A Total Yard Revamp: By the Numbers

Okay, folks. Here is the part I am usually most curious about: how much stuff did I buy for Operation: Chaos into Beauty?

Note:  I did not include the driveway demo/install here, because that was a unique requirement and didn’t have that much to do with turning a lawn into a garden.

The purpose of this post is to give those of you out there with a desire to take on a similar project some idea of the cost. As a reminder, here’s the plan of my yard:


Each of those grid blocks is 1ft x 1ft, to give you an idea of scale. Now let’s get to those numbers!


From my first trip to the store to filling in my walkways, this project took 10 weeks to complete. Could it have been finished sooner? Of course. But I had evenings and weekends to work (and one of those weekends was spent on a mini-vacation).


This project took 162 retaining wall blocks (lined up along the left edge of my garden), about 40 more than I’d calculated. This is a prime example of project creep.


101 bags of mulch ended up going into the yard. Could I have used more? Yeah. This is another area where the number kept creeping up. Next time, I’ll rent a pickup and buy in bulk. Granted, this can be difficult to coordinate when you’re one person, working full-time. But we aren’t doing this because it’s easy, right?


I drive a RAV4, which has excellent cargo space for something so easy to drive and park. However, the size of my car means that I took 15 trips to Lowes for materials. Although I ordered some things online and shopped at a few other places, Lowes was my main source for piecemeal materials because they offer me a 10% veterans discount.

Now let’s talk money!

Y’all. I didn’t have a firm number when I planned this project, and it ended up costing me. I don’t have any serious regrets, but I spent more than I would’ve guessed.

(quiet sobbing into my empty purse)

But on a serious note, I could afford it. Don’t take on a project like this unless you have the cash. How much cash?


Let’s break that number down:

  • $409.89 in plants (this also includes plant-related items like weed cloth; the tiller rental cost also went here)
  • $195.49 in mulch
  • $155.87 in irrigation (I splurged on automatic timers for my soaker hoses – these are an essential if you live in a hot climate)
  • $429.59 in what I called “hard materials,” which includes things like retaining wall blocks and plastic edging
  • $417.18 in fencing (including the stain)
  • $286.05 for the dry creekbed materials
  • $185.59 in decor (including things like the glider bench and birdbath)

There are definitely areas that could’ve been slimmed down. The dry creekbed was more or less a whim . . . that ended up costing major moolah. That was a planning (or lack thereof) fail. And if I’d bought my mulch in bulk, I could’ve saved money there. I was actually surprised to see my plants total because I was buying them on clearance and in seed form – except that I’d buy plants on almost every trip to the store.

All in all, I’m very happy with how the yard’s looking so far. If you plan to undertake a project like this, here are a few tips:

  • Take advantage of discounts and sales.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, start with a small scale and build up from there (so you can avoid an expense whim).
  • Work at a slow and steady pace so you don’t burn yourself out.
  • Be prepared for a ton of neighbors to come out of the woodwork and talk to you while you’re trying to shovel mulch/stain a fence/etc. It won’t matter if you look like garbage and have earbuds in your ears. They will force themselves in your way.

But the most important tip:

  • Do it. If this is something you really want to do, don’t wait.


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