Tag Archives: gardens

How to Build a Walkway Using a Concrete Paver Mold

June 22, 2012

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You can spend thousands of dollars and hire a professional contractor to pour your walkway or install commercially made concrete pavers, or you can use Quikrete’s Walkmaker form or some other type of form. Walkway with Stones The Walkmaker, constructed of a durable plastic material, greatly simplifies the construction of a concrete walkway and produces exceptional results. For a customized look, purchase powdered cement coloring to add to the concrete mixture. Here’s how we made our lovely walkway with the mold.

Stuff You Need:
Paver Mold- we used Quikrete’s Walkmaker
Crack-resistant concrete
Flat-bladed spade
Gravel
Hand tamper
Wheelbarrow
Powdered cement coloring
Measuring cup
Bucket
Hoe
Trowel or shovel

Step 1

Determine the amount of concrete material needed for the project. Quikrete recommends one 80-pound bag of concrete for every 2 feet of walkway.

Step 2

Measure the walkway area and remove the sod with the spade. You can lay the pavers directly onto the ground, but for best results Quikrete recommends that you remove 2 to 4 inches of soil and pour gravel into the trench. Tamp the gravel so that it is level and compacted.

Bust Sod

Step 3

Pour a bag of concrete into the wheelbarrow. Remove approximately 2 cups of dry mix and set it aside. Add the powdered coloring to the dry concrete mix and stir well with a hoe.

Step 4

Fill the bucket with approximately 3 pints water. Slowly pour half the water into one part of the wheelbarrow. With the hoe, rake the dry concrete into the pool of water, mixing until all the water is absorbed.

Mixing Concrete

Step 5

Add another 2 to 3 pints of water to the bucket, and pour the water into the concrete mix. Rake and chop the concrete into the water until the water is absorbed. The mixture should have the consistency of mud. When you chop the mixture with the hoe, the mixture should stay in place. If the mixture is too crumbly or stiff, add more water. If the mixture is too soupy, add some of the dry concrete mix you have set aside, and mix well.

Step 6

Place the Walkmaker form at one end of the walkway. Shovel or trowel the concrete into the form, patting down the mix to ensure that it fills the corners and cavities of the mold.

Filling Form

Step 7

Lift the form straight up so it does not snag on and damage the wet concrete pavers. Hose off the form immediately to prevent the concrete mix from hardening.

Lifting Form 2

Step 8

Repeat the process of mixing concrete, laying the form in the walkway and adding the mix to the form until the walkway is complete. Allow the pavers to dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 9

Sprinkle cupfuls of Portland cement sand mix or jointing sand over the pavers. Spread the sand mix between the paver form lines with a broom so the mix completely fills the form lines.

Sweeping Sand Mix 3

Step 10

Mist the pavers with a garden hose, wetting the sand mix but not washing it out of the form lines. Allow to dry completely.

Spraying Water

Secret Garden Blooming

Notes and Tips

To make a curved walkway, reposition the Walkmaker form onto the wet concrete mix in the direction of the curve. Press the form down to form new paver lines. Smooth out the previous paver lines with the trowel.

To prevent the Walkmaker form from sticking to the wet concrete, lightly spray the form with water or very lightly with cooking oil.

To create a nonslip surface, lightly brush over the wet pavers with a stiff broom. The broom will create small ridges on the paver surface.

To allow the concrete to properly cure, choose an overcast day when the temperature will not drop before 50 degrees and no rain is expected within 24 hours. If it does rain, cover unstained concrete pavers with plastic sheeting. In an area with sun, cover the concrete pavers with plastic sheeting or burlap to prevent the concrete from drying too quickly. Lightly moisten the burlap periodically when the material becomes too dry.

Do not cover stained concrete with plastic sheeting or burlap, as they may cause discoloration. Apply Quikrete Concrete Sealer to the surface of the concrete instead.

Concrete is caustic. Do not breathe in concrete dust. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves while handling concrete.

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April Showers Bring May… Weeds

May 11, 2012

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Good heavens. Rain, rain, rain. It’s over now, and the sun is out. It feels so good, but it also brings to light the absolute disaster that is my yard.

The yard has gone bonkers with the incessant rain. The husband tried mowing in the rain, to keep the grass down, but it was futile. Ten days later, here we are.

Weedy Yard2

Unfortunately, the lawn tractor is broken, so the boys are doing to have to hack into the meadow with the push mower.

The kids have been keeping up with the vegetable garden pathways. You should have seen the mountains of weeds here! The beds need a thorough cleaning out (this week, if the sun stays consistent) and we have to till yet. Food prices have gone up so much that this year we MUST have a garden.

Weedy Garden 2

This is my poor baby willow tree that was stripped by deer over the winter. I don’t know if it will live, honestly. I’d wrapped it with tree wrap, but had to take it off for the good weather. The bark fell off in long strips . This is my 10th attempt at growing trees in the back yard. So far, only 1 other has survived (a blue spruce).

Stripped Willow 2

I am very proud of my apple trees. I have blossoms this year! I was nearly dancing with delight.

Apple blossoms2

So I’ve got a lot of gardening to do this year. I didn’t even mention the flower beds riddled with weeds from the flooding, nor the raspberry and grape vines that need attention. Whew!

How is your spring gardening coming along?

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Bambi Meets Godzilla

April 21, 2012

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Now that’s it’s spring and I’m surveying the massive damage to my vegetation and gardens, it’s time for my annual “I Hate Deer” post! Yay!

To start off this year’s festivities, I present to you a marvelous short film, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

I first saw this video more than 30 years ago! I was flabbergasted to see it on YouTube. We kids were around the television set when this little film came on sometime in the late 70s? I think it was done by a university student, as a school project? Can’t remember. It was on TV one fine Saturday afternoon. My brothers and I and my very little sister were watching it. Oh the sweet, lilting music! The adorable and soft sylvan setting! The innocent little fawn munching on my future hostas forest foliage!

All of sudden, HERE COMES GODZILLA! Impending doom.

The boys and I (quite the tomboy) rolled on the floor, laughing. My young sister, however, was aghast and shouted out in distress. For some reason, we all thought her angst was hilarious, too, and laughed even harder. It was tough being a girl in our family.

I never forgot that video. I even told my kids about it. Imagine my surprise to find it on YouTube!! I gathered them around the computer like a mother hen with her chicks, pressed the “Full Screen” key and turned up the volume. With swelling anticipation, I awaited their hilarious laughter.

The video ended.

Silence.

“Oh Mom’s so sadistic,” a daughter rolled her eyes. The other kids were quiet.

WHAT?!?! I think it’s cool.

Deer eat my gardens, they eat my trees, they poop in my lawn, they wreck all my hard work!!! Cheers to Godzilla. :) Muahahahhaaha.

So who are you rooting for?

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Perennials, FINALLY!

August 11, 2011

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One of the perks of having a perennial garden is that you don’t need to replant everything every spring.

Yet one of the disadvantages to a perennial garden is that nothing blooms until JULY! :-p I don’t know how I did it, but I must have chosen all the plants that *only* bloom at a certain time, so my yard has no color until mid-summer, ugh. Not very good organizing, apparently. Oh well.

So now that we’re into August, my yard is literally ablaze with color. The Rose of Sharon, day lily, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower, butterfly bush, sage, oriental stargazers, everything! Yay! It’s good to see that the plants aren’t suffering TOO much from my severe neglect this summer and last.

Colorful Flowerbed

Orange and Blue

I’m nuts about blue and red flowers. Next year, I’ll plant more red!

How’s your garden growing?

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Break Out the Blowtorches, Hogweed is Here

July 11, 2011

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Even the name insinuates the most noxious, insidious killer to lately crawl out of Asian cargo ships onto our purple-mountain majesty coasts: The Giant Hogweed!

It’s heeeeere! It’s native to Central Asia and it’s spreading toward the northeast. It’s already established in Michigan and Indiana. New reports are showing the unwelcome visitor arriving in Pennsylvania and New York State.

The Giant Hogweed is an invasive species, a member of the carrot and parsnip family. (I knew there was a good reason why I hate carrots!!). However, this family member grows to be a lot taller than Bugs Bunny’s meal of choice. The hogweed can grow to be 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It produces a disgusting number of seeds, too, to ensure that it ruins as much property as possible. *sigh* The British initially brought the hogweed home from Asia in the 19th century, planting it as an “ornamental” plant in special gardens. But like The Blob, Jurassic Park, and Killer Bees, things *kinda* got out of control and the species escaped captivity. Oopsie.

The hogweed has lace-like flowers very similar to Queen Anne’s Lace. The leaves resemble large, jagged dandelion leaves and the plant would almost be pretty were it not for one small problem: it’s viciously poisonous.

The plant produces a sap that burns human skin. God forbid it should get in the eye, or blindness can occur. According to the University of Illinois Extension:

Characteristics include hollow stems, between two and four inches in diameter, with dark reddish-purple splotches and coarse white hairs. Leaves are compound, lobed, deeply incised and may grow up to five feet in width. Flowers appear from mid-May through July. As with other members of the carrot family, the flower heads are umbrella-shaped, up to 2½-feet in diameter across a flat top with numerous small flowers.

The Giant Hogweed is sometimes mixed up with other members of the parsnip/carrot family. My husband came home wondering if he’d seen a hogweed planted by a mailbox, but the flowers were yellow. I think he probably saw wild parsnip. Other very similar plants are cow parsnip, wild carrot, poison hemlock and angelica.

Giant Hogweed has a thick, tuberous stem with very wide white lace flowers. It exudes a clear, sticky sap that causes photodermatitis. Skin contact followed by exposure to sunlight can cause severe burns and blisters that become purple or black blotches and scar the skin. VERY nasty.

I just don’t know how the Chinese manage, with all these horribly toxic plants and bugs that float around over there. In my opinion, I’d rather manufacture our goods here in the U.S.A. and avoid all the extra baggage in the cargo crates. :|

Anyway, the Giant Hogweed is a “federal noxious weed” and therefore it is illegal to propagate, sell, or transport the plant. Do not pull, mow, or chop down the weed with a weed whacker. Doing so will release the sap. And, since the plant is a perennial weed (which means it will grow again even after the entire planet has been decimated by nuclear war), the Giant Hogweed will just keep coming back for more. Think of this plant as Bishop Weed from hell.

If you see the Giant Hogweed, alert the authorities. Who ya gonna call? The GIANT HOGWEED HOTLINE! I’m putting this number in my speed dial, people: 845-256-3111. If you see hogweed, call them. A hazmat team will arrive via black helicopters and blow the smithereens out of the noxious weed. YEAH, BABY.

OK, I jest. A hazmat team is *probably* not required. Nor are the black helicopters, but hey– black helicopters have descended upon DVD pirates in the local ‘hood, so ya never know….. this is a “federal noxious weed,” after all….

Some photos and information courtesy of hyg.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=80

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My Lovely But Stubborn Rose Bush

June 20, 2011

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When I first moved here over a decade ago, I knew next to nothing about gardening. I bought some books and checked some out from the library, and went to work, studying. I learned a lot. The nice thing about gardening is that it’s actually kind of easy. Plants are pretty resilient, and they will endure a good amount of abuse, lol.

So when I moved here, there were few plant: a rhododendron on its last gasps; a front flower bed FILLED with hostas (yuk); a stinging nettle bush next to the driveway (we got rid of that nasty bush the second day we moved in!); and an old Scotch rose disfigured with horribly drippy bags of fluorescent-orange spots. I later found out this was a fungus.

The rose bush, while pretty, was situated right next to the garage wall, in the shadows in an obscure area. I hacked at it to remove it. The thing grew back every year! And every year, I hacked at it again. I cut, I sawed, I weed-whacked. It just stubbornly refused to die! As a matter of fact, it grew back beautifully, free of the orange goop. I guess it had been neglected for so long that my vicious hacking only helped it!

Last year, I didn’t hack it. I was too exhausted. I just left it.

Look at it today. Photo taken this morning.

rosesgrowing

It’s still in the shadows in that obscure area, by the garage wall. I have to admire the tenacious little thing. It’s blooming like there’s no tomorrow- and I guess that makes sense because I hacked at the poor thing like there was going to be no tomorrow!

So I’m going to leave it. Maybe next year I’ll take the root suckers and plug them elsewhere in the garden. There are a few offshoots of this bush, elsewhere around the yard. They are also blooming prolifically. And they smell HEAVENLY. Oh, those old-fashioned Scotch roses! You can keep your hybrid plastic-surgery models– give me the old fashioned, hardy rose.  They are absolutely delicious. Like any true blood American, I love an underdog. And this rose bush is definitely a contender. LOL

So I have plans to put roses everywhere. I’ll incorporate them into my lilac-laden garden plans. Wouldn’t that be so wonderful– lilacs in May, roses in June. What’s for July and August?

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Just Another Post About Snow

December 6, 2010

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Ooo the first snowfall is so exciting! I was so happy to see it that I went outside in my bathrobe to snap some photos. I thought I’d share them here, so you southerners can see what you are missing! Cuz winter and cold temperatures are NO FUN without snow! :D

Here is my very weedy garden. I’m so glad the snow is covering the ugliest weeds. I seriously neglected the garden this year. Next spring will be a doozy for us– we’ll have to yank out all those weeds that are so well-established and happy in my garden beds. Ugh :S

GardenSnow

The grill casts a lonely figure in the snowscape. The only thing I don’t like about winter is the lack of color. Everything is gray. But other than that, I do like winter a lot. Notice the blue tarp covering the snowblower and the lawn tractor. *sigh* I TOTALLY forgot to bring them in before the snow hit. I thik they may be iced to the ground by now, sheesh. I wanted to get all these chores done while we still had good weather, in November. Oopsie! Too late! Now, I’ll have to pull out the handwarmers.net and dig the machines out of the snowbanks.

GrillSnow

This is my little juniper shrub. It’s a dwarf something or other. I can’t remember what it’s called. :S I like the way the snow clumps on the fringed branches, like wispy white coldwatercreek.com/petites.aspx clothing.

JuniperSnow

Here’s a raspy bed of Black-Eyed Susans. I didn’t have time to deadhead them before winter. It’s nice to know that perennials can serve as artistic visual “interest” for those of us too lazy or busy to attend to the gardens! LOL

SusansSnow

Does it snow where you are?

I don’t even mind walking in it. My poor husband has to deliver mail in this stuff, though. The postal vehicles are marvelous inventions, but for some reason, they do not have any heater vents for the feet. His feet are almost frozen solid after driving around all day, and tromping through snow to deliver packages to doors. I’m going to invest in some kind of footwarmers.org Toasti Toes footwarmers for him, and maybe some other warm winter gear from northernoutfitters.com.

Please be kind to your mailman– shovel out your mailbox and your driveway if you are expecting mail and/or packages. :)

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Signs of Autumn

October 15, 2010

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The fall season is so brief here in the Northeast; at least, it has been for several years now. The days are gloomy and rainy, and the winds blow off the leaves before we have much of a chance to enjoy the brilliant colors. Winter will soon be here! The temperatures have been unseasonably chilly. I still have a slew of winterizing yet to do. And we don’t even have the heating system installed downstairs yet! :-O I also have to tuck in my flower beds in for their long winter’s naps. So much to do, and so little time to do it.

So the signs of autumn are quickly blending into the signs of winter.

Mottled sunshine on a frosty lawn.

Fall_MottledSun

Long shadows.

Fall_Bunny

Colorful trees. These are Sugar Maples. They usually turn a brilliant orange in the fall, but oddly, this year they are yellow. Don’t know why. All the rain, maybe?

Fall_Trees

Dried, bald-headed Susans in the flower beds. I really need to get out there and clear out the gardens. I am usually much more “on the ball” with such things. After the summer-long renovation and my intense work load, I am not motivated, nor do I have much time.

Fall_Susans

Just a taste of the raking chores yet to come. But the smell of leaves is marvelous.

Fall_leaves

Livvy watching leaves fall.

Fall_Livvy

So how is your autumn “turning” out? Are you busy with preparations, or are you relaxing after a busy summer?

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Cabin Fever Big Time

February 16, 2010

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*****sighhhhh****

Pardon me as I recollect…

Oriental Lilies

Can’t you just smell them?

Nikko Blue Hydrangea

I wonder how my new bed in my Secret Garden will turn out this year. I’m so desperate I don’t even care about how ugly that sump pump pipe looks.

New Garden Bed

New Garden Bed 3

Ah, to see green again….

Round Bed2

It’s been so gloomy this winter. I haven’t had cabin fever like this in a long time. The skies are always overcast, always gray, we are pale and in desperate need of something to remove dark circles under eyes. How about Mr. Sun again? Hello? Still there?

How are you doing? have you got cabin fever, too? Only TWO more months!!!!

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Raking Season Almost Over

November 2, 2009

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We had some terrific windstorms last week and over the weekend. We usually do every late October/early November. What a site! People’s trash cans, litter, assorted clothing and tarps.. everything that wasn’t nailed down was blowing around the neighborhood. :S

Despite the inconvenience, the winds are nice because they usually blow off the last of the leaves, the ones that have been tenaciously clinging to life on the trees. This comes just in time, just as we down below are sick and tired of wondering how many more days we’re stuck raking raking raking. So the leaves blew down, finally, and we have only a little bit of the final raking to do. I’m glad the kid like to rake… but me thinks they fool around too much while they do so. ;) Here’s the leaf sphinx that preoccupied them for an afternoon:

Leaf Pyramid

It takes a while to rake up the yard– usually about 3 weeks, on and off. I think we finally got all the leaves out of the Secret Garden area. Here are before and after photos.

Autumn Arbor3

Autumn Arbor1

Still left to do: prune and clip perennials (which look very messy not that they are withered and brown), bring in the garden hose, clean out the shed and get out the winter tools, prepare the pets’ homes for winter, and… reinstall our big automatic garage door, which broke. :( One of our kitties lives in the garage, and since the door broke and had to be removed, he’s been chilly in his home. I hope we can get all this stuff done before the snow flies! How about you, how are you doing with your final preparations for winter?

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