It’s been a while since we’ve tackled a big project around the house, but I think the next one will be worth the wait. Ten years ago, when we picked out our lot to build on, we paid a premium for a larger backyard. While it was worth the price, we still haven’t optimized the space for ourselves or for entertaining.
Our covered patio area is on the side of the house, which has pros and cons. It’s nice that it’s always shaded, and is protected by the house on two sides.
In 2017, we switched the patio’s function from a dining area to more of a living room, which was an improvement, but we still had challenges, including feeling disconnected from the back lawn. Here’s what it looked like right after that makeover.
Four years later, it’s no longer looking that good. However, the biggest issue was that the space surrounding the patio had become a constant mud-pit. Anytime it rains, the dogs end up walking through mud for a week each time they go to the bathroom. Not fun.
There’s a similar issue at the back of the yard. When we look out from the house, we see either standing water, mud, or dry dirt. The old trees right beyond our fence are beautiful and great for shade, but they’re overdue for pruning and so dense that the grass is also completely gone from that section of the yard.
Here’s a picture from this week looking back towards the house that shows the whole area we’ll be tackling. It’s dry right now, so at least it’s dirt instead of mud.
We’ve put off trying to fix these things for way too long. I’ve even had an outdoor dining table and chairs in the attic for FOUR YEARS because that’s how long we’ve intended to extend the concrete patio.
I guess we should pause and thank the wild winter weather this year for killing all our established front bushes, motivating us to interview landscapers. Since they were already out to give us quotes on the front, we decided to tackle the problems in the back at the same time.
And then we decided this was the year to finally turn it into the backyard we’ve dreamed of from the beginning, instead of just fixing the essentials. Ready to see the plans!?!
Here’s the first plan from the landscaper. He drew up what we discussed and it’s so pretty!
After we thought about it for a while, we decided to reconfigure the patio extension a bit to make sure we had plenty of room for a fire pit AND the dining table outside of the current porch. And we moved the location of the built-in bar. I grabbed the whiteout and a marker and adapted the plan a bit.
Ah, that’s better!
The sideyard will get some re-grading, along with large flagstone pavers connecting the patio to the gate. Instead of grass, we’ll have a hardy groundcover in this area, Moneywort/creeping Jenny. To provide evening shade for what will be the grilling area, we’ll add a tree, along with beds of Azaleas, Hydrangeas, Hostas and more along the fence and house.
It will be so nice to see something other than mud and a fence out our kitchen nook windows!
Working our way to the existing patio, it will be extended to the side by four feet to add room for grilling. Our makeshift concrete pavers under the old grill didn’t quite cut it. Instead of keeping the covered patio zone a living room set up, we’re adding a bar perpendicular to the grill as shown in the mock-up below. This area WILL still be covered, it’s just open in the rendering to give a better view of the layout.
When we built the house, we added an outlet for a TV above the window, but we’ve never had a patio layout that made sense to add the TV. Now, we can grill and eat at the bar while watching football or basketball. Hooray!
The existing outdoor couch will be moved further out toward the backyard, but still under the porch, so we have a comfy spot to read or relax. That only works because the patio will be extended way out into the yard to create more room for outdoor furniture.
Directly back from the existing porch, we’ll have enough room to create a fire pit area for cooler nights. From there, the concrete will wrap around the back of the house, creating space for that dining room table I mentioned earlier. To soften up all that concrete, there will be a row of bushes between the living room windows and the outdoor “dining” space.
Between the end of the dining zone and the corner of our house, we’ll have another bed of pretty plantings, which will help block the view of the neighbor’s house.
Lastly, the trees in the back will be trimmed up to create a higher canopy and reclaim some of that yard space since you’ll hit your head trying to walk back there right now. Gus is going to be annoyed that he won’t be able to jump up and grab branches for fun like he can now. Once the trees are trimmed, fescue will be planted since it requires less sun to stay healthy.
Corey put together a rough rendering for us to get a good feeling for the space. It doesn’t have the exact planting beds or plants, but it’s close enough to make us very excited about the project!
It will be quite the transformation from the current, sad state! We’re still waiting on a final start date from the landscaper, but we’re finally close to the top of his list. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll be ready to share the “after” photos.