(1) Staining the Deck: Since the deck has been up for a while, it was time to think about staining it. There are a lot of stain products out there, but with the guidance of our paint contractor we selected Behr Premium Ultra stain in Mushroom. This is a semi-transparent stain that allows some of the wood stain to show through. Due to the size and height of the deck it was almost impossible for us to conquer this project ourselves....but I had a lot of fun watching the contractors swing from our deck as they applied the stain with a combination of rollers and spray guns. Here are the results:
I must say that I agonized over the color...only to find that it ended up looking brown :) My advice is to test your stain choice on a wood sample similar in type and color to your deck. The stain colors in the store looked very different once applied.
(2) Adding to the Landscape: Ryan Homes provided us with a basic landscape....sod (in front and on the sides), a few shrubs and 2 flowering mini trees. This was a good start, but I thought we could liven things up with by adding some color. We decided on these low maintenance plants: Tropicana Black (large burgundy tinged plants) and multi colored Pansies. We also removed the pine needles that came with our original landscape (I'm from the North and had never seen these before) and replaced them with Preen Black Mulch. Hopefully the mulch will provide more of a weed barrier than the pine needles did. Here are the results:
We plan on adding a few more Tropicana and bags of mulch next weekend to fill in the bare spaces. It's amazing how just adding a few plants and swapping out the mulch has dramatically improved our curb appeal (see here for a before shot of the front yard). There are great resources out there if you are a newbie like me planning a landscape. I relied heavily on Better Homes and Garden's landscape planning tool at www.BHG.com. Let's just hope I can keep these plants alive until the Spring!
What are other folks in the RH blogosphere doing to beautify the outside of your new homes?