Oh, the difference a year makes…

So, this week marks the one-year anniversary of Operation Home! Crazy, right??!  In this time span, I’ve published 127 posts including this one. That’s 127 posts mostly containing craft/DIY projects that I/we’ve attempted, along with several decor posts and a few personal posts mixed in.  This past year has been so rewarding thanks to this little blog.  It’s been an outlet that I’ve been lucky and grateful to have, and it’s allowed me to meet some really cool people whom I would’ve never met otherwise.  Plus, I’ve learned a ton!!  Not only about blogging in general, but about DIY… I’ve taken on projects in the last year that I’d never tried before and might not have had the courage to do if it weren’t for Operation Home.  So, thanks little blog and all of you lovely readers who support it!  🙂

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on updating Our House page in the bar above.  It contains updated photos with links to the most pertinent projects within each space.   So, check that out if you’re bored (or just, ya know, if ya just like me.  Nopressure).  😉

I haven’t really posted a ton about our backyard since the inception of this blog.  A few random posts here and there but not the full-monty, if you will.   So, I thought an updated tour could be fun since the foliage has changed quite a bit.  I mean, what could be more fun than watching plants grow? 😉

On that note, I’d like to take a moment to marvel upon the magic that is the Southern Wax Myrtle.   The most amazing shrub I’ve ever come into contact with.   Seriously, I’m about to justify this statement with pictures.   Just wait.  Wait for it.  Okaaaay.  Onward…

See, when we planted these guys in February of 2013, they looked something like this….


By September of 2013, they looked like this…


And now, one measly, piddly year later….

I know.  SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR.   They’ve flippin’ exploded!!!!   It only took a year and a half for them to begin providing privacy above the fence line.    That is, unless you count this from last September...


I was so excited about “all that privacy” provided by those two little branches.   Heehee!!!   I was such a kid.  Now, I’ll admit…. there is one little runt bush that hasn’t quite caught up with the others, but he’ll get there.  No doubt.

The wax myrtles were a generous housewarming gift from Mac and Pop when we moved into the house.   (Need a housewarming gift idea? Buy a shrub.  You won’t regret it.)  And they seriously MAKE the yard.   In these pictures, they almost look a little messy because it was so incredibly windy when I took these shots, but in person they’re lush and warm and bring such a cozy dynamic to the backyard.   Our goal was to allow them to grow larger and then trim them into a privacy hedge.   The plant beds that Joey created with moss boulders are still going strong and look amazing.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for this sad, sad live oak tree (seen in the back of this shot)…

It’s alive.  Just not looking great.  The brutal winter really took a toll on him.   Maybe one day he’ll come back and be happy again (Ihope).

The other side of the yard looked like this last year after we’d planted a few crepe myrtles along the fence as well as another live oak tree (…who did remarkably well in the frigid winter. Way to take one for the team, tree!)…


And now that side of the yard looks like this…

So, not a ton different, but definitely more filled in.  Sorry for the blurry pic.   It was far too windy for my lack-luster photography skills.

The rosemary beds looked like this before…


And now…

And that’s AFTER Joey gave them a significant haircut.   As for the porch…

We got a new umbrella, which makes the space so much more livable in the hot Texas heat.  It’s from World Market in case anybody’s wondering.  We need to get a better umbrella stand, since the umbrella is leaning quite a bit.  It’s much heavier than our last umbrella since the rod is made of wood.  It’s an aspect that I neglected to think about when deciding to re-use our old umbrella stand to save some cash.   Sometimes, ya just gotta spend the money, I guess.   I love the colors and simple pattern the umbrella adds to the yard.  Plus, it helps tie in all of the colors from the conversation area nicely and provides much-needed shade over our newly waterproofed table.  As an added bonus, it blocks out some of the surrounding roof lines from inside the house.  Score!

Speaking of the conversation area, the space looks much the same from when I added the herbs and flowers.  Shockingly, they’re still alive.  Although there’s a chance that a few of them loathe me for adopting them (*coughcough*parsley!).  They aren’t exactly thriving if ya know what I mean.

See???  You can see the one little runt shrub in the background of this shot.  That’s really just a living metaphor for me standing next to my friends and family.  I can totally relate.  Just keep swimming, my little vertically-challenged friend!  You actually have the option to keep growing, so run with it!

I apologize for the lighting in some of these shots.  Our schedules as of late basically forced me to take these pics around dinner time… Not only was it insanely windy, it was pretty harsh lighting.  I totally know better, but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.  Here’s a shot from earlier in the summer to demonstrate the actual colors on our porch…


It blows my mind just how much the shrubs have grown even since then!


… the beverage fridge is the bomb. When we have people over we stock it with water, soda, beer, etc. it keeps guests from having to go in and out so much.  Of course, it doesn’t look like anything special as of now.   It *may* even be on the slightly fugly side.  Especially with the *meh* concrete.  But a few shelves above, maybe a little appliance paint? Or perhaps, a little wood facade… It could be a really cool little area.

In any case, I think we’ve (and by “we” I’m referring to Joey) done a pretty good job with the space so far, especially being that it started off here…


Joey’s really outdone himself with the landscaping, in my opinion.   And despite me and my olive thumb, the majority of the plantings have taken off beautifully.  I think it’ll be a really charming (and private) backyard once everything matures and blocks out the view of the surrounding neighbors.

Anyways, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Thanks for stopping by my humble little blog!  I totally love ya’ll for it and hope you continue to visit for ANOTHER year of blogging! 🙂

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TDC Before and After



Back(yard) it up

I thought today would be a good day for a virtual tour of our backyard (since its too hot to actually enjoy it in person).

Lets start from where we began…


This is right after they sodded the yard (and is the only true before pic I have). Our backyard came with grass only (no landscaping except for the front yard). We chose to upgrade the patio so it would extend an additional 2 feet out from the house (10 feet total), and out to meet the west end of the house.

Here are a few more before-ish pics that were taken after we completed our first plantings in February….

IMG_0648 IMG_0646 IMG_0644

We knew that building a house within our budget meant having a smaller yard. We weren’t sure if we’d like it, but to our surprise, shortly after moving in we discovered that we LOVE having a smaller, flat yard. It’s less upkeep and more useable space than our last yard (which had a steep hill that came towards the house. Not exactly kid friendly.). Plus, it just feels more cozy, especially when sitting under the covered porch. And we’re happy to report that we’ve utilized this yard more in the last 7 months than our last yard over 4 years.

So, what’s the downside, you ask??


Howdy Neighbor.

Lack of privacy. Yeah. Kind of a downer.

After we moved in, we initiated Mission Block Out Neighbors. Our wonderful family gifted us with a beautiful live oak tree and eight southern wax myrtles as housewarming gifts.


The wax myrtles were planted along the back fence to eventually form a tall hedge. At first we just planted the bushes, but after they proved to be a challenge to mow around, Joey covered the grass with landscape fabric, then added mulch and bordered it with moss boulders. He ended up having to go back and add cardboard under the mulch as well, since our grass would apparently survive a nuclear explosion. Yep, eventually only cockroaches and Bermuda grass will rule the earth. Anyways, the tree was planted towards the side of the yard in hopes that it will eventually provide a nice shady canopy and privacy for the master bedroom windows. (P.s. I called the tree farm about the leaves turning brown. Apparently, it’s under stress from the heat and unintentional under-watering (despite our best intentions). We were instructed to water it for 90 minutes, three times per week, using a 1/4″ stream, which I’ve been doing religiously since then).

Then, we added another live oak on the other side of the yard and 2 crepe myrtle trees to block out those neighbors. We know that crepe myrtles lose their leaves in the winter, but they’re pretty. And we like them. So we added them even though they wont be year-round privacy.


Next to the patio, we planted 3 rosemary bushes.


They look unevenly spaced in this pic for some reason. I think it’s the way the wind was blowing or something because they look even in person. Joey boxed in the bushes using treated 1×6 inch boards. He covered the existing grass with cardboard to kill it off and then topped it with mulch (inside the boards) and gravel (outside). He bordered in the gravel with more moss boulders. Then, we put Lucas’s sandbox in the middle of the gravel. We plan to add one additional planter box on either side of the sandbox to fill with herbs and veggie plants.

As for our patio furniture…


…the table and chairs are from Ikea. We chose to mix and match rather than buying a complete set. I treated the table with Teak Oil to help protect it from the Texas heat and sun, and so far, it’s been faring well.


The love seat and chairs are actually from Walmart of all places. We got them on clearance because I thought I could do something fun with them. They were a country brown color, so I spray painted them glossy black. Then, I sold the matching coffee table and replaced it with two water heater stands. They are galvanized steel, durable and cheap at 38 bucks a piece at Home Depot. I love that the the sleek, industrial look of them contrasts with the curvier seating. I also think they help to tie the more traditional wicker love seat and armchairs in with the modern style of our dining table and chairs. I plan to recover the cushions with a bold, geometric fabric and do away with the tufting on the back cushions to “modern” them up a smidge. Fun throw pillows are also in order as well as some shiny ceramic garden stools for end tables. I also plan to add some pretty mums to the planters once it becomes cool enough to where I might be able to keep something alive.

More plans include:

  • staining the fence a nice cedar color,
  • building a pergola over the uncovered part of the patio,
  • adding lighting in the plant beds,
  • adding a ceiling fan under the covered patio,
  • staining the concrete,
  • adding more privacy foliage on the east side of the yard,
  • moving the front fence on the west side of the house closer to the front of the house.

And once the fence dies… we will be considering an 8 foot replacement. (Is it dead yet?)

As for the privacy issue, these wax myrtles have been AMAZING. Take another look at this pic, taken shortly after we planted them a mere 7 months ago.


…and here they are today…..


They’ve just about doubled in size!!! (Well, aside from that one guy.) Even in this crazy heat!! And take a look at this…..


What, you say? You don’t see it? Here, lets take closer look….


Get a load of all that privacy.

At this rate, we’re hoping that at least a small part of our neighbors house will be blocked out by this time next year (knock on wood!). So anyways, that’s our backyard! All-in-all, we’re pretty happy with how far we’ve gotten with it in the past 7 months and we feel like it will be a private, cozy little haven once everything has a chance to grow and mature.

Does anybody have any words of wisdom or yard experiences they would like to share??