Archive for April, 2009


ship-flagOur kids wanted a tree house. But we didn’t have a suitable tree to build in. What are parents to do? Improvise of course!

What we did have was a sad, horribly located cedar tree. For some reason I have hesitated everytime I thought of moving it over the years. When it came time to think about giving the kids a play area, I was grateful for that hesitation. We were able to build around it and give it a new purpose.

Having seen abandoned and sunken boats for many, many years we had an idea of what would make a really great space for our kids to play.


Using fencing from our old corral we build the sides to the ship. All decking was purchased new for safety reasons.

Crows Nest
Crows Nest

The crow’s nest was anchored to the tree using lag bolts to cause the least amount of damage to the tree in weather and during growth.  Access to the crows nest is by climbing an old cargo net my husband found.

Paint was left overs we had in our garage. The name of the ship was routered out on a leftover fencing slat and the kids used their gold paint to fill in the letter.

On the ground, a small deck was built with a ships wheel and then we filled in the rest of the area with DG (decomposed granite). Sand wasn’t an option because of the slope of the land would cause it to wash away, as well as keeping kids clean.

The Helm

The Helm

We light it up at night with solar spot lights because we enjoy looking at it when the sun goes down too.


I don’t think many people have sunken ships in their gardens!


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My local source is Dry Creek Gardens in Reno, NV
My local source is Dry Creek Gardens in Reno, NV
Slope plantings according to height, placing the tallest against your fence and the lowest closest to your outdoor area. Choose plants by density of leaves to create a thicker barrier. I would recommend a mixture of evergreens with deciduous trees or shrubs mixed in to give seasonal change while keeping a year round barrier. Then choose lower growing plants to fill in the bottom and act as a border.
Give thought to colors of leaves and flowers when making selections. Don’t hesitate to consult with the experts at your local nursery, they are always happy to help. When you actually decide to place the plants, do not forget to give them room to grow!


This will not cure all sound problems, but it will help muffle and absorb most of it. A garden will add beauty to your landscape and peace to your space.
I intentionally do not give plant recommendations because every area is completely different. This is to give you an idea of using textures and colors together to create a pleasing garden that will help suppress sound.





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This is something I swear we will enjoy forever. Privacy fence structured to work with wind and not block your view! 

From inside the house, you still have a viewWe had this style fencing around our back deck in Alaska to maintain privacy around our spa. We used this to surround the entire deck, but changed the angle to avoid sight to and from neighbors and roads. The beauty of it equals the practicality when you want your investment to last.

Ours faces our neighbors so we have privacy to enjoy our views and our outdoor room. In the spring, there is a lilac that grows like a weed on the outside that provides more privacy in a natural way. From our living room, we still have a panoramic view of the valley!

wall-angle2Ours was built by framing the area needing the privacy screen with 2×4’s. Using fencing slats that are set at the desired angle, then cut spacers using 2×4’s. At the top and bottom of the frame nail in the spacer, set the slat, nail the spacer, and repeat until the frame is filled. This privacy wall is raised about a foot and a half off the ground so the winter snow can melt under it, without rotting the fence.
This technique isn’t new but I don’t believe it is as widely used as it should be. Here is a book with more detailed instructions

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 First Rule is the old cliche, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

While not completely accurate, I’ll give it credit as a good start. You have to set the boundary that you allow people to cross (even inadvertently)
The sturdier the fence the better. Many people do not care for chain link, but it is excellent for outdoor insulation. My fence is cattle panels that are galvanized wire panels attached to wooden posts. Not particularly attractive or ugly, just very boring. But sturdy so I don’t have to worry about neighborhood dogs plowing into my yard. I have enough dogs and don’t need anymore help! 
Useful for Keeping the Wildlife from Eating the Garden!

Useful for Keeping the Wildlife from Eating the Garden!

But I digress.
With a sturdy fence you have a multitude of options for making it more private because you can attach something to it. This is an economical and attractive solution. It is economical because you can buy what you need in sections to suit your needs. With the design and sturdiness of bamboo fencing, it will survive wind, rain and snow. 
You can read my earlier post on bamboo fencing to get an idea of its many uses.
Maybe you have a privacy fence already and you don’t need to worry about this. If so, you may want to read my post on gardening. This is where the sound barrier comes in.

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We put every ounce of energy and pride into our homes. We enjoy our gardens, have lovely outdoor spaces for us to relax or entertain, beautiful views to enjoy every season. Then. It. Happens.

A neighbor has invaded your space. It doesn’t mean they physically are in your space but they influence it in someway.
  • Radio is too loud
  • Their conversation is clear as bell (conversely, they probably hear everything you say too!)
  • Copycats: everything you do you notice is being done next door?
  • If you step foot outside, someone is watching you
Anyways, you get the idea. The point is, you don’t have to quit enjoying your space and you don’t have to lower yourself by acknowledging their inconsideration. Instead, focus your energy and pride into building outdoor insulation.
I compare my vision of outdoor insulation (patent pending) to the insulation you put in your walls. There are different techniques to insulation indoors or out but it is all about layers to make it work.
I’m going to break this out into different steps

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Spring time is showing itself in small stages in Northern Nevada. It is a beautiful sight when the valleys are lush with green trees, roses blooming and bees in flitting here and there.

Crab Apple Trees Are Such Show-Offs!

Crab Apple Trees Are Such Show-Offs!

It does tend to come with false starts though. We’ve had snow this week but the trees are still blooming. I usually enjoy the show my fruit trees put on in the spring but have never experienced any of the fruit.

The fruit trees I have were planted on the property when I moved in. Lovely dwarf plum, apple, peach and almond trees were spread all over the place. I transplanted them into smaller groupings for water conservation and close for enjoyment. I will have a lovely show of flowers before the leaves pop out. But every spring we have a cold snap and none of the trees have ever produced fruit.

I’m never one to waste a good, strong plant. I’m not sure if the previous owner realized these trees were not a good choice for our area, or if he just wanted a pretty show too. Either way, they bring the first displays that a new year of growing has begun.

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ph02829j1I keep seeing headlines for articles like ‘Save Money – Grow a Garden’. When I read the actual article, I want to yell “HA! You really think it is that easy?” These short and sweet features are not written by gardeners. If they were, these lucky gardeners live in gardening heaven because instructions like “Plant seeds when warm, water and feed your family all summer” don’t work anywhere I have ever lived.
Working in Dirt
Some people might like the appeal of saving money by growing their own vegetables, but a show stopper is actually getting dirt. While I think it is great, I know many people who just DO NOT ENJOY IT. And that’s ok! Gardening is a labor of love but it is about fertilizer, soil amendments, etc.
There are always options though. Hire a professional. Ask at your local nursery, they might offer services. Friends and neighbors usually give references as well. Not all professionals are expensive but you have to ask to find out.
If hiring is out of the budget, ask a gardening friend to help out. I love to get my hands on other people’s dirt!
This can be an art, depending on where you live. In our clay soil, it is a constant monitoring process to make sure the garden doesn’t have too much or too little water. And with the weather, the soil changes every year too, since we are constantly amending it for improvement.
Plant Choices
Once again, I recommend checking with your local nursery. There are different hybrids for every climate and elevation. My plants need to withstand harsh sun and wind while producing in a short growing season. Other areas may be able to plunk a Beefsteak Tomato in the ground and have more produce than they can eat. (I really envy those people) The best advice you will get is from other gardener’s experience.
Gardening is a wonderful way to subsidize your income. But it is work. Fortunately, it is work that I love to do!

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