How to Clean Up Your Yard When You Have no Idea Where to Start

One of the biggest issues I have had with this house is the exterior. Especially now that most of the big projects are done inside.  It seems like whenever we invite someone new over I always give the disclaimer of “I know the outside is a hideous mess but I promise the inside is completely different”.

First impressions are a huge deal and the curb appeal of this house is giving a seriously bad first impression. If future renters saw a listing of this house and all they saw was the exterior I have no doubt that would seriously limit the pool of potential tenants.

Some very generous photos of what the exterior looks like (taken in the summer)

This spring I want to get serious about bringing in some much-needed curb appeal (and I think I have probably said that before). But, the problem was I had no idea where to start because there are seriously SO many issues. I think this is a common problem a lot of people face, so I wanted to share my process for figuring out where to get started.


I originally was going to call this step a brainstorm but quickly changed that because I have been brainstorming ideas for like ever. Really this is a brain dump because I’m putting all the crap in my brain down on paper.

To do this step just think about all the issues that are going on, anything that you would like to accomplish, and just write it down. Write stuff down that you know you won’t get to until years later, and write stuff down that you don’t have a budget for yet. The goal here is just to get your thoughts down on the page so that you can start to realize what your overall vision is and set goals.

My yard is a yucky mess, but there are also costly cosmetic fixes that I would like to do. I just wrote everything down even though I know it might be a long shot to accomplish these things in the short term, or even at all since big changes have to have landlord approval.

When doing this step I also put various amounts of dollar signs next to certain items based on how much I guessed they would cost.

This is purely a guess on how expensive things are. I did not do any research at this phase on how much these things will actually cost, I will do that later. This just gives me an idea of when/if I will accomplish these projects and how big of a priority they are.

2. Recognize what is easiest to accomplish, and will make the most impact

After I dumped out all my ideas I starred the things that will have the most impact and those are the things that I will start with. There’s no point in thinking about painting the house to make it all pretty if there is a yard full of leaves and junk. For this spring I absolutely want to focus on:

  • Cleaning up the leaves and pine needles from the yard and all the “garden beds”
  • Getting rid of the junk in the yard by the garage, by the house, on the porch, etc.
  • Get the village to actually fix the driveway this spring. It’s a serious mud pit over here

3. Identify projects that should be done soon but aren’t huge eye sores

These are the kinds of things that are preventing you from adding all the pretty stuff to your yard, or things that are pretty much necessary but aren’t awful to look at. On my list these things include:

  • Make pallet compost bin
  • Kill moss
  • Wash outsides of windows
  • Plant grass seed
  • Power wash: house, porch, garage, and cement
  • Remove rock beds from South and East sides of house
  • Trim trees if needed

Most of the things on this list are pre-cursors to the tasks that I don’t have the budget for yet or need time to get to (the remaining things on the list)

4. Research, Planning, and Goal Setting.

This phase is somewhat ongoing and is really where you can get into either a loss of steam or seeing some real progress. Set specific goals that are realistic and have relative deadlines attached to them. This way you will know what to work on when, and you can manage your time between other projects.

Pinterest is what I use the most for research and planning. Once I have my general ideas down I start to look up specifics to see how I am going to do a project. You won’t need to do this for everything you have in mind but it’s helpful when taking on a big project or a project that requires learning a new skill.

One thing I found recently is an article on maintaining dirt roads and driveways. I won’t be able to accomplish it myself but I have a better idea of what the village should be doing to repair our driveway. Basically, the research and planning notes should be a more detailed explanation of the project. This is what my notes for the driveway look like:

This process is something I do for a lot of projects even when I somewhat have an idea of where to start, it doesn’t have to be just for your yard. I feel like this system helps me to make actual progress instead of constantly rethinking the first step and remembering all the projects I want to do.

What do you do to help you accomplish big projects? Let me know in the comments!

See You Around! (and have fun crossing stuff off your lists) 😀

Lauren ❤

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7 thoughts on “How to Clean Up Your Yard When You Have no Idea Where to Start

  1. This looks like a solid process. I’ve had to start doing something similar because my thoughts were just getting too scattered. Bits here and bits there with no end vision in sight.

    Liked by 1 person

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