Outdoor makeover for under $20

When Michael and I moved into our new apartment in North Carolina, we hadn’t actually seen it in person. We were able to FaceTime with the previous tenant but it’s hard to get a feel for the place. We only knew a few things: 1. It was available. 2. It was in our price range. 3. It was not in a bad neighborhood. 4. It had a fenced in yard for James. We were getting down to the wire of really needing a place, so we were sold.

When we got here, we soon learned that our backyard needed work. A lot of work. First, most of it has no grass because of the shade created by the crazy number of large trees surrounding us. A small part of it is some sort of monkey grass that I assume someone tried to get to grow throughout the yard and it never did. It looked like it had, at some point, been well taken care of as there was some landscaping there. But most of it was covered in ivy (as it seems most things in the South are!!).


Trees, trees, everywhere

We knew the grass situation would be hard to tackle. We thought about planting seed and even putting down sod but we didn’t know if it would take due to all the shade. And we’re not sure how long we will be here, so we didn’t want to put too much time or money into it. One thing I knew I wanted to fix up, though, is the little garden/seating area.

I could see that it had a lot of potential, could probably be done on the cheap with some grunt work, and would vastly improve the look of the yard. So I laid out my priorities are follows…

I started with deweeding the entire area. I didn’t do anything fancy, just went around with a few garden tools and mostly my hands, pulling any weeds I could find. There was a lot of stray ivy growing around, so I cut that off, trying to get it down to the root so it wouldn’t pop up again. After several hours of pulling weeds, it was looking much better!

After deweeding, I trimmed the plants that were already existing to remove anything that was dead or shaggy looking, replanted the bush that had its roots showing, and planted a green coleus in an empty spot. I removed the moss from the decorative rocks with soapy water and a scrub brush. It came off much easier than I thought it would! Next up, Michael and I laid down a bunch of tarps/paper on top of the soil and then put the mulch down on top of that. We hoped this would help to reduce the number of weeds that pop up later on.

Sweeping, deweeding, and scraping the moss off the walkways was the most grueling part. It took me nearly 4 hours but I managed to get it looking pretty nice. The chairs were looking something nasty. I wiped them down with soapy water a few times then spray painted them with white outdoor paint which really brought them back to life!

To put the finishing touches on everything, I added a few flowers, our outdoor rug and our outdoor table from our old apartment. Are you ready for the big reveal?! Here we go!

Ta da! I think it looks fabulous. It’s so much more inviting and I actually want to go out there now. I think James is enjoying it too. If only we could get rid of the mosquitoes, it would be my favorite place to be. Of course, after finishing all this, we had to buy a fire pit. It was just screaming “fire pi heret!”

The best part? All of this cost under $20! Just proves that with a little hard work, you can get a lot! Here’s the final cost breakdown:

Mulch: $12 (open bag clearance at Lowe’s and we didn’t use 1 bag)
Coleus: $1 (clearance at Lowe’s)
Spray paint: $4

There is still work that needs to be done. The side of the building needs to be cleaned up and we need to figure out something with the grass but this is a good start. Hope everyone enjoys it. I am looking forward to some fall nights by the fire pit roasting marshmallows and making s’mores! And hopefully drinking some cold, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale and Christmas Ale. Someone needs to send me some!

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