Monday, July 11, 2011

The Backyard Project

In 2009 we bought our 3 bedroom home as a foreclosure.  Overall the interior was in pretty good shape.  The front and backyards however were in horrible condition.  The "grass" was there but dead.  It was like hay ready for harvest.  Luckily there were sprinklers there so we just watered and watered hoping something would happen.

Backyard the day we closed on our home

Side yard the day we closed on our home
 After all our watering this is what we got.  Bits of grass combined with mostly weeds.  It was really patchy and there were a ton of "sticky" weeds.  It was a really bad idea to walk out there without shoes on.
 Last year we worked on the front yard, planted grass and removed A LOT of overgrown vegetation.  This year we focused on overhauling the backyard.  With my daughter walking now and a four year old boy we really needed a place they could play safely.  And having an outdoor retreat has been a dream of ours since we lived in a small apartment when we first married.

For Easter this year my mom and dad bought the children a play structure.  At that point we knew it was time to get to work on the backyard.  We had contemplated just cutting out the "grass" in that part of the yard but we really wanted something nice.  The existing patio was a 10' x 10' slab of concrete that was only big enough to hold the barbeque and a bistro set.  My original idea for the patio was to just extend the concrete with pavers to the hill that holds the sound wall (our property backs up to a freeway, hence the sound wall).  We consulted our neighbor who works in landscaping and concrete.  He quickly sold us on taking out the small existing slab and pouring a larger concrete patio.  That conversation more than doubled our initial budget, YIKES!  But we knew we wanted something that we could be proud of and not have to re-do in a few years so we shook hands with him.  The first step was to rototill the grass and dirt again and again so new sod could be laid.  Then our neighbor and his crew framed out the new 20' x 20' patio and poured the concrete.  We decided to go with stamp and two colors which I think makes it look like a million bucks!  It did add to the cost but I really think it was worth every. single. penny. 

After the concrete was cured and we could walk on it the playset was constructed.  Altogether it took two days to build.  My husband and his buddy worked on it the first day and he and day completed it the next day.  It wasn't that bad really.  I would never have paid what the hardware store wanted for them to construct but that's just me.  I'm pretty cheap when it comes to certain things.  Um, like things I can do myself.  =)  Next we laid the sod and brought in the bark for the play area.  I was kinda nervous about the bark.  With Libby having just turned one I didn't know if she would try to eat it, or if it would produce slivers.  I had also heard that it can attract termites and cats might do their bidness in it.  I did a bit of research online and found a product called Replay made from 100% recycled rubber.  The reviews for it were excellent.  Supposedly it doesn't lose its color after a few years and it's made mostly from recycled tires.  The downside: it's pricey.  At almost $8 a bag and 22 bags later we decided a thin layer of it would work for now.  We'll add more in a few months. 

Closeup of a piece of "bark"

Side yard.  We extended the grass further than it was originally
 In those beginning stages of planing our backyard I started looking for new patio furniture.  There are so many beautiful sets out there.  And they can be EXREMELY expensive.  I found a set right away though from Ikea that I just fell in love with.  The Applaro Series was gorgeous.  I had my heart set on Applaro throughout the whole project.  Then I saw this one:

And I knew it would be perfect.  It's all weather wicker with a lovely storage table.  $300.  Three hundred dollars.  Seriously.  And the cantilever umbrella was $100.  I am dead serious.  We are planning to put up some sort of permanent arbor at some point, probably in a few years.  So the cantilever umbrella works for now.   There is sooo much room on the patio too, it's unbelievable!  

My Favorite View

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Kelly@Sense and Simplicitee said...

a great place to have a glass of lemonade

Jacqueline said...

Wow you did a wonderful job on your yard.

gena said...

Wow ! It's looking terrific - I love the patio, it does look like a million bucks !!!!

thanks for sharing !
gena said...

Looks awesome! That's a huge undertaking with great results. We had stamped concrete and pavers put in last year and we LOVE it. That furniture is a great buy too. Enjoy!

Paula said...

You did an awesome job on your yard. It is not only beautiful but very inviting.


Shannon said...

You are on your way. What a huge transformation. It looks beautiful. Your kids are so cute. You probably already know, but I thought I would mention it because I see you have little ones. The Oleander (the bushes with the pink and white flowers) are very poisonous. All parts, the sticks, leaves, and flowers. It's a great plant, showy and drought tolerant, just don't let the kids play with it. Nice toes too.

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Great transformation. I know your kids love the play area. Thanks for joining the party.

A Few Pennies said...

Very lovely space! I love your brown wicker--great job.

Carolyn said...

You have used your space well and worked hard to produce a very useful and child friendly backyard. It looks fantastic. It is always satisfying to sit back and look at what you have accomplished. Well done!