Being a homeowner is a big responsibility, and while there's plenty to take care of inside you home, don't forget about the outside, either. If you've ever looked into the cost of hiring a professional landscaper, you know they're not cheap. Fortunately, there are a slew of inexpensive and affordable DIY landscaping ideas at your disposal, so long as you're willing to get your hands a little dirty. From the front yard to the back, barbeque pits to bistro lights, here are 59 ways you can affordably improve your outdoor space.
"I'm so excited for yard care season to begin!"
- Nobody, never
That is, until me, today! I got to try out Milwaukee's M18 cordless string trimmer kit (which is waaaay more than just a weed whacker - read on for that), and it has me itching to go out and get my yard whipped into shape. In fact, I got so carried away testing out these new tools, that I've been putting off writing up this blog post all morning! Read on to see what I'm so psyched about, and how you can win the same toolkit for yourself!
Photo: Rachel Jacks
Spring and summer is growing season, but that also means it's time to trim your yard. Trees, bushes, and shrubs need to be kept in shape, and to do that, it really helps to have sharp tools. It's faster and easier to cut with a sharp blade, plus it's better for the plant. In just a few minutes, you can actually sharpen garden tools yourself.
Yard work is hard enough without trying to do it with dull tools...
We recently celebrated our 5th anniversary in the Curbly House, and along with the pomp and circumstance (I'm kidding; as much as we love our house, we don't celebrate home anniversaries ... but maybe that's my new million dollar idea!), we've been busy doing a series of updates indoors and out. We've refreshed the paint, swapped out artwork, done some light landscaping, and made the house work better for our...
Summer has ended, school has started, and we are racing towards the finish line on the Curbly House 2017 project. Here's a quick update on what's going on:
Here's a quick weekend project that can turn an outdoor space into a private, leafy retreat. It uses beautiful, weather-resistant cedar wood, but avoids the cost of expensive cedar lumber. Instead, I bought more affordable cedar fence pickets, smoothed the rough surface, and created the same look for less! Then I finished off the whole project with a coat of SuperDeck® Exterior Oil-Based Transparent Stain. Here's how you can make one too.
My parents basically live in their backyard. It's large and lovely, with carefully tended flower gardens, enviable vegetable beds, and fruit trees galore. It's a take-your-breath-away kind of space you'd never expect when you look at their quiet suburban street. But when you enter the backyard, you feel the magic.
One of the last items on their landscaping to-do list was to add a water feature. Last summer my dad built a three-season gazebo (they lovingly call it the "tea house", a reference to the Japanese tea house it's modeled after). And they've been slowly plugging away at pages and pages of garden plans. Those plans have always had a space marked 'pond', but the initial bids they received for putting one in seemed crazy (one was over $15,000!). So, Bruno and I offered to help them make their pond dreams a reality buy DIY-ing one with the help of a pond building components from smartpond.
Here's the thing: a backyard pond is an extremely DIY-able project, and the cost doesn't even approach quintuple digits. Sure, you can make it as fancy as you want, but at the end of the day, the hardest part is just digging the hole in the ground. The smartpond product line carries everything you need to get your pond started: a lightweight, puncture-resistant reinforced-mesh liner, a professional-grade pump, tubing, filtration, and even lights.
Here's how we helped my parents build a backyard water feature that really adds the finishing touch to their amazing outdoor experience:
Thinking of DIYing your own pond? Here are some of the benefits:
1. The sound! The sound of rippling water will soothe your soul. This was a top priority for my parents and the reason they placed it in close proximity to the gazebo.
2. They're beautiful! A pond adds visual interest to any yard. It helps break up gardens and adds dimension and texture. The rocks and stones that line the pond reflect strength and weight, offering a beautiful balance to the delicate greenery that surrounds.
3. They're easy to care for! Aside from periodically cleaning the pump (a straightforward process), there's really not much to do. You never have to mow or weed a pond! They can also help you take care of wasted space issues in the yard. If you have a patch of yard where nothing grows, or an awkward section of yard that you want to hide, a pond is a gorgeous solution.
4. They're great for wildlife. You can choose to add fish to your pond, but even if you don't, the water will be a haven for birds, frogs, dragonflies and other small creatures.
Mark out the location of your water feature. We used stakes and spray paint, but you can use any method that works for you (a garden hose, string, etc.)
Start digging! The depth of the hole you'll dig depends a bit on your preferences. If you'll be adding a fountain or waterfall, you'll need to be sure you create enough of a water reservoir for the pump to operate efficiently. A common error is building the pond too small, or too shallow. Generally speaking, it's better to err on the side of greater depth. We might have gone a little overboard, digging ours 2.5 feet deep, but we knew we'd be building a cool fountain, and we wanted to make sure the pump had plenty of water to move through it.
Level the pond hole, and level the edges of the pond. Use some of the excavated dirt to build up the edges so that they're higher than the surrounding area. Pack everything down (using a tamper or by just walking around on it). Next, add a two-inch-thick layer of leveling sand (basically playground sand) to the bottom of the pond. This will level the base and provide some added protection for the pond liner.
Install the pond liner. This is easy! Just cut it to size (make sure to leave some extra), and lay it in the hole. You can hold it down around the edges with rocks.
Here's where our pond gets a little more complicated than the usual one. If you're just building a simple pond, you can probably skip this step. We added a platform built out of cinder blocks and rigid plastic garden edging. Here's why: we wanted to build a stacked stone fountain protruding from the middle of the water feature, and that fountain would require a big water reservoir to draw from. But we wanted the pond itself to be quite shallow and filled with river rocks. So, to avoid having to fill the entire 2.5-foot-deep hole with rocks, we created a 'faux-bottom' for the river rocks to sit on. Beneath the platform, there's lots of water to power the fountain.
Add stones to the pond. In most cases, this means adding aesthetically-pleasing rocks and stones to the pond and the edges of the pond to hide the liner and integrate the whole water feature with its surroundings.
In our case, we first had to build our fountain! So we dry-stacked New York Bluestone stones into a cylinder, with a copper pipe running up the center. To top it off, we had a local stone cutter fabricate a 39-inch diameter capstone out of another slab of bluestone. The water runs up the middle of the cylinder and out over the capstone, and then down the sides.
Mind you: this was just an additional step my parents wanted to take (and were happy to pay extra for). If you wanted to complete a project like this without using the capstone, you could simply continue arranging stones to top off the cylinder, or, better yet, use one of smartpond's fountain nozzles to spread the water out over the edges.
Add the lights, fill the pond, and turn on the pump!
Here's how it turned out:
This post is sponsored by smartpond. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Curbly possible (or, should I say, "pond-sible"?). Sorry.
Have you looked outside lately and seen your neighbors getting their yards ready and wondered what you should be doing? The spring is good time for a yard clean up and its needed to accomplish a beautiful yard. Here are some easy steps to help you.
Sure, you could throw a few plants in a pot and call it a day - or you could take it a step further and make your backyard landscape truly unique. Here are some super unusual ideas that are sure to get your creative wheels turning.
The grass is always greener... when there is none? There are tons of ways to landscape without the green giant and we've rounded up eleven of them right here! From flowers to gravel to stained concrete, you might just want to say buh-bye to that large water bill.
The Curbly House has come a long way since we bought it two years ago. From major construction to a whirlwind makeover with the ever-talented Emily Henderson, the interior of the house has been showered with love. But, the outside, not so much.
This spring, we committed ourselves to begin the process of prettying up the outside of our house and creating some much needed curb appeal. While we have a long road ahead that includes having the...
Pavers, plants and ponds, oh my! 'Tis landscaping season in Curblyland. If you have a vision of a backyard oasis dancing in your head but need a little inspirational push to start digging in, here are five fabulous before and afters to prime the pump.
We start with a project from Visionscapes Northwest. The backyard of this property looks all too familiar. It WAS bland and barren, but take a look at it now:
I spent the last three weeks digging, hauling, cutting, and oftentimes cursing our backyard into shape with a new patio and walkway. In this installment of the series, I get started on the actual demolition and construction. Come follow my progress on the HouseLogic.com blog!
PLUS: HouseLogic is giving away a $100 gift card to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment on my guest post (hurry, you have until Thursday, June 30th at 11:59 pm central time to enter!).
Click play to watch a timelapse of our patio and walkway coming together:
If you're looking for more outdoor inspiration, here's a collection of garden makeovers that's nothing short of spectacular!
It's 95 degrees today and all I can think about is retreating to a lush garden with a cold drink and a good book. If that garden happens to have a pool, all the better. Instead, the reality of my yard is a rectangle of semi-alive grass surrounded by vinyl fencing. It's boring and drab, but after drooling over these modern gardens, I'm starting to see some serious potential. If your yard is in a similar state, it's time to hop on board the inspiration train! Here are over 20 modern gardens that are sure to delight the eye and get those creative juices flowing.
As you may know, I recently re-did our backyward walkway, taking out (what felt like) a ton of concrete, and replacing it with paver stones (here's the blog post series on that, if you'd like to follow along).
As a little side project, we had to figure out what to do with all the leftover concrete. We had a pile of it that was about 3 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall, in assorted shapes and sizes, behind the garage. Of course, we could've...
The landscaping around my house – if you could even call it that – has been the aspect of my home I'm least proud of. And the reasoning is simple, my modern tastes can make things really expensive really fast. But with a little elbow grease, these DIY concrete planters just might be the start of something wonderful for my home's curb appeal!
We didn't understand the full social significance of mulch when we moved to suburbia many years ago. Now we get it, those in full control of their lives have mulch delivered and spread every spring and fall. Never did I think I'd say " I want what she's having", as in the dark, hardwood mulch.
Most people think having a swimming pool in the backyard is a treat. WRONG!! Every year I add up how much money we literally pour into our pool and think, "Fill it in!" This California homeowner decided to give up the whole shebang and opted for a socially, swingin' bocce ball court, fire pit and beautifully landscaped pathways.
Check out the cleaned out yard and the new party plaza.
The new year begins with a new offering from HGTV. The Outdoor Room With Jamie Durie premiers on January 1 and it just might be worth a slot on the DVR. If you haven't heard of Jamie Durie, he's a hunky landscape 'artist' from Australia with impeccable taste. Jamie's clients have included A-list celebs and 5-star hotels. He gather's inspiration from around the world to create his designs. For instance, with Jamie's help the back yard pictured above went from dust bowl to Sonoman paradise. This is what it looks like now: