Updating the old homestead and lawn-removal “after” pics


Giving our aging ranch house a facelift has been an ongoing project since we moved in four years ago. The house is comfortably proportioned and liveable on the inside, but the exterior is, well, homely, so we gave it a brow-lift earlier this year with a gabled porch roof. Also, the areas of wood siding were in desperate need of a fresh paint job (and repair of rotten trim here and there), so we just had the house painted as well. (Kimball Baker did the painting, and I can’t say enough good things about his work.) I really love the new color, a soft taupe that works well with the apricot brick.


Here’s how it looked before. You’ll notice I’ve since ripped out the little patch of grass at left and the traditional line of foundation plants, some of which I transplanted elsewhere. Instead I went with a few bold plants in steel containers, a colorful accent of purple-blooming Salvia leucantha, and a corner accent of ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo. Low-maintenance gravel now floors this space instead of fussy lawn grass (see top photo).


The freshly painted front porch. I think I need to clean and buff (or seal?) the tile. Any ideas on this?


Meanwhile, in the new garden bed my neighbor and I share between our driveways, which replaced drought-baked, struggling grass, the growth has been astonishing. Here’s how it looked right after planting in February.


And today, blowsy and relaxed in late fall. This is the view from my driveway.


Here’s the view from my neighbor’s driveway last February, newly planted.


And today. Poof! I love the texture, movement, and colors and hope she does too. One thing I know is that the deer do NOT love it. Yay!

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

17 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow, what a transformation of your house. It looks so modern. I like the way the grasses give it a little life too.

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m working toward a balance between traditional ranch and the Texas contemporary look I love. —Pam

  2. Shirley says:

    Great updates, it’s looking good! Much prettier. The garden looks amazing too. Everything is working together nicely.

    Saltillo tile is tricky to restore, buffing can remove the top layer and ruin the tile so use an expert. I’ve been researching restoration of my Saltillo and have found that the cost of professional restoration equals the cost of installing new tile. My current plan is to stain mine a brown to make it look aged.

    Well, it’s not what I was hoping to hear about the tile, Shirley, but I appreciate your sharing your research on restoration with me. More than likely I will do nothing. ;-) —Pam

  3. Peter says:

    Those pots, gravel, and slabs of concrete look great by your entry. How often do you have to water those plants in the front and the strip between you and your neighbor’s driveway in the summer?

    Since everything was newly planted this year, Peter, I watered on the once-a-week schedule allowed by the City of Austin. If we had a nice rain near my watering day, I held off on watering. The Dasylirion and agave in the steel pots are not on the sprinkler system, and I hand watered them maybe once every two weeks in the summer, and will give them only an occasional drink—maybe once a month—through the winter. —Pam

  4. gail says:

    Wow! I could stop there, but, really Pam your design is marvelous and I do think you have reached balance between traditional and Texas Modern. The shared driveway garden is inspiring. gail

    Thank you, Gail! That’s so kind of you to say. :-) —Pam

  5. Scott Weber says:

    Wow…the new bed between the driveways is amazing…how could your neighbor be anything less than thrilled!

    I do hope she’s enjoying it too, Scott. She’s getting ready to plant up another drought-stressed portion of her front yard, and I know she’s excited about that. —Pam

  6. “Wow!” seems to be the consensus here, everything looks fabulous. Great color choice to harmonize with the brick, I just love what you’ve done!

    Thanks, Loree. I only had to change the paint color once (after the painter put up a big sample for me to consider), and for me that’s a success. —Pam

  7. Robin says:

    Pam, I’ve had that flooring in multiple homes, and have done the cleaning/sealing/refinishing myself. It isn’t difficult, it’s all about getting the right products and a little elbow grease. The difference is that yours is outside, so obviously you would need difference products than I used. I’m pretty sure I got everything I needed at Home Depot, but a tile store might have better quality. You strip everything off first, which leaves you with a dull finish all over. Then seal it several times with the type of finish you want – satin, gloss, etc. OR you can hire this out to a handyman :)

    Thanks for the benefit of your experience, Robin! I’ll look into it. —Pam

  8. Jeanette says:

    You have a great eye and instinct for great design. Love the color combinations and modern clean appearance…. very cheery and inviting yet sophisticated… this must take much contemplation when working with the issues of water conservation AND deer.

    I really like your new feature, “plant this.” I am reworking three lovely stone trough planters and have been consulting your articles. I have used the Mahonia aquafolium but never your Mahonia. Many of the deer resistant plant are also rabbit resistant.

    Oregon grape holly, Mahonia aquafolium, seems to get the most attention among the many mahonias. But it doesn’t perform quite as well in Austin as in other (cooler? wetter?) parts of the country. I also love our native mahonia, Mahonia trifoliolata aka Berberis trifoliolata aka agarita.

    I’m so glad you enjoy my Plant This feature, and thanks for your kind words about my design! —Pam

  9. Alison says:

    I know I’ve commented before about how much I love the gravel garden you installed in the front, but I never tire of seeing posts about it. The transformation is just miraculous. And that bed between you and your neighbor is crazy beautiful too, in such a short time. It’s a testament to the “right plant, right place” philosophy.

    That is definitely the key, Alison, and we have so many great plants to play with here in central Texas. I’m grateful. So much more fun than lawn grass! —Pam

  10. INCREDIBLE changes Pam – everything looks so clean and neat. I just love it – everything! As far as the tile – strip it (if there is a sealer on it – lucky for you it looks like it does not have one or it has completely worn off as it looks dull and not shiny at all?) or just power wash and seal. A friend did that and it worked well. With that small area…worth a try. Another idea….after washing it (IF THERE IS NOT AN OIL BASED SEALER ON IT) you could try an inconspicous spot with clear thompsons water seal – it is not in full sun there so it could work great. The staff at a Sherwin Williams would be great to ask this question to as they own Thompsons water seal not – they sure helped me with many questions about there cedar tinted product. Hope this helps! I do agree a little sheen here would be pretty and be that final touch.

    Thanks for the suggestions, Heather! That sounds very do-able. —Pam

  11. Looking at your pics again – I think that tile if it had a sealer would richen just right to match your cedar entry posts! I bet if you wet it with the hose it matches those posts perfectly? (sorry about the grammar and spelling mistakes above! I need to proof-read!)

    I’ll check it out, Heather. Thanks for thinking it through and the great ideas. —Pam

  12. Les says:

    No matter how long I have been gardening, I am always amazed at how quickly things can fill in. Your before and afters are a good example of this, and a good example of your excellent eye.

    A garden never ceases to amaze, especially a new one. It’s one more reason to take “before” pics, so one can marvel over the growth a few months later. —Pam

  13. I love what you did, Pam! It’s so YOU! Lovely, fresh, beautiful and innovative. Well done!

    Thank you, Kathryn! —Pam

  14. Pam, what a transformation! And practical to boot–firewise, drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. You have a great eye.

    Thanks, Kathleen. —Pam

  15. Peter says:

    Since your plants looks so healthy, i have to ask more, =) Do you have sprinklers that just hit the area, or do you have a drip line or emitters?

    We inherited a pop-up sprinkler system with the house, Peter, and I check it regularly to make sure it’s spraying on the plants and not the driveway, street, etc. Plus, remember, I shoot my garden at the best angles and crop strategically. ;-) Like anyone, I have areas that don’t always look so good. —Pam

  16. Mamaholt says:

    WOW is right!

    Glad you like, Mamaholt. That’s a good seal of approval! —Pam

  17. Jason says:

    That last picture is amazing. The color and texture contrasts are so exciting! Makes want to jump in there and roll around. Promise I won’t though.

    Rolling around would be taboo, Jason. My dog would probably like to do the same thing. :-) —Pam