How to Add Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home...Yourself

One of the best perks of buying a new construction home is also the most daunting...it is literally a blank slate. I love reading other blogs and websites for inspiration but sometimes I begin to feel that Before and Afters are only awe-inspiring when the before is truly heinous. Of course a hunter green kitchen from the '80s will look 10 times better with a coat of white paint. However, a new but plain kitchen just doesn't have that same magic After effect when painted. Know what I mean? Probably not, I'm rambling.

The exterior of our home is what I refer to as pleasant. It's not offensive, nor is it memorable. Being a new construction house, the landscaping is minimal non-existent. We began the process of adding curb appeal last Summer with the addition of our DIY retaining wall, which I still love by the way, as well as adding carriage door trim to our garage. However, we knew that was only the beginning in this much-needed makeover.

Since Spring finally sprung in the Mid-west, we did our usual Spring-ifying the past few weeks; fresh mulch was layed, pretty flowers planted and windows washed.

We then decided to add some spunk to our side yard. Being on a corner lot, a large view of our house by people driving down the street is from the side. Let's just say it wasn't pretty or welcoming-

Our DIY Side Yard Makeover Steps

1. Ask your city to mark gas lines on your property. This is literally the first step and the most important. Do not start digging before you have the green light. We were lucky and the city came out two hours after we called. If you are planning to tackle some landscaping over the weekend, call the city on Monday. Hopefully, they will have someone out to your house by Friday. 
Justin had already started digging at this point, but you can see the yellow spray paint from the city.

2. Once your area has been marked, make your plan. Like we did last year with our DIY retaining wall, we used a garden hose to mark the area. Once we found the placement that worked the best, Justin started the most daunting task of the entire project...clearing the grass. 
Unfortunately, our yard is not perfectly smooth. Most people's aren't. It is very important that you get the area as level as possible, especially if you plan on stacking landscape stone/brick. If it is un-level, your retaining wall will be off and risks toppling over. 

3. Lay your accent stone and double check it's level. 
This is the most tedious part. Justin literally went stone by stone to ensure each piece was level. The good news is that once your bottom row of accent stone is laid, you don't have to worry about the additional rows/layers. 

4. Lay your landscape fabric  or newspaper to prevent weeds from growing.

5. Plant your shrubs/trees/flowers.

6. Cover with mulch

7. Admire your work

8. Finally, follow directions for your new bushes/flowers. Our bushes called for daily watering the first week they were planted, than watering 2-3 times per week. You worked hard and want it to flourish, so don't forget to tend to your bushes/plants after they are planted.

Exterior Upgrade: Shutters
We also finally got around to doing something I have wanted to do ever since I moved in...6 years ago, which is adding shutters. Justin thought I was crazy when I ordered these shutters from Home Depot in black, but I went with my gut. Now that they are up, we both are happy with the black color.

I admit I was scared to death to have my husband get up on a ladder with a drill to install these.
The shutters above our garage? Just call me Nervous Nelly. I was at the base of the ladder literally praying for Justin's safety the whole time. Luckily, he got them up without too much trouble and made it down safely.

Before Pic: June 2010
Current Pic: June 2014
Feels good to check off a few more items from our to-do list and to finally have tackled a project that we both put off for years.

Do you have any landscape projects this Summer? Share your pics with me at suburbanspunk@gmail.com

xoxo, Suzanne

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Comments from my sweet readers make my day! You can always email me at scsa25@gmail.com if you prefer as well. love, S