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. Gazanias, they are absolutely gorgeous flowers. They hardly need any watering. My gazania garden does better with less water. They require full sun for at least 6-8 hours.

  2. Diane, Love reading your blog and your latest posts in particular. My husband and I have decided to take a very similar “plunge”, so to speak, and sell our current home of 19 years to move to the water as well. I have been purging and updating for a few years now in anticipation of this move. It truly is amazing when you pause and look at your surroundings how much you truly do become blind to after so many years. I, too, am a do-it-yourself-er and will attempt just about anything to save money and just for the sheer fun of accomplishing something on my own. (Wallpaper removal USED to be one of those things, but I now relegate that to the professionals after my last epic fail!)
    Keep the moving chronicles coming! I love the inspiration!

  3. OK. I see I wasn’t too far behind. I know you’ve been considering moving for quite some time, and you’ve decided to take the plunge. I wish you the best in your new home!

    1. Thanks Marilyn – We are very excited and ready for a new place. Right now I am in the fixing and getting everything ready to put the house on the market stage. It is a little stressful. So many little things to get done that you become blind to after years of living in a house. I have a long list that we hope to complete in about two weeks.

  4. Getting ready for a move is hard work. Hope you remember all the little things about moving ’cause I think I have forgotten after more than a few years in one spot, longer than any other in our adult life. Maybe I just blocked it all out. Hope you find the home you and Ed are looking for!

  5. How about periwinkles? It is hot here in Texas and periwinkles always seem to thrive.
    Good luck on the move! Take it easy in the heat of the day also. Looking forward to your next chapter!
    Smiles, alice

  6. I too love those stepping stones and have started a Pinterest and Google search on how to make them. Good luck on your move and new house adventures. Can’t wait to see where you land and your creativity in a new place.

  7. If you can wait until the end of August/beginning of September, I’d tell you to plant fall mums. If not, petunias like it hot and sunny but you may have trouble finding them at this time of the season. If you need color just in a couple of spots, consider purchasing hanging baskets and planting them in the ground. They can always be trimmed back so that they look tidy at “soil level”.

    The best advice that I have for staging is to make it feel like a luxury hotel…sparce and not too personalized. Remove items to the point that you feel as if it looks like you don’t live there any more…and then take out 5 more items. It sounds really harsh but it works. I staged our home for sale using that philosophy and it sold in 45 days, even in a down market. I know that you’ll do an incredible job and I can’t wait to hear your tips. I always learn from you.

    Even though moving is a lot of work, just think, soon you’ll have a new place to decorate and make your own.


    1. Hi Kimberly – Thanks for the idea about planting mums and I love your idea to use hanging baskets and plant them in the ground. They are so much fuller

      I used to have a reals estate staging business before I started my blog. It was easy to go to someone else’s house and tell them what they should do. It is a bit more stressful when it is your own. Like the mechanic that doesn’t fix his own cars. :-)

  8. I feel your pain, Diane. Literally. Prepping a house for sale is a lot of HARD work! The selfish side of me would love to see you and Ed come down to NC, where I live. :D Lakes abound down here. Something to think about before you purchase is they type of lifestyle/setting that you see yourself living in – relaxed, quiet and serene or full of energy and activity or something in between. We’ve lived on a lakefront and while looking for our home we found that every lake seems to have its own personality. The best time to visit is on a Saturday, when activity will likely be at its highest level. If you’re considering something at the coast, I say buyer beware. We have a tiny oceanfront condo on one of the beaches down here and quickly learned that what you see online is often not what it’s like in reality. Be careful with the realtor that you use in vacation communities too. We found that their focus can be on selling a property to an uneducated buyer and would have gotten ourselves into a mess if we hadn’t closely read the fine print! I wish you and Ed the best of luck and hope that you enjoy your adventure!

    1. Hi Suzy – Where do you live in NC? Ed and I lived in Durham for 3 years while he taught at UNC, Duke, and State while getting his Master degree. My oldest was born in Chapel Hill. We have friends in Winterville and Emerald Isle. They gave us a list of towns that they think we will like. We are not looking for an oceanfront property, but will look along the Neuse River. Ed used to sail along it when we lived in NC and always liked it.

      Thanks for the idea to visit the towns and communities on Saturdays. I would not have thought of that and you are so right. Best time to see the action.

      On another note…I sure wish I could find the exact laundry tub you used in your laundry room. I want to update the one I have and love what you did with yours dropping it into the Lowes cabinet. I cannot find that style tub anywhere and have looked online and even showed the guys at Lowes a photo of yours. It would be perfect for getting my mudroom updated. I found the cabinet, just need the tub.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth – I think once all the big items to get done are checked off our list, things will be a little easier. I am not looking forward to having to leave the house for showings. With no kids at home anymore or pets, hopefully it won’t be too disruptive.

  9. Clearly a lot of hard work, but well worth it when looking at the end result. Congrats!

  10. I just completed my own purge in preparing to sell my house as well. That was the easy part. Living in a home and keeping it perfect at all times in preparation for viewers is the hardest part. We are downsizing as well from a land with acreage to a condo. I look to seeing your future posts to see how you begin anew!

    1. Hi Lisa – I am not looking forward to all the showings, but am hoping since it is only Ed and I with no kids or pets around anymore, the showings won’t be too disruptive having to make sure it all looks good and then leaving until the viewers have gone. Best of luck on selling your house. I hope it sells fast and you can move on to your condo soon to start your new lifestyle.

  11. Thank you for the instructions on the garden path construction. I look forward to following more of your moving experience!

    1. I can’t tell you where, but I have seen instructions to DIY stepping stones similar to Diane’s. Mr. Google may be able to help you.

    2. Good ole Costco. I bought 8 of the tiles. They were a darker grey when I first bought them, but the sun has bleached them. They are made of resin. As another reader noted, you could probably “Google” “Leaf Print stepping stones and see what shows up in the search results.

  12. boy oh boy do I feel your pain! We listed 4 months ago and haven’t stop working. For 2 years beforehand we had a new driveway put in, updated landscape, new hurricane rated windows through out, hurricane rated garage door, exterior paint and cleaned out the attic. No basements in Florida. ? I have cleaned out every closet and drawer and packed up many of my taste specific small items. We had ceilings painted and finally finished replacing the old doorknobs. When our son returned in very poor health to to a bleak job market after college we turned 2 bedrooms and a bath into a small apartment and put in an private exterior entrance. We helped him move to his own place this summer. Now we are ready and have been looking, ironically, for a dry lot. We have been living 5 mins from the ocean off the intracoastal for 16 years and after 40 years of being boaters we want to split our time between a main residence here in FL with a small cottage way up north. My husband isn’t retiring but we want more freedom for vacations. I can say I HATE having our home listed as we show about once a week. I feel for you and am very interested in your posts.

    1. Hi Pamela – WOW! You have done a lot. I hope your home sells soon. It is not fun playing the waiting game when you just want to move on. :-) I am not looking forward to the showings either.

  13. We left PA for North Carolina. I’m not sure what kind of job your husband is looking for, but there are a lot in NC/SC in certain areas. SC is cheaper, and offers ocean, lakes, and rivers.

    1. Hi Kirby – We lived in Durham, NC when we were first married. We loved it there and it is high on our list of places we would like to live. We have friends in Greenville, SC who used to live in Pa. They love it there and have given us the names of a few towns to check out. Ed has basically given up finding employment in a company. He is considered too old. He is just shy of 60. He started consulting and can do that no matter where we live since it is mostly online.

  14. RE: your comment about planting “seaside daisys”: do you mean “Montauk” Daisys? I bought some on sale at Walmart, of all places, a few years ago! They are thriving and “taking over” the space around my mailbox. I thought they would be just another variety of Shasta daisy–boy was I wrong!

    1. Hi Phyllis – Yep they are the same. I especially like the purple/fushia color. They grow so well and are my fave flower to plant in the landscaping since they need little care.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!