Staging Our House To Sell: Cleaning & Mulching Like Crazy

If it’s true that cleanliness is next to Godliness, then selling our house is practically turning us into saints. Not that we weren’t teetering on clean freak status before, but I’ve always considered myself more tidy than clean (i.e. clutter’s a no-no, but the tub can go unscrubbed a little longer than I’d like to admit to my mom). But now that we’ve got strangers touring the place it has kicked us into cleaning hyper drive – which I should note is much needed considering that having a newborn all but halted it for a good while this summer.

Yes, that’s me breaking out the ladder to give a good wash to the outside of our sunroom sliders. Goodbye grime, hello sold house! Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but here’s hoping my ladder hopping efforts don’t go unnoticed.

I’ll spare you photos of our other cleaning adventures (polishing all of the stainless steel fixtures, wiping down all of the kitchen cabinets, vacuuming, vacuuming, and more vacuuming…) and instead will subject you to photos of some of the curb appeal-ization that’s been going down ’round here. For example, got mulch?

It took me three separate trips to Lowe’s to get enough of it to spruce up our plant beds (I don’t normally go for the artificial color-boosted mulch, but it was on sale for the same price as the regular stuff and I figured this was one instance where “long lasting color” could do me some good). At least by the end of the day we had a crisper looking yard staring back at us.

Speaking of the yard, I’ve also been in the process of re-growing grass in some spots that the hot weather killed this summer. It’s been going surprisingly well – especially considering that our county is on emergency water restriction due to a long sweltering summer. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that mowing over it as much as I’ve had to (to keep that “maintained yard” look that buyers like) doesn’t harm those wee sprouts too much. Note: we just seeded and waited for rain- no sprinkler or fertilizer usage was required. Thankfully we’ve had our fair share of showers in the past three weeks and we’ve learned that grass really wants to grow in bare dirt. So rain plus grass seed usually equals luck.

And when I’m not mowing, I can usually be found blowing the driveway clear of acorns. We’re in the middle of our annual bombardment, courtesy of the oak trees surrounding our house, so our driveway gets littered with ’em quite quickly. Just check out the collection I’m working on at the driveway’s back corner where everything gets blown. Methinks the squirrels should hoist me over their shoulders and sing “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” for this service to them:

As much as keeping the house in ready-for-a-showing shape is exhausting, we have to admit that it is nice to live in an über-tidy house almost 24/7. And we’ve got our fingers crossed that the extra effort will pay off soon when it comes to wooing a buyer. Ok, off to remake the bed…


  1. says

    John, the lawn is looking great! I read your post on natural lawn care a while back and i’ve been obsessed with the idea ever since! I am in the process of tryyyyyyying to convince my husband to ditch his beloved fertilizers and weed killers, but i’m failing miserably. Any tips for appealing to my lawn-product junkie? haha! Thanks


    • says

      Hey Jenn,

      Patience is definitely the key. The book that I’ve been referencing drives home the fact that it might take your lawn two or three years to fully kick the drug habit (and of course it calls for more work like weeding by hand as opposed to by chemical). So maybe ask him to try it for a year or so (and offer to pitch in and pull weeds/mow/etc as well to help) and then have an agreement that if he’s not 100% happy then he’ll have your blessing to go back to his old ways. I know us guys aren’t very patient people, but if you can convince him to give it a shot he might just love it in the end. I certainly appreciate the simplicity and the whole hard-work-pays-off thing.


  2. says

    I too am more of a neat freak than a clean freak. It’s a lot easier.

    I do think the squirrels love you for it. I picked up some nuts (don’t know exactly what they are) and used them for some decorating. Then I put the rest outside and used them for fall/Halloween decorations. We went away for the weekend and came back to find every last one was gone. I’m sure the squirrels loved it. I pictured a little assembly line of squirrels passing unts down the line until they were gone and now they’re having a feast.

  3. says

    After a crazy summer, we are getting around to deep cleaning our home. Luckily we keep everything picked up so it looks clean to guests, but I know there are nests of dust bunnies that need to be evicted! Any quick tips to get things extra sparkly?

  4. Alyssa says

    We are in the process of trying to sell our house FSBO also. And I was wondering if you guys have given any thought to what percentage you would be willing to give a realtor that wanted to show your house to their client as a one-show.

    • says

      Hey Alyssa,

      It’s pretty standard around here to offer 3% to any buyers agent who brings their client to the house if that person ends up making an offer, so we’re willing to work with buyers agents and offer that 3% commission if they help us sell our house. However we’ve been pleased to find that many house hunters have called us on their own accord and asked to see the house as well, in which case we wouldn’t need to pay any commission (and could even negotiate a lower asking price due to saving that money on a realtor). We’ll keep you posted…


  5. says

    Can we have your acorns? We’re doing a fall art project and need acorns and pine cones. You should have seen us last week out on a walk “stealing” pine cones from from neighbors trees. We didn’t find any acorns though :(

  6. Nik says

    When my mom sold her house a few years ago she went through the whole “my house has to be spotless all the time because you never know when your next showing will be” phase. Heaven forbid if there was a glass left in the sink or a pair of shoes kicked off by the front door. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, all that neurotic (sp??) cleaning became a habit and her home continues to be spotless. Just makes me want to say UGH. With a 4 month old at home, who has the time to scrub the baseboards with a toothbrush?!?!

  7. Kayakgirl73 says

    I feel for you on the acorns. Our cars get bombared by them in their assigned spots at our condo. Then they get crushed and tracked in. I hate acorns. I can’t blow our spots ecause we have no where to store a blower. UGh.

  8. Angela says

    “Methinks the squirrels should hoist me over their shoulders and sing “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” for this service to them.”

    This literally made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

  9. fd says

    we’re definitely more clean freaks than clutter freaks. we love our clutter. your place is looking super. have you had many viewings yet? is it weird having strangers march through your house appreciatively?

    • says

      Hey FD,

      It’s kind of nerve-racking in that we-hope-they-love it sense, but we have faith that the right people will find our house and it’ll be love at first sight, just like it was for us! Here’s hoping…


  10. says

    We’re having the hardest time trying to get grass to grow in our front yard. We had to tear it up because of MAJOR plumbing issues. Since the yard has a steep slope towards the street, all of our grass seeds seem to just roll down the hill when we water. Any suggestions on how to keep them in place? I know you don’t have this same problem but I figured y’all might know a little somthin about this DIY lawn stuff.

    Here’s a few pics at what our terrible lawn looks like

    PS: I’ve seen a TON of crafts lately that use acorns. Y’all are sitting on a craft gold mine!

    • says

      Hey Liz,

      Maybe try tossing down some straw to keep it in place? They also sell seed that comes in a roll (it’s kind of worked in with a roll of straw and top soil and stuff to keep it in place and nourish it) so you could grab that and roll it out on the slope and it’ll hopefully stay put. Good luck!


  11. says

    A man and his mulch, it’s a beautiful thing.

    Kind of like a dog and his (owner’s) bed, eh?

    The dark color of that mulch and the greeness of the lawn are really big things. As people going through the first-time home buyer process right now, I can’t tell you how much of a good first impression that makes when you see a well manicured lawn/landscape.

    And when we were younger, we used to gather all the acorns that fell and try to pelt each other with them. Now they’re just a nusance. Like Mike (above) said, how time’s have changed.

  12. Jackie says

    I think even if your house wasn’t super tidy and clean it would still sell and sell quick. Come on…it’s the house featured on YHL!

  13. LauraC says

    Unfortunately, my living room mantel and built-ins get dusted approximately four times a year: every time I change out the decor for the season! It just never really looks dusty, so it tends to get ignored. So I hear ya with the neater-more-than-cleaner habit!

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