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Bowser’s Front Yard Part 3: Building A Garden, Embracing Slow Living, And A Wood Burning Hot Tub Debate

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.

so hot.
fin! made an indent where I thought the planter would go
so many leftover rocks

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 used solid redwood so that it will last a long, long time. 

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.

she’s cute (and I don’t *just* mean daffy)

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:

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: moto reveal: emily bowser’s 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:

oh look! It’s the composter! yes, that is the tree from jess’ office. i’m keeping it “alive” and YES I DO OWN TO OLD TIMEY CARRIAGE WHEELS SO SUE ME

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!

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Nina
1 month ago

Maintaining a garden is all about learning to be patient. Sit back and enjoy what you have, nurture your plants and see which ones are doing well and which ones aren’t. Then next spring you can take all that knowledge into planting new stuff! 😀

Amanda
1 month ago
Reply to  Nina

totally – i take pictures and keep a garden journal <3

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Amanda

aw, I love this idea.

Siel
1 month ago

Always fun to read your behind the scenes posts! Yes to all the three suggestions, especially the stylist’ garage! 🙂
My suggestion for the concrete corner next to the steps would be to put one or a few big round terracotta planters, with some tree like plants, in the style of the potted olive tree you have before your gate. It fits lovely in the mediterranean style, and the round forms and height differences bring a balance the straight lines of the concrete built-ins.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Siel

I think this is more or less what we will do. I’ve also really gotten into making my own solar powered water features and thought maybe that could live there with some pots

Kimberly
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

PLEASE do a post about how to do that and where to source the supplies. I’ve been researching this lately too and would really appreciate the resource.

Gabrielle
1 month ago

Great post, I love when they get into real detail. I appreciated the different POV about slow living decisions.
Loved the idea of turning the front into an edible garden. I bet you will love the passionfruit plant, as an Australian, every Aussie has a passionfruit vine and chokko vine (check it out, a simple yet useful vegetable) along there fence. I am picturing on the flat
landing bit of concrete a great outdoor rug, plus even one other chair and side table to pull up to the edible garden table, plus some more pots, and possible a water feature.
Great if you could do a post on why you got rid of your fire pit and put a water feature.
Awesome post!
Thanks in advance, Gabrielle

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Gabrielle

I had to take my Passionfruit out due to rats garvesting them and raking the into an outbuilding roof to feast on!! I live near a school, river and cafe strip = rats. Ugh.
Replaced it with Lilly Pilly hedging. Even then, I keep it clipped so it doesn’t fruit or the rats get them.
I don’t poison the rats, because there are owls nearby and they eat the poisoned rats and get sick or die.
Conundrum.🥴

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

yes, thank you for not poisoning, it kills cats as well. We have SO many rats already because of our fruit trees and Puck just brought one in last night. He doesn’t get that the point of a cat is to keep them out of my house

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

It’s a gift for you!!🤣

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Gabrielle

haha, just said I’m becoming obsessed with water features in the comment above. I think the reveals will have water features galore!

Tarynkay
1 month ago

Regarding the hot tub- did you know that there are solar hot tubs now? Maybe this is a good option to look into as it looks like you do get a lot of sun. Then you wouldn’t need to worry so much about placement, burn bans, and buying firewood trucked in from… someplace.
Actually, in keeping with your slow deliberate consideration lifestyle, this would be a great post, comparing hot tub options.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Taeynkay….Kudos+!!!🤗

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Sorry…Tarynkay

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

lol get them to give me a free one and I’ll compare all day. haha, I can just picture my yard with his and hers tubs right next to each other and me just screaming “THE PEOPLE HAVE ASKED, WHO AM I TO SAY NO??”
That’s great that solar is an option now, I would think it works way slower so you couldn’t not use chemicals to keep the water fresh? This tub heats up in 90 minutes or less

Tarynkay
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I quickly googled and the answer was 6 hours to heat up. So I guess you could fill it in the morning and it would be ready when you got off work, which I would personally prefer to coming home, building a fire, and waiting 90 minutes. But this is the 5 second google answer, I really don’t know.
It seems like you could still use fresh water with a 6 hour heat time if that’s true. How big a tub is this? Would you be dumping the water afterwards on the plants all at once? Will they tolerate this? Can you reuse the water in the tub the next night or would you need to empty and refill it every time you use it?
I’m not trying to discourage your wood fired hot tub project. It just brings up so many questions! Do you have any ideas for cute wood storage/curing if you’re planning to use your own downed limbs?

JB
1 month ago

i can’t even with your projects … now the cat

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  JB

Why vote that down? I took it as a compassionate comment of exasperation for Bowser.

Reanna
1 month ago

WHOA! That was a lot! Love the updates, love hearing your thought process, and love the reminder that it takes time. Patience!

Elizabeth
1 month ago

Regarding the composter you don’t like – I have that exact same one and love it. I get mulch in about three months in warmer months. During the winter I just let it wait till spring. I have no smells and no leakage.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

ugh! Why do I have leakage?? I know I’m doing something wrong. I have to look into it more.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Not enough brown.

GG
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

My tumbler is pretty efficient. In addition to lack of crunchy browns, it doesn’t look like it gets enough full sun each day to properly ‘cook’ the contents. Also, if you can get some black soldier flies to lay eggs in the tumbler, they will make short work of the scraps.

Amber
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I agree with Rusty. I seem to naturally have mostly green and have to remember to add brown to keep the compost from getting gross. I bet you have a lot of paper from shipping packaging (for shoots), which you could shred and add to the mix. Not sure if your trees will lose their leaves, but if they do, that works too.

Sadie
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Get a bale of straw (not hay). With every addition of kitchen waste, throw in a handful of straw. Easy way to help balance the nitrogen (green) and carbon (brown) creating beautiful earthy smelling compost. You can also use the straw as mulch for your kitchen garden.

Karen
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Worms help too

jasmine
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

i have that same composter and it works fast too. we put in tons of fruit / veg scraps (no meat / bones) and handfuls of mango leaves and yard clippings. no smells no leaks, but it does sit in the sun for at least half the day.

Sadie
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Get a bale of straw (not hay). With every addition of kitchen waste, throw in a handful of straw. Easy way to help balance the nitrogen (green) and carbon (brown) creating beautiful earthy smelling compost. You can also use the straw as mulch for your kitchen garden.

Erica
1 month ago

I am here for all the rambling Emily content keep it coming! Can’t wait to see the garden take off.

Marnie
1 month ago

As someone in year three of a (maybe) four year outdoor slow-decision-making reno of a city corner lot with limited funds: I really appreciate your candor, humility, sense of humour, and to follow along on the progress. Everything looks so amazing in the end, it’s really nice to get a glimpse of the “middle”.

Susan
1 month ago

I’d love to encourage the incorporation of more native plants in your space! They’re beneficial for so many reasons. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas is a great resource for plant lists all over the US. Here’s the list for southern CA where you can filter it for different growing conditions. https://www.wildflower.org/collections/collection.php?collection=CA_south

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

Bonus is that bringing in more pollinators with native plants will mean more veggies!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

Love this! yeah I think that front wall space and even some pots should have pollinators/native plants. I will check out that list. Before you know it I’ll become an urban beekeeper

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

Amber
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I was thinking that some native grasses would be pretty in the space by the street. They provide some screening and nice movement.

erin
1 month ago
Reply to  Amber

I came here to say grasses, too! big beautiful muhlys <3 <3

Sadie
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I know you’re only joking, but honey bees aren’t native to North America. It’s cool and all if you want to produce local honey, but beekeeping doesn’t help out the native bee population.

Barbara
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

Yes to this! We just planted some blue salvias in our LA-area backyard and I see hummingbirds everyday. They (flowers and birds) give me such joy.

Jasmine
1 month ago

So exciting seeing all the progress! Regarding your outdoor composter – have you read about the ratio of brown to green to wet? My husband and I have a backyard composter (not the turning kind, just basically a big box) and it works well as long as we have enough dry leaves to add to make the correct ratio. Recently we ran out of dry leaves that we had collected last fall, so we’ve been adding brown paper bags and packing paper to keep up the brown content! All the best as you continue your composting journey, and I look forward to the next instalment of this series!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Jasmine

You know, I did but it was a little late in the process so I think I need to check it again to see if it’s broken down enough to where I can add more leaves. The initial problem is definitely that I wasn’t adding enough dry stuff. Also this thing is SO HARD to turn when it is full. I’ve since seen composters that make it a little easier, like that have a handle on the side. This one is a core workout to turn

Susan
1 month ago

How often do people truly actually USE hot tubs? They always seem to be a great idea but everyone I know who has one uses it very little. Seems like the money and resources would be allocated better to something you see and use daily. It could also become a source of stress /shame if you go though all that trouble and don’t use it. You’ll feel guilty for not using it. I also think wood fired anything is way more work than you think it will be paying for the wood, storing it, starting the fire getting it burning correctly etc. We heated our house with wood growing up, and granted that’s not the same as a hot tub but the work is similar. I didn’t hear you talk about how you would haul wood or where you will store it when you need it. Plus it’s LA. How often do you want to soak in heat ouside? In my cold climate many here have either a sauna or a hot tub, and access to wood but we also have 9 cold months a year where being warm and cozy is a must. I just don’t see that in… Read more »

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

Well I guess we will see, you know I will be honest about it! My husband is a BIG bather, like he wouldn’t even consider houses that did have room to put in a bathtub. We do have a bathtub but it is VERY shallow and he complains about it DAILY. I definitely think he will use it more often. Because of the lack of humidity, LA is actually quite chilly at night, even in the summer. The other great thing is how easily you can use it as a plunge pool. Here in LA people buy kid pools and soak in them during the summer months.

From what I understand, the hot tub does not take much wood. I’m actually getting my 5 trees pruned this month and I will be keeping a lot of the branches and clipping them down for use. You are supposed to use small pieces of wood. Because the deck will be raised, I’m planning on keeping the wood stacked, underneath on the right.

Pam
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

If you place any wood directly on dirt you will have termites in no time at all not to mention all sorts of other bugs. The branches will have to be dried aka left for a long time prior to you being able to using them. Trying to burn green wood, if the burn at all will result in lots of smoke. Passion vines are extremely invasive. They spread like crazy. We even had them go underneath my mom’s house and come up on the other side.

Jen. (livelygracehome on Insta)
1 month ago

Bring on all the projects and updates!

Carol
1 month ago

Three things: Re: the native plant suggestion from Susan: In SoCal you are *blessed* with the Theodore Payne Foundation for your natives – not only do they have the best plant selection, but great info, and classes, should you choose a deep dive. We designed our native garden based on a class we took there, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the main factors that got us $120k over asking when we sold. Re: your hedge: Consider some native sages or salvias (or both). They’re lovely and can spill over your wall to soften on the street side. Re: passion fruit: be prepared for your neighbors to hate you, and possibly to hate yourselves. They are HIGHLY invasive, and birds/squirrels/rodents will spread the seeds far and wide. You will be pulling rando passion fruit vines from everywhere in your yard, and if you don’t keep on top of it, they will strangle everything else (they tried to take out our lime tree, for instance). Same for your poor neighbors. Okay, 4 things: Re: compost: sounds like yours is too wet – newspaper, or junk mail, as long as it’s paper, is great for drying things out, as long as… Read more »

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Carol

I’ve had the same experience with passionfruit. There was one at a client’s that suckered everywhere– it even went under the house foundation and came up on the other side! It was like a whole kudzu situation with it smothering trees, and getting it under control took 6 months of going after it with heavy duty herbicide. They’re beautiful, but I would never plant one in the ground.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Lori

Or… a goat!🐐

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

There would be no garden left behind!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Carol

Ok, sounds like I will be doing my morning meditations while cutting back passionfruit 🙂 Yikes. Yeah, I know it’s quite invasive, stay tuned to see if I end up ripping it out in a year :). I’ll stay on top of making sure my neighbors don’t pay for my decisions. I’m not terribly concerned about the birds and rodents just because I deal with them already because of the fruit trees and as long as I have 5 fruit trees, I’m not going to be able to get rid of them. To be honest, I don’t really mind them? Is that weird? I literally saved a rat last night that my cat brought in.

LOVE this info about the classes, I will look into it! I definitely want some plants spilling over, that would be so nice.

Yes to adding more dry, I know that is a part of the problem. Lesson to all: it’s all about balance of wet and dry! I think that since a lot that’s in there is fruit that had fallen from trees it is especially juicy.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Be careful adding fallen fruit = fruit flies!!

Lauren
1 month ago

How lovely! I’m a gardener and I’ve found growing food (and sharing it) to be a complete joy. Beautiful loamy soil (“dirt gold”) is the lynchpin for a great garden. Sounds like you’re set up for success season after season. Enjoy your bounty!

Cait
1 month ago

If you find yourself with loads of passion fruit, I highly recommend making passionfruit curd– just replace lemon juice with passionfruit juice in any lemon curd recipe. It tastes delicious, keeps in the fridge for a while and makes a great gift. To make the juice I scrape the contents of a zillion passionfruit into a bowl or pot with tall sides, I zap it with an immersion blender to break up the membrane around the seeds, and then I strain it.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Cait

YES! Love it. Since it sounds like this Passionfruit is going to become a full time job maybe I should start selling it 🙂

Jenny
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I make passionfruit kombucha with frozen passionfruit purée, I bet using fresh passionfruit would be even better! There is also a Brazilian dessert that is a passionfruit mousse which is easy to make and extremely delicious…

Julie
1 month ago

We have the same composter on the side of our house and put a big plastic container underneath to catch the drippy water (bonus – dump it on your plants when it gets full, they love it!) and also have worms which make scraps into dirt super duper fast!
I second (third?) the native plants options!

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

My neighbors are very close to our house and they have a portable fire pit that they use several times per year. I have to close my windows when they use it or I will have so much smoke in my house that it feels like we’re part of the campfire. And I get soot and ashes on my porch from it. Needless to say, I have no good feelings toward these neighbors. At all. I chant 3 oms for them every day, but it hasn’t really completely changed my feelings toward them. I would say a wood-burning anything in those close quarters would be an unfriendly thing to do, but what do I know- maybe they know how to make them neighbor-friendly? Anyway- always great to see all the amazing things you’re doing at your house! Thanks for showing us what’s going on!

Ally
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Thank you for speaking out on behalf of all us folks who like to breathe air. My very nice neighbors to the south of me used theirs a few times in late spring and UGH, the smoke was terrible. (We are on 2/3-acre lots, not tightly packed like So. Calif.) Luckily, they seem to have lost interest in it for now.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Honestly I was over the ashes even landing on my own patio! I also hate, HATE smelling like a fire. When fire is burning it smells good, when it is in your clothes and hair it does NOT. I have to wash my hair whenever I’m near one and I don’t like washing my hair often. I think there are some that work better than others. People love the SoloStove because it supposedly makes less smoke and keeps ashes under control.

Amira Schultz
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Emily have you looked into Cedar tubs? You can run a gas line to heat it and they are beautiful! Same benefits of no chemicals needed, but without the wood smoke.

Roberta Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Maybe solar is a solution

D
1 month ago

I’d put some sort of bbq situation out on that large concrete area, maybe a built in brick sort of deal with counter space and storage below for wood/briquettes. It would block the fence and be practical. I don’t know how it would grow in LA, but asparagus in that weird space between your raised bed and wall might be good, it’s so pretty when it goes to seed and it’s perennial. I’d also plant lots of low maintenance herbs that you’ll use for cooking. Rosemary, parsley, chives, thyme, all pretty and very resilient when it comes to weather.

Katie
1 month ago

Amazing! Gardening is so rewarding. Not to be *that* person but your tomato looks like it could use some fertilizer

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

That poor tomato plant. It needs something. It got burned in the heat wave and is coming back but yeah, it looks real sad.

Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Miracle Gro! For the unused back corner of the front concrete patio, I suggest a potting bench so you can tend to you plants without getting the cute 48″ round table dirty. Pinterest some cute potting benches and you will be hooked. You may also need to hand-water daily when planting transplants in order to get them off to a good start.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy
1 month ago

Manifest yourself a Closet World or California Closets collab! I’ve used closet world three times and continue to recommend their services to my clients!

Erin
1 month ago

Emily, perhaps this is a dumb question (no dumb questions, I heard you =) but… if you plant between the raised bed and the front concrete wall to create a hedge, how will you reach that side of the planter to pull out old plants and put in new ones through the seasons? Will there still be a walkable strip between the hedge and the raised bed? Leaning across the wide box seems difficult.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Erin

The box is only 3 feet deep so I think it will be ok? I would have loved to pull the box in more but it’s a tight space already

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

Haha… ” I stalked them from my window”. I do that kind of thing too!🤣🤣

With composting, you need to get the ‘green’ and ‘brown’ combination right and tumble it often, keep it moist, but not wet….definitely worth investigating to get it working. That’s way too long for it to not yet be compost. (Worms do not like being tumbled. They’d prob die. Worms are a whole ‘nother thing entirely)

Bay trees grow huge! You need to vigorously clip them or you’ll have monsters that could crack your retaining wall!

Your produce garden is doing absolutely great for such hottt weather. 😊 BTW: wearing black in that heat?!?🥴

How about choosing local native shrubs for the native birds, lizards and insects?!?!? They’ll also be the most likely to thrive instead of just survive.

I. Have. No. Comm. On. Wood-burning. Things. 🌏🤐

Oh no! Gremmy!!!😳😿🤞xx

Alex
1 month ago

Sorry but the raised bed in the front yard looks ugly. Wasted opportunity to create a beautiful and water wise planting scheme that could easily incorporate herbs and peppers. With so little rain in la I don’t see a need for heavy handed weed barrier

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

Well, unfortunately our weeds are just way more drought tolerant 🙂 believe me, they exist and things grow incredibly fast and intensely here. Before we ripped it all up, I had a tomato plant push its way through a crack in the concrete that had been laid in my backyard for 30+ years and grow to be about 10 feet wide in every direction. I put down weed barrier before doing my stone walkway in the backyard and pull weeds out of it a few times a week. The raised bed will also help with critters and allows me to have full control of the quality of the dirt that my vegetables are growing out of. I promise it will be prettier when it’s all done but it’s also not 100% about looks

Heidi
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Gardening in coastal CA is more about killing things that grow too much, eh? I was shocked when I moved to New Mexico–gardening here is so much harder.

Megan
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

We still get plenty of weeds in LA lol. I have the same setup and still get some through the rocks

Ally
1 month ago

I haven’t been following this saga but am now in love with your adorable white Spanish style house and the delicious front yard project too. Don’t know where you are located but it reminds me of the sweetest homes in older, walkable beach communities like Corona Del Mar and Balboa Island.
It’s inspiring to see everything so beautifully done. I think your process is working just right!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Ally

Thanks! we’re on the east side of LA

Jen
1 month ago

My thought on the hot tub situation. I don’t love it being so close to the house. That dirt area with some of the plants by what I assume is your closet would be a better place for it. You would have to rehome the plants but it gets it away from the house and all you would need is to extend the concrete in that area. Also, the wood burning aspect sounds lovely but someone pointed out the smoke and the fact that you live in a area where there are burn bans means you won’t use it as much as you think you would. It is a very cool piece but having to build a fire to enjoy it is a lot of work!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen

I’m excited to get the tub and show you all how easy it is to work. It sounds more complicated than it is. The area you are talking about would be under the trees, which wouldn’t work unfortunately because the branches would extend over the tub

Dena
1 month ago

Passionflower is just so gorgeous with so many bonuses that I think if you are enjoying gardening and being outside you can easily keep it under control. It’s also a host plant for zebra butterflies! Their caterpillars are so cute!
I’d love to see bougenvilla in your space as well as a fig tree and an avocado!!
Garlic is really fun to plant in a container as well as potatoes.
I like the suggestion of a solar hot tub. Does lantana grow in CA? It’s very prolific, comes in many beautiful colors, and brings all the pollinators.
I’d also look into fireworks gomphrena maybe as a smaller front hedge although I don’t know if it lasts year long in your area. It does not in North Florida. Or a firecracker plant. They bring pollinators too! Good luck! And love your kitties!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

I really wanted to plant a bigger tree in this space, kind of where the seating is, but turns out I need as much sun as possible for the planter. We will definitely be doing some trees in pots. 100% I’m doing a lime tree. Our neighbors across the way have bougenvilla and a fig tree and let me say – absolutely beautiful and a lot of up keep! Squirrels love taking one bite and then throwing those figs all over the place. Something I guess I will be dealing with with the Passionfruit. I initially wanted bougenvilla AND jasmine going up my stairs (and I still may totally do it) because Velinda has both in her yard and it’s so pretty, but it really sheds! The amount of petals I get in my driveway from their plant is wild! But at the same time, I’m already cleaning up theirs, why not add more?

Dena
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Maybe if you get out there and pick most of the figs before the squirrels it won’t be so bad! Ours has grass underneath so it’s not noticeable. Love the lime tree! It doesn’t fruit but some dwarf maples could be really pretty!
I have a feeling you will find a spot for bougenvilla- I’m trying to find a spot for one now! Oh, pineapples take three years to fruit but they are so adorable when they do! ☀️

Ashlea
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I love bougainvillea! My parents have several in their front and back yards in AZ and honestly, I think if you’re gonna have a plant that sheds, then get the one with the gorgeous fuschia petals. The petals create small piles in corners and they add to the romantic look! I think a water feature is perfect for the corner of your front landing – perhaps a wall mounted one (mount on the neighbor’s fence) and then have a planter underneath? Finally, I saw this table at IKEA and though if fits your parameters– https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/kloeven-table-outdoor-dark-brown-50427646/
Thanks for sharing Emily – I love these reno journeys!

SJ
1 month ago

LOVE the garden and front yard! Gardening is it’s own for of Zen-we have four 4×8 planter boxes in our smallish back yard and we love it. If something doesn’t do well, just chuck it and out in something different-life’s too short for half-ass veggies. Those rocks will be throwing some heat around-I’d maybe get an outdoor rug for your seating area so you’ll have a place to walk barefoot out there. You could plant lantana in your wide strip-lots of diff colors to pick from, pollinators love it, basically plant it and forget it ( get a variety like “Patriot” that stays smallish). Another choice would be Hidcote lavender-its mounds, so not a hedge, and pollinators love it as do humans. A big, hard, fat, NO to a wood-burning anything in SoCal ! Yikes! We are in San Diego. A few people near us have fire pits, like others have commented we have to close up and stay inside if we are downwind from them-UGH. A wood burning hot tub 5 feet from a house? NO WAY. One stray spark and you’ll have the area in flames. Also, storing wood in places that do not have a true winter… Read more »

Lisa
1 month ago
Reply to  SJ

TBF, I was just in LA, and East LA at least is almost all stucco, very little wood, and very few dry trees etc.

Alexa
1 month ago

Thanks for the update Emily! I’m kind of surprised by your interest in the hot tub, knowing that the platform is going to cost $$$ and given how much you’ve already needed to invest to fix necessary issues that affect the basic functionality of your home. LA doesn’t strike me as a climate where you’ll get a lot of use from a hot tub, necessarily. But, if makes you happy, all the best! I do agree that it would be an awkward thing to have in the front yard, though.

Katy Klein
1 month ago

Yes to all three future blog posts and to a lymph node tutorial too, haha. My suggestion to that strip of ground between the planter box and wall would be a bunch of lavender. You’ll attract a lot of bees for your garden, it grows fast and is drought tolerant. And looks pretty dreamy all in a row. And you can hack it back as needed and not worry about hurting the plant. And if you want to channel your homestead energy, you can dry the lavender and make little sachets.

Jenny
1 month ago
Reply to  Katy Klein

I second the request for lymph node tutorial!

Lisa
1 month ago

Well, first of all, I loved this post. Second of all, I had to WORK to understand what was going on without any renderings. Probably good for the brain. Third, all my opinions;). For reference, I’m in the SF Bay Area, and have lived in the same house for 30 years, have had three distinctly different gardens in that time. 1) Passiflora. Totally invasive. As people have told you. Also, the “sap” gives many people rashes, so wear gloves. That said, great fence cover and the Gulf Fritillaries will find you and flap around all orange and lovely. 2) Although I love lavender, and it would work for your strip between planter and street, can I suggest a red salvia instead? Humming birds go crazy with joy. Also more Californian. 3) The concept of “native” plants in climate change has become tricky. If your temps are higher (as ours are) than they were 10 years ago, native plants will wilt. 4) Love the planters, think more up on that bare step will be awesome, also love a solar water feature as long as it is robust enough to keep mosquito larvae away. I know LA didn’t use to have mosquitoes,… Read more »

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa

oh, the mosquitos have arrived in LA! 13 years ago when I moved here, no mosquitos was my favorite part of living here (being from MD where they are THE worst). Times have changed and as you mentioned that’s also affected what grows. From what I understand a lot of people who put in these “drought tolerant” gardens what were all succulents and rocks have had a lot of issues in recently where we have these years with a ton of rain in a small amount of time and then no rain at all. Yeah, I think I have more to learn in the way of the water feature. Hoping to perfect that in the coming weeks. One issue I’m having is that the solar pump I bought that’s supposed to charge a battery and work all night (so the water doesn’t become a breeding ground) doesn’t work at night. I don’t know if I just need a higher quality pump, or maybe It’s a pipe dream that I can do this without electricity or what… Luckily I can use the water to give to the plants every couple days and then try again, but I have to figure that… Read more »

Carol
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

The cool thing about SoCal natives ( sorry, but I am an evangelist on the subject) is that they’ve acclimatized to heavy winter rains and very little the rest of the year. Probably have to supplement water year one, but after, you’re golden. BTW, best time to plant is in the fall so they can soak up all that rain their first winter in the ground.

Lisa
1 month ago
Reply to  Carol

Up here in the Bay Area absolutely plant in late October/early November too. Good to know that SoCal natives can take a heavy winter of rain. Same up here, but lots of our native trees are dying now. The Blue Oak, for example, can’t really take it any more:(

Lisa
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

A moment of silence for the mosquito-free life of the past. And no screen doors. But, you’re planting! That’s great! Hope is in the green!

Amber
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

You can add mosquito dunks to the water features. They contain a bacterium that kills mosquito larvae (only, and not other good stuff), which is actually more effective than trying to get rid of adult mosquitos.

I read about them via Doug Tallamy, the native ecosystem evangelist. I’m sure there are more details to be found online.

Maria
1 month ago
Reply to  Amber

I live in Illinois and mosquito packs/granules/dunks are a MUST. I have some that are little pods that I drop into any standing water I can reach after a big rain (including the neighboring yards—the packets I have are pet and wildlife safe and mosquitos don’t care about fences!). I now have <10% of the mosquitos that I got before using them!

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

You can buy the mosquito dunks at Home Depot https://www.homedepot.com/p/Summit-12-in-Mosquito-Dunks-6-Pack-110-12/100334779 or Lowes https://www.lowes.com/pd/Mosquito-Dunks-6-Count-Natural-Mosquito-Killer-6-Pack/3047384. The disk form is handy because it floats on top and you can see them (and break them in half if your fountain is tiny), but they come in granule form also.

MKP
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Sounds like these would be good if there is unintended standing water. But can they be used preventatively? Like would it make sense to put out a bucket of water with a dunk in it to encourage mosquitoes to come to the water and then lay eggs that won’t hatch? I live in Atlanta with a gazillion mosquitoes and am desperate for a solution. So many neighbors use services that spray to kill them, but I know that is a horrible thing for our planet.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  MKP

No, always the best is to drain any standing water. Deliberately creating a breeding environment for them is a bad idea. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in a thimbleful of water so they don’t need much. They even breed in soggy grass areas. This may give you hope 😂 https://www.who.int/news/item/14-11-2019-mosquito-sterilization-offers-new-opportunity-to-control-chikungunya-dengue-and-zika

Liza
1 month ago

Consider solar for your tub. I don’t know that I would install a “solar tub”, but I have a small electric tub and roof solar in San Diego. Roof solar let’s me splurge on the AC and my 2-person hot tub provides glorious submersion in hot water without escalating the water bill. Heat up is fast. Controls are digital. I’m still working on backyard privacy for the tub. My primary has doors to back patio and the tub is just outside. Water use and fire risk are big deals here. Add that I grew up in S FL and any type of open flame freaks me out. When I lived up north I relied on the orange logs in the grocery store. Here, I took out the fireplace in the primary and replaced with more closets!

Sheila
1 month ago

Just wanted to quickly chime in and warn that plants can absorb shit in the soil up to 20-30 feet away from their root system; citing this as someone who forages in the PNW. A garden that close to the road may not be super safe to eat. I would do some more research before you commit the $$.

Megan
1 month ago
Reply to  Sheila

You would be horrified than at how many food farms line the 5 freeway through most of the state. I think she’ll be fine

AJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Sheila

Oooh I was wondering why put in a raised bed instead of planting direct into the new space, perhaps this is why. Raised beds drain quickly compared to the ground, so it’s harder to keep things watered and alive, but I suppose the new space is itself a kind of raised bed also…

Cris S.
1 month ago

I always really enjoy your posts. Hearing your thought processes and internal debates and real talk on money is awesome!!! Thank you for all the time you put into writing these. I’d love to hear more on any and all topics you listed above!

Alex
1 month ago

Chinning in on the plantings, I would do a mix of salvias (attracts beneficial pollinators and deters the pests), grasses, more prostate rosemary, guara and pittosporum and parahebe ‘Purple Mist’. All of which are drought tolerant and should give different textures and bring the living wall up to around 3ft with some drapiness down the front.

Lori
1 month ago

I’ve been pondering your hot tub situation and have some thoughts. When I bought my house in Austin, it came with a hot tub. I did use it regularly during the winter, but it was really a pain to maintain and keep the chemical levels balanced and the electricity it took was surprisingly expensive. When the pump died, I got rid of it, no regrets. I’m also someone who loves a good soak, and the crappy shallow bathtub in this house doesn’t cut it, so I bought a clawfoot tub on Craigslist, plugged the holes for the faucet fittings, and when I want to cool off, I just fill that sucker up. It’s the perfect spot to lounge in the summer and I like that it doesn’t take a lot of water. When my bathroom on the exterior wall gets remodeled, we’re gonna add a hot water tap outside so I can take hot baths too. I just drain the water into my garden when I’m done. You could definitely go for cheaper decking with a freestanding tub. I also have a 7 x 3 x 2′ deep stock tank that I put a faucet fitting on the drain– it’s… Read more »

Cynthia Garza
1 month ago

Whew, lawd. That was a journey!

Felicity
1 month ago

I see a raised planter, well, actually two, on the gravel next to the concrete pad to keep people from falling off into the garden. The space between them could then be the entrance to the garden. I think a small table and chairs would happily live on the concrete….you could sit and gaze over your plot! When I gardened in SoCal 25 years ago, lavender required perfect winter drainage, which it sounds like you have created along that front wall. There are quite a few different lavenders out there and they look good planted all together.“Sky Pencil” holly might be a choice for a narrow hedge or an exclamation point. Leptospermum scoparium , NZ tea tree , is a shrub I really miss from those days. Just make sure to find a dwarf cultivar, read the label! Garlic is a fun crop to grow over the winter. The easiest container citrus I found was Meyer lemon.

Nicolettte
1 month ago

I am deeply invested in this yard renovation. I’m trying to plan mine and it’s so hard to find detailed posts like yours! We need more of these content on the internet. Talk to me about measurements, spacing, all that because it’s impossible to find otherwise. The only real comment I have is yes, houses need to breath. Both the attic and crawlspace should have plenty of vents (my recent detached garage build had a whole venting plan I screwed up by wanting a cute window on the front peak vs an ugly vent).

SarahT
1 month ago

I would LOVE to read every post you have planned or proposed! Will enjoy the anticipation over the next months 🙂 Good luck with all the projects!

Lia
1 month ago

The front yard is such a transformation and it is looking great. I’ve always been awestruck by those passionflowers, too, shame to hear they are so invasive. I can’t wait to see it next year when you’ve got all the plants dialled in – it’s going to be luscious. I am super surprised that you’re allowed to have that hot tub in LA. I live in BC, where they are made, and they would never be permitted in most urban areas here – I live in a small, small city (a town by US standards) and no way I could install one. In fact they are even phasing out indoor wood-burning fireplaces in new builds here. But since you are going to have one – here are some good tips on how to make your fueling of it as eco as possible: https://www.instagram.com/p/Ccqml-7PKkP/

Suzanne
1 month ago

I just need to give a shout out for the Lomi composter. I was also an early supporter, and it took forever to get, and a few months before I read the instructions, but now that I’m using it, I love it. It’s so easy, and it really makes dirt out of food scraps. It feels like magic. I also have a spinning drum composter outside that is filled and not breaking down quickly enough. My city composts yard waste, so I’m fine just buying compost, as needed. And recently, the city started composting food scraps. Unfortunately, they just said they’ll be sorted out, which seemed strange. Then a couple days ago, I read that you have to bag the compostables separately and place in the trash container, which, of course, makes it easier to separate. I do wonder why big cities don’t have this figured out. Anyway, the Lomi is great option. Pricey, but it really works!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I love the lomi. I’m running it now so I can talk about it on my stories tomorrow. Agreed, most cities are so behind on these things. Especially a city like LA where our taxes are so incredibly high, it just feels silly.

Ray
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Very curious… What do you do with the Lomi “compost” once it’s ready? Just throw it into your garden? To me it just looks like a food dehydrator/grinder. Am I missing something here? Is it something scientifically superior to the open air/outdoor bin method of composting? Any nerdy responses appreciated.. lol

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

The Lomi produced compost looks like soil. It’s actually pretty amazing. I usually just dump it in my yard and rake it into my soil to amend it. If using as potting soil, they recommend mixing with regular soil first. I think the motivation for having the Lomi is for people who have limited outdoor space for a compost bin or who, despite trying to compost, are challenged to successfully compost. If you are already successfully composting and are happy with your system, I don’t think the Lomi is necessary. I thought it was going to be a waste, but it makes me pretty happy about my food scraps (I have very little food waste, so it’s actually hard for me to fill).

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

Ray, I realized I didn’t answer your other question about which is superior. My guess is compost the traditional way is better. Lomi has 3 settings, and one produces more nutrient rich compost. There’s also a setting that composts Lomi approved compostables. I haven’t did much research, but I think the slower process of outdoor composting allows for the compost to retain more nutrients. There’s a lot that goes into it as many other people have commented, like the balance of brown and green waste, heat, turning, and time.

Lacy Ellsworth
1 month ago

Why don’t you consider putting the hot tub here on the concrete? You could build a partial fence the length of the garden plot, just enough to give it privacy from the street. You could enter the hot tub through the gate from the backyard so you don’t feel so exposed. The fence may not be ideal after building that pretty gate but the big concrete slab is empty and would certainly be a good place for a hot tub. You could also do trellis vines all over the fence.

Lacy Ellsworth
1 month ago
Reply to  Lacy Ellsworth

Wouldn’t attach the photo.

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Lacy Ellsworth
1 month ago
Reply to  Lacy Ellsworth

It certainly looks like a big enough space to me. You could also build the fence in an L across to the house and put a gate in but I don’t know if you’d want to do that. I just imagine this would be so much cheaper.

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Lacy Ellsworth
1 month ago
Reply to  Lacy Ellsworth

Oh and depending on dimensions I’d run the hot tub long ways alongside the fence. Would give you the most privacy that way.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Lacy Ellsworth

love this out of the box thinking and would probably consider it if my tenants and anyone who’s visiting them wouldn’t have to walk right by it 🙂

Kate
1 month ago

It’s great to see the front yard taking shape, and it all looks so much better than before. I can’t help thinking though that a flowering tree or even 2 would look great in that space, casting some much needed shade on all the concrete out there, and adding a lot more to your curb appeal long term, without needing a whole load of maintainance. Perenials and shrubs could go underneath.
Edibles are a lovely idea, but they don’t look too happy in that very exposed position.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

I really want a “Desert Museum Palo Verde” which is a light and airy flowering yellow tree. It’s pretty whispy so I do wonder if it could work. I’m going to give it a year to see what the garden needs first.

Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

That looks like a gorgeous tree! I am in Italy and finding with the super hot summers we’re now regularly experiencing, most things are actually happier growing in light shade.

Rachael Latimer
1 month ago

A mix of grasses would be great along the front wall: they would provide a bit of screening, but also movement in the breeze and texture (Karl Forester, Mexican feather, little bunny, blonde ambition, etc.). Could also mix in or include Agastache Black Adder or another variety – the pollinators go crazy for it!

Admin
1 month ago

pretty! So many good ideas coming in!

Kate
1 month ago

I recommend that you plant ROSEMARY in the ground outside of the raised bed where you need some other green plants! It can get somewhat tall & hedge-like, but it is beautiful, aromatic, evergreen, culinary, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, & it wonderful in vases!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

I agree with you so much that I have like 5 bushes of it in my backyard already 🙂 so a bit of a surplus over here

Lia
1 month ago

May I ask why my comment was not approved? I’m not upset – just puzzled as it was a very innocuous (and overall positive) comment and I’d like to know for the future so I don’t unknowingly do it again. The only thing I can think is I included a link to an instagram picture? Is that not allowed? Thanks.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Lia

huh. I don’t know that must be an AI thing, maybe the website thought you were a bot?

Angela
1 month ago

I tell you what… how about you send that wood burning hot tub my way & I’ll give EHD some truly riveting sponsored content! We have gravel galore here as my husband is putting in our driveway by himself (on our 15th dump truck load now; take that driveway pile of yours and multiply by… a lot) and we have a partially cleared lot… and… well, it looks like that is about all we will have for the next two years! (There can also be a two-part essay on the ongoing power struggle between my husband and I over his vision for a fire pit versus mine.) This is clearly the content your readers need, right?! In all seriousness, I think a wood burning hot tub is a great idea for someone like yours truly, who will be living on 8 acres on the East Coast & owns a chainsaw, hatchet, maul, and also has a husband whose job half the year is tree work (aka lots of free fuel). It is maaaaaaybe not such a great idea for close living quarters in dry as a bone SoCal (although I am sure this is an urban customer base with money… Read more »

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Angela

haha, I’ll let you know! Yes, the wood needs to be dry, APPARENTLY if it is dry, it will barely smoke and should not spark at all. It’s not at all the same as a fire in a fire pit at all. I’ll prove everyone wrong or else the tub is yours!

Sunny
1 month ago

Emily, have you thought about more of the raised beds in the gravel area? That gravel will be hot hot hot and not pleasant to walk on or sit in a chair on it.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Sunny

You’re right, you could totally do another L shaped planter in the opposite corner. Good point about the sun, as of now we really enjoy being out there closer to sunset, or like an hour or so before when it’s cooler. Maybe we’ll see how I do after a full year of gardening, maybe I’ll be more up to taking on a whole other bed.

1 month ago

So, don’t get frustrated with the dumping of stones in a large mound. I lived in the country and a landscaper dumped a huge amount of gravel at the bottom of a long and circular driveway. My husband had to dig and dump shovel by shovel. He was not happy. The delivery was made when he wasn’t home. I guess I made the wrong decision.