...because home doesn't happen overnight.
05.07.13 / We Have Grass!

mud 1

This past October we excavated the yard {it previously sloped towards the house} and had the uneven front walk {tripping hazard!} removed and replaced. Then there was mud everywhere. Outside and inside the house.

mud 2

One of our neighbors is a retired landscaper and his yard is immaculate. On our family walks, HH will stop and pet this particular neighbor’s velvet-like grass. Not kidding. {HH would like me to mention that he would happily lie naked in our neighbor’s yard if he knew he wouldn’t get arrested.} But we’re always leery of perfect lawns. Green grass and no weeds scream “pesticides!” and “herbicides!” to us. So we were pleasantly surprised and intrigued when our neighbor told us he doesn’t use chemicals on his lawn. With our yard freshly excavated, he pointed us towards a specific grass seed mixture {which we promptly bought and spread} and told us to water for only 15 minutes during the hottest part of the day on days it didn’t rain. We followed his directions last fall and now…


…NOW we have grass!


It’s the kind of grass that kids want to roll in {yup, ours do it daily} and adults want to lie naked in. Okay, maybe HH is the only adult wanting green grass to touch every part of his body. But, still, did you see that grass?! The perfectionist in me needs to point out three obvious details: 1) the original curtains in the garage window {?!} need replaced with some sort of shade and 2) the window to the right of the front door is Mabrey’s room and her shade was drawn at the time these pics were taken because she was napping and 3) the front door is still an eyesore.


So, please, continue to feast your eyes on the green, green grass.



There were a few areas in need of reseeding this spring. Mostly they were bare spots next to the sidewalk – scars from the concrete install. HH spread the same grass seed over the bare spots and the rest of the yard {to crowd out any weeds} just a little over a week ago and baby grass is already filling in.


I like baby grass. The perfectionist in me needs to point out two more details: 1) the sun decided to peek out from behind a cloud halfway through my shoot of the yard so the lighting is different from here on out and 2) I’m currently taking an online photography class and tried my hand at shooting with my camera in manual mode FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER during this little outdoor photo shoot so I apologize for any exposure inconsistencies. I’m learning.


If you were able to peel your eyes away from the velvety grass, you may have noticed that we’ve done a little landscaping, too. On a whim, HH felt the urge to create flower beds around the house one weekend. He rented a small tiller for $25 and a bed edger for $50. I helped him map out the beds then he went to work while I wrangled the kids. The very next day we found ourselves at a local nursery “just looking.” When we returned home from the nursery, HH asked if I could figure out what plants we needed where and how many. He wanted to go back to the nursery before it closed that day to purchase plants. First, I was all, “What?! I need time! I do not have a green thumb. I have no idea what to do. I don’t know where to start.” Then, I was all, “Yes. Let’s do this. I’m so over having a yard that I’m embarrassed by. Let’s just get some stuff in the ground already. Anything will be an improvement.” And that was it. We’re usually not that spontaneous when it comes to home improvement but we were so tired of our shameful front yard.


Two days later, HH took a vacation day off from work and we planted and mulched the front beds. I dug holes for and planted each and every plant you see in this post.


After being the spectator/babysitter for most of DIY projects that have taken place here over the last year, I cannot tell you how good it felt to be involved. It was hard, hard work. But it was cathartic. Sure, I had to take breaks to drop off kids, pick up kids, feed kids, change the baby, put the baby down for a nap, etc. but it was so worth it. I might take a liking to this gardening stuff after all.


I don’t think we’ll be winning any landscape design awards but we did it ourselves and we saved a ton of money. We actually got several estimates last year for having professional landscapers come out and do everything for us. The numbers we got back were upwards of $5,000. In all, we spent less than $1,000 to buy and do everything on our own.


Our house faces south so we made sure the plants we chose do well in full sun. The hydrangeas are the only ones that need shaded from the afternoon sun. I really wanted ’em so I planted them on an east-facing wall under the eave. They get sun until about 1:00 p.m. So far, so good. They’re blooming like crazy. No signs of scorching. We purposefully left some room in this bed for annuals. Someday, when my thumb turns green, I will attempt annuals.


We also decided to use river rock {$30 for a ton! – crazy inexpensive} in the front beds for a different texture and to give the kids a place to walk through the beds since we know they’ll do it anyways. Eventually, the planter below the picture window will be revamped into a bench/outdoor toy storage.


HH and I both wanted bright greens and white/yellow flowering bushes to work with the red brick. We’re happy with the overall look.


HH created flower beds along the side and back of the house but we’ve yet to fill ’em. The plan is tackle them this fall along with adding a tree or two in the front yard.


Other outdoor projects on this summer’s to do list: 1) install a platform deck off the back of the house 2) fix the front door already! 3) replace the garage door 4) replace the driveway.


The exterior of our house is in such a weird phase right now. I jokingly refer to our Underdog as “the crack house with the decent front yard.”

To keep things in perspective {because even we need a good look back to appreciate how far we’ve come} our house upon purchase…

underdog front exterior 2

…and our house as of today…


Slow and steady for the win. “For the win” is the cool blogging phrase these days, btw.

P.S. – Inquiring local minds want to know…

*Our grass seed is a mix of this and this. Pricey but cheaper than sod and totally worth it to us.

*We bought our seed from this sod farm.

*We almost always buy our plants from this nursery.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I fall more and more in love with this house (and it’s inhabitants) with every post. I might lose my mind when the front door gets replaced.


Spectacular ! I would lie naked myself on such a grass (I would pick another day than HH though … and probably a night actually) Great job Millers ! Take care !


Wow, your garden looks amazing! You’re awesome!

Thanks for the grass seed info! We live in the same area as you and have a bald spot in our side yard! I’m going to pass the info along to hubby in the hopes that we, too, can have grass you want to lay (maybe not naked) in.


Dana, I love it!!! I can’t get over how much of a difference this is. I am very excited to see what you do with the front door!!


It looks great! Love your house, your style and your blog!


Thank you so much for the grass seed info! The hubs and I struggled with grass seed last year and we’ll definitely try the two seeds you recommended.



Wow – it looks fantastic! We relandscaped our front yard ourselves last year, and it’s so rewarding! Especially a year later seeing how much they’ve grown and watching them bloom! You’ll have to update us on everything after another growing season!


Even without a new front door it looks like a new house!! I guess technically it is, LOL! Still you guys have done an amazing job!!

Man, I totally feel you on the shame of having the worst yard on the block. We’re working on revamping our landscaping right now and ours is still very much in the “construction zone/mud pit” phase. It sucks! But this post gives me hope that a great lawn and landscaping is in our future. Yours looks amazing!


Just wondering, is the mix of the two seeds 50/50 or did you use more of one than the other? I have a few spots I’d like to reseed in my yard and really don’t want to use chemicals either, or much water.


Your yard looks so great, Dana! We have so many weeds in our grass, but I would love for ours to look as lush as yours!


Hey, your yard looks great! I was also curious what photography course you are taking?


Daaannnnggg gurl I’m impressed! Looks spectacular! :)


Looks great, what a huge difference already! I know you will constantly look for ways to continue to improve your yard, and landscaping, don’t forget the importance of a good sprinkler system design! All in all, your off to a great start!


What a great transformation, Dana! Yes, a look back always helps the road feel less never-ending. Do you know if the seed mixes you used would do well in other areas of the country? Thanks for a great blog!


It looks great! What course are you taking on photography?


Please forgive me if I’m missing something here- been working on getting our house ready to sell and up all night with a sick kiddo, so a little out of sorts is an understatement- but I don’t see the type of grass seed mentioned.

The lawn looks great, btw!

So fun to see the results after your Instagram sneak peek! I really love the rock and the variegated greenery – it all adds nice texture. And I hear your words about the lack of green thumb, girl!


Click the links. It’s a mix of 50-50 Champion Blue/Rye seed and 100% Champion seeds. So, 25% Rye, 25% Champion Blue and 50% Champion.


Did you get your river rock from the nursery or another supplier? That seems a whole lot cheaper than what I’ve done in the past (buying multiple bags).

It looks great!


Thanks, Charlotte!


love your blog dana!! you have an amazing sense of style! have you considered painting the brick? i’m biased in favor of painted brick but think it would look so awesome to paint the house in a pale gray and add a pop of color to the front door.


i love your current front door! don’t replace it! it just needs a little love (i.e. a few coats of paint and new hardware) and it will look like new! it reminds me of a door from austin’s fabulous crestview doors (see link below) and is perfect for mid-century houses (i’m assuming yours was built sometime in the 60s). i am actually going to order one of their beauties for my tiny 50s house once i have a chance to save some pennies.


If I sit in the grass while wearing shorts my legs break out in hives so I’ll leave the laying naked in the grass to others! Can’t imagine the fun of hives in unmentionable places!

We just did the mix of stone and mulch last summer and we love it! It’s low maintenance and adds a really nice touch.

Looks great!

This was me two years ago. I got a landscaping quote that was on the order of $30k, which convinced me that DIYing it was the way to go. I still spent about $10k — things like 48 cubic yards of soil and compost, good-sized trees, and 3,000 square feet of sod add up quickly — but it’s also been nice to really get to know my yard as I’ve put everything in. (Everything but the sod, which cost next to nothing to have installed.)


Actually it is FTW! Or ftw! if you want to be a little more ‘leet about it.


Your lawn looks AMAZING! We need to add some lush to our lawn this year (it is our first time owning one, so we are total noobs), and I will definitely be looking up your grass mix when we do! Thank yooooou!!!!


You don’t need a green thumb for annuals. Annuals live for one season and then die. Some kind of tall plant/bush/vine on a trellis on each side of the garage window would look nice.


The yard is looking good!
Have you looked at ornamental grasses for near the house? I’m not sure about growing them in your area, but where I am, they’re perennial, and so easy to grow. They have a kind of loose, flowy, funky look to them.


Wow what a difference! I love how you chose white flowering and variagated plants. My one concern is those hydrangeas though… Will they get enough water under there??


It looks great? Any plans for the brick? Paint it?


I actually really like the front door! I would ask you for it when you’re done, but I’m sure we live too far away :( Donate it to a good home for me, I’m sure someone else will love it!




Hi Dana.
I have a rug similar to yours in your living room. I have a “dog accident” mark on it and was wondering if any one might know if this type of yellow stain can be cleaned off? Any suggestions?

Looks gorgeous and lush! Love your landscaping!



It looks really amazing, especially since you just bought the plants on a whim. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the hydrangeas look like they might be a little close to the house. I’d put them at least 2-3 feet away from the foundation. They can get really big.


When we bought the house our home inspector said he would strongly suggest NOT painting the brick. Something about no weep holes and the brick wouldn’t be able breathe. So the red brick exterior is here to stay.


I water them with the hose.


Our home inspector strongly suggested NOT to paint the brick. He said our house was built sans weep holes/brick drainage so paint wouldn’t let the brick breathe and we would end up with mold. The red brick is growing on us especially since it’s pretty desirable in our area.


Photo 101 from Nicole’s Classes.


Sorry, I have no idea.


Yeah, right now I am our irrigation system dragging the sprinkler and hose all over the yard. Ha!


Photo 101 from Nicole’s Classes.




That’s what I thought. It’s worth it; they’re beautiful.

Oh. My. Gosh. What a transformation!! I’m pretty sure my hubby would want to roll around in the grass as well. He is SUCH a lawn guy. When I show him your carpet of a lawn, he will be green with envy. ;)

Good to know what types of seed you used– we’ve been doing some light research on grass seed for our place. Not sure your seed would work for us (we’re in Georgia), but a good place to start since yours is so beautiful! Must be wonderful to have a nice yard again.



Your front door needs to be bright yellow or electric blue STAT!!!


We’re leaning towards a yellow ochre…


Love what you’ve done all around! I think we are in the same area. May I ask who did your concrete work and were you happy with them? Care to share and give me a ballpark on price? Keep up the good work! Debbie

Ps if you decide to get rid if that awesome front door, give me a shout! My 50’s ranch would love it! :)


How is your grass two years later? We’ve reseeded twice in the last five years and it looks great in the Spring but then dies. That’s in a Maryland and using Tall Fescue and Perennial Rye.


Our grass is doing really well. We reseed as needed in the fall and also have an organic lawn company fertilize it regularly. We have few spots that have gone dormant due to the heat / sun but they aren’t dead. They’re green again come spring.