June 11, 2020

Spring Rituals: Opening the River House

 Today's post is in partnership with STIHL.

The regular change of pace between the city and the river over the last few months has been a welcome escape. Now into our second year with this home, we’re quickly learning what it takes to officially “open it up” for the season in terms of maintenance.

Earlier this spring we addressed the indoor areas and more recently turned our focus outdoors, where an annual power washing on the siding & window washing become a weekend’s project. We’ve also learned that the yard and surrounding landscape benefit from a more substantial annual pruning and clearing to allow for new growth and the resulting beauty that comes with spring in full bloom.

In our experience, part of getting to know a home’s landscape is living with it for an entire season to watch what blooms and where. In the last year we learned we have daffodils and lilies, also wisteria and honeysuckle cover the ravine down to the river this time of year. There was a grouping of established and overgrown bright pink azaleas lining the front area of the house and in our side yard, a line of crepe myrtle trees covered in ivy that creates a touch of privacy between the neighboring house.

To kick start the season, we decided a heavy pruning back on the azaleas would open up the front of the house and lighter maintenance to address the crowded areas on the perimeter trees would create some much needed breathing room.

We’re starting to build our tool collection for the river house, and STIHL gave us an early peek at a new product that will be in wider release later this summer. Their GTA 26 is a battery powered garden pruner to help with light gardening and landscape maintenance around the home.

If a power tool were ever to be described as “cute,” this is it. The size makes it lightweight, a cinch to hold and there’s a lot of power packed within the battery, which makes tougher pruning projects a quick and easy undertaking.

The pruner works like a mini chainsaw and zips right through branches without breaking a sweat. It took all of 15 minutes for Tim to cut back the entire front area of azaleas.

The best time to prune azaleas is when the flowers begin to shrivel after blooming, like ours were here. Because the bushes were overgrown, we cut them all the way back to about 14” as a way to reestablish their growth. Ultimately, we may go with other plantings in this space all together, but are excited to see how these azaleas come back over the next year.

One of our favorite parts about the property are the established trees. We have a combination of hollies and oaks that provide nice shade on hotter days, but with large trees come falling leaves. STIHL's BGA 100 handheld battery blower makes leaf cleanup across the 1.3 acres a quick (and fun!) task. It’s nice not keeping a gas can in the shed and compared to an electric version, the backpack battery Tim uses with it allows for easy navigation throughout the entire property.

It takes a heavier annual blowing to prep for the season around here and the spots along the walk and fence-line with built up leaves from the winter were no match for the boost mode on this blower.

It's also a quick go-to for lighter touch ups as we come and go. Tim’s favorite part? Using the blower to clear off the porch, patio and even areas of the siding in seconds. No more broom!

In less than an hour, the front space, back patio and surrounding yard was cleared & cleaned. In the coming weeks, we’ll be eager to weed the walkways, mulch the beds and have already planted a window box just under the kitchen window to polish things up further.

To wrap up the afternoon’s work, a heavy spray down on the Adirondack chairs was all it took before it was finally time to roll out the hammock, bring out the chaise cushions and call it a day!

The ideas for updating this little space of ours are endless; the peace of mind that annual maintenance is less daunting with the right tools makes it easier to focus on the creative projects we want to take on instead of worrying about the time it takes to care for the property.

Other things we’re excited to update this year include a mini front porch makeover, swapping out plantings on the back patio and creating a fire pit area. Most of all, enjoying the change of pace and the chance to spend time together top the list.

Today's post is in collaboration with STIHL, the world’s biggest selling chainsaw brand known for their craftsmanship and ease of use across a full range of outdoor tools. The images in today's post were captured by our talented friend and photographer, Ali Williamson of Alisandra Photography.

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