Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by Stacy (AZ)

Posted by Ben (NJ) on January 20, 2001 at 10:17:42:

since my in-laws are here, we come twice a year, January and July. However, my daughter will soon be starting school which knocks out January, and July is unbearable at 120 degrees(we run to Flagstaff). Thanks for the offer though.

Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by Stacy (AZ)

Posted by Stacy (AZ) on January 19, 2001 at 13:02:06:

I’ve made an offer (subject-to) on a two year old house. Everything is in great shape, except the back-yard is just dirt. The owner never landscaped it.

I want to sell on Contract for Deed. But, I may consider Lease/Option. What would you do with the back-yard if this was your deal? It’s not quite spring-time here in Phoenix, so planting grass is not an option.

A. Leave it as-is? After all, if I sell on CFD, it’s just like the buyers are buying the house from the builder, who also sells them with no back-yard landscaping. The downside would be that the buyers could put in landscaping that sucks, and then if I get the house back, I have to deal with it.

A-1. Leave it as-is, with a $1000 landscaping allowance on sale? Same downside as above.

B. Put in some crushed granite, trees and bushes? Probably run me about $1000 at the most. But it may get the place sold faster. However, if the buyers have kids, they may prefer grass.

Any other options?


Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by Linda B. (Phx)

Posted by Linda B. (Phx) on January 20, 2001 at 10:22:33:

We just bought a new house in Phoenix 2 months ago that had nothing but rocks and dirt in the backyard. We just ordered some top soil w/ mulch from a landscaping company and spread it around the back, threw down some ryegrass seed we got at home depot and watered it like crazy and now we have a backyard full of grass. It looks nice and it was cheap. It only took a couple of weeks for it to start to grow. Or you could do like our neighbors and have a landscaping company come and put sod in for you! Just a couple of suggestions, hope it helps.

Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by lyal

Posted by lyal on January 20, 2001 at 08:16:54:

Stacy, Why not just call a landscaping service (or several actually)and ask for suggestions? Tell them exactly what you posted here and the fact that you don’t want to tie up a bunch of money and see what they say.

Brrrrrrr is an understatement here - Posted by Chicago Steve

Posted by Chicago Steve on January 19, 2001 at 18:20:15:

While were encouraged to plant until the groud freezes we don’t have to rotate our grass crop with the seasons. Get it right the first time and regular weed and feed will last a lifetime.

Being a bit of a synic I always have to consider getting the house back and having to deal with it again. I would go with the crushed stone and plantings for the simplicity. Kids are adaptive and you can always clear an area for some grass.

I don’t believe I’d rotate my grass crop twice a year…corn, beans maybe but not a lawn.

Hope all is well.

See you in Atlanta??

Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by Jim IL

Posted by Jim IL on January 19, 2001 at 17:41:31:

Since I’m not in your climate, I cannot offer any words of wisdom about what or how to grow anything in the yard.
However, the idea of an allowance, with a high enough sale price to offset it has worked for me on other issues, like carpeting and paint, so it should work for landscaping etc as well.
Just be glad all you have is dirt and no "Creative yard ornaments."
I did a home last year that had some really interesting things in the yard.
The front yard had a sculpture in it, made from beer cans and filled with cement.
This sculpture was of a man holding a shovel, and the seller was SO proud of making it himself.
But, thanks to the cement base he had attached to it, and cement in the cans, (how do you get cement into beer cans anyway?), he left it for me.
The backyard had a “pond” in it as well, if you could call it a pond.
It was a large HOLE in the middle of the yard that the seller had dug himself and placed plants around.
The problem was not only the fact that this “pond” was ugly, but that it was not lined with anything and was breeding mosquitos.
The seller had also let his dog have the run of the yard and it made a nice dirt path all around the parimeter of the yard along the fence line.
And, the “grass” was all crab grass and full of dandelions.
What a mess!
I had to pay someone to haul in some dirt, after pumping out the “pond” and filled it in, then seeded it for grass.
I did the same with the dogs dirt path and where the sculpture used to stand.
We then had to fertilize and “Weed be gone” the remainder of the yard.
So, count yourself lucky that all you have is dirt.
That is basically a blank slate to work with in my mind and much better than it could be.

Take care and good luck,
Jim IL

Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by TRandle

Posted by TRandle on January 19, 2001 at 17:16:32:

I agree with don, even if it means raising the price to offset it. Buyers are happy with the “allowance” because they get to choose, subject to your approval, of course. I would think they would be glad to have some input into what their backyard will look like.

I haven’t had to deal with that particular issue yet, but I can’t see it being a problem. I have, on the other hand, seen numerous backyards that have “landscaping” (huge euphemism!) that present serious problems. Hope that helps…

Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by don, sdca

Posted by don, sdca on January 19, 2001 at 17:04:57:


OK, a West Coast perpective… I’d go for doing the $1000 job and try and raise the price to offset the difference. Depending on the house/etc., that should be no problem.

I think you get it “sold” faster and don’t have to worry about it anymore, unlike tenant/buyer doing it, etc.

Don’t mess with grass/sprinklers, because you might have to do it again :(:frowning:

Just my thoughts!

don, sdca

Re: Beautiful new house, back-yard is dirt. - Posted by Kate (VA)

Posted by Kate (VA) on January 19, 2001 at 15:34:39:

Maybe a truck load of mulch would help?

Re: Did I see, - Posted by Ed Copp (OH)

Posted by Ed Copp (OH) on January 19, 2001 at 14:58:34:

that the weather is COLD where you are (something like 39*)? This is not really considered winter here in the midwest.

You do not mention what you are working with in the way of soil, so I will conclude that it will come under the category of “not much” and dry.

Seed it now with the cheapest rye grass mixture that you can find, and cover with straw if you can get some. Winter makes no difference, and may be an advantage to you to do it now while it is cooler and somewhat wet. We seed grass when needed right through the snow here in the midwest, once in a while if needed.

The appearance of some straw in the back yard will indicate that the yard has been seeded, and will present itself a lot better than a bare dirt yard.

Then go to plan A. in addition and offer a landscaping allowance to the CFD buyer.

I ccc-can attest to the cold… - Posted by Ben (NJ)

Posted by Ben (NJ) on January 19, 2001 at 17:11:36:

In fact I think I brought in from NJ. Today hit about 65 degrees and was the nicest day so far. One more week here and I hope it will be nice.

Re: Brrrr… - Posted by Stacy (AZ)

Posted by Stacy (AZ) on January 19, 2001 at 16:32:25:

Soil? No comprende. Mainly rocks & sand & dirt, like every other yard in PHX. Somehow, grass still grows here in the desert, though.

Here, we use Rye grass for winter lawns. For summer, Bermuda is the only grass that can take the 110+ heat. For example, I have Burmuda grass in my yard. Every fall I scalp it, and over-seed with Rye grass. This needs to be done when temps are at a certain window so it will germinate correctly (October). Then, as summer comes (May) and temps rise to 90-100, the rye grass dies, and the Bermuda starts taking over.

So, if I planted rye now, the grass would germinate starting in late March, but be dead by June. I guess I could seed with Bermuda now…

Yes, it’s been cold and rainy in PHX in the past two weeks. But, as always, the sun’s back out and it’s warming up. Should be back to the 70s in a few days. Just in time for Tiger Woods and the Phoenix Open.

Thanks for the ideas-


Re: While you’re here… - Posted by Stacy (AZ)

Posted by Stacy (AZ) on January 19, 2001 at 19:50:56:

Ben, I hope you make it to the Phoenix Open. It’s the most highly attended golf tournament in the world. But, don’t let that stop you. (It’s mainly because of all the rich snow-birds, like you.) It’s a good time, and being out in the 75* weather will invigorate you, so you can make it another several weeks in the cold in Jersey. You deserve it for putting up with the last few weeks of rain!

Oh, yeah…wanna buy a winter home while you’re here? Possible zero down! Let me know!


Re: You have been on vacation - Posted by Ed Copp (OH)

Posted by Ed Copp (OH) on January 19, 2001 at 19:20:49:

about long enough. Back to Jersey with you, where you can engage in “winter storm watches”, rain , snow, fog and ice all on the same day.