Late summer backyard tour

August 18, 2014

I recently cleaned up the patio and deck and did some fall planting in the containers. I figured it was a good time to share the backyard! I shared it early summer last year and we’ve added quite a few plants since.

Our backyard isn’t tiny but it isn’t large by any stretch. And it has a big slope that made it hard to use. We had a deck installed soon after moving in and then our paver patio with fireplace was added a few years ago as our yay-we-are-finally-out-of-debt present to ourselves. ;)

I took a lot of pictures, bear with me! I just love it! Here’s the view on the side of the house as we walk to the backyard:

black mulch gardening beds

Those tall maples to the left used to be in our front yard and we replaced them about eight years ago because they would NOT grow. They grew all skinny and weird and looked horrible. We had the landscapers put them in the side yard, not thinking they would do any better. 

But now they are HUGE. I mean, almost taller than the house. And the newer ones up front still won’t grow. Don’t get it. :)

My limelight hydrangea to the right is doing AMAZING this year. Gah. It’s so beautiful and still growing!:

limelight hydrangea

The burning bushes lined up on the left are doing OK considering the trauma from this winter. After one of the many heavy snowfalls we walked out to find every single one of them gnawed down to half their size:

burning bushes

They were SO big and beautiful – turns out some hungry bunnies sat on the snow (that was half way up the bushes), ate the buds, and in the process gnawed off every. single. branch. I’m surprised the plants came back, but they did. It will take a few years for them to get back to the size they were last year.

To the right are some of my (many, MANY) hydrangeas:

growing hydrangeas

These aren’t getting as much light with those trees blocking most of the morning sun so I may have to move them. One is only blooming underneath, which is totally weird. The other is doing well:

pink hydrangeas

Love those pink blooms!

Last year we added a few trees to the backyard around the patio. We get full sun back there all day so we’re always trying to figure out ways to add some shade. The river birch are SO beautiful!:  river birch trees

I’ve always dreamed of having them in my landscaping. I’m obsessed with their peeling bark. They are a lovely “light” tree but do shade well.

Remember, here in about a month to six weeks plants will go on sale and it’s a perfect time to purchase and plant! I got my PeeGee trees years ago on clearance --they are probably my favorites in the backyard:

PeeGee hydrangea

The one on the left has fully bloomed, the one on the right is still finishing up. See how heavy they get when they bloom? The branches bend almost to the ground and the trunk bends as well. It’s because the blooms can get as big as my head. :)

It scares me though – I feel like they might just snap, so I may stake them to take some of that pressure off:

PeeGee hydrangea

In the fall those white blooms turn the most gorgeous pinkish green color I’ve ever seen. I adore them.

Around the corner to the back I have more hydrangea and another river birch:

river birch tree

There are four hydrangeas just right there. I’m unabashedly obsessed. :)

Most of those rocks were put in when we did the patio and goodness…who knew how expensive rocks would be?? I added a few more a couple summers ago when a friend was redoing her landscaping and getting rid of a bunch. I was happy to take them.

I have a favorite rock. Is that weird?:

growing moss on rocks

This is the only rock that grows moss every year. The moss grows between the pavers on the patio too and I’m in love.

Here’s a view to the patio from the back of the yard:

stone patio off deck

See those big fat hydrangea blooms on the right? That’s happiness right there. :)

This is one of my favorite views as you come through the other side:

flagstones in landscaping

And as you come around the corner – two of my peonies are here and a start to a butterfly garden:

white railings red deck

We have very little grass in the backyard – it’s mostly mulch. Mulch is awesome because it’s low maintenance but the mulch bill makes me sob a little bit every year:

white railings on deck

On this side of the yard I have knockouts, some evergreen bushes and another favorite, the lamb’s ear:

knockout rose bushes

The knockouts had a rough year because of the harsh winter. They did OK, but not nearly as well as most summers.

Here’s the view from the other side of the house, looking back:

I have big plans for this side – hoping next year I can make that happen. :)

Our favorite place to be in the fall is on our patio – this past spring I found a little pergola on clearance that I placed at the entrance:

stone patio

Earlier this summer I moved some furniture around on the patio and deck and I like it SO much more this way. 

Now the sectional (craigslist find years ago) is down here:

outdoor sectional

I reworked the small tables that went with it years back and now they are the coffee table in front of it – you can see how I did that here.

This weekend I moved the chairs by the fireplace around just a bit and that little change made such a big difference!:

outdoor fireplace

We used to have the chairs on the sides with the table down the middle but this is SO much more comfy. Now everyone is near the fire – love it:

outdoor fireplace seating

Sitting out here with the fire going and a glass of wine…it doesn’t get much better my friends:

outdoor fireplace on patio

You can see more of the deck in this post. I love the furniture moved around – we finally moved the potting bench up near the table so I can use it as a buffet when we entertain:

deck design

And here’s a view from the back door:

deck design

Gardening has become a passion of mine since we added the patio – I find it incredibly satisfying. The upkeep takes some time and can be hard work, but it’s worth it to me. Over the next few years I want to learn more so I can “layer” some more plants into what we already have. I love the full look of an English garden and want to try to incorporate that feel.

It’s a space I’m really proud of – the backyard is our little oasis and we absolutely LOVE our it. Can you believe fall is almost here? Even though we’ve had a pretty mild summer I’m so excited. Do you have an outdoor space you love?

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  1. i LOVE this! we just bought a house a few months ago and we have a spot that is a weed JUNGLE! no joke - some "things" are about 10 feet tall! hopefully when it cools down a bit my husband and i will be able to tackle everything and really start turning our backyard into a nice oasis :)

  2. Gardening... it's free therapy! :-) We're still working on our landscaping and figuring things out. My hydrangeas did not bloom this year, which made me sad. We get a lot of shade due to a bunch of HUGE maple trees so we're working on it. Your yard looks beautiful though and anytime you want to have me over to sit next to that fireplace with a glass of wine, you just let me know! :-)

  3. Just wanted to say that your backyard is beautiful and as for your front yard tree problem, there may be a layer of clay or other dense matter a few feet under your soil that is preventing the root system from being able to spread.

  4. Absolutely drop dead gorgeous! I love every inch of it. I'm also obsessed with hydrangeas. Thanks to the polar vortex no blooms this year for!

  5. For moss on your rocks, you might try an application of live yoghurt xx

  6. Beautiful. Our limelights are thriving after being planted last spring, but our others did not bloom much due to the winter weather we had here.

  7. It is beautiful. I am also obsessed with hydrangeas and have around 25 of them planted in the last 2 years. My limelights are blooming like crazy, the pink and blue ones not so much. A couple of them which I thought had died in the last winter are slowly coming back, but no blooms.

  8. Everything looks amazing. Just love it all my friend .

  9. Lookin' good! Love all the curves - I'm a curved bed girl.
    We had a rain storm last month and my poor Peegee was LITERALLY laying on the ground. I nearly cried. I lost two main branches, but was able to tie it up in about five places to get it upright again. Dang summer storms!

  10. LOVE all of it! The edging, the outdoor fireplace, the pergola, the playground, the awesome. I'd want to camp out in this backyard.

  11. Major yard envy happening right now! Everything is so warm and inviting, such a great yard for entertaining! Beautiful!

  12. Did you ever say what kind of mulch you use? I am completely disenchanted with what is available here in Southern Indiana -- it is powdery and filled with insects which is a major invitation for moles and voles. I love rocks and it looks like you do too -- and Dr. Dirt said that contrary to what is written -- hydrangeas in order to bloom should have some sun. I think I'm going to have to switch one of mine.

    1. Marisa I'm not sure what kind we use but I can do some checking. We've actually had something digging just in the past few days but haven't had that before. Need to get that checked out! Yes hydrangeas do need sun, typically morning sun is best.

  13. You did an amazing job! We are slowly trying to spruce up our non-existent landscaping but it’s such a slow process! I can only hope our side/back yards look half this good some day. How did you decide what things to plant?

    1. Thank you! I just go with things that appeal to me, but what I know will do OK with our temps and sun exposure. I don't have any hydrangeas on the side that gets afternoon sun -- that area has mostly peonies and knock out roses. Most of the plants are ones that I can cut flowers off of and bring inside -- that's a biggie for me. :)

  14. You have just an incredibly dreamy backyard! It is beautiful work and you can tell how much effort you have put into it. I can only dream of have a beautiful fireplace like yours. So lovely!

  15. Lovely!! I too love hydrangeas. Can't get enough. I noticed you have a large pergola on your deck. But I didn't see it in later pics. Were those just older pics from before the pergola was added? Also, I am curious as to how you did the pergola. Our back yard and deck is also mostly sun and we are constantly trying to acquire some shade. We just moved in in April and don't want to plant trees close to the deck yet until we decide on a landscaping plan. But I love the idea of adding a pergola for some dappled shade. Is yours just free-standing or is it attached to the house? Also, does it give some added shade? Are you planning on growing something up the corners? I'm not sure how to go about this but I love the look. Thanks for the lovely tour.

  16. Your backyard is so inviting that I just want to come relax and dabble in the gardens! Really! The pics just give me an "ahhhhh....relax" feeling!

    I, too, love hydrangeas. I only have two so far - both in all day sun though they will grow pretty much anywhere here in New England. I need some trees taken down (very expensive to do in Connecticut) and don't want to plant too much more only to have them squashed by trees being cut!

    Have you considered a climbing vine such as a clematis? I always thought they were picky, but as long as the roots are covered with mulch to stay cool, it has done really well for its first season with me. Though mine is on a trellis, I would like to get more to grow and wind through my rhodedenrons or a trumpet vine! That would be longer lasting color through the season!

  17. Just love your yard! We also have tons of hydrangeas and a wild English style garden. We were fortunate to buy a home last summer that already had all these wonderful plants. I have a question for you that's more related to your outdoor furniture. We used to have furniture with cushions but I got tired of running out to get them with every rain. I finally just stopped doing it and the chairs were so uncomfortable, damp long after the rain. How do you keep yours dry? I've thought of trying Neverwet when we replace our current furniture with a type that has cushions. Any suggestions?

  18. Your back yard is so lovely that I think you may need to stop calling it the back yard and start referring to it as "the garden"! So glad you're enjoying this wonderful extension of your home. :)

  19. Absolutely breath taking, can certainly see how much very hard work has gone into your yards and landscaping, patio and deck. So wonderful, must be awesome to sit out there in Spring, summer and fall. It's just about impossible here to grow hydrangeas, too dry and hot. We don't have much shade yet but our ground is very alkalic, makes growing much of anything pretty difficult. We live few miles west of Grand Junction, CO. It is very dry here which I guess is lot better than very humid, we had that in western KY where we lived before here. Anything would grow there. The longer we lived there the more plants we kept finding under over grown shrubs.
    So enjoyed seeing your wonderful yards and home. You must work very hard to keep it that way. Enjoy it. Happy week.


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