We have been documenting our DIY backyard renovation on Instagram (check out the highlight here!), and one thing we keep getting questions about is the sod: What is the DIY process? What’s the cost? How do you maintain it? Was it worth it? I am going to cover all that today! Plus, I partnered with BLACK+DECKER to show you the Outdoor Powered Equipment we are using to maintain the yard and keep it lookin’ great all Summer!
First up! Why did you pick to sod instead of seed?
I weighed the pro’s and con’s, and even though the sod cost more, me and the hub plus the pups would be able to enjoy the yard much sooner with sod. It was still snowing here in Wisconsin at the end of April, so we got a late start on the backyard, getting an “insta-backyard” with sod was totally worth the extra cost because we only have a couple months of good weather here!
What is the process?
We really had to start from the beginning because the yard was in such bad condition, there was a ton of gravel, glass, and trash mixed in with the dirt, so we rented a Bobcat and dumpster to skim off the top 4-5 inches of dirt and get rid of it.
Hopefully, you can skip that part and just lay topsoil because it added another $1,000 to the process 🙁 While we had the Bobcat, my hub leveled out the backyard, and then graded it so water would drain towards the driveway.
After the bad dirt was cleared we had 12 linear ft of topsoil delivered, and spread on the yard 3 inches thick.
Once all the topsoil is down, spread fertilizer on it, and then roll the dirt with a Lawn Roller (pictured above).
Next, the sod was delivered! They suggested laying it within 24 hours of receiving it, which was no problem because it only took us about 2 hours to lay 1000 square feet.
When laying the sod, stagger the seams (photo above) and make sure seems fit tightly together, so it can grow together and not leave gaps.
After all the sod is down, roll it once more.
The most important part: Water! Make sure to water 3 times a day for 15 min. We did this everyday for 1.5 months, and will keep it up on super hot days. And stay off the grass! We tried super hard to stay off for a full month…but made it about 3 weeks before letting the dogs play on it, but waited a month before heavily using it.
What’s the cost for 1000 square foot lawn?
We bought 2 pallets of BlueGrass sod from Home Depot, each pallet was 500 square ft, and the total was $1000, which included the delivery.
The Lawn Roller rental = $20.
Premium TopSoil = $690 for 12 linear yards (two dump trucks full were delivered)
Fertilizer = $20 for a bag that covers 5,000 sq ft
How do you maintain a sod yard?
Wait to mow the yard for one month after you lay the sod, so it has time to root itself into the topsoil. I have been using my BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX* Lithium 3-in-1 Cordless Mower non-stop at the Airbnbs, so was excited to start using it on our lawn! I set it to the highest blade setting: 7 so I would not shock the grass and gave the lawn it’s first cut after a month of growing. After the first cut, I will drop the blade down to 4.
Sidenote: If you are not using a battery powered lawn mower, I suggest getting this one ASAP! I’ve had gas and electric, and both are a pain compared to this battery powered one. It’s super light, so I can transport it from house to house easily, and in my experience a yard this size only takes one charge on the 40v battery (I always keep a second charged battery in the storage compartment on the mower for larger lawns).
After mowing, I use BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX* Lithium Easy Feed String Trimmer/Edger, which easily toggles from edger to trimmer, so I can use the edger between the patio and grass, and the trimmer along the fence. The rolling guide makes it SUPER easy, plus you just press a button to feed the string.
The backyard at my Airbnb is refreshed and ready to use!! You might remember two Summers ago when I was living at the house, my sister and bro-in-law and I, tackled this backyard (read more about it here). I moved out of the house since, but use it as an Airbnb, so like to keep the backyard looking great for visitors. I did a little refresh with new Article furniture, a new door color, and changed up the accessories a bit, and I just love how it came together!
I asked Instagram readers to send in questions about the backyard, and I’ll a bunch below:
Is the furniture ok in rain? How about the coffee table? I was have some rust issues with the previous furniture, and it would stain the deck after it rained so we would have to re-stain it every year which was a HUGE bummer. So when Article reached out and asked me to try thier outdoor furniture I said “YES PLEASE!” And I am happy to report, we have had no rust issues (and it’s been a super rainy Spring). I am obsessed with The Kezia sectional couch, Aeri Slate Gray Lounge chair and Toba Vintage Brown Coffee Table outdoor pieces, they look SO chic and have been holding up great in all weather. One super nice thing about the couch is that it comes in pieces so you can arrange it however you want, I have the secional plus an extra seat so I could fill the corner-space. I am super impressed with the coffee table! It looks nice enough to be an indoor piece, but is meant for outdoor. I might even use it as a coffee table inside this winter!
Do you have storage for the cushions and pillows or do you keep them out? The pillows are all outdoor pillows, I got these striped lumbar ones, these staccato ones, and these tan pillows, but if guests are not using them, I store them in the garage. Eventually, I want to get an outdoor storage box so they can be easily accessed. Article suggests taking in the cushions or covering them if you have extreme weather, but since I am not at the house all the time, they are left out. I have been really impressed with how quickly they dry, and how easily they can be wiped down. The better you take care of them, the longer they will last!
How will you keep all those potted plants alive on the wall? And where are the pot hangers from? I had real plants in the living-wall for the last two Summers, but it became a lot harder to keep them alive once I was not living there full time. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, this year I used faux succulents! I got them from Ikea for $4 each, and they are meant for indoor/outdoor, so I am hoping I can keep them looking good for a few years. The pot hangers can be found in the garden section at Lowe’s!
What kind of wood and stain did you use for the fence and how soon can you stain it? I had my buddy’s company build the deck and the fence (we did a similar DIY version of the fence at our new house) and they use treated pine. You should wait a year to stain treated pine, but I was too impatient, and whitewashed with Behr Pinto White the fence after it was up for a couple months (it looks great, I think white wash is more forgiving then a darker stain, or paint because the inconsistencies are not as obvious) and I used a Behr Cape Cod Solid grey stain on the deck…which I did end up having to repaint the next year because of rust and leaf stains.
What is the door color? The old door color was HGTV Home for Sherwin Williams Desert Lake, and I just repainted with Behr Spiced Brandy in Satin Exterior paint!
Where is the herb planter from? I started with this Unfinished Red Cedar Vertical Garden (Buy it here!) and painted on Minwax’s white water-base tinted Natural Linen.
Is that an outdoor rug? Can it get wet? Yes! It’s an outdoor rug and since it’s made out of polypropylene it can get wet and drys super quickly. I picked a darker color this year so it would not get dirty as quickly and can be used for multiple summers.
Let me know if you have any other questions and I can answer in the comments!
Hi All! It’s been awhile! Time to catch you up on what has been going on around here. After we announced my TV pilot, My Flippin’ Friends, and poured all of our energy into promoting it, I had to take a little break from blogging while HGTV aired the show (3 times!). This girl was draaaaained, and after the insanity of flipping and filming the show in secret last Summer, while keeping up with the blog, I figured I earned a little hiatus, you know? If you missed the Instagram story, we found out that HGTV decided not to pick up the show for a full season, but fear not! Our team is back out pitching the idea to other networks, so fingers crossed. Also, I wanted to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported and promoted the pilot, it was a crazy, exciting, exhilarating ride, and I am so proud of what we created. I kept my schedule pretty clear this Summer because there was a chance we would be filming, and the time off has been the perfect moment to take a step back from the internet, and spend some much needed stress-free time with my family and friends, which has been absolutely wonderful. The Today Show did a story on the renovation, so the secret is out: we kept the house because the neighborhood is rapidly changing for the better, and we want to sell the home at it’s peek. In the meantime, yup, I am living in the house! (Did I keep that secret well?) When we were filming the renovation last Summer, I had big plans for the backyard, but when we needed to gut the full house, and the interior budget was maxed out, and we had to scrap plans in the backyard. So this year my goal was to finish the backyard and create the perfect oasis to have all my friends and family over for BBQ’s (and also up the property value). It’s FINALLY done, and I am so excited to share it!
Here is what I was working with….a whole lotta nothing. The house is in the city, and my neighbors houses are uncomfortably close (so close our roofs overlap). It was important to build a fence around the property for safety and privacy. I had my buddy Mike (our contractor/realtor on the show) and his guys build the deck and fence. A few of you asked me if I had a tutorial, but it was a bit too big of a DIY project for me to take on, and I was on a tight timeline because I had a break-in and wanted to property secured ASAP.
I got a couple quotes on landscaping, but after watching a million or so YouTube videos, my friends and I decided to give it a go and do-it-ourselves. Leveling the backyard, edging the perimeter, and laying the sod took 3 labor-intensive days. We haul about 2 tons of dirt from my truck to the backyard, and around a ton of sod. I was icing my back for days! Let me know in the comments if you want me to go into detail about the sod process, and I would be more then happy to write up another post. One of the hardest decisions was stain colors, I knew I wanted to go grey with the deck, but the fence is where the great debate came into play. I must have tried 15 different samples for the fence, I debated between a warmer cedar wood stain, more grey or white washing. Since there is SO much fence in a small backyard, and I did not want it to feel claustrophobic, I went with whitewash and I’m confident it was the right choice!
On to the fun part: decorating! I partnered up with Lowe’s Home Improvement to create my backyard oasis, and I could not be happier with how it turned out. I officially have the backyard that friends pop by, bring their pups to play (that’s my Sista’s dog, Maggie!), grill for dinner, and hang out by the fire as the sun sets.
I have been posting some sneak peeks on my Instagram, and the most asked questions is: “What color is that door?!” Paint colors can be so hard to choose, and this is one I have never regretted, HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Desert Lake, I just love the pop of color on the black and white exterior.
How amazing is the herb garden?! I am going to go into more detail in my next post because I love it, and gave it a little makeover to fit the color scheme.
These white planters were a steal at $20, I bought 4 and filled them with Philodendron Selloum and ZZ plants which made the deck feel super lush. I worked with the experts at Lowe’s to pick out all the greenery, they were so helpful and knowledgeable. I love plants, but am not great at keeping them alive, so it was a huge help to get advice on what would work best for my outdoor space.
Figuring out the right couch was a bit of a process. I was so excited to assemble the sectional I ordered because I knew the space would start to come together. Well, it was waaaaay too small, and did not give the backyard the cozy, welcoming feel I wanted it to have. So we packed it up and returned it, and I was a little stumped on how to fill the space, while staying in budget. Then came the idea of getting two of this super affordable conversation set, and since all the pieces are separate, I could create the U shaped sitting space I wanted. It made the backyard the hangout spot I always dreamed of, and after I loaded it up with pillows and blankets, and turn on the fire table (best purchase ever), it’s almost impossible to leave.
More photos and credits after the break!