Tuesday, September 13, 2005

'Before' and ......'In Progress'

Does home maintenance EVER end? I guess not, as it wouldn't be called 'maintenance' if you got to a point where you could say "I'm DONE!" Below is a chronicle of our ongoing quest for an aesthetically-pleasing look for the property around our house...or at least a look that's no longer embarrassing.

A little background first....

We bought this house almost 3 years ago, and the "non-negotiables" for our choice were as follows:

1. The house itself didn't require any renovation immediately.

2. More bedrooms/bathrooms/square footage than our previous home.

Those were really the only requirements we had at that point. 'That point' being 2 months away from delivering our first child, and after a MASSIVE, under-time-pressure, mostly do-it-ourselves renovation of the 100 yr. old house we had in Dallas. We had ZERO interest in home improvement after having been through that transformation so recently, which turned our home (and lives) inside, outside, upside down, and literally every which way but loose....and everything coming loose was a distinct possibility at certain points during the process.

So, the house we bought here in Austin was recently updated inside and out when we moved in: new kitchen, baths, cabinetry, carpet, paint, etc. We didn't HAVE to do anything to it immediately, only if we wanted to, and we didn't. That was the structure. The land property surrounding the house was a different story. The previous owners had owned it almost 10 years, but had lived in it only about a year, and the rest of the time they used it as storage. Thus, there was no effort at landscaping or any landscape maintenance whatsoever.

That was ok for a while. Austin is a very environmentally conscious town, and the prevailing style of landscaping is a version of cleaned-up natural. Xeriscapes are highly prized around here, but what we had going on was more ZEROscape. Nothing much. (And we are flanked on each side by AVID gardeners....yeah, we were 'those' neighbors that all the other people on our cul-de-sac with pretty lawns whispered about.) This was the curbside approach to our driveway, complete with listing, rotting mailbox, and rocky, sharply-sloping hillside on which NOTHING would grow properly. Not to mention that Daddy McAustin took his life in his hands each time he had to mow it with the lawn tractor.

So finally, after spending all home improvement budget on other more necessary projects over the last 2 years (3 new AC units, new decks, new perimeter fence) we bit the bullet, got the sprinkler installed (read about THAT adventure here), and got some landscaping plans put into action.

The progress so far.....

The 'after' shot of the same spot.

Due to the mild nature of our winters here, and the brutal nature of summers, fall is actually the ideal time to plant new plants. Our fall and winter is similar to most of the U.S. spring/early summer, giving the new plants a chance to establish themselves before the harsh stuff comes.

And in the backyard, we've only just begun, but here's an idea of what it was like:

Well, not really.......

....but it was so bad there aren't any photos showing the back, as we deliberately excluded that angle from any picturess taken out there! This is a pic of the Critter and Little Bit at Easter sitting on the only patch of good grass near the deck. Suffice it to say that from the point you see where the right side of the picture ends the land slopes down sharply to where the deck is about 9 feet off the ground at the other end 20 feet away. The dog door is under the deck into the garage, and it's shady (a.k.a. a big muddy mess) most of the time.

Here's where we are so far:

These beds flank the stairs going up to the deck, and are roughly symmetrical, but not exactly the same. And yes, that would be a few globs of Pascal's fuzz in the middle....right where he decided to lie down. But that's better than digging in it, that would bring back discussions of the pistol.

More pictures to come later....but that will require more work on our part, so it may be a while. The princess growing inside me isn't too fond of yardwork lately......


Blogger Kami said...

Lookin' good!

12:02 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

Looking great. We have tons of things to do. Maintence stinks.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Queens said...

Totally know and appreciate all the work. Love the new mailbox and looks like your border goes great with the style of home.

We just finished a kitchen redo on our 2 yr. old house, as we also had the "time issue" with relocation so didn't have a chance to be as selective as we wish we could have been. Out in this country, you just pray you have running water and indoor plumbing - ha!

11:51 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Well, very nice work on the "before and after" shots. Looks like you all have put in a lot of work, looking good.

7:11 AM  

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