You know how some people have a green thumb? I have a black thumb. The black thumb of foliage death. And for years, I avoided any mention of gardening, flowers, landscaping… you name it. In fact, if it wasn’t for Frank Ferragine and his deviously straightforward advice, I probably would have been garden-less for yet another year.
I was peer pressured by Frankie Flowers, folks. Peer pressured!
He said I could totally do it. He offered simple steps. He recommended the right products to get the job done. And he gushed how it would turn into a family tradition that my boys would cherish.
He was right, of course. And as a member of The Home Depot Canada #HDBlogSquad, I was more than up to the task.
Sad, clay-packed flower beds? Check.
Overgrown grass and weeds? Check.
Patches of death on the lawn? Check.
A mom with an award-winning garden and penchant for landscaping? SECRET WEAPON.
Oh yeah, I enlisted the big guns. I called mommy and asked her to spend a day gardening with us. And why not? If we’re going to turn this into a family tradition, it might as well be a multi-generational tradition.
First things first. I picked Frank’s brain. Yep, I had a chance for a Q&A with the gardening guru himself! And I’ll be frank (pun intended), he is a master at his craft. Easy-to-follow, succinct and relevant advice – with product recommendations – that turned what I once considered an ordeal into a fun day outdoors.
Introducing… our very anti-climatic flower bed. Sans flowers, of course.
Yeah, that’s what we had to start with, times two. When we first designed our patio, I envisioned gorgeous flower beds filled with bright colours on each side… but I never realized that dream. Because I’m lazy. And don’t know what I’m doing.
Also? The patch of death on our lawn, pictured below. So morbid. And in case you were wondering, no – we’re not growing cabbage along our fence… that’s just an epic weed. (I know, I know, it’s to be expected after a long winter. But still, such an eyesore! I was suddenly motivated and excited to begin the pruning process.)
I put my husband to work. The very first thing he did was mow the lawn, followed by removing every single large weed by hand. According to Frank, it’s the most simple way to eliminate overgrown weeds at the source, and we were instructed to hit the areas with a spray of Scotts Weed-Be-Gon to discourage further weed growth in those prone areas.
With the minimal prep work completed, we were off to The Home Depot! (Or as the boys call it, “the big orange store where mommy and daddy argue.” Okay, so we’ve had a tête-a-tête or two during a home reno. Perfectly normal!)
The first thing we did at The Home Depot was pick up the Weed-Be-Gon and Scotts Turf Builder Ez Seed for the section of grass that needs reviving. Both were reasonably priced and made it into our cart first.That was the easy part. Next? Choices, choices and more choices.
I decided that I wanted an assortment of flowers to fill the two flower beds, and two planters for either side of the steps leading down to the patio. “Just grab a planter”, my husband said. “I’ll go get it,” my husband said. “How many can there be?” my husband said.
Needless to say, we spent about 20 minutes selecting a planter alone. Love the selection! In the end, we settled on two modern and functional self-watering slate planters (similar planter here).
On to the flowers. And let me tell you something, the Garden Centre at The Home Depot is the REAL DEAL. Flowers and foliage as far as the eye can see! And even farther, once you round the corner. We were in horticulture heaven. (Or hell, if we’re talking about school-aged boys who are forced to wait while grandma and mommy peruse the vast selection. Tip: bring snacks for the kids.)
^^ That’s the family’s gardening guru in the flesh! The photo was taken moments before we started bickering over begonias. (Me: “NO begonias.”) After much care and deliberation, we selected a variety of flowers which suited my taste and were simple to maintain. Hey everybody, group shot!
Not pictured: the 10 bags of top soil and triple mix needed to raise our flower bed. Since the bottom was mostly comprised of clay, we’d had a hard time with shrub growth over the years – including one tree that has already been replaced twice. Frank’s solution?
“Lena, instead of digging out, have you ever considered raising your garden beds? Raised beds require less weeding, warm faster, are easier in the long run to maintain and are the perfect way to improve soil quality. If you want to dig out I would recommend digging 16-24” and replacing with a good compost or triple mix. For planting trees or shrubs, always dig a planting hole 2 x the width and 1 1/2 x the depth, removing existing soil and replacing with triple mix.”
A raised garden bed it is! And a trunk full of beautiful flowers. I can deal!
If you’re budgeting for a similar reno, the approximate cost of our tools, soil and flowers was just over $325. I had originally budgeted about $200, so you can see how costs can add up quickly. However, products such as the Weed-Be-Gon, Turf Builder Ez Seed, gardening tools and slate planters will last more than one season, making them more of an up-front expense vs. an annual one.
We wasted no time at all getting the kids involved with our backyard transformation. From raking the soil to watering the shrubs and trees, the boys were enthusiastic assistants who couldn’t wait to get down and dirty. Never underestimate the willingness of little helpers!
Before we attended to the garden, we took care of the grass. Once the ground was prepped with water and soil, my husband sprinkled the Ez Seed (and I’m pretty sure I saw him make the sign of the cross). Here’s hoping!
Finally, it was time to build a beautiful bed of flowers. With utmost patience, we scooped, planted and watered. And I did the most difficult job of all – I supervised. “There! Put a purple one there. No, purple! Yes, like that.”
And, when we needed a break, we put the small people to work. I always thought I’d rather banish my kids indoors while I got the job done, but now, I’m so glad we let them be a part of it. The family that plants together stays together, and all that jazz.
And just like that, we had a brand new backyard garden. Why did it take me so long? I am officially in love with it! I can’t wait to watch the flowers bloom and take over.
Time to complete our last project: re-planting the mixed flowers into our slate planters. It was as easy as 1-2-3, and I love the look! It reminds me of something I’d see at a tropical resort.
Project Backyard Oasis… DONE! This season, it’s all about more saving, more doing with The Home Depot Canada. Hope you enjoyed my little DIY, and have inspired you to take on your own!