Making That Curb Appeal More Appealing
Oh hey, remember me? Apologies for the radio silence, we had a bit of a family emergency at the start of the New Year, and are honestly just now getting back on our feet again. In the meantime we've been slowly working on our little bungalow whenever we get a chance. And with summer officially starting this week, what better time to share with your our landscaping bonanza?
I call it a bonanza because I went into the project with the following range of emotions "how hard can it be?" "why did we wait until it's 100 out to start this project?" "I'm so excited to finally have a decent curb appeal" "bags of dirt are SO heavy" "you can get fitbit steps for tilling soil? Let's do this!". You get the idea. So just as a little refresher, this was the current state of our curb appeal.
Before getting started we knew this:
- We live in San Antonio, and it rarely rains so we need drought tolerant plants.
- We wanted a minimalist aesthetic with low maintenance.
- We hate unruly rose bushes.
- We wanted to stand out on our block.
We sketched out a few ideas. Naturally.
We decided to have a large planter bed on each side of the sidewalk with crushed limestone as the filler. Each bed would include a rectangular cedar planter framed in angle iron along with some round metal planters in varying heights. Derek designed all of the planters and built them in our shop. For the round planters,he picked up some 1/4" thick 20" diameter steel pipes from our local metal salvage yard and cut them in random sizes so that we could stagger them and add a little height to the overall look. Each cut took about 45 minutes. Phew!
We picked up some metal edging from Lowe's to block out each area that would be receiving the crushed limestone. These will eventually be replaced with 6" plate steel considering the standard garden edging isn't really holding up like we hoped it would. Inside each "bed" we manually tilled up the soil to essentially kill any grass, weeds, rose bushes, etc.
This. Was. So. Hard.
Once the soil was tilled and our arms were about to fall off, we laid down sheets of weed block followed by a thick layer of sand. This would suffocate anything from trying to grow other than where we wanted it to. We raked the sand and stomped on it it so that it was nice and compact. I mean you can see that weeds are literally growing through our porch steps, so we knew how stubborn these suckers would be.
We ordered a cubic yard of crushed limestone from Keller Material who delivered it first thing in the morning in the cutest little dump truck. I'm sure our neighbors hated us that day. They poured it all in our drive way and we shoveled it and wheelbarrowed it into place.
This. Was. Also. Really. Hard.
I should also remind you that it was literally 100 degrees out when we decided to tackle this project. See those two little Nalgenes on the porch? Hydration is key.
We started placing some of the round planters first and played with them a bit until we were happy with the look.
Then we brought in the large cedar planters and placed them in each bed. We also picked up some 18" pavers from Home Depot to connect our driveway to our sidewalk. This required more tilling, leveling, and sand. Who needs to workout when they can just haul pavers all day? Yikes.
That was all day one. Day two was plant day! We went to a couple nurseries around town and looked at the different drought tolerant plant options, asked all of the necessary questions, and then made a game plan. I did a quick sketch laying out what types of plants would be going where. It was sort of like a plant shopping list. The types of plants we had planned to get were a little expensive, so I wanted to make sure we didn't go overboard, and only stuck to the list.
While our plants started out small, we wanted them to eventually root into the ground. Since we had just completely blocked off the soil with our weed block and sand, we cut slits into the areas that would be under each plant. That way weeds and grass would still be blocked from growing, and our plants would be able to root as deep as their little hearts desired.
We also filled each planter with extra bricks we had lying around so that we didn't waste a bunch of soil on filling them.
We planted each plant according to their individual instructions (and whatever I could find online), and watered them accordingly. For drought tolerant plants you have to water them a lot while they acclimate to their new home, but after they are rooted and happy you just let nature take care of them, it's pretty great!
In case you forgot where we came from. Let's just take one last look down memory lane at how our little bungie was when we first moved in.
I can't even.
Do you want to know the quickest way to meet your neighbors? Have a garage sale. But the second quickest way is to do some landscaping or really any exterior home improvements and they are the first to come over and watch you slave over your yard, and ogle at your fresh curb appeal. We've caught several randoms drive by and snap photos, and that's compliment enough for me!
We ended up straying from the plant plan a teensy bit based on availability but ended up with the following from left to right: rosemary (cedar planter), foxtail fern (pipe), blue agave (pipe), yellow lantana (cedar planter), aloe (limestone), pencil cactus (short pipe), prickly pear cactus (tall pipe).