Check out the before and after of our backyard makeover, including how we incorporated an area for kids, a veggie garden, and landscaping that maximizes the space!
Affiliate links used in this post. Read more about my link usage here.
Last time I showed you our backyard, it was kind of a blank slate. I took a picture the day we closed on our home of what was basically a big pile of dirt.
We had big plans of doing something with this space a few months after we moved in, but decided to just hold off on it until the spring. Well, since then, it had gotten a little bit out of control.
Basically, we had plopped a bunch of toys in the back (that we couldn't use because of the mud and weeds) and had done absolutely nothing to keep the space clear. And it was a big giant mess by the end of March. There were trees everywhere (yes, small trees had grown), so the back half of the cleared space in our yard was unusable. We couldn't really use the front half either because of the dirt. If it was at all wet, it was a mess.
So a couple of weeks ago, we decided to do something about it!
We had two big things that needed to go in this space: a large play area for the kids and a garden. I've wanted to do a big vegetable garden for years, but while we were renting, it just wasn't feasible to have one. I knew I wanted something we could use long-term in this home.
We went back and forth on what we wanted for the kids' play area. We knew we needed something safe under their play equipment, but we wanted something that would encourage play too.
And then there was the great debate of this spring: to pool or not to pool. It's something I really wanted and Noah was very adamantly against. He won. Marriage is all about compromise, people. 😉 I ultimately realized it wasn't a great idea since the kids aren't great swimmers yet and we aren't quite ready to fence off our yard. We do have uncleared space behind what we just landscaped that could be cleared out for a pool in the future, if needed. We'll see – I'm thinking, if we do, it'll be a 5-10 years from now kind of project.
So, a couple of weeks ago, our landscaper and his team got to work! We are very much DIY people when it makes sense, but this just didn't for us. Some of you long-time readers might remember that I swore I would never lay sod again – and I'm still sticking to that. It's insanely hard work and it's worth every penny to hire this out.
This was a week-long project. It took an entire day to clear out that mess behind the play equipment! By the end of day 3, we were starting to see the layout of the backyard.
And by day 5, we had an entirely new space!
Let's take a little tour.
Besides the obvious sod, the play area was the biggest upgrade in the backyard. We decided on play sand to go under the swing set – not only did it make the area safer, but it gave the kids something to play in too. So far it's been great! We've had to get them used to washing it off every time they come in the house, but it really isn't a big issue (we have a spout on our back deck, so it's on the way in anyway).
Emmie got this sweet little house on her first birthday. It's made it through 3 moves and the kids still love it!
We also have space for a trampoline on the left side. I actually had an in-ground trampoline planned for the backyard that, through a miscommunication, was dug up by the landscaper. I was a little devastated. I still might put it back in, I haven't decided! (And I have the pictures for a post about it, I haven't decided if I'm going to publish it or not since it's not there anymore. I might!)
Behind the play area, we have a huge (12×24′) garden that's already full of baby vegetable plants! Hopefully, by the end of the season, we have lots of tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries.
Looking back towards out house, we have our deck and a small sitting area with two of my favorite furniture pieces we own. These were made by a friend from church and bought at a church youth auction a couple of years ago. They're so comfy!
On our deck, we currently have this mess. 😉 Our adirondack chairs were in this area, but since we need a seating area on the ground, it's kind of become the kids' pool/play area. I'm still honestly trying to figure out this space – it's kind of narrow (one of the things we'd change now if we could), so it's too small for a table, but needs something.
But the views off the side are incredible!
I keep my herbs (rosemary, basil, and cilantro) in a little planter on the deck so they're easy to grab while I'm cooking. Emmie acquired the styrofoam cup of mustard plants from school (if anybody knows what in the world to do with those, please let me know). I love having these so convenient to the kitchen!
Then, looking into our screened-in porch (which we LOVE), we have a little sitting area! The furniture is a new find, as is the outdoor rug (which coincidentally and unintentionally matches a couple of throw rugs we have inside the house).
The table actually has storage, which is perfect for holding Hardy's dog food (since we feed him on the deck). It also displays the prettiest little orchid ever, which was given to me by Emmie.
The only thing Emmie had to say when she gave it to me was not to kill it. 😂 So far, so good!
We have absolutely loved this space for drinking coffee in the mornings, and when it's nice, working in the afternoons. With the woods surrounding the house (and lots and lots of critters making noises), it's actually really peaceful!
This is finally a space we can use and love. We are so happy with what it has turned into!