Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Home Is Where The Heart Is - Our House

Late 2009 I was doing my usual peruse of realestate.com.au and came across a house that seemed ridiculously cheap and was in a good street so I decided to go to the open home "just for a look". By late afternoon we had made an offer and by 5pm it was ours! Maybe it was sudden but it was a mortgage repossessed house and the bank were only trying to recoup their costs so it was cheap, far cheaper than it should have been and there were LOTS of people just like me who were keen to put an offer on it ASAP.

Kangaroo paws are my favourite plant and play a key part to my front garden. 
The house as we bought it. 

Pre front garden make over.
At first it looked a little daunting but when you stopped and had a proper look, you could see that the house was not that far from being finshed. It had a really expensive renovation done on it but it just hadn't quite been completed. It had the new kitchen but no sink or oven. It had the new bathroom but it just needed a plumber to connect up the last few pipes ourside. The deck had been done but it needed a hand rail and to be signed off by council. The worst part was that the outside was untouched and the house needed a lick of paint and a new roof. For two 20 something fools like us, that wasn't an issue so every night after work and on weekends for five weeks, we finished our house for the grand total of $11K and then put a tenant straight into it (and had it re valued and in that 5 weeks we had made a profit of 50K!)

Fast forward to late 2011 and we were kicking out our tenants and moving back from our short "sea change" in Geelong, into what is now "our house". Happy that it was still a lovely house, we still wanted to spend some money on the place and make it more homely.

One of the things we did was put a whole new front yard in. It used to be all grass, no plants but with a little TLC and hard yakka, Roge and I changed all that and for not too much expense. For more info on that, I have written about it in a previous blog.

Today I am showing you what the yard looks like in full bloom and with a little maturing. All the plants are now 18 months old approx and they are really coming together how I envisaged.

Front garden as it looks now. 

My prized Japanese weeping maple (and token garden knome!)
Over the weekend I replaced the two plants in the pots on the verandah, weeded, swept and purchased a new door mat and it has really taken the area to a new level.

Yes I do own a pair of Crocs (maybe the ugliest shoes ever invented) but they are my "gardening shoes" and don't venture past the house perimeter!
My new mat.
My tips on creating a good front garden are:

1 - Pick your style. eg. Our house is a period home but the previous bloke who started to renovate it made it very contemporary so a cottage/traditional garden wouldn't really work. This is mind, I decided to do a contemporary garden that was simple and drought tolerant.

2 - Plants. I don't believe in having more than a hand full of varieties of plants in your garden. Mass planting has a far more dramatic effect. I have 6 different plants in my garden and they all vary in height and colour which is what creates "interest".

3 - Source most of your plants from your local farmers market. I have recently done a blog about this but in summary, you will find people have done cuttings or garden nurseries selling their old stock for a fraction of the cost of retail price at the local garden centre.

4 - Splurge on one feature. It can be a plant (I chose a Japanese weeping maple) but it could be a water feature or large pot etc.

5 - Ask for a discount on everything! My pavers were all cheap as chips because they were the last handful and the landscaper just wanted them gone. The weeping japanese maple was purchased from a garden nursery for $150 however it was originally $250. I negotiated a substantial discount as it was last season's stock and needed to be planted ASAP.

6 - Stick to cheap and simple supplies that you can put together DIY (therefore saving yourself money on tradies). The treated pine sleepers that make my garden beds were easy for Roge and I to knock together because it was really just making a square with four posts and then screwing them all together!

7 - I have already touched on this but it honestly only takes a few new plants in your existing pots and a new front door mat to make a huge difference to an area. My mat cost $19 from Bunnings and the plants about $10 each. And if you don't like the colour of your existing pots any more, paint them! These simple ideas don't cost a fortune but will spruce your space nicely.

So there you have it, "our house". It is only a modest little place (2 bed, 1 bathroom) but it is perfect for my brood. If you're new to my blog you can check out other rooms in my house which I have previously featured like my kitchen, bathroom, hallway, main bedroom and kiddie bedroom.

Oh and in typical fashion, I'd just swept the verandah and put down the brand new mat...and then my ol' pal Gus decided to murder one of the local skinks and leave half of it behind!

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