Well well well, here I am with another process post. I swear one of these days we are going to get to some reveals but this is what happens when you have too many projects and limited time…and money. Honestly, though, it’s more than just that, I prefer to be a little slower and more thoughtful with my life in general. I like to process, to mull, to Marco Polo with my five closest friends, before going into action. I’m not indecisive, in fact, I’m quite decisive which is something that saves me, especially because my job is making on-the-ball, problem-solving decisions basically all day. I would say that I am…considered? Deliberate? Reasoned? I like to think things through. Funny enough, I typically think about things for a while and then at the last minute, make an off-the-cuff, gut decision that may be the opposite of what I had been thinking through. It’s hard to explain but I think that it’s easy for me to do that because I have thought through every possibility so when it comes to a decision, I can be like “YES, THAT”.
I digress. Point is, my personality type IS slow living. Like, not #slowliving #selfcare but real, true, slow living. Have you ever talked to your BF for an hour about the best way to strip your sheets? Does it take you 4 hours to do your morning routine, 4 hours to do your nighttime routine, and then you wonder how you are supposed to get everything else done in your remaining 4 hours? Do you know 5 different ways to clear your lymph nodes – AND practice them?? You may be a self-pres 9 on the Enneagram. IT. ME.
It’s interesting that I live in a city and I’ve always loved them. I think cities help balance me in a weird way. I don’t know if it will always feel that way, but I think for my 20s for sure, and for the time being, living in proximity to fast-paced energy is good for me. That said, I have had to create a haven around me to stay grounded, especially in the past couple of years. My home is my safe space, whether it was a tiny apartment or (a just as tiny) home (ha). Even though I don’t live in the mountains or hand dye all my homemade clothes with ingredients from my garden, I picture myself wearing an apron with kittens popping out of it, being followed around by a deer and a bird that adopted me (DO YOU FOLLOW @brownhikingtrails??? Some people have all the luck…). Maybe by the time you’re reading this, I will be though. God, what a dream. ALAS, the point is, my continual quest is: how can I bring that “I have a deer friend” energy to my life, here & now?
That’s the theme of today’s process post. We’re talking urban gardens and *drum roll* GOODLAND WOOD FIRED TUBS. You know if you were in the comment section last time 🙂
Let’s start where we ended last time, it is May 9th and we were here:
Here’s our empty plot (if 16’x16’ can be considered a “plot”) of land. She is smol but if you’ve lived in a city and especially if you have lived in an apartment for long periods of time, 16’x16’ can be a farm, and today folks – it IS. Well, it’s on its way to being one anyway, let’s dig in (pun intended).
I had my landscaper bring in the dirt because I also needed him to do some draining along the front wall. It’s not very exciting and I don’t have pics because I was working, but basically, he dug out the front wall area (6” wide), put some chicken wire and weed barrier down, and filled it with rocks. That way when it rains and the water needs to go somewhere it will filter through there and won’t clog the drainage holes that are in the front wall with dirt.
As you can tell from the pictures, adding in the dirt and leveling it brought it up pretty high, a lot higher than I was expecting. The front wall that is along the sidewalk is 29” high, and now the dirt comes up so it’s only 10” high on our side of the wall. In ways this is good, when I plant something along the front wall it won’t have to grow as tall to create that half wall/half greenery thing I was going for, however, I knew I wanted to put in a raised bed and now it is going to be a lot more raised than I was expecting. Also, there’s now a feeling like you could trip and fall out of the yard and onto concrete. Hmm…
AH WELL, this is what we’re working with now.
So next I ordered ¾” del rio pebbles. I told them the size of the space and how many inches deep I wanted them and Y’ALL they gave me SO. MANY. ROCKS. I think I was swindled. They are not returnable and they wouldn’t buy back so now Sara Tramp (who came over and took the excess) has too many rocks.
It blew my mind that the dump truck guy couldn’t figure out how to dump them INTO the space, causing us to have to shovel them in 100-degree heat, but I guess since we only used half that’s fine.
We bought some heavy-duty landscape fabric from our local ACE Hardware to help with weeds growing through the rocks and put in a simple 2” edging to keep them in place. I went for this one simply because it’s easy to install.
Next, we shoveled and shoveled and shoveled. I’m not joking when I say it was 100 degrees. We were having a wacky early heat wave and unfortunately Down to Farm was coming the next day to build the planter so we just had to get it done. No joke: I would shovel 25 scoops, go inside, drink water, and do house chores for 15 minutes, and then come out and do it again. That’s all you could do at one time. We worked on this from 11 am-8 pm.
Let’s talk about Down to Farm for a minute. I found out about them through Barrett Prendergast when Sara and I shot her kitchen last year for the blog. I noticed she had a beautiful raised bed in her backyard and asked her about it. I’ve kept Down to Farm in the back of my mind ever since. Their mission is to “make growing food fun, not overwhelming. Make your garden bed a happy place, not a chore. Most importantly, make growing food part of your life”. Eden (I know, how could she NOT run an urban farming business with that name) is newer to farming. She hasn’t spent her whole life doing this which makes her feel approachable when you have 100 dumb questions (there are no dumb questions but you know what I mean) and also makes you feel like it is possible for you to be successful as well. DTF offers an array of services, from just setting you up with raised beds, to basically hand holding your way through the entire process (guess what I’m going to go with).
When I decided the front would be a perfect space to do some planting, I reached out and Eden came by to check out the space. She recommended an 8×3′ L-shaped planter and a few potted plants that wouldn’t grow as well with others (think mint, blueberries, and a lime tree). I kept an eye out for a few weeks to see what the sun did out there so we could know where to put it. Initially, we were thinking the L would go on the right front side (if you’re looking at the house) but as I paid attention, the left got more solid sun because the fence would block the other side at a certain point. I expressed that I wanted something to cover up the backside of the neighbor’s fence but I didn’t want to continue the hedge. Mostly I didn’t want to have to constantly trim it because I didn’t want it to get that high out front. Also, I thought it would be nice if everything in the front was edible, just as an exercise. Eden thought a passion fruit vine would be a good choice as it grows very quickly, has fruit (obvs), and is a nice-looking plant. Being that I am from Maryland, when I moved to LA 13 years ago there were quite a few plants that blew my mind, but passion fruit was probably the most insane to me. Have you seen the flowers??
I have no idea what I will do with that much passion fruit (probably give it away) but if you’re telling me it will cover up the backside of the fence quickly, I’m in.
On May 16th the DTF team came and started building the raised bed and I stalked them from my window 🙂
They ended up scraping the rocks away in that area (oops) and it was around this time that it dawned on me that the planter was going to be higher than the wall. Remember when I said I liked to think things through? Oops. It’s not going to be a problem along the front wall because there will eventually be plants there but we put the bed right against the edge (on the right in these photos) to give us as much real estate as possible in the 16’x16’ square. Hmmm…ah well. I’ll have to figure out a way to make that look more purposeful. The good thing about the bed being high is that it gets more sun. The fence, and when the wall was taller (before we added dirt), cast more of a shadow early and late in the day than you would think.
This is the final stage, they’ve added dirt and they are attaching the top piece of the frame. Apparently, they work with a guy who specializes in dirt. It’s like dirt gold that is ideal for growing the most delicious and nutritious food. Speaking of, we are going to take a sojourn and talk about composting and dirt.
During the pandemic, I decided I was going to start composting, as one did during that time. Los Angeles has a terrible sanitization system in my opinion. It is WAY behind the curve of similar big cities in the world. For example, my friend Lauren who lives in Seattle has been composting through the city for YEARS and in fact, you can be fined there if you don’t separate your recycling/trash/compost properly. I did a little research and bought a tumbling composter which I thought would be better for keeping animals and smells at bay. It works, but it works too slowly. The smell isn’t too bad, but it’s not great either. I have to keep it on the side of my house so when the juices inevitably leak from it, they leak onto the concrete which isn’t ideal. This would be helped greatly if it could be on grass or mulch but we simply don’t have a space where it could live and not be an eyesore or too close to windows where people may catch a whiff. At this point it has been completely full on both sides for a year and still hasn’t turned into compost I could put in my garden. I’m going to have to do some further research on how I can speed up that process with worms or adding bacteria or something but all in all I would say it’s a quasi-fail and isn’t going to answer my urban composting problems.
This led me to some deeper googling where I found the GoFundMe for the Lomi composter and became a backer. I totally forgot about it until I got an email late last year saying mine was on its way. I NOW AM A LOMI SPOKESPERSON. Not really, but I should be. All I can say is, check it out. I’m in love. It lives on my washing machine which is close to my kitchen and I use it every other day, if not more. I’ll show you on my Instagram stories today.
Back to the raised bed…
Fin! Just LOOK at how many rocks Sara’s husband Macauley and her brother Shade had to shovel out of my driveway. Good God what an annoying job. Luckily DTF did use some of the leftovers inside the planter for drainage purposes. We have a bunch of those bigger rocks we used along the edge in our back yard because you can only buy them by the ton and when we landscaped back there we had a surplus. Adding them on top of the edging we put in made it so we could bring up the depth of the stones to 3-4 inches instead of 2. If you’re wondering why we went with stone here and not grass, it really just came down to cost. I think once everything along the edge has green things in them it won’t feel so sad.
Speaking of, they came back on May 22nd and planted the garden in the raised bed…
I told Eden to plant what she thought would live. We were getting a bit late in the season, plus we were having some heat waves that made it more difficult to keep things alive. She planted a mixture of: tomatoes, green beans, squashes, chards, peppers, basil, cilantro, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, and chives.
Eden put the irrigation in herself. It’s connected to my hose (which is to the right of the back gate) with a timer and can handle the whole front yard area.
I’ll be honest, not all the plants have made it. We lost the marigolds that were planted to keep the bugs away, the green beans, a couple of squash plants, and the cilantro went to seed immediately. When the passion fruit went in this week we cleaned out the dead and are nursing some back to health after being fried early on. The tomatoes and peppers are producing and I enjoy picking off herbs when I need them in the kitchen. Shockingly the chards are doing OK. They fried early on but seem to have rallied. We’re going to pivot and start planning for a fall planting but I think for a first go at it, a little late in the season, we are doing ok! These photos were taken two days ago…
As you can see, the passion fruit and wire have been planted and installed. They put in 2 plants and from what I understand, they will grow in so extremely fast that hopefully by the time we shoot the reveal, you’ll barely be able to see the fence. Honestly, even that amount of green is making me so much happier.
Playing with pots I already own, I’m trying to figure out what I can use and what I need to find. I’m hoping to collect vintage pots from the flea markets this month. I’ve also been looking at Veradek’s planters, I especially like the corten steel ones, if I need something with a bit more volume.
Now we haven’t talked about this awkward amount of space I have on the concrete “landing” once you go up the steps…
You can see plainly here that I need to continue the planters on this side so no one trips and falls face-first into my driveway. I thought the Veradek planters may work here to act as a barrier near the steps and to fill the far right corner you see here as well (near the chair). Don’t pay attention to the hose situation near the gate. I clearly need a hose holder to organize everything over there. The jasmine by the steps is doing ok, my landscaper is supposed to come this week and install wire on the stucco so it can spread out before it grabs onto the railing. The rosemary and sage I planted next to the jasmine aren’t too happy because there’s a grasshopper that is living there and eating it. He’s too cute for me to kill but I should probably transplant him 🙂
Here’s a straight-on shot, it’s actually very nice to have the wide stairs and walkway up, especially when two people are walking to the back at the same time, but the back-right corner is a waste. Maybe this planter?
I think it would be a good way to use the space, it’s not quite big enough for furniture, but too big for the purposes of walking. Speaking of furniture, this setup is temporary. I’ve decided I want a round table, 48” or below with an umbrella. I think it would be nice to have a small surface when working in the garden and also some shade. I just got this cute umbrella from Sunday Supply Co which I think would be so sweet with the terra cotta roof and tile patio
Turns out finding the right size table, in a style I like, that has to be wood or white because the sun will make it so hot otherwise, WITH an umbrella hole, has actually not been the easiest feat. Suggestions are welcome below.
Look at that hedge. Now that the passion fruit is in, we need to decide on what to plant along the front wall and mulch everything. My landscaper thought bay laurel would be good because it makes a great hedge and is edible (bay leaf) but 1. Who in the hell needs that much bay leaf and 2. I don’t want it to be too hedge-y and grow too tall and block light. I’ve been looking into different plants that attract pollinators and keep other veggie-eating bugs away, even if they are flowers. I’m going to run this by Eden to get her opinion and then I think we will be planting those ourselves, hopefully in the next week or so.
The area in question is about 18” wide, by 16’ long, 15’ if we assume the passion fruit will take over that corner. The edging here needs to be adjusted, clearly. I’d love the plants to come no higher than the fence on the end which is about 3 feet from the dirt. I imagine we would need about 7-10 plants to fill out the area and I’d love it to be a mix. Stay tuned.
It’s coming along folks. Slow living in its literal sense 🙂
Ok, NOW, let’s talk about Goodland! In my last blog post, I made a serious joke about considering making this front space a completely hedged-in garden with a hot tub in the middle. I still think that is an amazing idea, especially considering the luck I’ve had with hedges. However, walking out my front door in a bathing suit, hearing passerbyers on the sidewalk while trying to relax, I don’t know, seemed like a lot unless I wanted to also bring in a 6ft locking fence with hedges all the way up to my front door. That said, I have been eyeing Goodland’s wood-burning hot tubs for months and months. I even reached out to them a few months ago asking how far away the tub needed to be from my stucco house as I considered putting it on my back patio. The problem with the back patio is that we need more lounging space back there and the tub would take up way too much space. I did think about building a small deck by our bedroom window on the other side of the patio though, but quickly considered it a pipe dream because I would have to pay for the construction of the patio to put it on AND the tub. It just wasn’t in the budget for us, no matter how much my husband complained about our teeny bathtub.
So, I make this joke about Goodland sliding into my DMs and Goodland responded in the comments, my friends!! Well well well…I have about 37 projects happening around the house at the same time, should I really take on another one (financially)? Probs not. BUT HOW COULD I DENY GOODLAND??
As I’m sure you understand, but may not think of often, is that these collaborations where companies send through products, it is not “free stuff”. It is in exchange for the very real work and cost of creating content. It costs me my time, my energy, and very often (I would say in 100% of my circumstances) my money. This project, for example, I will need to pay for supplies and pay for someone to build me a platform for the tub. It’s not a DIY situation. The ground is not level and the tub is over 2400 lbs when full, so we will definitely be bringing in a professional. Construction prices are high and literally, as I’m writing this, I’m fielding questions from a company I had come out to give a quote. They just told me that teak is $47-$50 a square foot. READ THAT AGAIN. Western red cedar is $22/square foot but actually not recommended because it’s too soft. I need 75+ square feet. What am I going to do?? I asked them about Ipe, Kebony, and Thermory and I’ll report back obvi. Suggestions are also welcome here. But let’s look at the potential space, and say hello to an area of my house that I don’t think anyone has laid eyes on other than me and Andrew:
The wall to the left, the one that has our irrigation control on it, is the primary bedroom’s closet and it separates this area from the patio on the other side. Take a look at this photo from wayyyy back in 2020 for reference.
The area is back behind that pop out. Wow, my jasmine has really grown in nicely…Anyway! The good thing about this location is that it feels pretty private. It’s not even super easy for my tenants to spy on us (j/k Hope and Daniel) because the trees are in the way. The window in that area is this window in my bedroom:
You can also see the closet here, and as long as we’re trying to manifest product collaborations: HMU Container Store. I need a closet makeover 🙂
That’s Puck’s favorite window and the window our third cat, Gremmy, recently escaped. He’s been gone for 10 days, it’s a saga, you can catch up on my saved stories “Gremmy” if you’re one of *those* cat people. I say it here because that is why the door to go under the house is removed–we are trying to trap him under there in the middle of the night. It’s a whole thing. We also can’t begin construction on this area until we trap him. Back to this photo:
Let’s talk about the tape. I’m thinking that the platform is going to have to come out to the edge of the house (towards the irrigation controller). That’s 5 feet. That would give you space to step onto the platform, have a little wiggle room and step into the tub. The footprint of the tub is 91.5″ x 37″ x 28.5″H (with chimney 95″). So if it’s 5 feet deep, that will leave about 2 feet to step out onto. Because the ground is super uneven and because I want to avoid covering up the access under the house, the solid pink line around the house is where I think the bottom of the tiny deck should be. Yes, there is access to get under the house in 2 other areas, one in Andrew’s garage and one by the front gate/trashcans but something still feels weird about covering it up more permanently, if not only because the door is like a grate and I feel like the bottom of the house needs to breathe? Is that weird? We have a lot of issues with it getting so wet under there when it rains it just feels like I shouldn’t put the tub blocking it. The dotted line is how high up the tub will come. It’s hard to tell from this angle but the irrigation is totally fine where it is but we will move the electrical socket that is currently below and to the right of it as it would be too close to the tub. So if the deck comes to the edge of the house, even with the closet, there would be a step in front of that on the concrete. The step will go across and stop at the edge of the house on the other side, you can see two tape lines that come right up to the dirt. Because the ground is uneven, that step will start very low and get taller, if that makes sense. More importantly, where you would naturally step onto it and off of the dirt, the step will be about 8 inches off the ground and 8 inches to the patio. God, it would be helpful if I could draw. Let’s look at the tub:
Isn’t she pretty? From Goodland’s lips: “Crafted in Canada, our Wood Burning Hot Tub is made from durable, 100% recyclable materials including marine grade aluminum and western red cedar as well as oak and raw brass detailing. Thoughtfully designed with sustainability in mind, this soaking tub is suited for both saltwater and freshwater.” The chimney will be on the right side, like in this picture so it is further from our house. It should not make sparks or even smoke much if you are using it correctly. Goodland recommends being 10’ away from combustibles (grass & trees), which it will be about that far from the orange tree, which we are having to cut back a lot this month to make it safer/easier to get to the tub. Craig (Goodland) himself said 5 feet away from my stucco house should be fine. The deck will extend out to the right. But how far? We’re still figuring that out. The chimney will be 5’ away from the house. The big negative to this spot is that if we ever move we would have to take it down as we will be building too close to our fence. Funny enough, the front half of the house is only about 18” from the fence but was built before this was a rule and therefore got grandfathered in. Our bedroom was added later, (the 50s we think?) and that’s why it’s further from the fence. We will talk to our neighbors before making the final decision but based off of past conversations with them I doubt this would be an issue, especially if it’s no closer than the front part of our house.
I know I’ll have some pushback about putting in a wood-burning tub in an area affected by drought. We wouldn’t use it as a hot tub during burn bans (although we could use it as a plunge pool!), but this is a much safer situation than having a firepit; which are totally legal in Los Angeles as long as bans are not in place. That said, I’ve become uncomfortable with them and have recently turned my fire pit into a water feature, but that’s for another post 🙂 I’m drawn to the other pluses of this tub: it’s sustainable, I can use the water for my thirsty plants, it’s chemical free and on top of all that the company is lovely and I stan their ethos: “The GOODLAND brand ethos intersects good design, human connection, and nature. We’re all about enjoying the moment and forgetting the noise. Rewarding ourselves in simple ways and seeking moments to break away from life’s hustle.” Clearly, we are still thinking this through and getting quotes, etc. This is just one option but I wanted to process it with you all.
That’s where I’ll leave you today. I have a lot of things going on over here. The next post will probably be about the back house’s outdoor space or possibly a final reveal of my back patio (that looks very different than it did two years ago in the photo up there!). Depends on what comes together first. I’m also in the trenches of a kitchen/laundry room reveal, but there’s a couple of things I’m waiting on for that. Look out for it in the next 6ish weeks. Of course, we will also be continuing updates on the urban garden. We will get a little more into the details with Eden when we do planting for the fall and finish the irrigation and plants along the edges.
A couple of things I’m considering that I’ll take some feedback on if they are interesting to you all:
1. Revealing our his/hers garages. My side would probably turn into a post that deep dives a little into what it’s like to peek under the hood of a freelance stylist. I’m doing a massive clean-out of my side at the moment. Sara and I will be at the Rose Bowl in October (come say hi if you can!) so it would probably be after that because it is bursting at the seams right now.
2. I also truly do need to make better use of my bedroom closet, so Container Store or not, that will be happening on some level.
3. Third and final is a DIY headboard for the office. It’s always been the plan, I just haven’t gotten around to it.
You can give me your opinions below, as always I’ll see you there!