Our Flip: Taking The Pool From Gross To Grand

As you all know, the pool at our flip was the area of the house that made us the most nervous when we bought it back in June:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

It was filled with algae from years of neglect, the tile was dingy and dated, the entire backyard was taken up with cracked concrete decking, and the landscaping was a total joke.  It was a total nail-biter – could we pull this off?  Could we really turn it into a backyard that a family would love?

Well, you all know now that we not only managed to get the pool situation under control, but we turned it into a highlight of the house:

Our Flip: They Can Take the Heat

Here’s a behind the scenes look at how we did it, from the funky beginning to the awesome end.  Here we go!!

We knew that this pool was going to need a serious makeover if it was going to live up to the rest of the house.  I’m talking new plaster, tile, coping – the works!  But before we could get started on all the fun stuff, the pool had to be completely drained.  Here’s what it looked like:

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

Ew, right?  And let me tell you, all that nasty algae was stinky.  Super stinky.  I don’t know why I didn’t expect that, but I was totally surprised.  Luckily, the stinkiness didn’t last too long.  Once the pool was totally drained and cleaned, a new surface of fancy 3M quartz plaster was applied.  We were going for a tropical feel, so we opted for a colored plaster rather than the traditional white plaster – the plaster is slightly tinted blue, so the water looks all ocean-y and gorgeous.

Once the new plaster went up, it was time for the tile!!!  A crew of guys stood on these funky little metal risers all day and applied sheet after sheet of earthy-toned mosaic tiles:

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

The people at the tile place kept trying to convince us to choose those tiles that you always see in pools – 6 x 6 tiles in bright blue.  Those are really pretty, but we wanted something different, something a little fun.  I drove around for about a week with a box full of tile samples in my car, asking everyone that rode in my car which tiles they liked best – kind of like a fashion show for tile.  In the end, we decided on these and I am beyond thrilled with how they came out!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

While all the plastering and tiling was going on, the huge expanse of concrete decking was also being broken up with a jackhammer and removed.  We agonized forever over what to do with the decking – it took up almost the entire yard so there was virtually no grass or anywhere for kids or pets to play.  It was also cracked and pretty unsightly.  We ultimately decided to just get rid of it and put in a lawn – that way the new homeowners would have a true yard in addition to a pool, and we imaged that the pool would look really cool surrounded by grass, almost like a pond.

I do not envy the people that got the job of jackhammering up the decking.  The concrete was about 6 inches thick, and reinforced with steel rebar – it was a huge job!!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

After all the decking was hauled away, it was time for the new flagstone coping.  Since we had removed the decking, we went for coping that is wider than standard so that the edge of the pool would look more substantial.  We also asked for the flagstone to be chiseled in an irregular pattern so that the edges would look more natural.  We love the way it turned out!!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

The new cedar pergola went up in a flash while another crew was working on the pool – it’s a huge improvement over the old plastic sheeting that used to shade the patio.  Even though we hated to cut down a tree, we ultimately had no choice but to remove the sculpted tree and bushes right by the pergola – they were totally blocking access to the stairs in the pool!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

Now that all the decking was gone, we needed to spread oodles of dirt across the entire backyard to raise the ground level to match up with the edge of the pool.  It was a huge endeavor undertaken by Landscaper Jared, and you can get the full scoop about that fun project right here.

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

After the dirt was added and about a zillion pieces of sod were laid, it was time for the fun part – landscaping!!!

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

I dished the dirt (literally) about how we turned the landscaping into a tropical paradise here, and you can get the 411 about all the plants we chose right here.

One of the last touches that we added to the landscaping was about 20 bags of black mulch – I think the people at Lowe’s thought we were crazy when we were loading up the truck:

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

We added mulch to the planting beds for a few reasons: (1) mulch would help reduce the number of weeds that grew in the beds (thereby reducing the amount of weeding that we would have to do), (2) mulch helps the plants’ roots retain water to get through the Texas heat, and (3) mulch makes the beds look awesome!!!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

While any old mulch will help out your plants, black mulch is totally my favorite color of mulch because the vibrant colors of the plants really pop against the black background.  However, you will be covered from head to toe in black mulch dirt, and your fingernails definitely will not thank you.

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

One of the final things that was completed in the backyard was the tiling of the patio – I told you all about the transformation here.  I am head over heels for the result!!

Our Flip: Raise the Flag

Our finishing touch was to add flagstone stepping stones from the patio to the pool.  Not only does it look pretty, but it prevents people from tracking grass into the pool – gotta love form and function!!

Our Flip: Taking the Pool from Gross to Grand

So there you have it – the entire tale of how the pool at the flip went from an eyesore that no one would dare to swim in to an inviting tropical paradise that just begs for you to jump right in.

Our Flip: They Can Take the Heat

We love to spend a hot afternoon floating around in this pool – there’s no better way to beat the heat!  How about you guys?  Now that summer is drawing to an end, what will you miss most about those lazy days of summer?  Or are you ready to bid the heat adieu and bring on the fall?

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts!

Pick The Perfect Exterior Paint Colors In A Snap

Before we got ahold of it, the front yard at the flip was a hot mess:

We're Flipping Out

The house was barely even visible behind two humongous magnolia trees that totally obscured the roof and most of the exterior – which might have been a good thing, given the not-so-lovely appearance of the house at that time.

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

And not only were the magnolia trees obscuring the house, they were blocking out so much sunlight with their dense and low-hanging limbs that grass couldn’t even grow over much of the yard – mmm, mud yard – just what everyone wants!

Jason and I knew that the trees were awesome so we didn’t want to cut them down, but we didn’t really know what could be done to (a) let the grass grow, (b) let the house be seen, and (c) let potential buyers mosey up the sidewalk without getting whacked by branches.  After we asked around a bit, my aunt came up with this brilliant yet common-sense solution – lift their skirts!!  (Her words, not mine!!).

Enter Landscaper Jared – you might remember him from such adventures as Fun With Big Machines and Backyard Oasis.  I think it’s only fitting that the Landscaper Jared series gets a third installment, don’t you?

Anyway, Landscaper Jared shimmied right up those ginormous magnolias with a rented chainsaw in one hand and his life insurance policy in the other – kids, don’t try this at home!

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

Those low-hanging branches didn’t stand a chance!

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

After we waited a few hours and didn’t hear any sirens, we swung back by the flip and were greeted by this awesome sight:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

Have you ever seen so many branches in your entire life?  It took three trips to the dump to get rid of that huge pile.

After the magnolias were pruned and the ground was touched by sunlight for the first time in decades, we knew that anything we planted would finally have a chance for survival – no more mud pit!!  We trekked over to Home Depot and bought a slew of bushes, plants and flowers – red tip photinas, holly bushes, purple ferns, and impatiens.  Once we hauled them back to the house in Landscaper Jared’s truck, we spaced out each plant and flower on either side of the house:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

That gave us a chance to eyeball the arrangement and spacing before Landscaper Jared planted all those puppies:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

In no time, the front of the flip was looking about a thousand times better.  But even though the beds full of ivy were no longer, the front yard was still begging for some new sod:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

Landscaper Jared laid about a pallet and a half of St. Augustine over the bare spots in the front yard:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

Curious how Landscaper Jared got the grass to curve around the flower beds oh-so-perfectly?  I was too, until I spied Landscaper Jared with his secret weapon:

Our Flip: Lift Their Skirts

A machete!!  Apparently he just gives the grass a few whacks with his trusty machete and he gets a perfect cut every time – man, I wish I had known that when we were laying sod in our backyard!

Pick The Perfect Exterior Paint Colors In A Snap

The lawn has now settled in and is happy as a clam, and the new plantings are looking fab.  Have any of you tackled laying sod before?  Got any landscaping tips or tricks up your sleeve?  Fill us in!

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

It’s a total oasis, I tell ya.

Our Flip: They Can Take the Heat

Remember that awesome brother-in-law of mine?  The landscaper?  Let me refresh your memory:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Well, it turns out that Jared’s also a miracle worker.

When we first bought the flip, the backyard was abysmal.  And that’s being kind.

Our Flip: Before - Back Patio

Before - Pool & Backyard

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

See what I mean?  We knew that it had potential, and that it could eventually turn into a huge selling point for the house – but there sure was a long way to go.

I’ll fill you in on all the details with the pool later, but the landscaping was a huge hurdle all in itself.  Basically, there wasn’t any landscaping.  No grass, no flowers, no plants – it was kind of a wasteland back there.  And there were lots of stumps – oodles of them.

There was no question that the stumps had to go – so two awesome guys went to work and had them all removed within 2 days (they might also be upgraded to miracle worker status).  Take a look at this big sucker, mid-demolish:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

It doesn’t look too impressive in the picture, but trust me – in person it was about 2 feet in diameter!

Once the ground was clear, my fancy brother-in-law Jared got to work bringing in the fill dirt and leveling out the backyard – remember that escapade?  Then he laid out these big rocks to form the two planting beds:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

I was very impressed that he managed to manhandle these ginormous and heavy beasts into position.

Then it was time for the sod – ahh, the sod:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

It took about a pallet and a half to fully sod the backyard – that’s a lot!!  (And all while working in 100+ Texas heat – I’m pretty sure Jared deserves a medal).

After the sod was down, it was time for the fun stuff – plants!!!  The hubby and I took our merry selves to Lowes and had quite the field day in the tropical plant section – no backyard oasis is complete without tropical plants, you know!!

After we wrestled all the plants back to the flip, we laid them all out into position – it took us awhile, and we took turns telling each other where to move the plants.  And let me tell you, some of those palm trees are really prickly!!  My right arm looked like I had lost a fight with a fork (ok, I’m exaggerating, but it wasn’t pretty).  Here are the plants all lined up and ready to find their places:

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

And here are all those gorgeous plants in their new homes:

Our Flip: They Can Take the Heat

And sorry, I couldn’t resist – they were begging to be photographed from every angle, so here you go!

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Our Flip: Backyard Oasis

Our Flip: They Can Take the Heat

Awesome, right??  Here’s a huge thank you to Jared, who gave up oodles of time to help us out and created a totally gorgeous backyard oasis that any buyer is sure to adore.  Thank you!!

So what do you guys think?  Are you ready to move in yet?  I know I’m ready to jump in that pool!!  What’s your backyard like – did you go tropical, go for all lawn, or are you a sucker for bushes and flower beds?  We want to hear about it!!  (And later I’ll fill you guys in on the plants that we chose, so stay tuned!)

P.S.  A little birdie told me that Jared is thinking about moving to Dallas next year to start his own landscaping company – how cool would that be???

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