9 ways to transform (or hide) the ugliest parts of your property

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Curb appeal is important when selling your home, but it can also be a source of pride. The same goes for the condition of the back yard where you receive. Sometimes messes or ugly objects lurk in far corners or narrow sides of the yard that can’t be seen (or are best ignored) from inside your home.

However, don’t let procrastination or hard work stop you from giving your garden a makeover. Before throwing a pool party or 4th of July picnic, inspect your yard to see which spots and structures need sprucing up – STAT!

1. Cover Ground

Makdover Court

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Some areas of the yard are so heavily trafficked by foot traffic (the path to the swing set, for example) that the grass is fading. Bare patches may also appear on slopes or shady parts of the lawn. If you need a quick fix for bare soil, try mulch. Where the kids play, lay down a soft mulch like Rubberific, a top pick in our guide to the best mulches, or use gravel if you want a natural rock garden look.

If your grass just can’t handle foot traffic, replace it with a native that can. Or try a new introduction from the Southwest: dog tuff grass. This hybrid is bred to withstand dog urine and foot traffic. As a bonus, it is a low water content grass that comes in plug form, so it is easier to start on slopes than grass seed. It costs a bit more up front, but will spread and save on mowing and watering for years to come.

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2. Clean the piles

Courtyard makeover

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It’s easy to let things pile up in the yard, especially when you’re finishing up last fall’s cleanup. Until then, you are ready to hibernate. Don’t let those piles linger any longer: Walk your landscape to diagnose problems, then fix them. Cleaning up and disposing of items you no longer use costs no more than a trip to a local recycling center or donation site.

If one of these piles contains items that you use and need to keep, make it cleaner. Stack the wood using free shipping pallets to lift the logs off the ground and place simple metal stakes at each end to hold the stack in place. Or invest in a nice outdoor firewood rack. Dress up your compost bin with sunflowers or buy a compost tumbler like this Miracle-Gro dual-chambered option, a top pick in our best compost tumblers guide. You can also reuse and reuse containers, old watering buckets, and other stray items to breathe new life into them.

3. Remove the paint

landscape makeover

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Has your fence faded? If so, it is more than a horror; it may deteriorate. Rusty metal or rotting cedar are certified landscaping emergencies. Clean things up by sealing or painting the wooden fence and removing rust from the metal fence. When you’re done, the spray paint can hide the wear and protect the metal from future oxidation.

Fence paint can also add flecks of color where it might otherwise be missing. Paint a section of fence a pretty blue or lavender color, then place flower seeds like hollyhocks in contrasting colors to stand proudly in front of it. If you find your chain-link fence dreary, plant a few climbing vines and encourage them to creep and curl. Just do some research to choose plants that aren’t invasive in your area, or you could have an ugly new emergency in a few years.

RELATED: The 12 Biggest Landscaping Trends for 2022

4. Redirect rocks and cobblestones

landscaping patches

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Stones can look as messy as other garden appliances when stacked, and stone and paver borders can become misaligned from mower blows, heavy traffic, or tree roots. If your stone or cobblestone path is too uneven to follow, take some time to straighten it out. The only cost should be the replacement of broken cobblestones or stones. If the walkway is on bare ground, consider adding crusher fines or steep plants between the stones to help secure them and beautify the path.

When you feel rocks or boulders are in the wrong place or they’re sticking out too much, try moving them around with a sturdy garden cart such as this handy 8-in-1 cart and trolley, the budget choice in our guide to the best garden carts. If possible, bury large rocks and boulders a few inches deep for a more attractive and natural look. Add a plant in front of a rock or a group of rocks and you have a mini rockery.

5. Divide and Conquer Runaway Plants

landscaping patches

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Some plants have a bad reputation for being invasive, even if this is only true in certain regions or climates. Other invasive plants are more than deserving of this reputation, as they can quickly turn an orderly landscape into a disaster area. Take English ivy: the prolific vine came with European settlers and now grows across the country. If it serves good privacy purposes, keep it, but you should also track it. As an alternative, replace overgrown ivy with native vines. Virginia creeper or cross vine are excellent alternatives to English ivy.

Shrubs can also get out of control. Japanese barberry is considered invasive in some climates due to its prolific reseeding; try blueberry or winterberry instead. Limit the spread of plants by removing suckers and regrowth when they are small. Be sure to prune shrubs and vines regularly, divide clumping perennials every few years, and avoid overwatering.

6. Renovate a dilapidated driveway

landscaping patches

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Aisles support heavy loads and harsh conditions. Cracks in concrete and asphalt driveways look bad enough, but they can also expand and cause even more damage. Moisture can seep in, and it’s especially unsightly when weeds start to appear in the cracks. Repair cracks with concrete filler or asphalt filler such as CrackStix, the top pick in our sought-after guide to the best asphalt driveway crack fillers. When you’re finished, seal the surface to extend the life of your driveway and reduce future maintenance.

If your driveway just looks dreary, give it a good pressure wash. And if you still think it’s ugly afterwards, stain or paint the concrete. For those who have the funds and the desire to make an even prettier and more welcoming approach, consider a new driveway material.

7. Brighten up a sad tree

landscaping patches

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When a tree dies, some owners’ first instinct is to remove and replace it. If the tree provided essential shade, this might be your best, albeit expensive, bet. As long as a dead tree poses no risk to people or structures, you can leave it standing to continue providing shelter for birds, insects, and other critters. This may require checking with your local code or county extension agent to analyze the health of the tree.

Standing trees are perfect canvases for birdhouse collections (or to show off your DIY birdhouse), bee houses, or local outdoor art. You can also hang a few potted plants with flowers from strong branches to add color where the green has disappeared. If you must fell an old tree, leave the stump if the location seems appropriate. It can be used as a table, an informal seat or a plant stand. You can then turn the felled tree into a natural bench, divider, or a whimsical spot for your favorite forest plants.

8. Corral Containers

landscaping patches

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A pile of stacked pots can look sloppy if they’re not all the same size, shape, and color. If you have a potting bench, clean it up or choose an attractive and functional one like this model from our guide to the best potting benches. Then throw away, reuse or donate containers you haven’t used in years. Finally, organize what’s left, placing larger pots under the potting bench and lining up or stacking smaller pots and saucers.

Give old containers a nice paint job and find a place to use them. Low and wide containers can serve as pipe racks. The deeper ones can hold your gardening tools, children’s water toys or barbecue tools. Large overturned containers can often work as small side tables or plant stands for smaller pots. If you have kids, they can join in decorating some of the little containers and then showcase their artwork on patio tables.

RELATED: 14 ​​Landscaping Features That Can Hurt Your Home’s Value

9. Set up a privacy screen

landscaping patches

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What if your yard emergency is in your sight but out of your control? When neighbors have piles of trash, dead or overgrown shrubs, or dilapidated structures in their yard, you can’t fix them, but you can get rid of them as much as possible. Within the limits of municipal and neighborhood codes, install a privacy fence or a row of screened plants. Arborvitae and cypress provide rapid and tall growth.

To combine some greenery, place a trellis against your adjoining fence or a few feet inside your yard (aligned with the most common or distracting view) and plant a climbing vine. Or add a vertical garden to grow edibles, succulents, or other favorite plants. For an inexpensive alternative, you can even reuse old fences by turning them vertically. Or hang a curtain or shade screen along the side of your outdoor seating and entertaining area facing the worst views – an especially good strategy if that side also receives the hottest sun.

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