16 May 2012

DIY: little landscaping details

When you sell a house, you quickly find that all the real estate advice centers on the same idea: clean up. If it’s inside, all clutter should be put away, and the surfaces should be gleaming. If it’s outside, all weeds need to be pulled, all shrubs need to be trimmed, all surfaces should be swept. And cleaning up the outside is almost more important than the inside, because a potential buyer sees the outside first.

So really, you can’t overdo curb appeal when you’re selling a house. It’s the buyer’s first impression. And yes, a spruced-up front door helps, but the landscaping... they see the landscaping even sooner.

As you readers know well by now, I hate even the tiniest landscaping tasks with a trepidation that causes me to slump on the floor and pretend that covering my head and moaning will make all the weeds and bugs magically go away. Marrying Mr. P was a real godsend in that department, as he’s perfectly willing to take on all the outdoor grooming that I loathe. He’d tell you that pushing a self-propelled lawnmower over our tenth of an acre is really not that bad and I’m being overly dramatic about it. But he’s lying. He’s just a martyr like that.

Even though I hate the landscaping, I did want it to look nice when we were preparing the house to sell, for the reasons I said at the beginning of this post. That’s why Mr. P and I spent a lot of time clearing out the overgrowth and pulling weeds from our flower beds a few months ago. Unfortunately, cleaning up meant I could see a few remaining flaws more easily. I preferred, however, to pretend they didn’t exist (see above: slumping, covering head, magically disappearing weeds and bugs) instead of actually doing something about them. Mr. P, however, decided to tackle these few little landscaping projects instead! He’d probably tell you they weren’t even that big a deal, but he’s just resigned to the awfulness of landscaping (see above: martyr).

So here are two all-Mr.-P landscaping projects for you! Did they help sell our house in four days? Well, we can safely say they didn’t hurt.

First was this side bed, which we pruned like crazy a few months ago. Pulling the weeds meant leaving a few bald spots, though, where the uninvited plants had killed off the resident hostas.

I fretted over the bald patches, because they kept being invaded by more weeds but also because patches of dirt are pretty ugly. So, to fill those spots, we turned to this random line of hostas along our back property line:

Originally they were lining a fence that’s since been torn down. So now there’s just a random silly line of hostas, which look especially ridiculous in that photo from March, when they were itty-bitty. They’re a bit bigger now, but definitely not doing any beautiful landscaping work back there.

So, Mr. P moved a few to fill in the bald spots:

Sure, the transplants (transPLANTS GET IT HAHA) are a bit smaller, but they are still alive today. Yay! Better yet, he moved them using a cheap trowel that we bought specifically for this project and broke almost immediately. I wasn’t around to watch how he transplanted this with a broken trowel, but I envision it was moderately reminiscent of the broken saw incident.

Team P: Getting Things Done with Broken Tools™ since 2010.

Mr. P’s second great landscaping project was mulching the front flower beds. Now, please understand: mulch is something that was not even vaguely on my radar until a few weeks ago. Mulch is for fancy grownups, and when it comes to landscaping, I am barely an awkward adolescent. But once we cleaned up the front flower bed in March...

...and I saw all the knobbly roots and patchy dirt, and I wished that there was something I could do to make the dirt more uniform and hide the persistent little weeds and make it look manicured, and... oh. Oh! That’s what mulch does, you guys!

So, Mr. P hauled fifteen bags of this stuff to our house, after some quick calculations for the square footage of our flower beds. In the end, Mr. P only needed ten bags of mulch to cover the two-hundred-plus square foot of flower bed we have in our front yard, which he accomplished with a borrowed shovel (thanks, friends of Mr. P! The broken trowel would have taken forever).

The polished and pretty after is not obvious at all in this cropped listing photo (because yes, of course, I didn’t realize I forgot the after-photo until now and I’m too lazy to go take one):

Yeah... it looks basically the same. In real life, though, it looks so spiffy! So well-cared-for, so neat! I don’t know if Mr. P felt the forty bucks and days of severe backache were worth it, but I thought it looked fantastic, and I’m grateful that he volunteered to do it. Because really, I never would have shoveled mulch into the flower bed myself when there could be so much hiding-under-the-covers-to-avoid-yardwork instead.

So, there’s two projects that made our landscaping look intentional and groomed for minimal cost! If you have bare patches in your landscaping, see if you can’t find a plant around your yard to fill it in. And if not? Mulch is pretty darn cheap to cover that bare patch, too.

We’re in the home stretch (pun MOST CERTAINLY intended) of house-to-market projects, but there are some biggies left to discuss... and oh yeah, the whole actually-closing-the-deal part of selling a house. Which hasn’t happened yet. I’ll keep you posted!


Rachel said...

I should email this to Blair so he can see how willing your husband is to do tedious yard work.