Deck Update

I know the blog has been very baby-centric the last few weeks, but some other cool things have been going on here at the Julius house lately!

So remember about this time last year when we stripped and re-stained our deck?  Check out those posts here, here and here.

The deck looked great and we were really happy with it…from the top, that is.  See, we don’t have a shed or anything, meaning we have to keep most of our outdoor tools, equipment, etc under the deck.  It keeps our yard clear of junk, but it makes for a pretty bad eyesore from this view.underdeck

We tossed around a few ideas on how to cover it.  We thought about planting some kind of shrubs around the deck but decided against that idea for a few reasons.

  • First, Bob has to keep his mower under the deck and planting shrubs would make access to it way more difficult for him.
  • Second, we wouldn’t be able to plant shrubs on one of the sides of the deck because it is paved.  You can see where I mean in this picture. (through the steps)dsc01966

We thought of a couple other ideas, but in the end decided to hang some lattice.  We bought pieces at Home Depot that were pressure-treated pine.  First we measured and cut our pieces to fit.cuttinglatticeBefore hanging it, we stained it with the same white that we used on the deck.

Here’s what we have so far.lattice1 lattice3


You may notice that the piece closest to the house is unstained.  We accidentally stained the wrong side (which mattered because we cut the pieces first).  We’ll get to it eventually, but for now, it’s not very obvious.

Bob still has to hang the lattice on the side where he keeps his mower.  He just hasn’t decided yet how he wants to attach it to make it easy access when he needs to cut the grass.

AND…we have some plans to frame out the lattice.  I’ll post pictures if we ever get to that!

Lastly, we hung some flower boxes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of them yet so (once it cheers up outside), I’ll be back to post what those look like too.

We’ve come along way since THIS, don’t you think?deckbefore


In other news, I’m heading to the Justin Timberlake and JayZ concert tonight!!!  Girls night out!!!!  I can’t wait!


Deck: Furnished

After revealing the newly stained deck last week, we had time to move the grill and deck furniture back up.  Here’s what it looks like now.  (Don’t mind the junk in the background.)

I absolutely love how it turned out.  Somehow it makes the deck feel bigger too!

And because he’s such a cutie, a picture of the boss man around here:

Hitting the Deck: Part 2

We last left off with the deck stripped and ready for stain.

And almost 3 months later we finally got down to it!  We had already decided on the Solid White for the rails/posts so a couple weeks ago, we used a beautiful Sunday afternoon to get the first coat on.

THIS PART SUCKED!  It took forever!

Don’t be jealous of how good I look gettin’ my stain on!

We tried to tag-team it with Bob on the outside and me on the inside, but Clark was awake and the exer-saucer only kept him entertained for about 20 minutes.
So we tried putting him on a blanket in the yard with some toys.  

That worked for a little while, but he got bored and kept crawling over to us.

Luckily, our neighbors were outside playing and volunteered to watch him while we worked.  He’s such a social butterfly!  He loved all the attention!Hands-free, we were able to work much more quickly and by the time the sun started going down, we had all but the last few rails covered.  What a difference already!  I was getting so excited!We called it a day but we knew we would need a second coat before we started on the decking.

Which brings us to this past weekend.  My little sister came up from Bethesda on Friday night and watched Clark on Saturday while we slapped up the second coat.  Again…pain in the arse…but necessary.

Since Ellen was here, we even had enough time in the day for Bob to get the built-in bench and steps stained.We ended up going with the Wood Chip.  It’s what Bob preferred and I am so glad we did.  It has a little bit of red in it that plays off the brick so nicely.  (The picture above was taken around dusk so the colors in it sorta have a blueish tint.)

Sunday my parents came down from Pennsylvania to go to church with us and brunch after.  When they left, we got to work again.

The decking went so much faster than the rails.  Clark was awake so Bob set him up in the yard with an awesome fort.

Clark had mixed feelings about it, but it kept him busy and entertained long enough for us to get the job done.

We worked on one plank at a time from the outsides in.  When Clark didn’t need us, we were able to work at the same time, meeting in the middle.When we got to the last six planks, Bob started working his way towards the steps.Bada-bing, Bada-boom!


The deck is right off of the kitchen and when I’m standing at the sink, I can look out the window at this beauty.  It makes doing the dishes a little bit better.

Oh, and we did use stain, not paint.  (even the white)  It’s just solid as opposed to transparent.

For comparison sake, here’s the before and after side by side:

We haven’t moved the furniture and grill back up yet and we need to hang the flagpole.  When we do, I’ll take pictures and post them.  I have this great outdoor rug that my mom got me for my birthday and I’d like to put some mums in pots flanking the steps or in the corner of the built-in bench or something.

What do you think?  Come on, Fall, stick around for a while so we can squeeze in some more bar-b-ques this year!

Hitting the Deck

Our backyard was one of the things that sold us on this house.  We have an “end of group” townhouse so our yard’s square footage is bigger than most on our street.

In addition, we have a good sized deck that we utilize most of the year.

We have been wanting to re-stain our deck since we moved in a year and a half ago.  Finally, we have started the process.

First we moved everything off of the deck and into the yard.

I’m sure our neighbors were thrilled about our lovely mess.  We were in need of cleaning off our deck anyway, so we used this opportunity to de-clutter (also known as de-hoard.)

Bob used this stuff to strip any leftover stain.

LESSON LEARNED: This stuff contains acid!!  Wear goggles when using it!!

Bob learned that lesson the hard way.  See, he got half of the deck done the first night.

See how the left side of the deck is lighter?  He just applied the stripper, scrubbed with a stiff bristle brush and hosed off the area.

The next night he started with the other half.  He put some stripper in a paint tray to apply onto the deck but as he was moving it, a little splashed up and out into his eye!  We had Bob over the sink dumping water in his eye to flush it out.  I even called the on-call emergency eye doctor!   I had a flashback to when my little sister used some TV cleaner as eye drops.

He was fine, but after that he let the deck sit half stripped for about a week before finishing it with his new goggles ON!

The deck looked like this (after we brought the table and chairs back up).

I know from the pictures it doesn’t look all that different but the stripper definitely worked.

Next up is the cleaner…but before we get to that step, we want to choose the stain color.

This is my vision:

I’m thinking dark on the “floor” of the deck.  White on the rails. Like this:

photo credit

or this

photo credit

At first we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go with a solid stain, semi-transparent, or a mixture of both (semi-trans dark, solid white?).  So we went to Home Depot and picked up some samples.  As soon as Bob applied the white, we both agreed solid stain was the way to go.

Then we applied the dark stain choices to see which we liked best.

The one on top is Behr Solid Color Wood Stain in Coffee.  The bottom is Behr Solid Color Wood Stain in Wood Chip.  Who knew this would be the hard part?

Why am I so good at choosing deck stain color!?!?!?

We are having trouble deciding.  Bob is leaning toward the Wood Chip.  I go back and forth.  I think we may have to see what they look like up against the brick of the house.  We’ll sit on it for about a week before we decide.  The weather has to cool down a little before we apply the stain anyway.

So what do you think?  Coffee or Wood Stain?  Leave your opinion in the comments.

More Gardens

After fixing the garden bed by the sidewalk, Bob and I needed to do something to the bed by the house.  This is what that bed looked like before we started digging around:



Hot mess!  Those hosta were placed all wrong and crowding each other.  So we dug up the two we wanted to use in the bed by the sidewalk.


See the one on the left all up in the porch’s grill?  We moved that one out too.

This is what it looks like all rearranged and mulched.


I’m hoping the hosta fills out that empty space.  I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the tulip stems now that the petals have fallen off.  Still have a lot of work to do, but it’s a great start!

Now, here are some photos of the big bed in the back.  In it we have some herbs:


Back: Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary
Front: Basil, Cilantro

We moved the parsley and oregano back next to the rosemary because they are all perennial herbs.  That’s what the bare spot is…we just haven’t laid the mulch yet to fill it.

We also have a big section full of perennials:


We even have a baby tomato plant growing:


But the whole bed looks like this:


We have a ton of work to do in here.  We transplanted some of the plants from the front, but we haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it yet.  Plus, we’d like to eventually do a little patio-laying/hardscaping in front of the deck.  We are still planning that, though.

Baby steps…

Speaking of baby, next up: Clark’s nursery.

Getting Dirty

On Sunday, I wanted Bob to help me rearrange the garden beds in the front of the house.  They didn’t make sense. The plants were all just randomly placed.  So disclaimer: I am a total novice when it comes to gardening.  It’s not really “my thing”.  I like being outside and if I had any clue what I was doing, I would love digging around in the dirt, doing the whole GREEN thing.  I’m hoping that I will gradually learn what I’m doing because I want our curb appeal to be appealing.  Plus, it should be in my blood.  My maternal grandfather was a florist by trade (retired) and my older sister is the bomb dot com at gardening.  She really has a knack for it.  So this is what the bed closest to the sidewalk looked like BEFORE:


Plants thrown in willy-nilly

See the bed in the background right in front of the house?  When we bought the place it came with two dead shrubs to the left of the steps.  We dug those out last spring (and by “we” I mean Bob and Dave, Bob’s cousin) and Bob’s aunt gave me some hosta to bring back from Pittsburgh that I planted HORRIBLY in their place.  I wanted to use two of them in this bed.

So we scooped up the mulch, put it in empty pots we had on hand and dug up all the plants in this bed, except for the tulips.  (I don’t even know the names of any of them, but they are all perennials.  I’m sure I could look them up, but…I don’t care enough.)  I didn’t get a picture of the empty bed because I got distracted by this hottie.


Did you think it was going to be my hubby? He’s hot too, but I didn’t get any pictures.

Then, we dug up the hosta I wanted to use to transplant them here.


I told Bob where I wanted them and he dug the holes and filled ’em in.  We also put a few more tulips in this bed.  This is what the bed looks like now, after we re-mulched.


I just ran outside (in the rain) to get this “almost an after” picture.

So I know it’s not hott stuff yet.  The hosta will fill out a little more and in the mean-time we are going to plant some pretty annuals to the left of them to add some color.  But it looks SO much better, don’t you think?

Next, I’ll post about the bed closest to the house and maybe the ones in the back.  We started our attempt at taming the encroaching english ivy from our neighbor’s house.

My boys were pretty tuckered out after our productive day.

Taken at approximately 9:30pm