our front courtyard

May 17, 2016

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Ben’s in charge of all things yard/garden related, but I get this tiny front porch-courtyard to tend to. We don’t hang out here much due in part to our neighbor’s over-watered yard; his two-a-day waterings lead to more of a swamp than a lawn. The health of the two trees we have on that side has been negatively affected due to the excessive water. And while we don’t care much for the trees, Ben has still tried to mention something to him (they are very nice neighbors). However, the message wasn’t received because it’s still quite swampy.

Besides the downside of over-watering with a drought going on in California, it has also led to a lot of mosquitoes from the sitting water (note the mosquito net curtain we use on the door to try to keep mosquitoes and flies out of the house). Hence, we don’t hang out in the front porch because the mosquitoes really love our California blood (when the girls and I go to Texas in the summer, oh how attracted they are to us!).

Every Saturday morning, I get up at 5am to go out to the courtyard water my plants before the bugs wake up (and for some reason I love waking up at 5am on Saturdays). Then, I never go back to this area until the following Saturday. Ironically, this courtyard is one of the reasons we bought the house (and I loved the big windows behind it), but it’s not such a pleasant place to hang out.

We’ve tried a variety of methods to keep the mosquitoes away, but none of them have helped too much (anyone have any tips?), so decided to give Ortho Bug B Gon a try. It says that it starts killing mosquitoes in minutes and is backed by a money-back guarantee, therefore what did we have to lose? Ben’s the fly killer in our house, thus I let him be the one to deliver the mosquito massacre.

Side story, Ben loves killing flies. He can even catch them in mid-air! We live near a lot of dairy farms, so we have lots of flies too. When Ben goes in fly killing mode, I call him the “fly killer,” and I sing (sung to Dave Matthew’s Band “Grave Digger”), “He’s the fly killer, he’ll dig your grave, he’ll make it shallow, so you can feel the rain.” Ben’s mom would tell us stories of when he was about 5 years old, he would disappear into the garage and then go back into the house to the backyard. He would do that back and forth, and it was obvious he was hiding something in his hands. Ben’s mom finally asked him to stop, open up his hands, and then a lot of flies flew out! Yuck! Told you, he’s got some talent catching flies.

I’m feeling more optimistic that the mosquitoes will B GON, so I picked up more plants to spruce up the area. Ben simply sprayed it it on the walls around the porch and he was done in about 10 minutes. It was a quick process. I’m hoping the bugs stay away and it’ll be such a pretty spot that we will want to sit out here and enjoy the space. I re-potted some plants, added new ones, cleaned up the area, and put some pillows on a couple chairs. Ben even created a trellis for my pink jasmine to grow on (will share that DIY soon), so I have plans to be intentional to sit in our courtyard, with a glass of wine in hand, and watch the kids play in the front yard.


15 comments on “our front courtyard”

  • Candice says:

    Hi! You could dig swales in that area to help catch some of that excess water and then plant some things that love a ton of water in the swales and on top on the other side. The swales will help catch the water and distribute it to the right kinds of plants. Since your basically getting free water from your neighbor take advantage of it 🙂 The following link explains what I am talking about. Turn that area into a place you guys love! I enjoy your blog so much!

  • Allison says:

    I’m surprised you would even consider spraying a toxic chemical on or near your home, considering the effect it could have on your children, your garden, the food you eat and our environment. Seems like a more in depth conversation with the neighbor would have been a better solution than adding more chemicals to our earth.

    • Rubyellen says:

      Yes, we did spray it near our home, but not near any fruits or vegetables (all those are in the back). Ben’s tried discussing it with him a few times, but I’m not sure he gets it. Maybe it will click in another conversation. I’m excited to try what others mentioned above. We didn’t even think about looking up mosquito repellant plants.

  • Adrienne says:

    I tend to agree with the above comment. Don’t get me wrong, I love your blog and the honest way you share your life but there are better and safer ways to get rid of mosquitoes. We have a ton of mosquitoes where we live in the midwest. In the past I have used Bonide Mosquito Beater brand granules that you sprinkle on the lawn. It’s a safe all natural product.

    • Rubyellen says:

      Yeah, I didn’t even know there were mosquito repellant plants, so we will definitely be trying that. I’m glad you all shared! We will definitely check out those granules too. How often do you have to sprinkle those?

      • Adrienne says:

        I think it’s supposed to last up to 3 weeks, which is the downside. And if you get a lot of rain that can also make it less effective more quickly. But since you live in a drier climate that shouldn’t be as much of an issue. Maybe spraying once with the Ortho at the beginning of the mosquito season and then using a combination of plant deterrents and the Bonide natural granules so that you don’t have to spray the Ortho as much?

        • Rubyellen says:

          Not much rain here, 🙁 though we need it. Thank you for your suggestions!

  • Erica says:

    That’s such a shame about the neighbor and wasting water. We have a similar problem but it’s more excessive texas rain and an unlevel (read: bowl shaped) backyard means all the surrounding water gathers to give is flood grounds. We picked up mosquito fogger for evenings when we have friends over for campfire grilling. Since you’re area is more concrete I would try adding some mosquito repellent plants! Think citronella, lavender, mint, rosemary and build yourself a green buffer from the neighbor’s yard. We’re working our way towards that.

    • Rubyellen says:

      We never thought about looking up mosquito repellent plants (didn’t even think there was such thing!). Thank you for sharing. I think this will definitely be the next step.

  • Gale says:

    Remove the saucers from the bottom of your pots. Mosquitos will breed in the water in the saucers.

    • Rubyellen says:

      Wow! Didn’t even think of that. Thank you! I will make sure the saucers don’t hold water (or should I remove them completely?).

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi Rubyellen! I would remove your saucers completely and then check out a product called “plant toes,” to prop your plants up for drainage. You could prop up all of your plants with equal sizes of wood/rocks of uniform thickness. I have plant toes for two vegetable plants on my deck but with the large collection of plants I would make your own “plant toes.””

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