Our house has zero curb appeal. Zero, zilch, none… it pretty much looks like an abandon house surrounded by a gravel pit. Here is a pic from the MLS back in 2008 as proof that I am telling the truth…
Whomever built this house basically dumped white, dusty, limestone gravel over nearly half of our half acre plot. Why, I don’t know. Probably laziness or a lack of funds (there were a lot of other corners cut in the house building process. But that’s another post.) Anyway, the Husband and I decided that it was time to make it look like people live here. Back in 2009 (when I lived in the house while the Husband was in Iraq) I planted flower beds across the front. It took me days with a pick-ax and Texas toothpick to dig out enough stone and gravel to put dirt down to make a flower bed. Flower bed isn’t actually an accurate description, more like a ‘whatever the deer won’t eat’ bed. Point is, those were already there. Our budget goal for this project was $500, though that wasn’t based on anything but a number we pulled out of the air. And we all know how well that method works, right?
The first step was to outline a driveway. For this I strung a rope to make a straight line and started lining it with rocks.
Here is my method…a bucket. and rocks. Oh so cost effective!
“Where did you get all these free rocks” you may be asking. Well, here is our property line piled with rocks that we have pulled out of our yard….actually, calling it a yard is definitely be stretching it, but here it is.
Hmm….not satisfied yet? Well, here is the other side…
So yeah, running out of rocks is never a concern.
We planned to fill the driveway with decomposed granite, and according to the online calculators I needed nearly ten yards….so of course I decided to order five (hey, it was already filled with gravel!). I also needed 12 yards of dirt. If I ordered 200 yards we would have no problem using it, but for this project we decided to do 12 and just concentrate on a small (ish) area. So I start calling soil and stone places and guess what? The first quote came to $658! Well crap, that is already way over our $500 budget. Let me tell you a little about myself. I love to haggle. Give me a salesman and I’ll make him sweat and totally enjoy it. Anyway, I picked three soil and stone places and started working them…long story short I got everything – including tax and delivery- for $370. That still seems expensive…after all, its dirt. If you live somewhere else it comes with the house. Nonetheless, I was still pleased with myself. Here it is all piled up.
Nap time came and I stared to spread it. I quickly realized that it was going to take longer than anticipated.
Two days later it looks like this. Its 20 feet wide and 50 feet long, so plenty big. I’m so excited to have a driveway! Our house is starting to look like somebody loves it!
As the Husband spread the dirt (good man!) my next task was to lay our flagstone path. The front porch sits about five to six inches above the ground, so I decided to make it kinda “rampy” to get rid of the step up.
We picked up about $40 worth of flagstone and I started piecing it together. Can you tell its gonna look awesome? I was on a roll until I ran out of flagstone halfway through and had to spend $38 on more.
Next step (I know, this post covers a lot) was to lay the grass seed. I’m not totally sure that grass seed was a good idea, it’s coming up, but very sparse. Sod would have been instant gratification (and who doesn’t love that) but also would have been about $400-$500 more for our small area. So for the budget lover that I am….seed it was. I hand spread the seed and covered it with bagged manure. I only did a quarter or so of the lawn to make sure it actually came up before committing to the whole thing. Plus it took me three nap times to finish that little area…I was tired, its 100+ degrees outside, and my preggo self didn’t want to spread anymore manure. So I didn’t.
Here is what it looks like now…Such a huge improvement!! Obviously these aren’t true “after” pictures because we still need grass, but it the difference is still amazing!
Here is the before picture again for easy comparison…
Another before picture – taken during the big Texas snow of ’08. The New York part of me was thinking how horribly pathetic this “snow” was…while the Texas in me was more like “OMG…its snowing in Texas..woohoo!”
Now for everyone’s favorite part, the budget breakdown!
Dirt and gravel – $370
Buffalo grass seed – $107
Bagged manure – $30
Total – $585
That’s over our original budget of $500, but I’m totally okay with that…it was a way low guesstimate to begin with. It’s actually going to be higher because I’ll have to buy more grass seed. Oh, and all prices include tax, delivery and shipping fees. Let me know what you think!