At the beginning of the summer, our teeny backyard was in need of some much-needed updating. Last summer we only had a plain pop-up gazebo in it, and a lot of uneven terrain. We brought in 3 yards of dirt and evened out the ground a bit. Not level, but at least enough that the landscapers would even bother to come in and cut the grass without fear of breaking a leg.
This spring we decided it was time to spend the cash to create a little outdoor escape. Everyone who lives in Canada knows that there are only a few months that are outdoor worthy. The challenge: our yard is only 20 feet by 17. How were we to make such a teeny space a haven? Here’s how we went about it!
Step 1: Â Enlarge the Patio
Despite our frightfully small yard, we had an even smaller patio. Â The last couple of years, sitting on a 8 x 10 foot slab of concrete was just not cutting it. Â Every time we had company for a BBQ, someone was stuck sitting on the uneven grass in a wobbly lawn chair. Â We extended the patio this year by adding another 6 x 14 foot area with patio stones.
Step 2: Â Protection From the Elements
I`d seen this white gazebo at Ikea at the beginning of the season, but couldn`t justify the price when we already had a perfectly good gazebo at home. Â When our neighbour offered to help open ours up at in the spring, I couldn`t help but giggle when they laid the material over the top of the frame and I heard a big `rip!` I dutifully said that I could look for a replacement cover, when I heard a snap when my husband moved the frame. Â From that moment on, this gazebo was in my sights!
Step 3: Â Involve the kids
This was an important step, when our 1 week project turned into the 6 week project (a big chunk of which was putting this crazy play house together by hand! Â Poppet could sit there and watch us day, after day, after day – or she could help out in her own way!
Step 4: Â Create a Space Just for the Kids
Your small space backyard reno is likely being done for your own peace of mind and sanity. Â But if you have children, you want them to have an area they can be themselves in, without feeling like they are constantly under foot of the adults.
As it was important for us to have Poppet play in our yard as much as possible, we put in this awesome cedar playhouse, complete with kitchen, phone and doorbell (just ask our neighbour what he thinks of our doorbell when he slept with his window open one night and flew down the stairs at 8 AM Saturday morning thinking that someone was at his door :-)
We offset the playhouse from our seating area, and also left some green space for Poppet to romp in, sit in her little pool (thanks B &S!), or run in her flower sprinkler!
Step 5: Â Define the Space as Your Own
For us it was important to have our yard fenced. Â Poppet is only a toddler, and we wanted to ensure she would not easily be leaving our yard (she would constantly wander over to the playground if allowed). Â It also serves another important purpose. Â The neighbourhood kids LOVE the playhouse. Â One time we had 10 or so in our yard, some of whom I had never seen before! Â The fence is to make sure that when we are not home, there is a definite boundary that is not to be crossed.
It also helps keep the scavengers out of our yard (again the kids). Â Last summer I had a beautiful tomato plant, that one morning I looked out my bedroom window to see the neighbourhood kids sending the littlest one in to bring back the goods one by one!
Step 6: Â Green It Up
Since our yard was now a gentle slope, it was time to do something about the pathetic state of the grass (or lack thereof). Â The easiest solution, which was also surprisingly the least expensive, was to lay sod. Â Because we have a local sod farm that we could pick up from ourselves, we saved a lot of money and grassed our entire yard for $40.
Step 7: Â Add Plants
This is the part of the renovation that makes me the happiest. Â We have awesome neighbours, who are also awesome gardeners. Â My hubby has a great green thumb and used to enter garden contests back before he was ordained. Â Even at college we had a pond and beautiful perennial garden. Â Since moving back from the states and having a complete lack of time, we haven`t done any gardening. Â So when we came home with flowers and Â put them in the ground, I was thrilled! Â To me, colour is what makes the space!
In our yard we have annuals for instant colour, including morning-glory that is running up our lattice fence as we speak. Â We also got a Mandeville for by Poppet`s play area, which is an aggressive vine with beautiful pink flowers. Â Because it is tropical, we can also bring it inside in the winter! Â (but let`s not think about that now!)
Step 8: Â Veggies Too
At the end of our new patio I was able to plant a veggie patch in containers. Â We have eggplant, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries, green beans, and an herb pot. Â Yummy!
Step 9: Â Get Some Comfortable Seating
We went for zero gravity chairs. Â We still have our reclining patio chairs for guests, but when it is just the 3 of us, we lounge back and enjoy the scenery!
Step 10: Â Kick up Your Feet and Enjoy a Well Deserved Break!
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