The Backyard Progress

Hello HELLO! The weekend is here, whoo hoo! I am SO excited to share some of the progress on our backyard project with you today. :)

This is the first time we’ve hired out for anything big in about six years – the last time was for our deck. I’ve mentioned how COOL it is to see the transformation and not have to DO anything…and we realized about one day into it that there is no way we could have DIY’d this project. No way Joesay.

Our backyard is a little funky…when we moved in it was a decent size, but it has such a steep grade, it just wasn’t very usable. Which is funny because we picked our lot (we were one of the first on our street) because the backyard was more flat than the others. That tells you what we had to work with. :)

So that first summer, we added a very (very) large deck. It covered a big portion of the steep part, but we still had a decent hill back there. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it probably drops a good couple of feet over just a span of a few yards:

Which from the inside – I really love. It looks like we’re in a tree house. ;)

imageThe deck took up a huge part of the yard, but the thing is, we’re not particularly outdoorsy types. As far as, playing outside all day types. We’re more lounge on the deck eating dinner, chillin’, drinking a glass of wine types.

You know…I’d rather not sweat, thanks anyway, I’ll just sit here, lazybones. ;)

We spend way more time on the deck than we do in the yard anyway – grilling, eating, hanging. The Bub even has his basket ball hoop up there. Other than using the play set, or to lay in the hammock (told you -- slothlike), we don’t use the yard much.

So one day, while out with the Bub and the dog, I got an idea. We have a set of long, wide steps coming down from our deck. Why not create a patio at the bottom of the stairs, to extend our “usable” space?

Initially the idea was to just put a little half circle patio at the bottom, and put our fire pit and a couple of chairs on it. I even thought could do it ourselves. Well…you know how that goes – the itty bitty DIY patio got a little bit bigger and a lot less DIY. ;)

We worked with a landscaper and he came up with a plan that knocked our socks off. They started last week:

I wish I would have gotten pictures of the massive trench they dug to start the project – this patio will outlast our house, for reals.

And I can’t even begin to tell you how much gravel and sand they’ve used. It’s insane.

The bottom step off of our deck always bugged me because it was such a big one – the hill in our backyard made a normal step much bigger. So I was thrilled when they took out that step and took the patio right up to the deck:

They finished up the main part of the walls and most of the gravel and leveling a few days ago:

And over the past couple of days, they’ve been doing the meticulous work of laying pavers:

I always thought you just kind of did a pattern and plopped them in, but they have been so detailed with it –- picking out pavers in certain tones and stacking them by color, then arranging them just so on the patio. And OH my goodness, the little corner pieces that need to be cut down have to be just the right size. So much work -- they’ve done such a great job.

Because our deck has a redwood stain (more on that later!), I picked out pavers that have some red and grey. We LOVE it. We had three options – non tumbled:non tumbled pavers

And tumbled:tumbled pavers

And the version we picked, where the top has that tumbled texture to it.

Our landscaper said sometimes those can be an issue with chairs and tables (wobbling), but the furniture we got for this space (on clearance, yahoo!) has thicker legs. And we’ll deal even if it does cause problems because we. LOVE. it. :)

The walls are made up of a variety of stones:


The top section above the bull-nosed ledge isn’t completed yet, hence the holes. :)

It’s going to be great, because people (you know, the people at all the parties we’ll have) will be able to sit along the wall, or use it to set things on. But from the yard side, it looks nice and finished and will be softened with landscaping.

We have a bit of landscaping that will happen for sure now, and the entire area around the deck and patio will be mulched and be ready for plants. We’re not sure yet if we’ll do all of the planting this fall or not. I’ve picked up a few beauties here and there on clearance, but otherwise we want to take our time and make sure it’s planned out well. (And the landscaping ain’t gonna be cheap. This is already our birthday, Christmas and anniversary gift to each other for the next ten years or so.)

But the best part – the part that has us positively giddy with excitement, is this bad boy:

Awwww yeah!! An outdoor fireplace! I’m pinching myself. (Gleefully!) Hubby (and I, who am I kidding?) have dreamed of one of these for years and years. It’s going to be so awesome! (Picture me doing the Elaine Benes dance of joy right there on the patio.)

It will be faced with a different kind of (flat) stone, and will have a hearth in front. We figure we’ll get use out of the fireplace for most of the year – we can totally see ourselves cuddled up on chairs in front of the fire well into November, maybe even later. And come March, we’ll be back out there.

Obviously we are losing a big chunk of our yard, but we decided to just go for it – we’re going to be in this house for a long time, God willing, so we want to use it how WE want to use it. We’ve still got plenty of backyard and large side yards to throw the ball with the Bub or whatever.

And it just fits us, like I mentioned before. We never used our yard well – now we will.

The next phase of the backyard project will be to clear out the brush back in our tree line. When the landscaper first came out to our house, he pointed out the massive amounts of poison ivy:

He said in all his years of doing this, he’s never seen that much in a yard – ever. It goes along the whole tree line, up into trees, everywhere.

And we had no clue. Nice. :) They are removing that (thank you professionals!!), and eventually we will clear out the space back in the trees, plant more along the back of the tree line, and in the end will extend our “yard” by a good 10 to 15 feet.

It won’t be playing ball kind of space, but it will be perfect for the hammock, or a set of chairs, or a lovely shade garden. :) Some of our neighbors cleared it out way deep into the trees and created some really fun spaces, so I’m excited about the possibilities!

But that will be phase two, for next summer. For now, it’s been a blast to watch the progress every day. As of today, they are almost done with the patio, and then the fireplace work will start. I think they’ll be moving on to landscaping work next week – which means a KILLER party (or two?) will be in the works very soon. ;)

In the meantime…I may have some pallets at my disposal!:

I’m going to see if I can keep a few – maybe a potting bench? Planters? I don’t know, I don’t know!

So, that’s the progress so far! It feels like we are gaining square footage – it’s so awesome. I hope to show you the finished product in a couple weeks, fingers and toes crossed.

And I need to clarify for my hubby’s sake that our backyard is usually not dead grass and weeds like you see all over these pictures. ;) The heat in July was killer and we didn’t waste time or money on dead grass and weeds, knowing it would be trampled. Just so you know. Cause my hubby is as proud of our lawn as I am of our house. ;)

Have you worked on any big outdoor projects this summer? Have you DIY’d your own patio? I’d love to hear!

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