Adding Curb Appeal: Plantings
Nothing will add more curb appeal to the front of your home than plants.
A house without grass and foundation plantings just looks rather sad and neglected.
Like it’s been forgotten, really.
When we moved in to this 1940’s bungalow, we had a packed dirt yard, two stumps in the front foundation bed, and some really huge, overgrown trees.
The owner told us that “this isn’t the kind of yard you spend money on.”
Really?! I can’t think of another yard that more desperately needed money spent on it. It was a dirt pile, or a giant mud puddle, depending on the weather. The only plants that looked remotely alive were the ridiculously overgrown holly around the porch.
This summer, I decided to address the front yard, and the curb appeal of my house. The side and back yards are projects for another time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that.
In case you missed the other riveting posts in this curb appeal series, this is what we started with: pink trim and a dirt yard, and ugly holly tree-shrubs. We moved in October, so I had to put up with this for a while, but Spring finally came.
The first thing I did was plant grass.
Yards need grass. It’s pretty, it’s soft, it’s not mud and dirt.
And the grass came up, as grass does when it’s given a little bit of love and attention.
And water. And fertilizer. And more water.
I posted this picture about a 10 days after I planted it. I was so excited to see those baby blades of grass all over the yard!
It's been about 6 weeks now, and we have a pretty decent start on a front lawn. We're battling crab grass and a few bare spots,buy got yhr most part, the grass-planting was a big step in the quest for curb appeal.
We’ve moved from the “possibly abandoned” look to the “definitely a rental” look
It looks like someone lives here; grass is growing, yard is mowed, cars in the drive. But it also looks like we don’t plan on staying for too long.
In reality, we plan on being here for another 3-4 years. After our last child graduates college, we’ll purchase another home, but for now renting suits us just fine.
I just don’t want the house I’m living in to look like a rental.
It’s time for this lawn to get a little love
As renters, it would be foolish to spend a ton of money on a home and yard we don’t really own. So, I’m not spending a ton of money. My budget for installing the beds and the plants for the front yard is $100 or less.
I have friends. With yards, and plants. I asked for starts of the plants I was wanting. I got cannas from Karen, liriope from Paige. Moneywort from my new neighbor. I found wild wandering jew growing in a shady corner in the back. And I had brought a few plants with me from our last house, and stuck them in the dirt in the back corner of the yard.
So I cleared a bed next to my sidewalk, where it’s so shady that the grass has been struggling to grow. Now, I love digging in the dirt, and taking care of my plants. But I gotta tell ya that digging out Oklahoma clay in August is just not real high on my list of fun things to do. After a good two hours, this was where I was at: just starting to put in the metal edging.
But finally, the edging was in, the weed-block was laid, and six bags of mulch was poured and raked, and I had a foundation bed. Halle-freakin’-lujah, its been 10 months in the planning, and roughly 6 weeks in the execution, but I finally have a real lawn, and real plants, in a real bed, with real curb appeal. Woohoo! Three neighbors, and my largely oblivious daughter, all stopped to comment on how great it looks.
The Front Yard Reveal
If you’re thinking this is going to be something straight off of “Yard Crashers,” you’re in for a bit of a dissappointment.
We’re renters, remember?
This purple fountain grass was my splurge in the project. I already had the empty pot, and the grass and the potting soil was $26, over a quarter of my budget.
I wanted something with some height to keep the light post company. It is a very tall fixture in a very flat yard. Now it doesn’t look so lonely, and the potted grass makes this bed full of baby plants look more finished.
This grass is also opposite my early 1800’s push plow, and at least in my mind, helps add some symmetry to the sidewalk entrance. But that may just be the OCD talkin’.
My sidewalk is pretty short, and curves from the driveway to the front porch steps. This creates a really tiny little spot next to the steps that needed something. I decided to put my plow there. Orginally, I tried the plow in the front bed, but it was forever falling over.And without something behind it, it wasn’t really that noticable. Now it has the brick behind it, and is shows up very nicely. It can also lean against the wall, so it won’t be falling down all the time. I planted cannas, moneywort, and a tiny volunteer Nandina that I got off the shrubs in the back yard. There is also a starter of umbrella grass that will grow to 3 or 4 feet tall next year, after it has established itself.
You can’t be a gardener without a little patience. All plants will grow with time and attention, so my tiny plants will look better next season. I always use perennials that come back year after year, and this little ditty is what I tell myself while I’m waiting for them to be spectacular:
The first year, they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap.
Sometimes you get lucky and they take off way sooner, but most plants need time to grow. Yet even with the baby plants, I am thrilled with how much better the front of the house looks.
As for the budget, I did good! The metal edging was $30. The mulch was $21, and my fountain grass and potting soil was $26. So I spent $77. I still need to buy 3 shrubs for the bed in front of the porch, but I need to wait until fall to plant them. A local nursery routinely has quart shrub for $7, so I they will cost me $21. This puts my total spend for the front bed and plants at $98, for a front entrance that looks like a million bucks! Yay me.
Here is the big view before and after. Do you think we’ve amped up the curb appeal of this home? Let me know what you think!!