A Fall Front Yard & Deck Project You Too Can Do!


NOTE: This post is from 2015. It is now 2022 and looking back, I am so thankful I decided to learn about landscaping and curb appeal. I hope this will encourage you to do the same. 


We bought our house a few years ago and it was in a shambles. The yard looked like it was a backwoods farm that hadn’t been touched in years.

Here are before pictures of our house just before we bought it. It was pretty sad looking.



The front was nondescript with overgrown greenery and stones full of dirt and dried up greenery.

After a year of not addressing the stones in front, tons of weeds took root and made it look even shabbier. 

I did manage to put up the heart my son, Andrew, bought for me years ago. VBG


It All Starts With a Vision

I had a vision of lush green shrubs and flowers gracing the front of our house like those in the Home and Garden magazines.

BUT…I’d never done ANY landscaping E.V.E.R. But a lack of experience should never stop anyone. It doesn’t me because I know I can figure it out.


I must include an actual picture of me working so you don’t think I got my DH to do the work. He had enough on his plate to do this project for me. Besides, I enjoyed doing it – believe it or not.



This was my 2014 summer project that extended to summer 2015 (Mom’s illness/surgery/rehab and stroke took me away).

To start, I dug out the stones in the front and threw them into the driveway. They were so weed infested and dirty that I couldn’t figure out any way to clean them that didn’t involve a rag and 9000 hours of work.

30 years of raising kids tended to keep me tied inside, so the outside adventure was intriguing to me.

After I dug out the rocks, I found plastic.



This is not uncommon, but it’s awfully hard on the dirt below. Dirt prefers to breathe. After first doing some research, I decided to either use landscaping fabric or mulch and compost with nothing beneath. This time I didn’t use the fabric.

I started out with some clean dirt from our local supplier and mulch we got from an auction house. We got it for a good deal because the bags were ripped up and taped.

I added a coconut compost blend from Olsons. We had bought some to fortify our garden, so I used some of it here. Love that stuff!

Even though I didn’t put down landscaping fabric, I had few weeds to contend with.





Sometimes you can hide an awful sight until you can repair it.

As you can see, there was still a lot of work to be done. That awful looking background needed fixing – the foundation coating was falling off every time I touched it, or sneezed. Or looked at it. Or even thought about looking at it.

Once the greenery (and whitery) grew, that space looked much better. I believe in hiding the ugly stuff. Hiding is good. Hiding is less work (though I know my DH will get around to fixing it I must one day fix it). 



If you are truly frugal, you will watch for sales, look for just the right additions to build your site little by little (whether it be a site online or a site in the front of your house), creating your own flavor while saving money. If your walkways need repair, you may need to contact local paving companies Roanoke.

Would I like to snap my fingers and have it all done? Sure. But that doesn’t fit into a frugalista’s goals. To save money, to have a one of a kind personal design and be able to look back on it with pleasure a body must be patient.

UPDATE 2022: Was it worth all the effort and time? It sure was. I’ve enjoyed this little garden for years.



Do you ever look through blogs or magazines and see amazingly gorgeous projects and think to yourself, “Self, I could never do that”? 

I’m hoping to encourage you to go out there and give DIY a try. It really is worth the effort.

Some of what you see was a total surprise to me. I had no idea the three little Lambs Ear plants would grow like crazy. I bought it because it was on sale and the leaves were soft…wait for it…soft as “lambs ears.”

They went from this the first year:



To this the next:



I also cut a lot out because it was growing out of control PLUS dug some out for my daughter’s MIL to take home to Ohio it grew so well.

UPDATE 2022: The Lamb’s Ear is still alive and well, coming back every year.


*Side note: The house across from where I work has a beautiful front yard complete with all the trimmings. It is a sight to behold and obviously done by a professional. The funny thing is…they have about 25 small Lambs Ear plants off to the side. 25! If they had just planted about 8 of them, they would have more than enough to cover the entire area and saved a ton of money! Experience through DIY really is the best teacher.

It wasn’t my talent or special anything that got the job done.

  • I picked up a shovel and put it to use.
  • I walked through many home and garden areas looking for deals.
  • I asked questions.
  • I read about compost and dirt and perennials.
  • I combed through blogs and Pinterest for ideas.
  • I dug and weeded and watered.
  • I asked more questions.



Are there things you wish for?

Do you have projects in your head that are screaming to get out?

You can choose different types of plants that flower or turn colors at different times throughout the summer and fall. I had no idea how or what. You can just jump into it all and learned as you go along. I’m living proof.

Being a newbie to gardening, it was a great surprise to watch my little flower/bush garden change over time. I still have one plant that hasn’t flowered yet and I’m anxious to see what happens. I don’t even remember planting it last year!

It was probably an afterthought. “Oh, I’d better dump this out of my planter into some soil to try and save it for next year.”



Living presents are the best

My boss gave me this plant in May, a Tropic Escape Vining Mandavilla. It’s amazing how it has changed just this past week.



With several days of rain came a burst of flowers I’d not seen all summer.

Good for the gardener and her flowers, not so good for the yard keeper-upper! 



This year I added more plants called steppables (on sale at Menards) and pretty little pink flowers ($3 rebates on $4 plants at Menards), Dusty Millers (on sale at Shopko), Lavender (on sale at Menards) and a plant from my daughter’s back yard (FREE).


Fab Fall Projects & Blog Hop 2015 {Love My DIY Home} Much to my surprise my hibiscus bush ($3 at Shopko on clearance) came up again this year. I was supposed to mulch everything last fall but honestly, I was too involved in my mom’s health situation to care. I wasn’t even sure it was that same Hibiscus plant until it flowered.

The Dusty Millers were labeled as an annual but turned out to be a perennial. Cool, huh? Those came up too for three years straight. 

My basil and a bunch of other herbs grew well this year. Here’s the basil in some hanging baskets – you don’t always have to put flowers in them, right? They smell so good!



Have you figured out that I had NO idea what I was doing when I started this project?

DIY is good like that. You can learn as you go along.



I even found a cute little lantern with lights that change colors at night for $3 at CVS last fall at their end of summer sale. It’s hung on a shepherd’s hook (Clearance sale, $3). OK, I must admit, I bought 8 lanterns, but who’s counting?




My front porch is small, but that doesn’t stop me from working on that too since it is right next to my new little garden. Do you decorate for fall?





My DH painted our front door for me today, just for this picture. Such a good doobie!

UPDATE 2022: Over the years we have worked on our property and enjoyed a lot of success – because I dared to try something new. Our property is so inviting and we truly enjoy it now. Too often we avoid doing something because we have no idea how to do it, or we hire it out. I am challenging you to DIY. It’s not only helpful for the budget, improves our home’s value, but you also get a real sense of accomplishment. Homeowners who are looking to hire concrete contractors Lynchburg may consider calling Sale Concrete Construction, Inc..







112 thoughts on “Fab Fall Projects & Blog Hop 2015”

  1. What an amazing tranformation, Val! Your gardens are beautfiul and I LOVE that you planted your herbs in hanging baskets! What an awesome hubby you have for painting your door!  I'm off to check out all the fall inspiration!! LOVE your porch!

    • Pam, I assumed it was a mum plant because it looks like one – but I thought they were annuals. I didn’t remember planting it there either! I see people toss them out every year, apparentily not knowing they are perennials! Low and behold they are perennials and I’m thrilled mine came back eventhough I didn’t do ANYTHING to protect them through the winter. I bought three mums this year, so those will go in there too. Yay for me!

  2. Wow! You live in Wausau and you got hibiscus to come back up? You must be a master gardener! It looks lovely and it will probably look even better next year.  

  3. Love your improvements; the painted front door is gorgeous.  I love that you did all that landscaping by yourself.  Who needs the pros?  I really like the way you did things little-by-little and made it 'just yours'.  Sorry to read about your Moms illness.  After all that it's really good to get out into nature and get dirty.  Same thing happened to me with my Mom.  My philosophy……lets plant it right here, if it grows too large (or not so good), dig it up and try a different spot.  After a few years of trial & error we end up with something beautiful and a lot of knowledge.  Your Fall porch is very nice.


    • Thanks, Carol. There is something about watching things grow that is such an encouragement. You are right, it just takes time and a little bit of experience to put something together like this. It’s definitely worth the effort.

  4. Wow! What a change! It looks gorgeous! As someone who is not a good outside (or inside) decorative person, I'm really amazed at the changes. And the door! Love that color! I'd hire you to do my landscaping! And I think it's great that you love it and have found something you love to do and can keep at it. 

  5. This looks fantastic! My husband and I have done many, many DIY projects around our house. It's so much fun when you get to the finished results, and it's a great way to spend time together!

    • You are right, Deanna. It is a fun way to spend time together. It used to be I worked on the inside, he worked on the outside. But lately, now that our paths are crossing more, I find it much more fun. I don’t have little ones in my house to keep me there any more, so the outside has become my favorite place to DIY.

  6. I like that you worked on this over time.  It has been my experience that by taking time to complete a project that the scope can change, based on new things we learn or find along the way.

  7. Great job!  What a difference. I wish I had a green thumb like that.  Love what you did with the porch too.  That last picture of the porch looks like it could be in a magazine.

  8. I love DIY! Thank you so much for going through the whole process of what you did. I especially like what you did with your porch! I like how you incorporated so many different things like the chair and chalk board…it all looks really great together. Fall is my favorite time of the year, the weather is great and such beautiful colors. 

  9. You house looks like a home.  You've done a lovely job on the landscaping.  That was one thing that I hated doing when we had a house, but loved the outcome.  It made me feel really accomplished.  

  10. Wow, really impressive work. I've been trying to do repair work around the house in recent years, and I get such an immense sense of satisfaction when I complete a task. I never thought of myself as handy, but I've done a lot of things I never thought I'd even attempt.

  11. Wow Val!!  What a great job!  It is beautiful.  And you say you were not a gardener??  There is hope for me!  Our house looks similar to how your area looked in the begining pictures.  There is hope!  🙂  Thanks for sharing your ideas!  Trudie

  12. Wow! Your yard looks absolutely beautiful!! I've never been good at landscaping, though I have given it a try once or twice. After seeing your before & after pics, though, I think I'll have to give it another try! You have inspired me to try again. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mary. I prefer quick and easy projects and this one may have taken a year to get it to where it is now, but it didn’t take much patience for me. I just worked on it when I got time, which wasn’t often! Even with my crazy busy schedule I was able to eek out a few minutes here and there to work on it.

  13. I LOVE how you did this over time. I always have these visions I want to accomplish in my yard– overnight. Consequently, my yard is s a disaster. Thank you for inspiriring me. Great job and great post!

    • Thanks, Jeanie. I’m the same way – I want it done perfectly and I want it done NOW! But I figured I’ll just chip away at it. Our yard is still a disaster in other areas, but I’ll get it done, eventually. I’m glad you came for a visit.

  14. It looks great! I am looking forward to spending more time in my yard getting things looking better. I started this past spring and have put it off for a while. Thanks for the encouragement. 

  15. Your yard looks so pretty! I have a black thumb, but my husband really enjoys gardening. We are in an apartment now but hope to buy a house once he finishes seminary. I know a big yard is going to be important to him when we buy so he can have a big garden. I love all your money-saving tips and tricks and the fact that you just went for it, not being an expert. You're an inspiration! And your porch looks absolutely adorable!

  16. That is one tremendous transformation! You go girl!

    FYI: lamb's ear will take over the world if you let it. Also, it dries well for wreaths or arrangments and will still be soft after drying. I love that stuff! I could rub on it all day long.

    This was my first visit to your blog and I have to tell you that in addition to the transformation I love your writing style. I'll be back!

    • Thanks, Anne-Marie. My lamb’s ear is definitely wanting to spread out and take over. I’ve cut a lot of it out and gave some away too. I love it. It grows tall too – that part I always cut. I’m glad you came for a visit!

  17. I hope you are in love with your new garden space!  The before and afters really are crazy different and I can tell how much work you put into it.  I love seeing how much your plants grew over the year and I can imagine it took a lot of work to remove all of that previous plastic!

  18. What a beautiful transformation.  I love the idea of fixing up our yard more, just wish it didn't cost so much for the pretty things/plants I'd like to add.  And all the stuff I did buy, the deer ate.  🙂

    • Oh no, Robin! We have deer too, that’s why we have a 6 foot fence around our garden! But for some reason they don’t bother the front garden, knock on wood! I read that if you dump human hair around your plants deer won’t touch it, but who wants hair in their garden? LOL I’m sure there is a solution, keep looking! It’s worth the effort.

  19. I hate to admit it but I do not have  DIY bone in my body so that means I love what you have done and wish that I could recreate something so beautiful also. My mom and sisters all have a green thumb but not me LOL!! again love what you have done 

    • The thing is, Princellar, you could do this. All you need is step by step directions – either find them here on my blog or others or you could YouTube it or search online on a site like Pinterest. It’s not intuitive necessarily – though some are talented in design, but you can merely following the directions of someone who has done it. If you can follow w directions, you can DIY.

  20. This looks great!  I think making the stairs as wide as the porch makes such a huge difference.  And the landscaping is pretty.  Sometimes I research plants before putting them in the garden and someitmes I just like to see what nature does too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Cindy.  I flew by the seat ofmy pants on this one, putting it together as time and money were available. I shop the sales for everything. I do like how nature just beautifies on its own.

  21. I wish I had the skills you do. I don't know the first thing about landscaping. I love how you taught yourself all these skills. It got me thinking maybe I could do something like this. I also like that you showed a photo of yourself doing the work as proof that you did the work!

    • Ah, Shani, you are right! I don’t want to show a project and take credit for it if I didn’t do it! LOL I want EVERYONE to know that DIY isn’t hard, it just takes a little research and an adventuresome spirit! Honestly, it didn’t take any skill. It was easy, just took a little effort and planning.

    • Well, Brian, go do it and realize that dream. I dream a lot and am tired of dreaming and not realizing, so I jump in and make it so! So many years I was stuck doing everything but this type of stuff and now that we are empty nesters I am doing everything – too much actually. I’m so busy!

    • Betsy, I have never thought I had a green thumb. Not much has grown for me over the years. I think the secret is in the dirt – I was pleasantly surprised at how easily things grew in the compost/coconut we bought this year. It was worth the $, for sure.

  22. WOW!! Can you come to my house next!!!  You did an INCREDIBLE job on you landscaping, I am totally impressed.  I, unlike you, am not brave enough to tackle my yard as you did but I wish I was!

  23. Val, I love it! My mother has lamb's ear that came out of my grandmother's yard which she planted a cutting from her childhood home in the early 1900's. It has spread all along the side of my parent's house. It is one of my favorite plants in her garden.

  24. Yes yes yes !!! And the hanging basket idea was amazing. Looks so good !! Love it thx so much for stopping by Welcome Home Wednesdays. Laci @ Sequinsinthesouth.com

  25. The transformation is beautiful. It was definitely worth the time. I've been in my home for 8 years an just purchased a trimmer as the delivery person said in the winter that my bush was begging to be cut 🙂 #NotHandyOutdoors

  26. What a great job! You did amazing at making look completely like you. I love DIY, I love gardening, and I love how each new thing makes it even more special and personal.

    Keep up the good work, you know it makes you feel good.


  27. Hi Val, I first visited your blog through the Blogelina commentathon. My name is Renee and I blog at mendedandblended dot com. I am new at this. My blog is a year old and I am just now able to blog consistently. I am working to build up my blog and get more traffic. I'm writing to ask permission to link to your blog on my blog. On Monday I plan to post Awesome Autumn Activities (or Frugal Fall Fun, I haven't decided yet) for families. I will list my top 10 budget friendly activity ideas for families. One of my ideas is to decorate for fall, and I thought of your post you did on decorating your porch for fall.  I may be a little late in the year for fall activities, but on the other hand, there is a lot of the fall season left.  I may also do a give away (probably crocheted hat and scarf made by a family member). I understand that this may be too last minute for you but if you have time, check out my blog over the weekend and let me know what you think. Thank you so much! Renee (I tried to contact you throught email but the email would not go through 🙂 )


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Love My DIY Home