The Moving Chronicles: Exterior + Path

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Hello Monday… how are you doing on this 27th day of July? I hope your weekend was good.

This is what mine looked like…

Exterior home staging tips

…this photo sums it up, hard work and DIY sweat to start getting our house ready for the real estate market.

If you haven’t read my posts in a while, Ed and I made the decision to move. We don’t have a new home yet, but are planning a trip in the early fall to find a perfect abode along a lake or river somewhere south of Pennsylvania.

For the next few months, I will keep you updated on our progress and journey along with a few staging tips.


Ed and I moved 5 times until we landed at this house. We became quite good at packing and moving.  We have sold 4 houses before and know what it takes to get a house ready to sell. We moved his parents 3 times and mine once. It takes work, a long list of “To-Do’s” and LOTS of decision making.

After Ed lost his job and didn’t find a new one in the area, we knew we would eventually move and have been getting rid of un-wanted stuff for a while now with basement, attic and garage purges. Even with all that done, we still need to purge more. A dumpster is arriving in our driveway this week. I have a thrift store picking up lots of items and am even putting a few items up on Craig’s List.

When you live in a home for 22 years you do accumulate a lot of stuff inside it, but what also happens is that all the little trees, bushes, and shrubs you plant outside to landscape to make the exterior look pretty, get bigger and bigger too!

Brick Colonial Home

I remember my Mom telling me, when we first moved into the house, “Don’t plant a lot because it will get big and someday you will have to remove it.”

Well, she was right…that someday has come.  If we had the budget, we could have hired landscapers to take care of it for us, but since we have to manage our money carefully, cleaning up the landscaping was a job we felt we could do ourselves.


What made it possible is this handy-dandy tool…  a tree pole saw trimmer. It is an oldie but goodie handed down to us from Ed’s father.  See it leaning against the ladder?  Ed keeps the blades sharp.  You hold it up to the tree branch you want to remove, put the blade along a branch, pull the rope and off comes the tree branch.  Works like a charm…

Preparing a house to sell on the real estate market

… along with modern day electrical hedge trimmers.

On Sunday, my focus was on taking apart and rebuilding 4 short stone garden paths that go out from our pool area to the rest of the backyard. I created them 16 years ago and they needed redoing.  The hardest part was dealing with the full-sun all day. We kept a pitcher of water out with us and cool rags on our necks. :-)

How to Create Stone Garden Paths

I have 4 of these garden paths in my backyard and two larger ones where I have flagstone tiles. You can make them any width or length you desire. I snapped this photo right after cutting ornamental grass by the longer paths, but you can get the idea.

Flagstone-garden path

supplies needed:

  • Stepping, paving stones or large tiles
  • Small round rocks: I used Mixed Beach Pebbles , but you can find landscaping stones in many color varieties. They are sold by the bag at garden and home improvement stores.
  • Landscaping cloth
  • Landscaping pins
  • Scissors
  • Shovel
  • Preen weed blocker


1. Remove the grass with a shovel or large spade. Flatten the dirt by stomping on it. If you need it perfectly flat, you can rent a tool that will pound it flat, but this type of path doesn’t need to be perfectly level since they require no mortar. spread Preen weed preventer over the packed down dirt.

2. Measure a piece of landscaping cloth to cover pack and place landscaping cloth over it. Press a few landscaping pins through the cloth and into the ground to hold it down.

3. Lay the stepping stones (I bought mine at Costco 16 years ago) along the path and then fill in the path area with small round stones. I placed the larger ones in first and filled in with the smaller stones until the landscaping cloth was covered. Try to use flatter stones in the middle and the rounder ones off to the sides. This will help any larger or round stones from rolling over the stepping stones.

After a rainy day and you walk over it a few times, the stones will flatten and nestle in to create a perfect done in a few hours path for your garden.


I power washed the stepping stones to clean off years of dirt. They are a little sun bleached, but still work. I am not after perfection, just making the house look nice.

Now it is on to mulching and adding some pretty flowers that will thrive in the full sun. I used to plant Verbena and Seaside Daisies as they always grew beautifully and were drought tolerant, but I can’t find them anywhere. :-(

Any ideas on full-sun loving flowers to plant in August?

Ed’s ripping off wallpaper and doing more exterior work today, like fixing the wood trim that a woodpecker decided to redesign.  I am headed to the carpet store to pick out a new neutral carpet for the 2nd floor.

I keep asking myself, Why are we doing this? and then remember…   to live in a house along a body of water which quickly reminds me that it is all worth the effort.

I’ll be back later this week with my latest project in the mudroom. It is very colorful….VERY colorful and a few other changes in the room.

If you want to make a path in a garden or even anywhere in your backyard and don't have the budget to hire a landscaper, try this easy DIY stone garden. No special skills or tools needed.

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  1. Hi Diane! I also have a brick colonial with two pyramidal yews on either side of the front door that had gotten overgrown, and I also spent this weekend pruning then way back, LOL! (I assumed that the shrubs on either side of your door are yews, or are they something else?) I also have other overgrown foundation shrubs (Japanese hollies)that I need to tackle next!!! I know they say that if you plant the right shrubs you won’t have to prune so much, but sometimes that just isn’t possible if you want a certain look (such as a pyramidal shrub on either side of a partly shady front door!).

    I am looking forward to following your journey as you get your house ready to sell (would you call it staging, or are you not going to go that drastic?) and relocating, as we are in a very similar situation!! (My husband got laid off from his engineering job 3 years ago and now we are planning on putting our home up for sale this spring and we will relocate to our early “semi-retirement” (and hopefully much cheaper) location!)) Your house is so beautiful already that I am sure it will sell quickly!

    As far as sun-loving flowers to plant in August—of course chrysanthemums come to mind. They should look lovely until the first hard frost. Around here (southern Maryland) there are so many growers selling them that you can get a large size plant very cheaply. Asters are also late summer/fall bloomers. Also–red salvia is an annual that I found keeps blooming until fall.

    1. Hi Phyllis – Yes the plants around the foundation of the house are yews, pyramidal by the front door. They didn’t grow for so long and then all of a sudden the one shot right up. I think it gets more water or maybe just better soil on that side of the door.

      Mums and Asters… yes I think they will look good, especially come fall. I am staging the house. It really makes a huge difference when buyers come to look. Everything as neutral and personality-less as possible. :-)

      Good luck on the selling of your home in the spring. We basically are semi-retired, not by choice but life has thrown us this curve and we figured we have to make the best of it.

  2. Have you considered the Northern Neck? This is an area on the water of Virginia—Deltaville, Irvington, Rappahannock…lots of homes for sale. Cousins are moving to Florida and have a darling home with a dock and a boat lift that is a perfect downsize (they renovated a late 1950’s home a few years back and it is delightful, beautifully done …and there are many others up for sale as well. Good luck where ever you land!

  3. I love reading your posts. I look forward to them as much as I do an email from a friend. Thanks for letting us into your lives and sharing your journey. Moving is a B.I.G. project! Hopefully, locating your next home will be the fun part.

  4. As much as I’d love to have you & Ed for neighbors – I do not recommend waterfront in Maryland. You will get beat to death in taxes for waterfront or even water access! Your best bet is Delaware or the Carolinas but you probably already know this.

  5. You’ve made your house such a beautiful home! Everything you and Ed have done has been perfection! Good Luck on your search for a new home. Can’t wait to see your next project!