Backyard Addiction: When does it stop?

Back yard projects may spiral out of control!

Backyard Oasis

A backyard project may end up spiraling out of control.

In March of 2014, Ann and I began the project of revamping our back yard to make it more attractive and more usable at the same time. Our little urban postage-stamp yard was simply grass and a beat up shed. In fact, when you sat down on our wicker chairs, you would sink into the soft grassy area, almost falling down. Pathetic.

Our initial idea was just to install a patio paver area where we could place our patio furniture and perhaps the fire pit. Contractors are everywhere, right? Let’s just get an estimate and see where it goes. Well, this is easier said than done. We called over 10 contractors and landscape companies in the spring and got almost ZERO response. One gentleman actually came out and measured, used spray paint to mark the yard. He was never to be seen again. Why? Perhaps it was the time where most landscape companies are overwhelmed and they were far too busy to even give us an estimate. Let me rephrase that – too busy to even call us back.

We mulled over backyard ideas for over 6 months after the failed calls to the landscape companies. One day, Ann simply decided that we should do it ourselves. Frankly, I had never done pavers before but that wasn’t going to stop me. I had been in construction for quite some time and laying patio pavers should be simple, right? Turns out I was right. However, it’s hard work and labor intensive. You should also have a good back and be able to lift heavy objects.

Pergola and Hammock

We honestly tried to get it all to work, but found ourselves back to the drawing board many times.

We began shopping for paver blocks at our local home improvement center. I usually let Ann choose the ‘look-and-feel’ of the decor, since it’s probably not my strong suit anyway. Besides, she enjoys making the decor decisions (more on that later.) Once we decided on which block we were going to use, we sat down in front of the computer and learned about how to lay pavers ourselves. It wasn’t difficult at all! Soon after, the paver base gravel and paver sand were being lowered by forklift into our driveway. Here we go!

One week later we were the proud owners of our very first patio. This is where it all started. Mind you, all this happened on the weekends and weekdays after working a full day. Ann even travels quite a ways on a train to get to work, which is draining all by itself. By the time our work day ended, we would zoom home, get changed and begin digging and working.

Pergola with Lights

Our hammock pergola with lights installed

Of course, we couldn’t leave the grass and other areas untouched, so we began tilling the yard and laying landscape edging. We planted grass, painted block edging, laid pea stone, yada, yada, yada. It turned out to be a larger project than anticipated, but we didn’t mind. We were spending quality time together as a couple and making our own little oasis in our postage-stamp-sized yard.

Here’s a tip: Install some back yard audio in the yard a little early so you can have music while you work.

At the end of every work day, we’d sit on makeshift chairs and stare in awe of our creation. Every day it was getting better. We would continually say things like, “All we have to do is mulch that one area and we’re done! Whooo-hooo!”

outdoor breakfast bistro

An outdoor breakfast bistro makes a nice compliment to any back yard

Nothing could be further from the truth. As soon as that mulch bed was complete, there’s always something else waiting to be done right behind it. It’s an insatiable monster that you continually have to feed.

Ann is continually shopping for new materials, decor and other objects to decorate the oasis. You can tell by looking at it, that her style is clearly reflected in the placement and colors of the decor. I am in awe of her ability to match colors and other materials to make it look the way it does.

Here’s another example: Just last week, we decided to build a pergola to give us some shade where the hammock stand is. Great idea! We built the pergola, painted it and installed lights and curtains. It’s beautiful! Except….

Okay, so the hammock colors didn’t match – back to the drawing board. Lets order a new hammock! Sure! Okay! The new hammock doesn’t fit. It’s a vicious circle of continual work that keeps coming back around.

The latest project is a day bed in the oasis. I can almost guarantee it won’t be the last project we tackle. It’s an addiction that we can’t seem to shake.

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