Scaling Down, Clean the Yard

Image of Books Ordered on Amazon
We ordered a Lot of Books on Amazon

So we went wild on Amazon and ordered a whole bunch of books on selling your own home…

(We order so much stuff from that we have our own line-item on Amazon’s revenue statement in their annual report)

After speed-reading the books…

(speed reading was one of the most important life skills I picked up during my excellent undergraduate education at the University of California San Diego)

…we understood that a thorough cleanup of the exterior of our house was the first order of business. That is, no-one is going to buy your house or even call you to ask about it without first furtively driving by in their car while wearing dark sunglasses and looking it over from the outside. This aspect of the selling process is referred to by professionals in the business as “curb appeal”.

Picture of Tomoko Cleaning the Stone Walls
Tomoko Cleaning the Stone Walls

Most aspiring home sellers rush down to their local home gardening center and buy some freshly blooming flowers to quickly plant in their front yard.

Our situation is slightly different. We live on a greenbelt. That greenbelt has been a source of joy, excitement and memories. There was the raccoon that took up residence in our garage. Another time I got to explain to Tomoko that the small black animal with white racing stripes down its side and tail that was having an argument with a cat right in front of the glass door to our kitchen was a remarkable creature known as a “SKUNK” and that these probably did not exist in Japan and that No, it was not a good idea to go outside and try to help the cat.

The greenbelt and its citizens pretty much freed us from our interest in formal gardening within a few years of our arrival in Austin. Trying to maintain a pretty little, orderly, English-style garden in Texas next to a greenbelt is an exercise in futility. Instead, we learned to appreciate the native flora and fauna. That is to say, we encouraged the nicer looking weeds to displace the less attractive weeds.

A lot of those nicer looking weeds were particularly fond of the limestone rock walls on our property. The crevices in these walls were ideal spots to take root, sprout and flower. Lantana was one of the best. Native. Hardy. Almost indestructible. It would plug itself into the cracks in the wall and flower  effusively for most of the year. We eventually quit fighting it and let it take over as much of the walls as it wanted to.

Very smart. Except that we are trying to sell our house in the middle of winter and the Lantana is not blooming. Nor are the other various attractive weeds we allowed to grow and thrive on our estate. So, the first step in cleaning the outside was to clean up the dead weeds. See the picture above.

We also needed to clean up one of our last futile attempts to plant something. Around 2010, we decided to try to replant the hedge along our driveway.  We carefully fertilized, planted and constructed little pyramids out of garden stakes, bird net, and nylon cable-ties. Our timing was impeccable. We did all the work and got everything ready just in time for the arrival of the worst drought in fifty years.

Picture of Dave throwing garden stake into greenbelt
Dave, Javelin Throw

The remains of the ill-fated hedge project needed to be cleaned up too. One of the nice things about living on the greenbelt is that the greenbelt will happily devour almost anything that is biodegradable. Christmas tree disposal? Not a problem. Just toss it over the cliff. Within hours the deer will strip the pine needles. After that, various bacteria and worms take over. Six months later, there will be nothing left.

The problem we faced in the remediation of the remains of the failed hedge project was that we did not want anything that looked like garbage to be visible to curious potential home-buyers who might be walking by with their dark sunglasses on. Clearly, the tent stakes would need to be tossed over the forward line of trees into the canyon below. I had always wanted to try my hand at the Javelin throw. It was a wonderful opportunity.

Coming Next: The Massive Garage Sale.

(This weekend. Saturday 2/9/2013 from 9AM to 4PM and Sunday 2/10/2013 9AM to 2PM – Everything must go!)


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