Monday, August 26, 2013

backyard makeover

For the past few years our backyard, which was in poor condition when we purchased our home 8 years ago, had deteriorated into an overgrown mess of weeds. It was always our plan to renovate, but the job was going to be a huge undertaking that kept getting pushed back year after year with favour spent on indoor projects like our living and dining room, 2 bathroom renos and a nursery. Well, the timing this year seemed perfect to go ahead with a complete backyard overhaul. Now for the before to give a bit of context to see what was tackled.

Believe it or not Owen didn’t even know we had a backyard. It clearly wasn’t safe for him to be crusing around. This was once a flagstone patio which was never properly installed. It became the bane of our existence every summer as we were on our hands and knees weeding between each stone to have more weeds pop up a week later. Spraying weed killer kept them at bay, but they always seemed to return. The roots from neighbouring mature trees on our property jutted out sharp edges of the flagstones making it dangerous to walk around. That coupled with a couple Rose of Sharon stumps in the middle of the yard which weren’t visible (just ask Nuno who accidentally bent a lawn mower blade by moving over one).

The yard had an overgrown forsythia and tall cedar that needed to be uprooted and discarded. Along with one end of a rusty old clothes line, broken randomly placed patio stones and a dilapidated picnic bench.

The yard either made me want to cry or feel pretty ticked-off whenever I was back there. If I needed to blow off steam I’d mow the lawn to show it who’s boss... it gave me a great amount of satisfaction let me tell you.

It was clearly time for a big change. Our property is a visible one and the view of the ships sailing the canal that was a huge selling feature that made us fall in love with our home in the first place. We felt we owed it to the property and the neighbourhood to proceed with a reno. Not only that, Owen needed room to play and run and our frequent visits to parks made us yearn for a space we could call our own. Now with a second child on the way and an upcoming maternity leave, this was the year to jump aboard.
Things started with meetings in March with various contractors. We decided on one that gave us the most for our buck and was located just blocks from our home making him super-accountable – I think I’ve watched too many HGTV shows I’m a little uneasy with contractors for no good reason (especially since everyone we ever used was pretty amazing). This contractor was really busy and we were finally penciled in for mid-July.

The contractors took one week to complete their part of the job and we were thrilled with the results. A demolition, leveling, interlocking brick patio installation and lawn sodding were all part of the teams job.

 They used the existing flagstones for stepping stone paths – one which leads to our shed.

And a second that leads to the front yard through this arbour.

We opted to erect the pergola and install a play set on our own. This took a month as we were vacationing most weekends. My father & Nuno built the pergola and Nuno built the play set on his own (with help from our neighbour and myself on the two-person jobs).

Oh, of course, Owen helped too with fetching tools and being a little too excited about his fort by insisting on playing on it before it was complete.

Here he is enjoying his lunch as Nuno continued to putter away on the construction.

We’ve been spending hours outside since this completion and look forward to having loads of guests over so we can host dinners, parties and outdoor movie nights.

We are so happy to finally have our entire home the way we want it to be. Every square foot is useful and feels like our own, and I can tell you, it’s a great feeling. I look forward to filling the planters with flowers, hanging baskets and planting gardens all next year while home for the summer. But most of all I'm thrilled to have a place to watch my kids run, play and grow up.

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