Elana Safronsky, Managing Editor
Thursday, July 7, 2011 3:51 PM EDT
Ok, I am jealous of myself right now. I have the quintessential, romantic summer yard. But my husband and I really worked for it. We kind of deserve it. Not to mention that summer is halfway done, and only now, having started the transformation beginning of last summer, are we truly ready to enjoy it.
We chose an irregular, organic shape for the patio to keep with the vintage feel of the house (c. 1910)
Let me caution that as per usual, my shoestring makeovers are never really that simple. I apologize for being chronically misleading. Certainly with respect to time and effort invested, my mid-scale home improvement projects are as expensive as they come. But they are fatally a labour of love, and I make up for it by always coming in under budget. (Ok, my sofa makeover was a disaster.)
My backyard makeover, I am happy to report -- I hope you agree *I am beaming like a spelling bee champion* -- is a win.
Here's what we did:
More befores. Note the Tim Horton's coffee marking the first of my two chosen skids of stone (left bottom corner). You have to choose your own in a field of stone. It's stressful.
- Got rid of the cement tile walkway. OMG it was hard. And Heavy. Manual labour.
- Tore up the grassy part of the yard and resodded (ourselves.) My husband did the earth churning and prep, and I wheelbarrowed and rolled out excruciatingly heavy rolls of sod, one by one. (The raccoons were a plague. I will do a post on how to keep them from rolling back your freshly laid sod to dig for grubs. They ruined everything!)
- Also, we did our best to level our yard as it slopes down significantly toward the back. When dug up, we tried to skim earth from the higher elevation and push it toward the back. We were about 40% successful.
- Chose a shady spot between two fruit trees (crab apple and pear, which the house came with) where the grass didn't really grow, and laid a natural stone patio using Owen Sound flagstone, 1 1/2 inches thick (Beaver Valley Stone). The flag stone is bought by skid, and for our patio which is approx. 300 sq. ft., we needed two skids of stone.
- My husband's out-of-work friend who picks up contracting work on the side did the patio work, which pretty much followed this Real People Patio makeover. The stone patio, labour and stone, cost under $4,000. Just so you know, we were quoted minimum $7,000 by professional landscaping companies.There's my shoestring passcard.
- Table -- iron, custom wrought a lifetime ago, by my husband for his photography studio. At one point, it was our dining room table.
- Chairs -- two '50s wrought iron patio chairs bought at Mrs. Huizenga's in Toronto for $40 each. Desperately looking for more! Anyone?
Haha, lemons in a bowl.... (at least it's not green apples on a dark wood table.)
- '30s wood folding chairs -- bought at the Jordan, ON, Antique Market, for $25 each. They're great and go with everything. I bring them inside for larger dinner parties.
- My rattan swivel rockers hail from my porch, where they spend their winters. One I found on the curb while jogging, the other at a garage sale for $40. The cushions are from Pier 1.
Do it yourself if you can; it really is cheaper. Please research (as I will for you soon) what to do to keep the furry city dwellers from bastardizing your sodding efforts. It's maddening and will visibly maim your lawn far into the future.
Everything!! The whole thing makes me so happy, as well as my little girl who bypasses the front door on her return from daycare and heads straight for the backyard oasis.
That it took TWO summers to complete. But hey, spread over all that time, picking away at it, we hardly felt the cost incurred.
What do you guys think? Do you love it as much as I? You can be honest...