Depending on how you look at it, buying a new house without a finished backyard can either be a blessing or a curse. I have experienced a variety of feelings about this space; most of which were largely negative until we actually poured some concrete back there. Spending six months wiping dirt off our dogs paws every time they came in from the back was very tedious. Now that we have the hardscape and some preliminary landscaping in, I feel like we can actually enjoy the backyard. Me being me however, I cringe that there is no furniture (aside from our cheapie adirondacks and borrowed patio chairs) or outdoor accessories.
While we wait for the pain from the financial sting of phase one to subside, I have been daydreaming about my plans for phase two. Our lot is set up so that the main part of our backyard is actually located around the side of our house. We designed the hardscape to include two main pads divided by a grassy area. We knew we wanted to have a fire pit on one pad and use the other as a dining area. In an effort to plan ahead, we also had the dining area trenched for electrical and plumbing so that we have the option to build an outdoor kitchen later on.
Right now we have the basic structure for the fire pit and are planning on capping the top in a honed travertine. We contemplated going with built-in seating options but ultimately liked the freedom of purchasing lounge furniture. Our faded adirondacks and folding patio chairs are fine for the interim but I would love to see a nice love seat and a few deep lounge chairs so nights by the fire are a little cozier. Since we like to entertain, I want to get a few floor pillows or stools for additional seating. I’m also contemplating some sort of storage chest for blankets and other outdoor necessities.
For the landscaping, we went with a mediterranean theme and looked for plants and trees that worked with the architecture of our home and the landscaping in our front yard. I would’ve loved to have several fruitless olive trees but since they require a 10′ setback, we weren’t able to include any in the yard. I was really disappointed about that but am pretty happy with everything else we decided on. Among other things, we went with lavender, rosemary, kangaroo paw, star jasmine, cape honeysuckle, silver sheen pittosporum, podocarpus, lemon and lime trees and a metrosideros tree in lieu of the olive.
Probably the biggest obstacle in the backyard was figuring out how we wanted to conceal the AC unit. We were considering several different fencing options but ultimately decided to go with a trellace structure so as to bring in more plants rather than having another hard surface. Mr. C and the elder Mr. C spent a whole Sunday building the structure and they did an amazing job! I just need to find some finials for the posts and we will be finished with it. The bougainvillea will take a while to climb up and give us the coverage we want but when it does, it wil really add some nice color to that area of the yard.
The dining area will probably be the most fun area to design. It offers a lot of opportunity to introduce different patterns, colors and texture to the yard. The area lends well to either an oval or rectangular table for six. I want to find some great pots or big lanterns to anchor the corners of the hardscape and get a nice big rug to bring some softness to the space.
Lastly, we are still deciding on wether to go with grass or artificial turf for the center area. We are leaning towards the turf because of the easy maintenance and I like knowing there won’t be any fertilizers or chemicals that I need to worry about with the baby crawling on it. You can’t beat the look and feel of real grass, but the technology has come so far in the last few years, it can really look nice if done correctly. If any of you have any experience with artificial turf, I would love your input!!