How many injuries does it take to plant a small area in your backyard? If you live here at Old Town Home, the answer is three. Yeah, seriously. Three. If you thought we were kidding when we say we're not talented when it comes to gardening, we may have you convinced otherwise by the time you finish reading this post. 

In the back corner of our yard, behind the big old tree, sits a small raised bed. Here's a look at it just two weeks after we bought our house. 

This area, set off by an old, cracked raised brick border, is a veritable wasteland. I mean that literally as that's where Lulu goes to do her business. In addition to "watering" the area with dog urine, the area sees little sun and the soil is infiltrated with a tangle of tree roots, poor soil, and aggressive ivy, making it nearly impossible to sustain plant life. Icky? You bet.

Over the years we've planted and replanted the area, spending hundreds of dollars and countless hours in vain. Here's how lovely it's looked in the past...promptly before it all withered and died.

Though we've tried and failed in the past, we're still willing to give it another long as it didn't cost us a lot of money. This time around we spent less than $20 dollars for two bags of mulch and one bag of miracle grow soil. Thanks to my parents who have a surplus of growth from their yard, the plants were largely free! In town for a recent visit, they brought us a hosta, lily of the valley, ferns, and a few lilies. Rounding it out with some ajuga we purchased for the front bed but opted not to use, we were good to go.

Our first order of business was to break up the firmly knotted roots, knowing that if we didn't improve the soil these new plants didn't stand a chance. Though the roots will surely grow back, this will at least give the plants a chance at establishing their area. Alex broke out the trusty cutter mattock and got to work.  

Sweating and swearing, the hard work quickly resulted in some nasty blisters on his hands since he didn't want to take the time to go to the basement for his proper gloves, so that's on him. As effective as the cutter mattock is as a root bustin' tool, this kind of garden work just stinks. 

Just when I thought he was miserable enough, things went from bad to worse. While working to diligently break up the roots, Alex had...shall we say...a direct hit. After hooking a root and pulling up, the root unexpectedly let loose and the butt of the handle connected squarely with his man parts. Unfortunately, the handle of the cutter mattock determined right then and there that we were just about done with the gardening project that night. 

Sorry fellas. I know you're probably not going to award me a "wife of the year award" for photographing my husband in his moment of agony, but in the interest of full disclosure I felt the moment needed to be documented, and I think this photo does a pretty decent job at capturing his anguish. Plus, I'll be honest, it was a little entertaining for Lulu and me. Mel didn't agree.

A few days later, following his recovery (ok, I'm being a little dramatic, he wasn't horribly injured and we did a bit more work that evening, this was actually just the first chance we had to devote time to finishing the project), we set back out to finish the planting. We had removed the roots and were ready to move on to adding better soil, determining plan location, and fixing the broken soaker hose. 

First we sprinkled a bag of Miracle Grow soil, mixing it in to improve the existing soil quality. Next, we laid out the plants, making adjustments along the way, in order to determine final placement.

After the plants were in the ground, Alex replaced the old busted soaker hose with a new one, and laid it among the plants for the best coverage. 

Woo hoo! We were moving along, and all that was left was to lay down mulch between the plants and to conceal the hose. Until disaster struck again. As Alex was moving a large bag of mulch closer to the bed, he claims he tripped over a brick, which sent him sailing into a large branch of the tree. In the match of Alex's cranium v. tree branch, the branch clearly won out. 

Okay, yet again, not winning any wife-of-the-year awards for pulling out the iPhone for a quick photo rather than the first aid kit, but after a rest in the chair, he passed my quick concussion test, "What's your name? Can you see my finger? Can you dump this mulch around the flowers without passing out?" he was back to his old self. (Does this man really hate gardening so much that he'll injure himself to get out of it?)

While he recovered, I took over spreading the mulch. It was quick work, and the finished results left us both happy with our efforts. 

No question, hands down my favorite part of this space is the fat little buddha that watches over the back yard. He was a birthday gift from my mom a few years back, and every time I look at him he makes me smile. 

Given our past track record and Lulu's potty and squirrel chasing habits in this space, we're not too optimistic that the plants will make it. But even if our sweet little garden meets the same fate as previous years, we'll try to enjoy the lush greenery while it lasts. Our DIY skills clearly reside with interior work, but I hope you'll give us kudos for trying. Especially Alex, who apparently risks life and limb to create an outdoor sanctuary that our family will enjoy all summer long. 

Did you tackle any outdoor projects this weekend? Does anyone else have any scars or scrapes you're wearing as a badge of honor to show for your DIY efforts? Any other guys out there have a DIY mishap to your nether-region that left you speechless? Let us laugh along with you as you share your story. 

Comments 11


5/21/2012 at 10:21 AM
Your little garden project looks great ... sorry about all the injuries sustained along the way. Hopefully these plants will make it under these challenging circumstances. If they don't, I have a few ideas that I'll pass along.
Thanks Connie! We'll keep you posted on our plants' health. Fingers crossed that they make it, but we'd love to hear any ideas you have. :-)
5/21/2012 at 10:23 AM
Ok so next time, Alex must wear gloves, a jock strap, and a helmet, and maybe knee pads too, just in case.

Hahahaha. And sing "I'm sexy and I know it" while he does the work. :-)
5/21/2012 at 2:47 PM
Sorry to hear about the injuries ... the closest we came to any injuries this weekend was when Isis chewed into the vacuum cord while Jill was using it! Luckily she noticed before any sparks occurred and it was an easy repair.

Our garden is starting to take shape ... the weekend before last we got two blurberries, a yellow raspberry, a thornless blackberry, a couple of hostas, and some veggies in the yard. This weekend, I got another load of mulch for the city, finished my tomato supports, and potted up more fig cuttings.

Oh boy! Puppies. Oliver was a huge fan of chewing on the vacuum hose. It used to drive me crazy, but now I miss it like crazy. Puts it all in perspective I guess.

Sounds like you have some amazing fruit going on in your back yard. You'll have to let us know how your figs turn out. I was too chicken to try them this year.
5/22/2012 at 4:13 PM
So far, I have been pretty successful is getting the cuttings to root. If I am really successful, then I am going to have a plethora of little fig trees! Growing them from cuttings is quite easy and definitely cheaper than buying one from the store.

Also, I have posted an update about our garden on my blog, if you are interested.

5/21/2012 at 10:16 PM
An injury to my leg sustained about six weeks ago while gardening has been sending me to the doctor every week since then to treat the infection, and today he said he might send me to a surgeon! Oh my. And the antibiotics' side effects have cramped my style a lot more than the leg wound.

Agree though that the injuries to the man parts are the most memorable. I was visiting family friends for a week as a young teen and when my family picked me up I noticed my brother was limping painfully. I asked him what was wrong and learned that several days earlier he'd been walking on a brick wall in our garden. He fell, and in landing straddled the wall. There were no apparent leg or other injuries except, well, to the third unseen leg. Fortunately, he recovered and has fathered children.

More recently, my then-teenage nephew was cleaning ivy out of a bed in my sister and brother-in-law's yard. We visited several days later and he was too ill to join us -- this from an extremely gregarious kid with whom we we were quite close. It turned out the some of the ivy he yanked was poison ivy. Being of the age when there are other items he probably yanked on regularly, it seems that the PI oil on his unwashed hands was transferred to the man parts. And he had an extreme allergic reaction and massive swelling and itching. (I admit I might have looked if he offered to show it to us just because it sounded so gross!)
Oh gosh, so sorry to hear about your leg!

Hahahahaha!! Your stories cracked us up. I had PI once on my ankle and it was MISERABLE. I can't even imagine what your nephew went through!
threadbndr (Karla)
5/22/2012 at 9:12 AM
No injuries at my house this weekend, but not a lot of movement on projects, either. I did spend 6 hours at the boy's place - we cleared out the old music room so that his girlfriend has an office (she telecommutes several days a week and has been working from the dining room table since she moved in - not optimal.)
Sounds like a productive weekend!
Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2024 - Privacy Policy
Login Below
Sign in with Facebook

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.