Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Place to Play, Yard Remodel Part 1

When we bought our home, the yard was on the chopping block.  I thought I'd rip everything out and put in an oversized spa.  Maybe a California room.  But everything green was going to go and I was going to pave paradise.

I remember our first day in our new home.  We opened the back doors and our Italian Greyhound raced out the door and started running and rolling all over her very first yard.  It was such a beautiful mement that the yard was saved.

That was 7 years ago.  The entire time I've disliked the yard.  It's not that it's horrible, but there were problems.  One major problem is that I have a major grass allergy.  When the gardeners cut the grass, I'd have to close all of the windows.  Also, keeping the grass healthy and alive was a challenge.  The turf was all on the same irrigation timer and half of it would be a muddy marsh and the other half would bake.

We sat down and talked about what we really wanted our yard to be: a place to play.  Some elements that were important to me in the planning:

A safe place for the kids to run around and be kids.

A space that could change and grow as our family does

As much privacy as possible
Something beautiful.

A managable side yard-  Our side yard was all dirt.  I dug up and capped a sprinkler line not long after we moved in (it was literally just making a muddy mess) but dragging the trash cans through the dirt every week was miserable.

First we had to decide what would stay and what would go.

The grass was no contest: it goes.  It's stupid to have something at your home that causes you that much suffering.  We decided we'd replace it with artificial turf.  It would still provide a fun play area for the kids without the water waste, mud, or allergies.

The hedges were a challenge.  I've always resented the real estate they use in our already small yard.  However the more we talked and thought about it, the more we realizd we really appreciated the privacy they added.  Verdict: Stays

The Patio went back and forth.  My husband has never been a big fan.  my initial idea was to chop off the arch and run the concrete to the back wall.  One of the things we both love about our house is the semicircles.  They carry throughout our house, from the front door, to the interior arches to our bedroom windows.  I liked the idea of keeing the shape and I was afraid it would make the yard seem too disjointed.  Verdict: Stays
Can't find a great picture of just the patio pre-construction

Palm Trees. We had three in our yard.  I love the sound of the palm trees and I love the shifting light under the trees.  I hate the crap palm trees drop everywhere.  I also hate the air roots our treas had developed.  I also didn't really want to cut into the turf area with even more tree wells.  Verdict: 2 go, 1 stays.

We have planters against our house.  They once held flowers, but lately they are our garden.  I like gardening and I think it's great for the kids to have dirt to play in and plants to take care of.  It was staying for sure.  I actually decided to extend it a bit.

The back 'planter' has never done very well and I hate the opening in the hedges that basically frames our neighbors house in our yard, so this planter had to leave.

The side patio has been through quite a few ideas as well.  At one point we considered incorporating the area into the house since it seemed like such a waste where it was.  The shape was weird and we've always thought itw as basically good for nothing.  Ultimately we decided to extend the patio and tie it into the paving for the trash cans.  While not perfect, at least it was logical!

We aren't huge fans of the trees in this area and we considered removing them and paving to the wall, but the trees block my bathroom window and I really didn't like the idea of giving up that bit of privacy between our home and our neighbors, so the trees stayed.

I drafted up some rough plans, got a contractor on board and got to work!  Next week: underground!

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