Summer wrap up

Summer is over. Part of me will miss the long hours of sunshine, but most of me is looking forward to putting aside the heat and humidity in favor of crisp, cool days wrapped in wool scarves.

The forecast for this week in St. Louis includes a few 80 degree days, so let’s use that last bit of balmy weather to look back on the changes made to the back yard.

Our house sits on a standard city lot of 25′ wide by 125′ long. The house is nearly the full width of the lot so the back yard is snugly protected from the noise of the street. The previous owner had a big truck and built a crazy over-sized garage to house it. The garage eats up a lot of the space in the back of the lot (booooo) but also acts as a nice buffer from the alley and the garbage dumpsters that come with it (yaaaaay).

This summer was our first full summer in this house, so we made some changes to backyard in order to better enjoy it.

The first order of business was cleaning up these metal chairs so that we would have more outdoor seating. I bought these beauties on Craigslist last fall and paid $50 for all four. They needed work, but at $12.50 per chair I figured that they would still be a bargain even after adding some elbow grease.

 The chairs sat in storage all winter and spring until I was ready to work on them at the beginning of the summer.

I guess having a monster-sized garage isn’t so bad after all. There was plenty of room to lay down old shower curtains and get to spraying. Does anyone else think it’s funny that I use painter’s drop cloths for sewing and old shower curtains for painting? Yeah, DIY humor. It’s hilarious.

Flaky paint and serious rust. Looks like the chairs might have been blue at one point.

I didn’t get many photos of the actual process because I wasn’t coordinated enough to work with one hand while snapping photos with the other. Yeah, I’m gonna have to work on that.

Here’s a short summary of what I did:

  1. Spray off any cobwebs and mystery gunk with a hose and wipe dry with a rag. I couldn’t get all of the nooks and crannies dried by hand so I let them sit in the sun for an hour to get really dry before the next step.
  2. Use a wire brush on spots with flaky paint and/or rust. I didn’t get too crazy with this step because I wasn’t going for full-on rejuvenation. I just wanted things smooth enough to accept a new coat of paint and to allow someone to sit without getting scratched thighs.
  3. Spray on one coat of Rustoleum Rust Reformer. This stuff is supposed to turn rust into non-rust. Sounds like magic! I have no idea if it really does this, but it did give me a nice and even primer-like base for the final coats.
  4. Spray on two THIN coats of red spray paint. I used Rustoleum protective enamel in Regal Red. Multiple thin coats was key as any attempts I made to short-cut it with a thicker single coat ended up with runny paint. Not cute. Luckily, I was able to wipe off the runs while they were still wet and  two thin coats covered the evidence of my mistakes.

So after all that I only have two after-photos of the chairs. And it’s only one chair at that. Until I can get back out there to take more photos, you’ll have to trust me that they’re awesome.

The cool thing is that the two after-photos show how much the vines we planted by the garage grew over the course of the summer. 

Early summer
 Late summer

It’s weird, but while the vine on the right side of the garage was all like “Dude, we’re growing!”, the vine on the left side seems to have missed the message. Guess the vine we planed grows better in dirt on the ground than dirt in a pot. Sigh. Lesson learned.

I am underwhelming. Deal with it.

My husband had fun shopping (for once) and bought this bubble-looking garden art and a bottle tree (the skinny black thing to the left)

There isn’t much room for tall plants along the fences so the garden art does a nice job of breaking up the blank stretches of wood. We decided we needed more garden art because hey, more is better when it comes to a barren garden. And if you’ve already got the more-is-better attitude, then all of a sudden a giant metal flower sounds like the best idea in the world.

Our friends bought the giant lily and we bought the giant dahlia. The artist who made them said they would eventually patina to a rusty brown. He claims the rust won’t affect the strength and stability of the piece. I sure hope he’s right because I am looking forward to enjoying this thing for years to come.

Our dahlia already started to show spots of patina after a thunderstorm.

I can’t wait to see how it changes over the next few months.

In a few weeks it will be time to start preparing the garden for the winter. Hard to believe summer is already over!

2 thoughts on “Summer wrap up

  1. Yes, I love both of those ideas! I'll definitely post if I use either idea (or some up with something else). I wonder if there's a way to DIY a wooly-pocket-like planter? Just to test it out before spending the bucks.

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