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.
Having been a stuck in the house person for so long it was nice to get out and do the work, but remember... endeavor to work smart, not necessarily hard.
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.
Here is a picture of how it came out last year. It was cute, but not quite complete. Hold on, there's more... A LOT MORE.
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).
It's OK to work at it over time.
Part of the mindset in a DIY passion is that to have a true DIY that saves you money and creates a uniquetivity (like my new word?), one must be patient. You can't necessarily get a job done in one day, one week or even one year.
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.
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?
If I can do this, you can too.
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).
UPDATE 2022: The steppable have come back every year as well.
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?
Your front door and entryway are the first thing visitors see when they enter your home. Does it say, "Welcome, I'm glad you're here"?
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.
112 thoughts on “Fab Fall Projects & Blog Hop 2015”
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!
Thanks CD. It’s nice when the tons of work brings so much satisfaction. It certainly makes it all worth it!
Sis – the plant in the picture under the "last thought" hurry and plant it last year is a mum plant. Or did you already know that?
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!
This is a complete transformation, the curb appeal is amazing on the after! I have a black thumb, unfortunately, so I recruited my garden-loving mother to do my landscaping for me! 🙂
Moms are good like that. I bet if you tried it you’d like it and find out you were good at it – it surprised me that I would enjoy doing something like this!
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.
I can’t take credit, it just came back up!
You have worked so hard and it looks absolutely beautiful. You must go out there every day feeling really pleased with what you have achieved. xx
Thanks, Tara. Guilty as charged!
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.
Wow! I say the work was definitely worth it! The landscaping is showing major improvement!
Thanks, Rachel. It has made a huge difference in the look of our house.
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.
Allison, you are so right – it definitely helps to enjoy your project.
it all looks beautifully done ! 😀
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.
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.
Yes, Riva, it’s true. You do change your scope when you take your time and find out more. Plus the fact that you spend a lot of time thinking about it opens up more creativity.
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.
Thanks, Teresa. I have never been able to claim a green thumb. I have little history with plants or flowers, it’s not hard and really, the quality of dirt is what makes the difference.
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.
Thanks, Renee. I do love fall, so if I must give up summer, fall is a good substitute! Thanks for visiting.
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.
Thanks, Sandy. It is satisfying to take a step back and look at your project when it us done. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy the process.
OOOh I love it! It looks great! Good job! And thanks for showing the in process pictures and not just the complete project! I love that.
Thanks, Aly. I love before and afters – they inspire!
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.
Well, that’s the deal, Beth. Each thing we accomplish moves us to keep going. I guess you are handy if you’ve done repair work. Many just hire it out without considering DIY.
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
Yes, Trudie, there is hope! We can learn as we go along. There is still so much I need to learn, but we can accomplish things without having all the intel!
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. 🙂
You did a great job. Just beatiful. I just do not have the patences.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks, Jeremy. It’s easy to put off, isn’t it? So much to do, so little time. But it’s worth it. I just worked a couple of hours whenever I was free, which wasn’t often!
Wow! That's a lot of hard physical work but the results are fantastic. Good work!!! Thank you for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesdays Linky!
What a transformation. Your hard work and effort certainly paid off. Your home is beautiful !!
Love your DYI projects!
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!
Thaks, Meagan. It’s really all about the quality dirt and remembering to water it. It’s easy peasey.
You did a nice job with your new planter bed. I like to try to do things myself too if possible and you choose some really nice plants.
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!
I absolutely love what you did! Good for you! I always have ideas like these, but it's difficult to find the time to do it! 🙂
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!
For sure, Autumn! It is so fun to see the changes and know it was worth the effort.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Geat job Val! You really did a great job. The landscape looks professionally done and I am so jelous. I have those dreams, but implementation challenges me. I has just not come out as dreamed or planned. lol
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!
Wow what a pretty transformation! I never did have a green thumb so it seems like I kill everything I plant… but maybe one day that will change!
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.
I absolutely LOVE everything you did!!!! I am a huge fan of the ladder on your front steps- such a creative and cool idea!
Everything looks so great! Look what a little love a dedication can do! You definitely have a gift!
Thanks, Chicki. I don’t know about the gift part, but it sure was fun to do, well, other than the digging out the rocks part!
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!
Nicole, how about you come help me finish mine and then when we’re done, we’ll do yours?! Ha! Thanks, you can do this – go for it!
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.
Looks so beautiful! I have a black thumb when it comes to things that grow in the ground. But I do love your DIY crafts! Thanks so much for sharing!
Sigh. I have to admit that my front entry says "Livestock, dogs, cats and small children live here. Be careful where you step." Your front step and yard look gorgeous.
Thanks. My back deck says, “Pots, watering cans and dirt, watch your step!” Front is fancy, back is where I live!
Beautiful! What a great looking entry! I'm so motivated to decorate my entry! Thanks!
Great! It’s fun and welcoming – go do it, you’ll be glad you did.
All your hard work paid off!! Looks gorgeous!
I admire your tenacity and perseverance to go after something you want, having to teach yourself. I appreciate the wonderful descriptioins since I'm unable to see the pics. The lamb ear plants sounded interesting since they seem tactile – like something I might enjoy. I'll have to check into that.
Thanks, Jena. I’m encouraging others to DIY, so I’ve got to challenge myself too. I want people to realize there are no limits to what we can learn.
This looks great! I love your "hello fall" sign. Yard work takes a lot of time but definitely adds to the appeal of the house. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks – I saw that sign somewhere but don’t remember where and liked it! It was easy to do. If anyone sees it let me know so I can credit them. There is so much talent out there!
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
How cute! I love this. You did such a great job. I think all your hard work definitely paid off.
You are a rock star! What great work you have done. The after makes the before look almost unrecognizable. Will be following you to see what you tackle next!
Thanks, Maureen. I’m glad you came visiting!
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
Too funny, Cheri. Thanks for coming by!
Your yard is beautiful! 🙂
I love the results. It has so much personality and looks inviting.
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.
Thanks, Katy. It sounds like we have a lot in common. You are right – it is very satisfying to create beautiful areas in and outside of our homes.
You have every reason to flaunt this – what a transformation and how heartening it must be to see the fruits of your labour! You inspire me.
Thanks, Corinne. DIY is very inspiring! I love looking at what others have done.
You did a wonderful job I love the colour of your frontdoor. Ours is very similar. The garden turned out so nicely.
Thanks, Margarita. Our doer is very popular – lots of people have told me they have the same one. Thanks for stopping by.
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 🙂 )
Sure, Renee. Feel free to link up. We are here to help one another.