Making Mudpies

Most of the landscaping has to wait for warmer, drier weather, but we’ve had a couple of nice days and a few more that weren’t TOO wet, so I’ve been nibbling around the edges of the yard.

First off, I trellised the underside of the deck. The deck is pretty high above the yard, and while we’re proud of it, the underside isn’t that thrilling. I found a bunch of used trellises on Craigslist and built this:


It will be pretty once the jasmine grows up it

It is not perfect, but the underside of the deck isn’t either so it was a bit of a challenge fitting it underneath and fitting the pieces together and making sure it was strong enough to support a big vine, and I did do it all by myself, so I’m pretty proud of it, despite its – well, irregularities. This weekend I brought up a big pot of jasmine I’d sprouted last summer from cuttings. One of the fronds is already about 6 feet long and it’s a fast grower.

The next thing I tackled was the muddy slope from the driveway down to the house.

Muddy slope

In the foreground is a big redwood tree. You can’t actually see the tree but that’s the mound that’s formed around it. In the background is one of the tree ferns that Chris and Todd gave us, in a rock bed I built. In between is a hazardous muddy slope that leads from the driveway down to the house. I started excavating it and ended up finding (and removing) part of a brick path – with a 100+ year old building, there are always layers upon layers whenever you start something.

Bricks – why are they here?

Then I brought over most of the rocks I’d snarfed for free off Craigslist and fit them together into stairs. Steve was not enthusiastic about my undertaking this project and stayed away, probably because he was afraid I would ask him to help me carry rocks. I did the whole thing myself and lemme tell you some of those rocks are BIG. I backfilled with a combination of dirt and construction sand the guys had left. Afterwards he admitted it looked nice. He also shared a drainage technique that it would have been very nice to know before I started but we’ll see how it holds up. (For those of you who have not yet built your outdoor stairs out of rock, dig a channel down the slope and fill it with drain rock before you start.)



Then I used a little more rock to build a bed for some more of the plants Chris and Todd had given us. The helleborus was busting out of its pots it was so happy with the climate at the Schoolhouse.



It’s still pretty shabby and will be until it’s warm enough to paint but it’s starting to look like a a house instead of a construction zone!


  1. I love what you’ve done with the place! Is that concrete that I see on the stairs? I’ve got a nice slope on the side of my house that could use a little love like that. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. It’s a super fine sand that was leftover from mixing concrete. It worked really well until we had two weeks of non-stop rain. Last weekend we took the stairs apart and put in drainage and then put them back together; I’ll post pix soon!

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