The Backyard Saga, Part 1

backyard beforeI’m sharing some ROUGH pictures of our backyard today. Like, lowpoint photos. The backyard was given to us in pristine, tidy and floral condition and we’ve let it go in the worst way. Mostly, it has been distracted neglect because we’ve been so focused on interior projects. But somethings have been let go on purpose. For example, all those lovely flowers were killed off because we need to fill the planting beds to address some drainage issues and we want to replace them with low water/low maintenance alternatives. (Oh, and I’m a minimal-to-the-bone cactus lover who hates flowers). There is such potential in this space and it’s a bummer that it isn’t being fully utilized at the moment. So, we are working on it. We have some mean views out here and the backyard is so accessible from the house. I’m not sure why the kidney shaped patch of grass isn’t a pool??? But other than that, I have no complaints and can’t wait to get this in order so I can sit out here without having a panic attack.

As far as the landscaping goes, we are headed for a more deserty/minimalist/Palm Springs vibe back here. I originally thought we’d go lush/tropical/Polynesian/Tiki restaurant but the drought (and the hard truth that we are not at all green thumbs) immediately changed those ridiculous plans. Before living out of state, I could never grasp the fact that California is desert. That probably has a lot to do with the green yards of Orange County…and that I was comparing it to Arizona. But after living in other parts of the country, I get it. This is a barren desert. In the 2 years since we have been back, I think it’s rained 5 times. So that brings us to the question of having lawns in a severe drought. After receiving our first water bill ($300!), we immediately let our front and side yard lawns go but have decided to keep our smaller back patch of grass. Mostly for the sake of our kids and dog. Fake grass has a lot of selling points (and I LOOOOOVE THAT ASTROTURF IS FINALLY SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE! Finally, society) but we decided it wasn’t our best option out here. We have a dog that does dog things out here and also, since almost the entire rest of our yard will be rock hardscape, the heat island thing was a factor.

Consider this is a reverse before and after. Beautiful, pulled together befores…backyard before

backyard beforeAnd chaotic, terrible afters (you’ll notice one upgrade – concrete edging that we just put in around the lawn with its mess of tools all over the place)…backyard before

backyard before

backyard before

backyard before

Our to backyard/patio to do list, as it currently stands:

  • Remove all plants
  • Remove plastic edging around grass
  • Put in concrete curbs around grass
  • Rework sprinkler layout (parts of the grass are missed and unnecessary areas are watered)
  • Slope plant beds away from the house (planters slope towards house and are threatening our foundation)
  • Weed cloth all beds
  • Replant with drought tolerant plants
  • Fill beds with rock
  • Make/buy planters for bamboo along back retaining wall
  • Repaint back wood fence
  • ?Do something with the odd back retaining wall? At least paint it?=
  • Re-seed some grass
  • Find or make a new patio dining set (current wood Ikea set was left out during an Ohio winter and warped, plus it’s not big enough)
  • Cover patio hole in the wall (see last week’s post about that wood starburst thing hanging on the wall)
  • Eventually patch the hole in the wall
  • Buy or make a firepit
  • Find chairs for the fire-pit area
  • Re-web the lounge chairs
  • Replace mismatched patio lights
  • Find a dining light for patio
  • Replace doorbell button with this one…yes, we have a doorbell in our backyard!

Some closer looks at the patio area:

backyard before

backyard before

backyard before

backyard before

backyard before

backyard beforeA sad story: a few months ago the daughter of the former homeowners stopped by and basically said her mother would be devastated by the current state of her former yard. Ouch. But when I look at the before pictures, I understand. We live like animals. The incredible thing about all of this is that this yard area is the backyard is the smallest of FOUR TOTAL YARD AREAS on this property, one on each side of the house. So we have 3 more to go after this. And they are all looking equally as neglected. Good news is that I think we can only go up from here…? Thanks for reading about my trash yard!

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