Monday, June 29, 2015

Backyard Tour, 2015!

Well hello there! I've got a ton of pics for you today! I figured since it's rained approximately 20 out of the past 22 days, I'd share the backyard garden tour now. Everything is CRAZY lush and full and it's insane how much everything is growing right now. 

I've shared this tour for the past few years and I love showing off our backyard. I've worked crazy hard on it! Gardening is a passion of mine and I love adding to it every year. We picked this lot for the tree line behind the house, but the yard itself had quite a slope to it. The size was great, it's just with the slope it was hard to do much with it. The first thing we did was have a huge deck built on the back about a year after we moved in. 

Then years ago after we paid off our massive debt and had saved up for months, we added our first big project to this house in the form of a stone patio and a fireplace. We live in a neighborhood with houses right next to us on both sides but our backyard feels like a true, private oasis. We absolutely LOVE it. 

The latest addition was just a few weeks ago when we had the pergola built. Other than staining that and the deck later this fall we are done with big projects out here. :) 

The plants were all picked by me and most were planted by me as well. This is the view as you come around the side of our house: 

black mulch in garden

I have to show you how much everything has grown! This was that same view last year: 

backyard garden

If I had waited just another week or so, that hydrangea bush would be blooming like mad again. :)

But do you see how much the maples have grown?? We need to do some serious trimming because between the hydrangea growing bigger than ever and the trees, we can barely walk through there. 

This is what cracks me up about those trees -- they used to sit in the front yard and would NOT grow. They would grow all oompa loompa like with the leaves right up the middle and nothing else. We replaced them a long time ago and had them planted back here and after a year they absolutely shot up. They are huge now -- almost taller than the house. For a lot that's only a little over eleven years old I love having tall trees like these: 

backyard garden dark mulch
Those burning bushes were actually bigger than that a couple years ago, but during a really harsh winter a couple seasons ago, the snow was piled up to the top of them and the bunnies ate them down to the ground. We weren't even sure they would survive. It was insane how much damage they did -- that winter sucked. :)

I found this old pic to show you how different this area looks now: 

The trees have grown ten feet in four years, easy. 

One of my favorite things to do every day or two is walk around the garden and check out the blooms on the plants. This limelight hydrangea is one of my favorites and I've been watching for blooms: 

limelight hydrangea

I didn't check on it for a few days because of rain and I went out over the weekend to see it -- I couldn't even believe how much it had grown. It is MASSIVE. I literally stood out there and gasped because it had grown about two feet wider. And there are a ton of blooms -- it's going to be gorgeous this year! 

Here's the size of it last month to give you an idea how much it's grown in all this rain: 

The pergola is our pride and joy right now. We didn't build it but it's still our pride and joy. Ha! I did end up changing the design of the outdoor lights: 
pergola on deck
I shared more about the lights and how much we love them here. One of my readers shared how they hung theirs like this and the more I looked at it the more I liked it. It was SO much easier to install this way too -- I just used nails for now (there's a hole on each light for installation). I did some measurements and the two strands covered the beams exactly. This way they'll be much easier to remove when we stain too. 

My peony is done blooming but I always keep the green till next spring. You'll notice a trend as we walk around the garden. Hydrangeas. And more hydrangeas. 

I'm obsessed: 

wood pergola with lights

Another favorite of mine are knock out roses. I was late in pruning this year so this one isn't nearly as big as in years past. I love that they are constantly blooming and giving the backyard color: 

knock out roses

One of my favorite spots is down around the corner behind the fireplace. Years back I planted the two pee gee hydrangea trees and they are my favorite. (I say that about a lot of things back here but I really dig these.) The blooms get absolutely massive. It will be July before we'll see flowers on there: 

hydrangeas in landscaping

They are cone-shaped white blooms that turn the most gorgeous pinkish green in the fall. I adore them. 

I planted a climbing hydrangea years ago and it's never bloomed -- fingers crossed for next year. I love that it creeps up the stone though.

Around the corner from there are…wait for it. Hydrangeas: 

lacecap hydrangeas

I have close to 20 now between the back and front. I can't get enough. Every year it is an ongoing struggle for me -- I want to cut off the blooms and bring them all inside. But they bring me so much joy out here too, even if it's just us that sees them most of the time. 

Here's a view from the bottom of our yard up to the house: 

deck and patio in backyard

I say the bottom because of the slope back there. I think they told us it was like ten feet down from the back of the house. We don't have much to mow but it is a workout with the steep grade. 

Around the corner from the back is the playset and my butterfly garden. :) I started it last year and finished it up last month: 

patio with pergola
I haven't seen many butterflies yet, but at at least it's all growing! 

One of my favorite parts of the backyard are the natural looking stones in the landscaping. A friend of ours did the hardscaping (and the patio) and they did such a beautiful job:
rocks as stepping stones

The fireplace was a splurge -- it is absolutely wonderful on fall evenings: 

stone fireplace outside

We use it throughout the summer on cooler nights too. 

We have a ton of entertaining space out here -- it really is a dream come true to have this beautiful backyard. I use my DIY potting bench all the time for planting, but it's also the perfect spot for food and drinks when we entertain out here: 

DIY potting bench

Some of you wanted to see how the pergola fit in with the rest of the patio and hopefully this helps give you an idea: 

patio with fireplace

This was that view years ago before the patio was built: 


Look at my baby! So little!! Sniff. 

Around the other side I have more knock out bushes and one of my newest favorites -- the lamb's ear: 


Those are growing like mad this year too and for the first time have flowers! I had no idea they flowered -- they are the coolest plants (and great in full sun). 

Well that's the tour for you this year. Whew! I cut this down from well over 100 pics. I kind of love it. :) Every year I add a little more to the landscaping -- this year it was the butterfly garden. I'll have to show you more of that when everything is blooming. I have only purchased ONE hydrangea this year and that is for the front of the house, so be proud of me. :) 

I hope you enjoyed the tour! We are crazy lucky to have this space and thoroughly enjoy it. I'll share the pergola again later in early fall when we are able to stain it: 

pergola on deck

If you have questions about anything please feel free to ask! To see last year's tour of the backyard go here and to see how much it's changed since we had the patio put in four years ago, go here. (Even I was surprised at how different the landscaping looks!) 

45 comments:

  1. Oh Sarah, your yard is so beautiful. I love it so much. My husband was glancing over my shoulder and said, "it's bangin" -that means really, really nice!!!!

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  2. So jealous!! We have a serious drought in CA so with the exception of our Queen Palms, it's all dead :( Hopefully we'll have a wet winter and can rescue it for next summer!

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  3. It is so beautiful Sarah, I agree with Brandi's hubby, its bangin!!

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  4. Wow, I love to see the growth!!

    Did you install you own pavers? I love the mix of shapes and colors. We are thinking about putting some in soon. Just need to save a bit more if professionals are a must! Thanks!

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    1. Because of the slope we had it done by professionals. I've laid them before and it's probably one of my least favorite projects. ;) There was actually a LOT of prep work they did to get things level -- after watching I realized it was way beyond my ability. (They trucked in tons of dirt and gravel.) If you have a relatively flat yard it's not that difficult to do, it's just hard labor.

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  5. Your yard is stunning and soooo relaxing! I love everything about it and I really admire your gardening skills!

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  6. I love your pergola! I'm trying to convince my husband that we need one of those - I'll have to show him your pictures :)

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  7. A true private oasis, indeed! Simply gorgeous! Thanks for sharing :)

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  8. Your limelight's make me jealous!! The darn deer keep trimming mine for me. :-(

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    1. I'm not surprised! I think it helps that ours is right by the house. Our hostas way back in the back are nubs right now because of them. :)

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  9. Gorgeous yard! We have slowly been adding to ours the past couple of years, including a butterfly garden last year as well. It went completely nuts this year & blooms are huge.
    I am jotting down all kinds of notes - I live in Chicago, so our weather has been about the same. Question - we, too, have a huge slope in our yard. We currently have a brick patio & my husband has been wanting to extend it & add a deck. I keep telling him it would look odd with the brick we already have, but it looks like you have both. Are they connected? Can you give more details on the 2?

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    1. Yes they are connected! The patio starts right at the base of the deck steps at the back. I think a deck would be lovely! It helps to break things up a bit and adds some interest.

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  10. This is just absolutely gorgeous, I wish I could pay you to come make our yard as beautiful as yours!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

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  11. Love it! I also envy the rain and large plants. We live in the mojave desert in Cali and are struggling to keep our two trees and three bushes alive through the drought :( I was wondering, did you have to get a permit for the pergola?

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    1. Thank you! We did not have to get a permit, thankfully. :) If it was attached to the house I believe you would, but it depends on your area.

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  12. Wondering if Hydrangeas winter over or do they start new each year? I have a few here on the West Coast and they die down then regrow on last year's dead twigs...but that means they never grow very big (maybe about one foot). I remember when I was growing up my Mom always had very full, large bushes of Hyrdrangeas. Any advice?

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    1. Don't know if this is any help?
      http://hydrangeashydrangeas.com/pruning.html
      http://www.waysidegardens.com/wg-hydrangea-guide/a/324/

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    2. Yes they start new each year -- I wonder if it's your climate maybe? Do you get a lot of rain? I do prune my dead wood every spring and that seems to help!

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  13. Seeing your "before" photos makes me feel like even more of a complete klutz when it comes to outdoor spaces :) There is NO WAY that I could even dream up something that fantastic. Seriously. Freaking magical.

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  14. Your yard is gorgeous! I have a half acre and am completely overwhelmed with what to do with it. I wish I had your eye and green thumb.

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  15. Your backyard is absolutely beautiful!!! Love it all!!!

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  16. Renee in MichiganJune 30, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    Sarah, it's beautiful! It's my inspiration to have a fireplace like that one day and a pergola and big trees ����Curious as to what the backyard looks like from an upstairs window ? Also are the winding beds around the trees and burning bushes something you have to re mulch every year or do you just turn over the mulch and it looks pretty again. We are struggling with our beds needing fresh mulch ever year as it washes away or gets gross from the snow,etc every winter. Off to pin your pics again to my backyard dreams on Pinterest.

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    1. Thank you Renee! We usually do mulch every year. It actually holds up well and keeps it's color but we do it yearly because of all of the leaves. They just take over in the fall and then even after clean up they leave a mess. If you don't have a lot of trees you could get away with every other year I'm sure!

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  17. What kind of trees are the ones that you moved from the front yard? I need a fast grower like that for privacy!

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    1. They are maples -- I'm not sure if they are typically fast growers but these finally took off! Pear trees are a good option for a fast grower. They get pretty large so make sure you have room. :)

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  18. You have such talent! Beautiful home and gardens! Thank you for sharing with us!

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  19. Just beautiful what you have done. I'm in awe just staring at all the hard work and the beautiful plants and how it all ties in so perfectly. I wanted to also give you a small piece of advice on the lamb's ear - it is pretty invasive if it's not in a container. I had it take over several beds!! Thank you for sharing your lovely outdoor area with us. It's inspiring!!!

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    1. Thank you! It's grown a ton this year with all the rain -- I can definitely see how that would happen! I'll have to watch it.

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  20. very pretty. simple, yet elegant, love it! 2 questions though - what is the square object on the deck that looks like has gravel on top? Is that another fire pit of some sort? Looks to be to the right of the Pergola? and i am trying to figure out if i want to put mulch or stone around our foundation. Your dark mulch really looks pretty. do you have any kind of perimeter around it, to hold it in place, or is it just laying on the grass/dirt freely? you really make me want to get my rump moving on finishing our yard...darn you!!!

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    1. That is a gas fire pit. :) When they do the mulch they dig down around it with a spade in a way that prevents the grass from growing. It's pretty awesome but I've never mastered it myself. I hope to try it again soon so I can share the technique.

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  21. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. How do you keep the beds so cleaned and free from weeds? I'm hoping you have a great tip other than weeding it all by hand. 😀

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    1. Thank you! Some of the beds stay pretty weed free, it's weird. The most they get are occasional trees sprouting up and I hand pull those. Other places grow thistle like mad and I either pull by hand (after rain so it's much easier) or I use this tool I blogged about last summer: http://www.thriftydecorchick.com/2014/05/weeding-easy-way.html

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  22. Your back yard looks amazing! Can you share what kind of mulch you use? I love the look and color of it!

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    1. Thank you! I am not sure -- we have it put down since there's so much of it. It's black and supposed to keep it's color well all season -- it does! I will ask our friend who does it for us what it's called.

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  23. I am very envious of your yard! I live in the desert in Souhwest Riverside County, CA, and needless to say, don't have that kind of environment. I miss it from when I grew up in the St. Louis area, however. Enjoy it!

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  24. Good Heavens!! It's beautiful. You have every reason to be proud. It is truly a magazine-worthy back yard, and I can appreciate how much work you have put into it. It's nice to know you have not only done almost all that work, but that you can actually enjoy it almost year round is wonderful.

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  25. SO gorgeous girl! And I love that someone is as obsessed with hydrangeas as I am. ;)

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  26. Just as your garden, I'm turning green this very moment! my backyard looks like your before pic. You've created the most beautiful space out there. I cannot pick a favorite, the fireplace, the pergola, the plants... The whole space is gorgeous!

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  27. Absolutely beautiful.... I'd be out there every evening.

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  28. Your backyard is gorgous!! I would be out there everyday its like a little oasis away from home, and that pergola, and those lights oo my heart :)

    What a difference over the years wow! Great work

    Lauren Baxter | LB Designs
    xx

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  29. Looks beautiful. I understand your hydrangea obsession - I have 19, and 19 roses as well. They are great shrubs.

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  30. Oh, I love your pergola and lights! We won't be building a deck this year (maybe next summer??) but I'll have to get in touch with you about who you used!

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