Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The $50 landscape

I spent most of the weekend working in the yard. I do all my gardening in April and May, before it's too hot, so I have to make good use of my time. Since this is our third fixer-upper house, we've learned a thing or two.

One thing we've learned is that nice landscaping increases the value of your home. Depending on the source you read, an investment in landscaping can increase the value of your home from 15 to 20 percent.

Which is good, because I love working in the yard. The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends this:
One rule of thumb is to invest 5 to 10 percent of your house’s worth. If this seems steep, consider that appropriate landscape improvements are estimated to return 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold.
Of course, they are trying to keep themselves employed, so take that for what it's worth.

I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of cash just lying around. But I want my house to look great. So I came up with what I call my $50 landscape. We put our landscape beds in in stages, when we had the money, spending about $50 at a time. After five years in our home, we are now done with the "skeleton" of our flowerbeds, and now I just get to do fun stuff!

Here's the "before" pic, in 2001. A nice, boring row of boxwoods:
Since the giant hedge was in good shape (no huge gaping holes), and it was too expensive to take it out, we decided to keep the shrubs as a backdrop for more interesting plants.

I studied free landscape plans online from places like Better Homes and Gardens
to see what would grow here, which ones were the right size so I wouldn't have to be trimming them all the time, and how to arrange the plants so they looked good.

The first thing we did was put rock around the whole bed, extending it out in curves by several feet so we could put other shrubs and plants in front of the boxwoods (the "layered" look!). This was the only time we spent more than $50 at a time, because we wanted all the rock to be from the same "batch." I think we did our whole front yard for $200 (and our house is very wide).

The rock sat for several months with nothing in the beds but the hedge. Then, $50 at a time, I put in a few more shrubs (and perennials split off from friends and neighbors) in groups, starting with a few around the front door and working my way outward, to the less-trafficked areas of the house.

Through this I realized that $50 worth is about all a mom with a bunch of kids can reasonably expect to put in in one weekend. Some groups of plants are $10 groups, depending on how much money/time I have! If I make a mistake, I just dig it up and move a plant like furniture. So fun!!

Here's 2003.

And 2005, after I whacked the hedges in a fit of rage inspiration:
Now, in 2007, the shrubs are full-grown. Obviously, our grass is just now coming in, but I think the house looks so much more inviting than it did five years ago. And we didn't have to break the bank to do it, either. Hmm, I wonder if we've increased our home's value by 20%? I don't really care - I just enjoy the work in progress!


Unknown said...

That looks nice. I am not motivated in the landscaping area. My husband wants it to look nice, but he's not really motivated either. So. . . . We are going to start some work now that the weather is nice.

Wendy said...

Great job, it looks really good! I love looking at BH&G too, so many good ideas for inside and outside.

Laura said...

Wow, I'm more impressed that you enjoyed doing it...uggg. I hate gardening but I think it might be because I hate to get my hands dirty...lol.

Your beds do look great against the hedge. Well done :)


Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Thanks for sharing this. We are in a new home with no landscaping at all. We are just now trying to get some grass to grow and I wasn't sure how we would ever get the money to put in plants and shrubs. You have inspired me and given me a great idea to only do what $50 can buy at a time. Now, I just have to figure out how to begin.

Beckyb said...

It looks great - you have put lots of work into it AND I'm sure you've increased your value!!! :)

Susanne said...

I hate gardening but love the look. I was just telling hubby our front is ugly and boring and we need to do something. But I have no idea what to do. Why don't you come over for coffee/tea, milkshake? and help me out! I'll even get something chocolate.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

Well after reading this I just think you are even more like the proverbs 31 woman:) It might not be a vineyard, but it's close:)

Anonymous said...

So gorgeous! I love how you did it in such small increments. So motivational. Thanks for sharing.

Robin Green said...

Your yard does look great--we take that approach as well. We are planting a crepe myrtle this year--and other than some annuals--that will be it.

Barb said...

I don't know how much it actually increased your home's value, but I'd definitely be more eager to buy the "after" home. What a huge difference the landscaping made. And what a smart way to do it.

Jenn @ Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land said...

I love the step-by-step! Thank you so much! Once we get into our house, I can't wait to dirty my hands in the soil. We've been going to local nurseries and daydreaming about our yard. =) You gave me some wonderful ideas!

Qtpies7 said...

You've done a great job! I don't touch plants or they die. We thankfully got a home with a fully landscaped yard, and it just keeps coming up and I do nothing. Very easy!

Rachel Anne said...

You inspire me (again!) I linked to you tonight.

Kim said...

What a gorgeous yard! It looks wonderful--good job!


Anonymous said...

How beautiful! You are a P31 woman if I have ever seen one.

Thanks for sharing your life.


Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

It does look so inviting! Great job - for both the hard work, and enjoying it, too! :)

Andrea said...

I like to start small with my yard.