Before we show you the progress we made on the back yard this weekend, we wanted to give you an idea of our transformational plans for the space. The last you saw, the Locust tree had been chopped but the stump remained. Since, the stump has been removed in turn for mulch, and we have a great big area of open space to play in. As an added bonus, there are some lilacs that provide the border to our yard with the eastern neighbors and they are just thriving in the sun. The backyard is much warmer and i think will be a better place to hang out once we get this all done.
So, being an architect and all, here is a plan of what we hope the yard will look like someday:
Here is a description of what we are thinking:
1. Patio. We will lay a 12′ x 17′ concrete paver patio below the dining room window just adjacent to the back of the house. We are planning a 2′ border bed between the patio and the house to give a backdrop that isn’t just yellow vinyl siding. We did some research last weekend, and decided to go with 8″x16″ gray concrete pavers in a quarter turn pattern. Yes, its a budget approach. Yes, we are on a budget. There are about a million things that look nicer, but we’re hoping this will be clean, simple, with a little geometry.
In the bed against the house, we have a couple perennials, including day lilies, irises, St. Elmo’s fire Lobelia, and some English Daisies. Some of these we bought at the NW Perennial Alliance sale, and some were very generously gifted by D’s mom, Lisa. (and flown back from NJ in the procress!). Then, around those we will plant some bulbs for summer blooms, specifically gladiolus, ranunculas, and a mix of crocosmias. Colors are mostly red, orange, and pink to complement our yellow house.
Adjacent to the patio we will also have a rain barrel as a simple sustainable way to water some of the nearby plants. We won’t be watering the yard or anything with it, however, because it turn out a 55 gallon barrel doesn’t go nearly as far as you think! Eventually the patio area will get a fire pit or pizza oven, but thats too ambitious for this summer.
2. Raised beds. At the east edge of the yard (left as you’re looking to the back of the property), where the tree used to live, we will have a series of raised beds. 4 for now, but with room to grow. We have been building these out of our reclaimed cedar that we scored off craigslist for $80 total. We adapted a simple design from Sunset with varying shapes staggered, and they’re looking pretty good.
We intentionally are leaving space between the beds and the east fence so that we can access from both sides to weed, plant, prune, etc. Behind we will plant walkable groundcover of baby tears (don’t ask me why its named this) and stepping stones to make a nice pathway.
The front bed will be our dahlia garden. We bought, oh, about 15 varieties (yah, we got a little out of control at the nursery). This bed we built a little taller so it can double as a bench at the corner (thats a seperate project). Second bed, logan berries in a shallow bed so we can pick easily from both sides. Third bed, veggies including lettuce, tomatoes, leeks, shallots, and who knows what else. Fourth bed, more veggies and some harvest items like zucchini, squash, pumpkin, etc.
At the front of the raised beds, we plan to wrap the corner with three herbaceous peonies which should provide good pops of color before the dahlias bloom. One dark pink, one medium, one white.
3. Fence border. This is where we still have 2 fairly scraggly trees – 1 hawthorne and 1 hawthorne/cherry growing together. Also a simple chain link fence. So, we have some screening grasses (zebra grass), a large flowering perennial (kerria japonica gifted from my aunt barb) shade perennials (hostas, hellebore, ferns) and a wildflower garden planned. The wildflower garden will grow along the west side of our property to the location where our new compost bin is planned. An area that won’t get much attention but will still hopefully look nice.
For now the back of the yard is going to stay as-is. We have a nice-ish cherry, some holly, and various native perennials holding down the fort back there. We have great privacy from the neighbors, and it adds a little shade, so we’re good with that. We’ll have the wood pile (stacked like Lincoln logs) along the fence back there to add a little visual interest.
While it might seem like we are leaving not much open space, have no fear. We have made sure to leave plenty of lawn for resale value. With an elementary school and church on our street, we are quite aware that we are appealing to young families and want to leave lots of grass to run and play. However, we just have a lot more land than we thought!
Stay tuned for preliminary progress photos.