Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cinderblock raised garden bed

More improvements to the backyard!  It never ends!  It's just that much of a train wreck.

When we installed the artificial grass, we weren't aware of all the unsightly tiles and concrete on the perimeter of our backyard.  But.. I don't think the artificial grass guys would have been willing to jack hammer away the concrete for us anyways.
So we have been stuck with beautiful articial grass with some random tiles and concrete adjacent to it.  This is the same area where I mentioned in this previous blog post about a creepy alley that needs to be barricaded, and a wall that needs to be hidden or repainted.

I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but 2 weeks ago, I realized: I can cover up the alley, the ugly wall, AND the concrete+tile with a raised garden bed.  I spent my entire 8th grade woodshop class shivering in the corner, fearing I would lose a finger in the circle saw... so.. building a traditional wooden raised bed was out of the question.  Now, Jeff is too busy to participate in my random hobbies, like... increasing the value of our home... so recruiting Jeff's assistance to make a wooden bed wasn't an option.  I knew I had to do this project all on my own, and I had to find a different material for the raised bed.  Something that was already pre-made, that I can just purchase and lay down in the yard myself.  At the church across the street from my home, they built a small cinder block raised garden bed a year ago.  I'll do just that!

4 trips to Home Depot with my good friend Savvy in tow, we returned back to my house with 28 cinder blocks, 2 half cinder blocks, 2 bricks, herbs, succulents, and 30 bags of soil.  Over the course of 1 week of working during Caitlin's afternoon nap,  my cinder block raised garden bed is complete!!

Succulents hiding the alley behind our garage.
A wall that needs a paint job, also hiding behind the succulents
Random tile and a square of concrete on the ground, next to my artificial turf

The cinder blocks laid down.
No soil added yet.
Succulents still in containers.

Cinderblock location is finalized
Soil has been added into the raised garden bed, as well as into the nooks of the cinder blocks
Succulents have been removed from their containers into the raised bed.
2 herbs have been planted into the right side of the raised bed.
Ugly wall that needs a paint job is still successfully hidden.
Oops... the scary alley behind my garage is exposed.  How do I hide it?? 

I plan on taking my time deciding what plants to grow in my raised garden.  This is all the soil I have on my entire property since the rest is artificial turf, so I must choose wisely! 
I am terrible at keeping plants alive and watered, so  I am thinking that the left of the garden bed will be dedicated to my succulent collection and the right side will be for edible, bee-friendly, drought tolerant herbs.  Small vegetables like green onions and arugula will be grown in the "nooks" of the cinder blocks.

What are your thoughts?
Does the raised bed make the yard look better?  Did I increase the value of the home?
Or did I ruin it, and I should have just left the yard the way it was?

Tide Pools at Abalone Shoreline Park for Mothers Day

This year was my 3rd Mother's Day.  How quickly time passes.
My first Mother's Day, I bought flowers from Trader Joes and we took pictures of me with the flowers.
My 2nd Mothers Day, we did afternoon tea at Rose Garden Tea Room in Huntington Library.

I considered doing the tea room again this year, but, the hours of the tea room doesn't work well with Caitlin's current nap schedule, and honestly.. I ate way too much at the tea room last year, that I still feel ill just thinking about it.

I thought about what other activities I enjoyed doing.  I like beaches but we go so often that it isn't as "special" anymore.  Then I realized how much fun I had tide pooling back in January 2012, that I wanted to go again.  We went to Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Ranchos Palos Verdes for my birthday last November but we didn't see any tide pools because we did not go during low tides (we just went when we were able to, because of Caitlin's nap schedule).
We got lucky this time because when I checked the low/high tide schedule, it said that the low tide was at 1:25pm.  That is perfect. We had plenty of time to enjoy the tide pool before heading back home for nap time.

I planned out the entire outing (if I don't do it, no one will).
The plan was: pick up take-out lunch from Hong Kong Bakery in Torrance, which is on the way to Abalone Shoreline Park.  They sell dim sum and hawaiian pastries... one of my favorite things to eat.
From Abalone Cove Shoreline Park - May 11, 2014
 Then we arrived at Abalone Shoreline Park around 11:30am, 2 hours before low tide.  We paid $5 for parking , grabbed our picnic food, and hiked down to the shore to eat an early lunch. 
From Abalone Cove Shoreline Park - May 11, 2014

After eating, Caitlin splashed around in the water for a bit, then we started hiking over to the tide pools around 1pm.  We arrived around 1:20pm, just in time for low tide.  I was expecting to see star fish but there weren't any.  I'm sure if we went deeper into the water we would have seen them, but with a 2 year old, it's safer to stay closer to shore.  We did see crabs, hermit crabs, sea slugs, sea snails, anemone, urchins, fish, and barnacles.  Not bad. 
From Abalone Cove Shoreline Park - May 11, 2014
Caitlin was absolutely obsessed with the hermit crabs, and even today, she still requests to see some crabs.It was a painfully long, hot, uphill walk back up to the parking lot, but the views were absolutely beautiful.  I was so glad Jeff was able to carry Caitlin back to the parking lot, while I took my time walking at my own pace. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it back alive. 
From Abalone Cove Shoreline Park - May 11, 2014

Overall, the trip was such a success.  I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Mothers Day.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Phone: (310) 377-1222

Checkout my tidepools photo album here:
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park - May 11, 2014