So in early November walking around my back yard I noticed some water standing at the back of the house and after some curious poking around I realized it was the gray water draining from the washer to the side of the house and then due to improper setup and slope it was running under the house. Standing water anywhere is a no no, but especially near, under or up against your home!

I didn’t want to call a handyman out to fix it and I got to thinking with all the research I’ve been doing lately about gardening, permaculture and especially desert gardening with minimal or the least amount of water. So I got to doing some research on the uses of gray water…and quickly landed on this idea to redirect the washer gray water INTO the side yard where it is supposed to go but to then dig a trench so that the water will be gravity fed into that side yard in certain areas SO THAT I can have my future rose garden there. Ever since we moved in I wanted this small area to be a rose garden one day and this water drainage “issue” can now be the SOLUTION for that. As Geoff Lawton of Permaculture always says, let the problem be the solution!!! Think about it!!! =D

 

43

 

So I quickly got to work on that. This project took me about 2 half days maybe, all by myself in early November and the only tools I used were a shovel and a rake. After the project was finished to make it look cuter I gathered some bricks and river rock laying around on the farm and “fancied” it up a bit and that’s it. So the project was 100% free, very necessary to not cause damage to the house and will be free water for a future non-edible garden AND…reusing something that would have otherwise gone to “waste” and just been absorbed into the ground elsewhere and non-contained, non-purposeful way! Those are all major bummers!

 

This is a heavy picture post as I took pictures throughout the whole process, as I always do. The visuals are very necessary for me to see my way through a project and to ALSO help me feel more accomplished. I also decided to do some videos of this project strictly to send to my Mom to show her but then I ended up sharing them publicly on You tube and since they help you see the water in action and everything I decided to share them on here as well.

 

VIDEO DISCLOSURE: I am no professional film maker (I know there is a word for that??) and in fact I’d call myself a super newbie to “recording videos” of anything other than family and kids playing! So these are a little shaky and there is no special editing or anything, very cut and dry and less than 1 minute for most of them.

 

Let the fun and pictures begin!!!

 

yard before move in - 3

As a fun little reminder, this is what that side yard looked like when we moved into the home about 6 mths ago now.

 

1.5

Then this is what it looked like early summer after we cleaned up the weeds and junk. There used to be a chainlink fence there that a tenant’s animals knocked down, I guess.

 

2.5

In early Fall I was poking around outside on a windy day and I thought I’d reuse these trellis’ we took off the front deck and put them up as a “temporary fence” since I had the posts so I just cable tied them up there. No it doesn’t look fancy or even pretty but it serves its purpose for now and when we redo the front fence, I’ll put new fencing up here as well. But free is always nice!

 

3

Day 1 of the project!

This is what the area where the washer drain comes out goes to. This is the side of the house, directly under the laundry room and also next to the Ac. You can see there are bricks there I guess someone else had this intention of the water flowing towards our view (towards the camera) and out that way….it does not do that. Lol!

 

4

Here is what that area looked like the day I walked over and decided to do this project.

 

6.5

Step 1 for any project for me is always CLEAN UP! I have to start with a clean slate. Some people say that wastes time but I will tell you there is nothing more productive than working on a project with a happy, positive outlook and having a “clean space” is what gives me that outlook. Therefore…I always clean up first.

 

7

This is the area just between the house and the fence, where the AC and electric meter live. These are also between myself and the majority of the side yard where those future roses will go. So I knew before starting my first trench would have to come out, around the AC and go between these two guys to then lead out into the main part of the side yard.

 

8.5

I removed one of those bricks that was in the ground there to create an opening and got to digging the trench. I just used a regular rounded edge shovel because it is the only one I have. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too bad on this side of the house, I’m assuming from periodic soakings from the washer. Although you’ll see in the first video below the majority of the washer water does not actually come THIS way, as you’d think it does.

 

So I dug that first trench and then dug it around the AC then straight out into the side yard only maybe 2 inches deep the whole way. I really started was starting my outline and seeing what shape I wanted to have, where I wanted it to go. After doing that I dug 4 channels off of that main trench. And THEN I turned the washer on to drain so I could see what would happen after that little bit of work. This video below shows what happened the 1st time I ran the washer…

Digging a trench from washer drain part 1

Let me just say, at 20 seconds in when that water starts to go into that channel it made me feel like a Mama Bear proud of a kid doing something on their own for the first time. It was like I immediately thought “OMG, this is going to work!!!! How cool!!!”

 

So in this video we learned that with the trench obviously not done and not deep enough, after that water fills up that initial basin it then rises up and runs UNDER the house! Which is then where all the remaining water goes, preventing it from entering new said trench! Progress!

 

9

So then I got to work on digging these existing trenches and channels all a little bit deeper and making some parts wider. At this point I just have 1 trench with 4 channels off of it to the left and right.

 

10.5

A little deeper…

 

11.5

Then I shift my focus back on that basic and I dig it deeper and wider as well, to catch more water initially.

 

17.5

Then, thinking of that water running under the house I start shoveling mud from the pile of what I had dug out and start mounding it around the drain. I put it all up against the side of the house and all around, to block water from OVERFLOWING anywhere other than into the new trench!

 

And then I filmed video #2!!!!

Digging a trench for washer drain part 2

 

You see about half way through this video that this is the first time the water in the trench had MADE it around the corner and passed the first channel! It ALSO starts filling the basin and spilling over that brick wall on the front side AND a little bit starts spilling over on the right side going under the wire for the AC unit and back behind there. =( Add to that that once it got about half way down the channel, none of it was really deep enough so then it just started flooding the banks and overflowing. Lol! Learning as we go!

 

19.5

Overflowing the banks because all the channels were too shallow at this point.

 

20

Adding more mud around the main basin to keep water in the places I want it, without over flowing.

 

21

I dug every trench deeper and as the water would flow through I’d watch curves or corners where it’d slow down so as that would happen I’d be there with my shovel to make certain areas wider or deeper as needed.

 

23.5

At this point I still only have 4 channels off of the main trench. But I had dug them all to 4-5 inches deep, which was as deep as I felt they probably needed to be. So I ran the washer (not videoed) and with the washer draining TWICE with each load, it put out just enough water to fill the trench, all 4 channels and then over flow the very last channel but ONLY after that second drain cycle. So I concluded with a 5th channel, then it should be fine to hold (and trap, to soak into the ground to water nearby flowers) the water from 2 cycles from each load of laundry. I didn’t plan for it to hold more than that as we typically do about 1 load of laundry per day and that’s it, rather than doing a ton all in a day.

 

 

27

With water standing in the whole system it made for digging and trenching THAT much easier. Thank God for that with our Arizona hard, clay-like soil…if you can even call it soil!

 

28

 

29

I put 2 stray bricks on each side of the wiring for the AC unit just to try to keep water away from it and then put up a mud mound on the left side of it as well so that water won’t even go that way. I also put a mud mound on this front side of it where you used to be able to see the bricks in the ground, now you can’t.So it made that berm type thing about an inch taller.

 

31.5

By this time, I added that 5th channel off the end since it was still overflowing at the end after a second drain (2 per load).

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 3

You can see in the video that channels 3 & 4 weren’t as deep as all the others yet.

You will also see by the time of this video I no longer had issues with escaping water at the start, from the drain or the basin! Yay!!!!

 

32

 

Day 2!!!

 

Time for clean up and small modifications!

33

I started working to level all the dirt at this starting point because although you can’t see it, where I’m standing to take these pictures is a small chain-link gate. So once I started this project I decided this gate and this area would need to stay clear for myself or handymen to come access the AC to work on it or when I clean it seasonally. So in the future there may be a cute little mulch or gravel walk way here. So I leveled out that mud that was just all in a pile before I got to raking everything BEAUTIFUL!

 

36

With all the trenches perfectly deep enough and 2 drain cycles putting out JUST enough water to fill all channels to the top but no more…the big work was done. So here I just leveled out the mud piles and started raking so that finished look I love so much!

 

37

Main trench, channel 1 and part of channel 4.

 

38

Channels 2, 3, 4 and part of 5!

 

39

This side that butts up against the house I noticed while working the ground slopes down to the house so all that excess mud I had I threw that way and at the end I leveled it out so that it is a flat surface but also berms up a tiny bit at the house so that rain water or anything will flow away from the house, as it should.

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 4

Video 4 is just a picture, video collage I put together on my phone to try to show some photos of it start to finish. Again, video disclosure, no sound or music or anything fancy. =)

 

A FEW DAYS LATER…

 

Riley man came outside and offered to remove 2 stumps from some old bushes that used to be here. As far back as 3 years, any time I’ve ever been to this property, there were never bushes here. They were always just those stumps. So I think we could resolve that they were 100% dead. And Riley loves destroying things, being a typical 11 year old boy so he got the shovel and went to town.

 

40.5

 

ABOUT A WEEK LATER…

 

I was doing laundry and decided I’d come out to watch my little system with pride just to see how it was holding up a week or so after finishing and I decided the basin area just had to look a little cuter. So I gathered some bricks and river rocks from around the property and just made it cuter! My goal is to actually fill the trench and drains with sand one day so it looks cuter when it is empty and then of course I’ll plant roses. I recently decided I will be adding hibiscus to this flower bed with my roses and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!

 

41.5

 

42.5

This is how the channels are holding up about a week later. You can’t really tell I raked which is a bummer but that’s fine, the dogs had to run around and explore what I had done differently of course. Plus after Riley removed the 2 stumps I didn’t rake so that is all disheveled as well but oh well! (You see that little green patch of grass that came up where channel 1 ends and some water pools right there? Nature is a beautiful thing!

 

Digging a trench from washer drain part 5

Video 5 I filmed one morning early after I had started laundry AFTER everything was done and I added the rocks to the basin. You can hear the birds chirping, my dogs eagerly running around for the first time in the morning and my son Riley off in the distance in his chonies (not pictured, of course!) because he came out to see what I was doing, lol!

 

I love how in this video within just like 20 seconds the water is marching down that main trench like it is on a mission and it knows exactly where it is supposed to go. No issues in the way, no confusion, nothing. Just on it goes to fill up the whole system with ease. Bliss. And perfection! Pride swells!

 

43

True before and after of the whole thing! =D

 

3 WEEKS AFTER THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED…

I was outside walking around and I hadn’t done laundry in maybe 2 days so these channels were just dry (which is fine) but I noticed something green. So upon closer examination I found 4-5 spots where little grass is shooting up in the trenches or on the sides! How marvelous is that!!!!

46.5

Since I’ve spend this whole last week currently studying Permaculture like it was my last dying wish or something (seriously, about 45 hours this week of studying and researching) these little green patches of life make me so happy and proud. Because Permaculture teaches that Mother Earth will rebound and heal itself and become lush and wonderful with a few simple techniques. These trenches I dug to redirect washer gray water are a small scale version of exactly what Permaculture is all about. All I did was redirect a wonderful resource like water and although I haven’t planted anything here yet, nature is responding, the dirt is happy, it is moist and it gets ample shade and sun and it is coming to life all on its own! It is just such a wonderful thing for me to see in action! Someday soon…or maybe in the spring, there will be happy roses and hibiscus of 10 colors here!!! And…as expected, I will smile every time I come home and walk passed this garden to get to my front door as I see the beautiful colors and smell those glorious roses!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

Share Button

Prepping Lemongrass for winter!

Have you ever heard of LEMONGRASS!?!?!

 

Well just in case you haven’t, the first time I heard about it was when I was researching “natural” ways to repel mosquitoes here on our homestead.

To break it down, as stated on this website; “Lemongrass is a tropical herb packed with strong citrus flavor. The lemon taste is prized in Asian cooking, as well as in teas, sauces, and soups. In the garden, lemongrass forms a tall, grassy clump 3 to 5 feet tall. Its appearance rivals that of many ornamental grasses and can easily fulfill a similar role in the landscape.”

Lemongrass being a grass, lasts outdoors most of the year but lasts longer in warmer climates. Here in Arizona we’re in Zone 8 so it lasts the majority of the year. It is recommended to uproot it and plant in pots in the winter and bring inside when temps are below 40 degrees.

 

Our Plans

We want to have a good defense against those pesky mosquitoes this next year and when a local small farmer mentioned on her Facebook page that she had some free Lemongrass stalks for anybody who wanted some I totally went and grabbed up some. They sat on my front porch for over a good month because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to risk it and go ahead and plant them in the flower boxes around our front deck now and pray they survive the winter or what. So we finally did this week for Riley’s handicraft lesson in Gardening (his choice), which is the word to describe the extra curricular subjects children learn with the Charlotte Mason Method for home schooling. I explain handicrafts in depth in this post.

 

Where do you get it?
If you aren’t blessed with a giving local farmer or friend who has some lemongrass on their property, where do you find it? Well, it’s actually SUPER easy! When I was researching HOW to take care of this cute little grass I came across a blog post about how you can buy lemongrass in the grocery store and prep it to plant! <–Make sure you check that out!

 

Over on the blog The Prairie Homestead, whom I eagerly follow because she’s currently living a lot of my dreams on her farm/homestead and her blog is packed full of USEFUL information! I found this post on her blog about how to grow and use Lemongrass and in that they start it from a seed and germinate the seed! Awesome! At the end of the post there are also some linked posts with ideas and recipes for other uses for lemongrass other than as an aromatic bug repellent.

 

Something I plan to get obsessed with in the very near future is homemade soap making and you can find my ideas for that on my Pinterest board Soap and more soap! DIY Ya’ll! And you can use lemongrass a lot in homemade soap recipes! Things to come!

 

If you just want to follow all of my MANY Pinterest boards you can find my page here!

 

So after our research online a few days ago Riley and I gathered our donated lemongrass stalks, some empty pots we had in the shop and a bag of soil.

 

12187709_10205066221042562_4667441486164073387_n

As we went through all these steps I was trying to teach Riley the little bit I had learned about lemongrass and the little bit more I learned about planting in pots that I learned from my Mom growing up.

 

12193832_10205066221402571_3137504081365223167_n

Those donated lemongrass stalks!

 

12065883_10205066222482598_1967737469322068981_n

It took us MAYBE 20 minutes! But it was a great “Gardening 101” lesson for Riley’s once weekly gardening handicraft for home school.

 

12190129_10205066223122614_596503639897471982_n

 

Proud boy!

 

lemongrasspot

This is what I hope our lemongrass looks like come late winter or early spring!

 

lemongrassinground

The GOAL is that our lemongrass will look like this by late Spring and it’ll be happy in its new home in the flower beds around our front deck. I’ll probably put some out by the shop as well since I often find myself there. And if we do our pool in the backyard again next year then I’ll put some out by it because the bugs were pretty annoying out there this past summer.

 

There is no telling if we did it exactly right or what will come of it but that is the fun of doing something new the first time. If we have issues with our potted sprouts I can at least get some at the grocery store and try to begin again before Spring. Live and learn!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

Share Button

06-16-15 Working on the backyard & inside!

Since the BACK yard (that is fenced in from the rest of the property) was such a low priority before we moved in and immediately after moving in, I didn’t do anything with it for a few weeks. So after we were settled into the house and the front grounds looked decent, I began itching to do something with the back. This is what it looked like.



There is this gap from the back of the house to a concrete slab partially covered by part of a pergola (most of it since removed) because there used to be a huge deck or sun room off the back of the house and it met up with that concrete slab. That part had to be torn out about 2 years ago due to extensive water damage. I hope to add a new deck in the future that spans across the entire back of the house and add french doors from the dining room out onto the deck. #futureplans



Just one of the few pillars left from the old pergola that somebody else (not us) tore down awhile ago.


Desert weeds galore! 



You can see in these shots patchy fence work. What it is is that a few years ago (maybe several) when the fence was originally built they put 2 feet worth of concrete blocks on the bottom and THEN built a wood fence inside or on top of that. So in total the backyard fence is about 7-8 feet tall. Which is nice for privacy but I’ve yet to figure out why they did it the way they did. Now last year a few of those panels fell down and so the unpainted portion is where they put up  new panels and none of it was ever painted. The old fencing is a light blue that was greatly aged by time, not intentionally. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with it yet, if I will paint it all 1 new color or if I’ll paint the new fencing to match the blue aged wood. I can’t decide if I like it or not.



Some before and after collages. Cleaned up the yard and put in some outdoor seating and stuff.





It is far from complete and just the beginning but I wanted to setup a little grill area and since I have personally NEVER grilled the only one I own is this tiny one we bought for a day we spent on the lake last summer. And that lattice you see there is the ONLY remaining lattice anywhere on the property, lol! 



 And here is why I love living in the country! A day with rain in the distance, near farmers with gorgeous rows of corn and this is the view I get when driving to town! This corn field is just about  a mile from my house and I pass it every time I go to town. I love it!


Talk about a mail box redo. That little guy was so ugly and pitiful, much less you couldn’t even see the number. So I just got some black spray repaint, sprayed down the ENTIRE thing and put new numbers on it. I want to do a whole new one in the near future but for now at least it doesn’t look hideous AND it functions as the mail woman can now see the house numbers!


Another gorgeous Arizona sunset from my front yard! I couldn’t love it any more if I tried! =)


To the inside of the house!


Things a little more setup in the living room (although the chase on the sectional was later moved)


Getting the essentials put together in my room. Love my old metal headboard and foot board and this adorable antique nightstand I got off of Craigslist. I didn’t redo that one, someone else did, but they did aqua paint and applied a crackle finish on it after. I love it! 


Dining room progress!


Oops, almost forgot! A corner in my room where I have an antique chair, an old antique phone a friend gave me, an antique sewing box kit on the floor and my Ariat cowgirl boots! =)


The built in book shelf in the living room. I have many more books than that…


Dining room buffet all setup! =D

XoXo,
Elizabeth
Share Button