Curb Appeal

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…
…and after!
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
Flagstone -$78
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!

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  1. Ashley it looks amazing!!! I really really need to learn how to haggle! You did a great job!

  2. WOW GIRL!!!! What a great job!!! It looks SO awesome!!

  3. Ahhh!! I'm loving it! You guys have done such an awesome job! It looks a million times better already!

  4. It looks great!! Would you like to come do my yard next??? :)

  5. This looks just Texas fabulous. And then I looked at your blogger profile and voila! you're from Texas. So that must be why it is indeed such a fabulous makeover. That's a lot of work girl! It rocks! OK, so I think I'm going to start a category of Texas blogs on my link list. Sound good to you? Let me know what Texas bloggers you follow. I only have a handful (including yours).

  6. wow! Great job! It's looking awesome :)

  7. Looks great. Wow, that was a lot of work! I don't know that I would have been brave enough to take it on, but you really worked it. :)

  8. That looks SO much better!!! We've been looking into getting some flagstone… after seeing yours now I'm more excited! :) Stopping by from Somewhat Simple.

  9. I love the lines of your house, and you did an awesome job on the landscaping!

  10. Your house is so pretty and your new curb appeal is looks great. It is a lot of work. Thank your husband for his service for me. Thank you for your service as well!

  11. I am just reminding everyone about tonights link party that runs Friday evening through Mondays!
    I also have an ongoing give away link party now too.
    Hope to see you soon.
    come strut your stuff

  12. Very big improvement! I can relate to house things that builders/previous owners do that leave you scratching your head. You have certainly done well with what you have though! WTG!

    Popping over from 504 Main!

  13. Fabulous transformation! xoxo, tracie Popping over to say hello for the “Blog Party”! i host a garden party on Thursday's & would love to have you come by to peek around or even link up?!? hope to see you sometime! xoox, tracie

  14. Wow! Are you wonder woman? 100degrees? heavy stuff and pregnant? I was bedridden the last 2 months so I can't even imagine doing all of that. Our yard had tons of rocks when we started our front yard project. They are free rocks at a price (sore back). We put them around the yard in different flower beds. Your yard is going to be gorgeous when the grass grows in.

  15. Wow! This is a great transformation! Loved your space it is cute.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)

  16. Hi,
    I am follower number 11. You did a great job.
    Looked at your laundry room too, looking good.

  17. this looks fantastic!!! I love it! I'm going to feature it on my blog this week, thanks for linking it up to our Wicked Awesome Wed party. I can't believe all that work you did…in the heat! during naptime. and preggo!!

  18. I featured your yard project on our Wicked Awesome Wed blog party this week. Come on over and pick up an “I've been Featured” button if you'd like!

  19. The Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop has grown for the better because of your participation. Thanks for linking up this great post! :)

  20. That looks great! The flagstone actually looks like it's been there forever, so great job! And doing all that while pregnant?? You rock! Ha! Punny =) Sorry, couldn't help myself.

  21. Wow! Such a great makeover! It looks great!!
    Thank you so much for linking it up to {nifty thrifty sunday} last week!
    Hope to see more of your creativity tonight! :)

  22. That looks amazing! Your hard work really paid off, that is awesome!

    Your newest follower,

  23. It looks a LOT better! Great job!

  24. It looks great! I was already pretty impressed, and then when I read you were pregnant while doing all this, I was even more so. It is so satisfying when it is all done and it looks so much better!

  25. All you hard work was so worth it! It looks amazing!

  26. Amazing transformation! You have vision! Found your link over on Centsational Girl today…


  27. Wow Ashley! Super amazing! And hats off to you for getting it done while pregnant. The only thing I was up for when I was pregnant was laying on the couch and eating Doritos!

  28. Looks great! I feel your pain about the cost of dirt (“soil”…doesn't that sound fancier?). I recently spent about $2,000 on 48 yards of soil and compost to take my yard from a very similar state as your “before.” The result? This.

  29. What a fabulous makeover. I love the way you used the rocks you already had on your property. There is nothing better than free.
    Thanks for sharing,

  30. That looks so much better! I can't believe you did all that when you were pregnant (I didn't do anything while I was pregnant…)

    I know how much work this is because we did our large backyard last summer for our wedding, and put in a flagstone patio and two ponds with a flagstone waterfall. It looks great, and feels amazing because we did it ourselves. So, congratulations!

  31. Wow!!! This looks GREAT!!!
    emily hone recently is now!My Profile

  32. I was just looking at buying new grass seed called “Buffalo grass”. It supposedly only grows to reach height of 6″… so you don’t have to mow it more than once in the spring and once in the fall (to help remove some of the thatch). Is this the same as your buffalo grass? If so, how do you like it?

    • Yup, one and the same. I have the ‘cody’ variety, I bought it here… The buffalo grass would be great and all the stuff you mentioned is totally true. However….ours is doing terrible. It came up okay (after I had a few trial and errors) but I can’t seem to keep it alive. I think it’s because we have sandy soil, and after doing plenty of research I learned that sandy soil and buffalo grass don’t mix. Our front yard is mostly a dirt yard :) I had the best luck with the seeds coming up if I first soaked then in water for a day or so, then sprinkled them over the yard, put a little dirt on top and covered them with something that would stay moist (like newspaper, cardboard, or mulch). Good luck!

  33. Ok, I know this is an old post but I gotta know whether the flagstone laying part of the project was fairly easy? I have a not-so-handy-man hubby who needs to do this for our walkway (which will probably be half the size of yours) but we have no idea what we’re doing. Dumb question, did you just lay it and throw dirt around it? Do you use something to secure the stone to the ground so it doesn’t “wiggle” when you walk on it? Yeah, can you tell I’m a novice here? Thanks!

    • It was actually very easy, I did it all myself (while pregnant). What I did was spread out some dirt where the walkway was going to go, them I placed the flagstone on top and messed with it (like a puzzle) until I liked what I had. Then I pushed and wiggled them into the dirt so that they were level and wouldn’t wiggle when I stepped on them. Then I spread my crushed granite over it and brushed it all into the cracks, watered it, and repeated until it was all level. It’s been there for almost two years and we haven’t had any problems. Good luck!

  34. Looks great! Very time consuming, but well worth the effort. Awesome job!
    The area looks like you have room to spread out and have a nice garden too… neighbors aren’t too close, that’s what I like about it :)

  35. Wow, I happened upon your blog through pinterest and I MUST thank you. We are currently looking to buy a home in an area 30 minutes south of DC. Expensive! Anyways, my husband had it in his brain that we had to buy an already refinished home. He can’t see the potential in a home. I showed him some of your DIY before and afters and he is now up to look at some substantially cheaper homes to fix up! Yay!!!! Also your home is lovely!

    • That’s awesome news! Are you looking near Alexandria? That is pricey! You know, I used to be a real estate agent and I can tell you that your husband is in the majority…I had lots of buyers that would rule out a house just because they didn’t like the color paint on the wall. Craaazy. I’m glad your husband found his vision and I’m always happy to help people save money! Plus, now you get to enjoy the process of making a home into something you love!

      • We are looking more towards Quantico/Stafford area. My husbands a Marine. AND YES it is pricey!!! I am really glad he found his vision too but now I am finding that his vision is slightly different than mine. Oh well we will have fun meshing his very military clean line style with my country rustic style. Maybe?!

  36. It is really great to see projects like this come together. Sometimes its landscape, sometimes its just clearing out clutter. And sometimes you need to get someone out to paint the whole house. I see in the pictures that it isn’t a huge issue for you (being in a dry climate helps).

    Good on you for taking on such a huge task, and I (having just come from the green grass post) hope your grass lives for a long while.
    Albert recently posted..5 Simple Steps to Paint Your CeilingMy Profile

  37. WOW! What a transformation. I love the little walkway so much. Thank you for sharing this!

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