Friday, August 19, 2011

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:

IMG_6378

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!

68 comments:

  1. very exciting...such fun to see a big backyard transformation...as for the poison ivy...welcome to my world...every time we get one area purged we find it somewhere else...sigh...can't wait to see your patio all finished!

    alison

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, that looks like so much fun! I bet you guys will have a blast making use of such a great space that wasn't being used before. Unfortunately, my hubby would never allow such a cut into the yard. I swear, pretty, well-cut green grass is his pride and joy :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, girl! that is looking SO great, I know you are excited. Love outdoor projects like that. You will not regret having all this useful space to enjoy. I'm loving that you have the same lattice rug that I bought for our back porch project. Don't you love it?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. An outdoor fireplace, omg! I am soooo jealous! I can't wait to see it all finished, I bet it's going to look AMAZING!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks great!! So exciting...our next outdoor project will be a paver patio. Probably pay to install...and we want a firepit/fireplace too! We did DIY some retaining walls this summer...

    http://homedaybook.blogspot.com/2011/08/wall-project-reveal.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Sweet fancy Moses." (Said in response to your Elaine Benes dance) ;) LOVE the outdoor fireplace. That is going to be amazing. You have such a great outdoor space. Have fun with those pallets!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh. My. Awesomeness... my poor back patio slab of concrete is so jealous! ; ) Can't wait to see the finished project!

    ~Kristin

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have the perfect use for pallets, and I've been trying to find some myself :) While digging around on Pinterest I found a rolling patio table using repurposed pallets, and I am dying to make one!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh I am envious, putting in a pavered patio is our fall project. I am loving the pics, it's helping me visualize all the diy work we will be doing. My boys and husband got poison ivy for the first time 2 weeks a go. It was awful to clear up. Glad for you that is will be gone. Love your project.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's looking awesome. We did a similar project to an unused portion of our front yard, fireplace, pergola, retaining wall, etc. I wheel barreled 7 and 1/2 yards of pea gravel into the space by myself. Sometimes it's nice to hire help. Can't wait to see the finished project.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Looks amazing! So nice to have it done, too...we have been working on our yard for two summers now, and we are nearly at the finish line. It was a house that was abandoned for a few years, so we had HEAPS of work to do-we put the garden in the front, flagstoned a third of what was left, and then had just a swath of sod laid in to soften it all. The backyard is big-nice and flat, then terraced( talk about a slope!!! we fenced some of it this year) and we will add sunflowers and shasta daisies there next year. I just painted our Adirondack chairs, and we are down to finishing one last planting area in the front this weekend-woohoo! But as we all know...nothing is ever finished :P

    ReplyDelete
  12. Holy patio Batman!! That is gorgeous!! I love love outdoor fireplaces. We have a small-ish backyard so we wont be able to do something like that but I dream of one day putting in a hot tub.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ahh, it's looking soo good Sarah!! How exciting for you. I can't believe there's soo much poison oak in your yard and you didn't know. Ugh, I've gotten it several times as a kids and it. is. not. fun! You're lucky none of you have gotten it. Can't wait to see your yard all done. The fireplace is going to be amazing. How cool!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. We DIY'd our patio last summer, it was a tough job but we LOVE it! SO excited to see your final result, the outdoor fireplace will be awesome!

    http://thriftyfindsandredesigns.blogspot.com/2011/07/our-backyard-patio.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. Holy moly that's a big patio! You are going to love the outdoor fireplace. Our neighbors have one, and every Fall I am totally jealous of them :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. That is some serious awesomeness. I already know I'm gonna cry when I see the fireplace done. I DREAM of outdoor fireplaces. I DROOL over outdoor fireplaces. I COVET outdoor fireplaces. Here's what I was able to cram into my teeny tiny yard:

    http://rindymae.blogspot.com/2011/07/fire-fire-part-2.html

    Not as magnificent as yours will be, but we love it and we're constantly using it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. WOW! That is going to be one awesome patio when it's done. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very very nice - good call on using the pros. (That's a big honkin' project and by the time you rented the equipment and made umpteen trips to the big box stores for everything, not to mention the time it takes...yeah, good call. You're gonna love that fireplace! We are blessed with a really nice-size deck on our new-to-us house, but we're already talking about creating a poured concrete area below it, and having it cut and stained to look like bluestone pavers. Room for seating and probably another hot tub, because once you have one, you really really want one :-) Enjoy your new outdoor space!

    ReplyDelete
  19. We had an outdoor fireplace built a couple of years ago, and we love it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love your outdoor patio. The fireplace will be enjoyed all year if you can stand it. When we had one in Connecticut we had a fire in it if: it was chilly, cloudy, snowy, cold, the kids were bored, I needed some quiet time, it was dark, it was dusk, it was early morning and no one else was up, we wanted S'mores, somebody needed to get away from somebody else, it was the weekend, it was a holiday, we had company, it was a birthday of somebody, somebody gave us a pallet that we had no use for, we just wanted a fire. Bet you'll find all kinds of reasons too. Enjoy!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    We haven't done much outside at this house because it's just too dang hot in North Carolina to do much outside.

    But when we lived in Michigan, we did TONS of work in our yard. That was 'way back in the 90's, back when our kids were little ones. Oh, the backbreaking labor we put into that yard! But it was awesome--we were outside so much in the summer up there! It really WAS like having extra square footage. (In the winter, we just looked out the window and dreamed of the summer. )

    Good for you!! Can I come to a party at your house?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Your patio is going to be fabulous. I love it. The fireplace is wonderful. You are going to just live there. Hugs, Marty

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is so awesome and to have it done by someone else and watch the progress must be sheer heaven. Can't wait to see the end result. I can see some early Fall get togethers on that new patio!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Very, very awesome! I'm new to your blog and have been enjoying your posts.

    Enjoy your patio!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Looking great! I'd just loooove an outdoor fireplace...I may be a little bit jealous. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  26. That is a lot of poison ivy... I am surprised you haven't gathered up those pretty little leaves and made a colorful Fall wreath ;)

    All kidding aside, your yard is going to be so nice when it is done.

    xoxo Bunny Jean
    Home to Wednesday's Bunny Hop Party

    ReplyDelete
  27. sooo jealous of your outdoor fireplace! You are going to have one heck of a backyard! FUN!

    ReplyDelete
  28. You are going to really enjoy that outdoor space when it is complete. It will be fun to decorate, too!

    I'm itching to do a pallet project and have a few squirreled away in my basement.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow!like a dream, looking forward to more pics.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, wow, wow!!! I have always dreamed of a patio coming off of our deck. . .can't wait to see how it all turns out :) Bet your Bub has enjoyed seeing all these men at work every day too. It *is* fun to see someone else doing the work sometimes. . .a different kind of satisfaction. This should be done just in time for your favorite season too. Awesomeness.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ooooh keep the pallets!! I saw a project once where they were turned into a great outdoor coffee table . . .

    ReplyDelete
  32. Looks GREAT!! You must be so excited. I have a post that I am going to be posting soon on installing a brick patio ourselves. Soon, hopefully! So come on over and follow my blog to see this and other projects.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I love what you are doing so far. We just got through with our first phase of our outdoor dream as well. I really wanted pavers but wound up with stamped concrete...our yard is really crazy! We already had a fire going last night, and it was 80 degrees LOL. Enjoy, can't wait to see the continued progress.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh it is all sounds so wonderful. How exciting. An outdoor fireplace too, sounds fabulous. Enjoy. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  35. where did you get that ready-to-install fireplace action?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oh my gosh, it looks awesome! Can't wait to see the finished product. What great parties you can plan, through the fall as well!

    Susan

    ReplyDelete
  37. Just this week I pinned on Pinterest a pic of a pallet swing.
    Here's the link to the directions
    http://sherylsalisburyphotography.com/2011/07/weekly-wanderings-western-oklahoma-photographer-3/
    It looks so easy! I can't wait to see what your backyard looks like "finished"!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Just this week I pinned on Pinterest a pic of a pallet swing.
    Here's the link to the directions
    http://sherylsalisburyphotography.com/2011/07/weekly-wanderings-western-oklahoma-photographer-3/
    It looks so easy! I can't wait to see what your backyard looks like "finished"!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Can't wait to see the final pics once the fireplace is complete. It looks great so far!

    ReplyDelete
  40. It's coming along beautifully! I love watching the progress of that stuff, so thanks for posting that! Aren't you glad this isn't a DIY project? :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Oh wow! It's going to be so awesome! Someday I want an outdoor fireplace. I can't wait to see it when it's all finished.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your patio looks beautiful! My hub and I have been wanting to build an outdoor fireplace too. Would you consider writing a post about how you built yours? Thanks so much for your continued generosity in sharing your wonderful ideas. I have learned a lot from you!

    ReplyDelete
  43. When you do get around to it, you should put a treehouse/fort back in the trees for the little guy. He'll love having a secret hide out SO MUCH!!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. That is so awesome! I am loving the updates -- keep 'em coming!

    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  45. OMG,this is incredible! Must reattach my lower jaw! Check out Ana White's blog for great things (inlcuding outdoor furniture) to build with pallets/reclaimed wood!

    Ciao!
    Guerrina in CT

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi I'm a new reader and I just wanted to tell you that you inspire me! Love the progress on the backyard!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Now this is seriously WOW:) I love the oven - can't wait to see it finished:)
    Have a great Monday:)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Pretty! Pretty! Pretty! I like that you're making your home fit YOU, not some future imaginary buyer. That's genius my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Wow that patio is going to be amazing. We just built a patio this summer and it was a ton of work. Sit back and enjoy taking a break on this project.

    ReplyDelete
  50. How howww awesome and exciting! I'm super jealous as I also have a huge slopping back yard that I've always detested. Just an FYI to anyone that may be tempted to scavage a pallet or two laying around on a construction site. Be sure to ask before taking. We have a small const. business and most of our suppliers will charge us $75 if we do not return our pallets. OUCH!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Lovely, lovely! The outdoor fireplace is going to be so awesome.

    Do you happen to know how the professionals are going to get rid fo the poison ivy? I just encountered a bunch in a friend's new house (the hard way of course), and I'm wondering how you get rid of it.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  52. So jeal of your outdoor fireplace! It's going to look great. We just finished putting in a small pond into the garden bed and we love it!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Here is an idea for your pallets. I cut 4 for my daughters room yesterday. I almost threw the pallets away. Sooo glad I saw that before they got to the trash!! Love you deck and patio. :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Forgot to actually put the link to the shelves in there:

    http://so-laura.blogspot.com/2011/05/wooden-pallet-inspiration.html

    ReplyDelete
  55. you could paint a quote on the pallets!! they might be to spaced out though. we found an etsy store that did that and highlighted on our blog recently.

    http://www.paisleyprintshoes.com/?p=581

    ReplyDelete
  56. check pinterest for ideas for pallets: swing, outdoor seating, tons of options!!
    good luck

    ReplyDelete
  57. This is amazing...SO much work involved, and it looks terrific!! PS -- my boys love to build with pallets.
    Stacy

    ReplyDelete
  58. Wow - it's looking AWESOME!!! And that outdoor fireplace? FABULOUS!!!

    xoxox
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  59. What an inspiration that backyard project is turning out to be for all of us. My only project is painting...whew.

    Zetaclear

    ReplyDelete
  60. So amazing! I saw on pinterest a twin headboard out of a pallet...just a thought! I know you'll think of something!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Oh I love the fireplace idea!! Is this a kit or a personal design? Cant wait to see the final product. This might make it to my honey-do list. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Love it...our big back yard project was a POOL! Let me say, it has been well worth the wait. I have wanted my whole 35 years of living! I have pictures of it up on FB if you want to see the transformation so far.

    ReplyDelete
  63. It's going to be so nice when it's finished. I look forward to seeing the pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  64. http://tatertotsandjello.blogspot.com/2011/08/keeping-it-real-im-looking-for-virtual.html

    I saw this post and thought of you with your extra pallets :)

    ReplyDelete
  65. Oh me oh my! An outdoor fireplace?!!! Shut. The. Door.
    That place is going to be awesome, girl! Now I am really going to have to come up and see you again soon. Good times to be had with my little Bub out there. :)
    Love you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  66. We just did a paver patio off our back deck, too. We don't have the wonderful fireplace, but I still really like our end result.

    http://www.christybphotography.com/blog/2011/08/backyard-renovation/

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!