Lawn & Garden Landscaping

Before and After: 6 Landscapes Totally Transformed

Remodeling is always a risk, but updating the outside of your house is a seriously smart investment. From framing a new addition to getting to work in the garden, see how these real-life remodels transformed six west coast homes.

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Before: Run-Down Ranch

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

With a dumpster parked in the driveway and an overgrown lawn, it was easy to drive down the street and miss this powder-blue ranch. The backyard, already equipped with an in-ground pool, was in better shape. Matthew and Jennifer, the new owners, wanted a low-maintenance landscape and a fresh look for the home’s exterior. Tapped out from the down payment, they decided to take on most of the remodeling work themselves.

Related: 15 Cheap Home Repairs That Could Save You Thousands

After: Retro Revival

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

Determined to stay true to the home’s retro look, the duo knocked out the the back wall and replaced it with windows and sliding glass doors to flood the house with light. Instead of trying to nurse the lawn back to health, they filled the pool surround with rocks edged with concrete. A few strategically-placed bushes and square grass patches keeps watering and mowing to a minimum.

Related: 15 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape

Before: Dated and Dirty

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

This little house had solid bones, but the front yard and exterior needed some help. For one thing, the stained brick facade wasn’t aging well. And in the scorching Phoenix summer, the dried-out lawn wasn’t faring much better. The asymmetrical walkway wasted space in the tiny yard, and looked out of place. 

Related: 7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn

After: Southwest Style

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

The homeowners hired a landscaper to replace the lawn with mulch, drought-tolerant deer grass, and a mix of succulents. Mesquite saplings planted during the remodel will eventually shade most of the yard, creating a cool hangout spot for guests. Painting the brick shaved years off the house, and warm white is the perfect backdrop for the tall grasses and cacti framing the entrance. With its wider path and clean lines, the new walkway is much more welcoming. 

Related: 20 Tiny Backyards We Love

Before: Cabin Catastrophe

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

Abandoned for six years, this Alaskan cabin was a true fixer-upper. And it wasn’t just the outside that needed work, either: the basement walls had rotted, and a tree was growing through the roof.

Related: 10 Space-Saving Ideas to Steal from Houseboats

After: All Decked Out

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

The new owners, Noah and Jennifer, picked up the house for a song. The couple spent the first few weeks of the remodel clearing out bags of moldy trash and cast-off furniture. A former carpenter, Noah replaced the rotted siding with cedar shingles and built a bi-level deck for the waterfront home. 

Related: 18 Design Ideas to Make Your Deck a Destination

Before: Condemned in California

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

With a $300,000 budget, John and Kalli knew that they would have to sacrifice to own a home in Venice Beach. One of the few properties in their price range was a dilapidated surf shack. Built in the 1920s, the house didn’t have studs or insulation—but it did have a rat problem, a crumbling roof, and a shaky foundation. 

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Fixer-Upper

After: Beachside Bungalow

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

With plenty of work to do, the couple hired a few contractors to help. John had some woodworking experience from working on movie sets, but left the custom addition, drywall, and stucco application to the pros. As a tribute to the old shack, John milled the original Douglas Fir siding into baseboards, trim, and beams. Outside, the pair designed a drought-friendly landscape with hardy plants, pea gravel, and concrete pavers.

Related: Pass on Grass: 7 Reasons to Landscape with Gravel

Before: Scrappy Starter Home

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

In 2003, the real estate bubble sent home prices skyrocketing. It was also the year that Chad and Leah decided to buy their first house. The pair had their sights set on Seattle, where they found a 1,300 sq. ft. property with a high sticker price. With a patchy paint job, a lawn that had more dandelions than grass, and a few scraggly garden beds, the house needed some TLC.

Related: 12 Easy Fixes for a Botched Paint Job

After: No Shrinking Violet

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

On a tight budget, the couple gave their new home a fresh coat of purple paint and refreshed the trim with taupe. The boxwood hedges pop against the purple siding, define the front walk, and seriously step up the curb appeal.

Related: 8 Tiny Homes You Can Buy for the Price of a Luxury Car

Before: Front Lawn Fixer-Upper

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

Nick and Lisa didn’t start off with much when they bought their Bay Area home. Patchy grass surrounded the property, and the few plants they had were in containers. The path to the front door—three worn-out wooden steps—stopped right in the middle of the yard. 

Related: Don’t Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard

After: Modern Marvel

photographed by Thomas Story; courtesy of

The DIY duo started by extending the front walkway with concrete for a clean, modern look. Paired with the painted retaining wall, the path sets the garden apart—making the small yard look a lot bigger. Nick and Lisa did their own landscaping, planting drought-tolerant grasses and shrubs to cut down on yardwork. 

Related: The Invincible Yard: 17 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

Curb Appeal Conversion

Updating your home’s exterior can pay big dividends.