Monday, July 2, 2012

Before and After of Our Backyard and a Photo Shoot

path to lower patio

Another bad bout of vertigo knocked me for a loop once again last week, so I didn’t get a chance to post current photos of the backyard. I sure hope this dizziness goes away soon; I don’t like taking naps because my head hurts and it’s no fun trying to keep my balance standing or sitting, much less walking!

Some of you may recall that a videographer for the local Housetrends Magazine spent a few hours filming our backyard last Monday.   I was amazed at all the angles and shots the guy took over the course of  2½ hours! Gee, I’m so glad that the shoot was last week, since a wild and crazy storm came through on Friday, dropping hundreds of branches and leaves onto the landscaping! The yard will receive a good clean-up on Wednesday. It is one hot mess! And speaking of “hot,” I certainly hope that our weather will be more tolerable than it’s been the past few days. I don’t like weather in the 100° range! Here are some “before” photos of our backyard, taken eight months ago. It’s amazing what our landscape contractor, The Site Group, did to transform the yard. It went from a completely un-useable space to one that has multiple areas where we can entertain guests and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the stream and waterfall!

view from north to south underbrush wm

You can see how the ground undulated across the yard and sloped steeply onto the back property line. It was so uneven that we couldn’t even set up a table for extra seating. We’d have to prop up the table legs with bricks in order to have a level top. Not a good thing…..  Plus, the honeysuckle was taking over and encroaching upon the lawn. I rarely mowed back here, since the slope was so dangerous. As it was, the husband used to put on our son’s football cleats so he’d have some traction as he pushed the mower down into the slope.  At least the grass was green!


view north to old paver patio wm

Looking the opposite direction from the previous photo, we had an old brick patio that had heaved and was actually sliding down the hill.  In this picture, I had already pulled up all of the bricks and had taken down one side of the retaining wall that was made up of old railroad ties.  The privacy fence was torn down with the help of a nephew, who was also responsible for removing the decrepit old deck outside of the kitchen.


sunroom patio wm

There was a small concrete slab patio outside the sunroom that sloped towards the house. What?! Because of this, the concrete and the brick along the house foundation were stained black and green with mold and moss.  Eeewww….


But now, the yard has a wrap-around brick path across the width of the house, with a patio on either end. A lower level patio features a fire-pit and we have a nice seating area on the patio off of the kitchen. We even have a water feature- a long stream winding from the top level of the yard into the lower level patio, where it culminates into a pond-less waterfall.

view from south


These are views looking from one end of the yard to the other. The plantings have really grown since last fall. You can see my initial post on the yard transformation HERE.


.view from north 2




loaders, dirt , stone                old deck site off kitchen

The crew began by creating the patio outside of the sunroom and carrying the path across the back of the house towards what used to be the old kitchen area deck.



    stone chunks   stair treads and bridge

Heavy chunks of stone, used to create the retaining walls, filled the side yard that was visible from the street. Neighbors wanted to know why the yard looked like a quarry! The stone slab that you see above was used as the bridge that crosses the u-shaped streambed.


excavating the  pit         more root chopping

The foreman and his right-hand man dug out the waterfall basin and installed the rock wall that borders the patio and holds the water basin into place. When stubborn roots couldn’t be budged with the claw and bucket, the guys resorted to using an axe.  Look how deep the basin is, and it is not even dug all of the way out!


view from deck2 wm

Here’s a zoomed view of the lower patio taken from the second floor balcony outside the master bedroom. Had we known just how much everyone would enjoy congregating around the fire pit, we would have made the patio area larger. There is still plenty of seating room, though- the ledge on the retaining wall is seat height and can accommodate quite a few people. As for me, I can usually be found sitting on the large stone anchoring the pit. I like the warmth of a roaring fire!  See the rocks surrounding the waterfall area? Refer to the picture before this to see just how much of the boulders aren’t even visible in this photo!


stream bed

The stream begins at the top patio  level, meanders under a stone slab bridge, and ends in a waterfall into a pond-less rock basin









view from north

This 10-foot diameter patio at the north end of the yard is the perfect size for a table and four chairs. We ate dinner out here with friends on Friday night. From this location, we have a view to the opposite end of the yard, where the  sunroom patio is.


view from north 2

You can see the dining table patio on the other end of the yard. It is bordered by a very small lawn area. We only wanted a small patch of lawn to break up the hardscape and the plantings. It’s so small that it takes only three minutes for me to mow. Now that’s tiny!


entry to backyard

As you enter the backyard from the side garden path, this is what you see.


patio under deck

I created a comfy room setting under the deck outside of the sunroom. 


patio under deck 2

We use the old washtub in the corner as our cooler when we have parties.






twig table and flowers

I wish that this colorful potted container still looked this good! After last week’s heat wave and the horrendous storm that came through- it looks a bit ragged and bloom-less. Maybe I can baby it back to health; if not, well, it’s still green!



kitchen patio  2

This is the patio outside the kitchen. We just wanted some additional seating for this patio, so I stained four Adirondack chairs and plopped an umbrella between them for some shade.  I bought the chairs last September at Home Depot for the clearance price of only $14. What a bargain!  The potting bench was borrowed from the laundry room. It’s here mainly for looks, although I am keeping a few gardening tools inside its storage area.


And a look at the yard would not be complete without showing you some night views.  

lighted bridge and small dining patio wm

I love the play of the shadows on the fence. The underside of the bridge is lit and two large path lights highlight the beginning of the stream and the steps leading to the bridge.


waterfall PM

Water cascades into the pond-less basis and is lit by a sunken spotlight.



maple tree, roses

Two tall sycamore trees are both up-lighted and down-lighted. A small maple is also lit from its trunk base.


sycamores at night, streambed

The path lights are lit with LED bulbs that cast a nice, bright light onto the pathway, the steps to the bridge, and the first water drop in the stream.


I hope that you enjoyed seeing our backyard. I’m far from being an accomplished gardener, so I’m learning as I go as I maintain it.  It’s work, but we truly enjoy the fruits of our labor when we sit outside listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfall and having a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine!




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Jo said...

Your yd is beautiful Sue

Barbara F. said...

Your yard is gorgeous, I love the pondless waterfall. I like the idea of the old washer as a cooler for drinks. Hope you're feeling better. xo

JOY @ said...

One BIG Wow!

Cassie Myers said...

Stunning. What a transformation!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Wow! Sue, I love your yard/patio/entertainment area - beautiful ! Thanks so much for sharing it all with us. The heat and lack of rain has really taken a toll on all the flowers and plants here also. :( I keep watering, but the plants need a bit of rain. Sorry you are still dealing with the vertigo issues - not fun. :(
Have a great week and stay cool!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I absolutely LOVE your beautiful backyard transformation, Sue! Your garden contrators did a marvelous job.I'm glad the recent storm did not do too much damage.

I hope you are feeling better now!

Mary Ellen said...

Wow it looks fantastic!! I am sure you are so enjoying your time out in the gardens these days!! Wish I had a crew like that to work on my yard-

Anne said...

How wonderful! Your yard and patio are so fabulous. Beautiful job!

Jill Elaine said...

Ah the site group! They do awesome work! Love how your backyard looks! Totally lovely:)

Faux Pas Farm Gal said...

This is gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get well soon!

Bunny Jean said...

Hi Sue!

I've been following this yard transformation since last year. What a wonderful space you have created!

I hope your dizzy spells stay in check. I know how miserable that can be!

xoxo Bunny Jean

Sharon @ mrshinesclass said...

STUNNING!!! I'll be pinning several of your after pics for inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

Sharon @ mrs. hines class

Sharon @ mrshinesclass said...

oops, I have to apologize. I didn't intend on commenting before without wishing you well. I'm sorry you're dealing with vertigo. I know how miserable that is.

Sharon @ mrs. hines class

Miss Char said...

Sue, this is just stunning. Every element was been well thought out and the results show it. I can believe the bigger magazines will be knocking at your door soon to do spreads on your vision. Thanks for sharing.

As a vertigo suffer myself I know exactly how you felt last week...I'm glad this week is better.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

It looks great, Sue! But I knew that when you gave me the tour. : )I'm sure the video and pictures came out great. It's amazing what a difference it is from the before pictures and how much usable space you have. Love all the different areas and I'm sure the waterfall sounds wonderful. I used to love the one on our pond back in NY. Looking at your pictures makes me miss my yard.

Peggy said...

Thank you for sharing your back yard project. You have made a usable oasis which you will enjoy for years to come. It's not easy deciding on how you want to do a project, but your ideas were wonderful and created many spaces for enjoyment. I especially loved the lighting at night. Enjoy your summer in your new space. Peggy from PA

At The Picket Fence said...

It is just so fabulous Sue! Every time I see it my mouth still hangs open. How exciting about the photo shoot! I'm so glad they came before this hot weather. I hope you start feeling better really soon. Migraines are just the worst!


NanaDiana said...

Sue- That is absolutely GORGEOUS! I just love it-what a difference it makes. I can only imagine how much joy this brings you- xo Diana

Anne said...

Sue I feel like I just got back from a resort. =) Your backyard is really nice. I love the stream.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

This is one gorgeous yard! Wow! Enjoy!

Michele Smith said...

Wow! Gorgeous, your yard is fabulous! Have a happy 4th!

Ivy and Elephants said...

This is a piece of heaven on Earth. Sue everything is breathtaking. What an inspirational post! I would love it if you share this awesome post at our What's It Wednesday linky party. I hope you can join us!


Beverly said...

Sue, it is breathtaking. You must smile every time you walk outside. Enjoy!

Thank you for sharing.

imjacobsmom said...

Yes, heaven on earth ~ I wouldn't want to leave! ~ Robyn

Jenny Schouten Short said...

What a major undertaking. No wonder that you have vertigo. I hope you can relax now and enjoy that beautiful garden and yard. It's nice to meet you, too. xo Jenny

Shelia said...

Hi Sue! Oh what a gorgeous property! I'm sure this was so much work but it looks wonderful! Now you can enjoy it for the 4th of July.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Gemma Wiseman said...

O what an incredible post! Adored this wander through your garden world! Such relaxing enchantment in your great outdoors!

Larry said...

What a marvelous metamorphosis! Your yard is an oasis and must be such a joy to all who partake in its beauty! Larry

PAT said...

It is breathtaking Sue. Gorgeous!

Leslie's Garden said...

What an oasis you have created! So many wonderful areas to enjoy. Your little water feature is sure to bring wildlife and calming sounds to your Eden!

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Wow what a beautiful back yard!!!

Jocelyn @

Andrea said...

Hi I am new here, thank you so much for sharing your garden with us. It is so lovely and i can't imagine the work put in with those big rocks and stones. I love sloping landscapes, for me the results are always dramatic and enchanting than a level ground. I even love your only green slope!

Kim, USA said...

Oh wow I love your garden!!


Kathryn Ferguson Griffin said...

It's perfect! Lovely job. Thank you for sharing. Visiting from Mod Vintage Life. Would love it if you would share this at my Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House. Wishing you a grand evening. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

Light and Voices said...

I visited a slice of heaven at your place this week. Happy 4th of July!
Joyce M

Judy Bigg said...

Wow, just amazing, beautiful, love it.

Sheri said...

oh my gosh - there are just no words - it's stunning, like a resort but a lot more cozy, intimate. It's a beautiful space!

HoodPhoto said...

A true oasis! If you get a chance, stop by my blog and "Like" Hood Photography on Facebook! Thanks!

thistlewoodfarm said...

Okay....seriously. This is amazing! You have inspired me today! I have those same chairs (I think)....but where did you get your umbrella stand?

Happy Fourth (to you and your back yard)!


Jemsmom said...

Sue, you guys have really created a true oasis. It is absolutely gorgeous!! I love that you are able to use all the spaces now. It is perfect! I visited charleston yesterday and realized quickly that I don't miss that super hot muggy weather. I will be singing a different tune in February! So sorry to hear you not feeling well again. I hope it gets better soon and you guys have a wonderful 4th!!!

Sandy said...

Wow! What a fabulous outdoor space! I love the separate areas that serve as outdoor rooms. I'd never need a vacation with a backyard like yours! I bet you love the sound of the circulating waterfall. Hubby and I want to build one one day. Sorry to hear that the vertigo hasn't done away yet. I had it on and off for several years after a fall. Did your doctor show you a maneuver that would pop the particles back into the ear canal?

Happy 4th! Hope you are feeling better soon. Too bad it's so hot. You could be taking your naps out in the yard!

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That said...

It is simply magnificent!

Ivy and Elephants said...

Sue your back yard is just amazing! I love the water feature, your choice of stone and plantings ... EVERYTHING!!! It is a vision. Sorry about the storms, but thank God it was after the video. Hope it's not too bad.
Big hugs,

Gmama Jane said...

All I can say is WOW WoW WOW!!! Looks like an episode of HGTV. I'm glad you have it but I'm very jealous!!!
Gmama Jane

Sonia said...

What a fabulous transformation!! Amazing work and finished landscape! Love all the area to sit and relax and enjoy the scenery!
Miss Bloomers

Sarah said...

What a beautiful transformation, Sue. I like the different destination areas with the umbrella tables. Your gardens look lush and gorgeous too. Wonderful outdoor space that will provide many delightful hours for relaxing or entertaining. ~ Sarah

Honey at 2805 said...

Your backyard is so beautiful, I don't think I would ever vacation from it (maybe in the Winter). What a lovely place to be!

I appreciate you for participating in Potpourri Friday!

chateau chic said...

Your back yard landscaping is AMAZING!! The sound of water is a wonderful addition, so peaceful and calming. It's absolutely breathtaking.
Mary Alice

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

Sue your backyard oasis is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! I LOVE everything about it! Great night shots too!

Linda said...

Beautiful transformation. The yard is beautiful, yet functional. Love thee nights shots as well. be proud of it and enjoy.

Cindy said...

Wowzers! What a stunning backyard! So much to take in. It must be wonderful to relax there by the firepit.

CAS said...

Wow, what a gorgeous transformation, Sue! It's all so beautiful.

Good luck with that vertigo.


Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

It's so house beautiful Sue! I know you are enjoying it immensely! Happy 4th week and have a beautiful and cool weekend. xoxo
P.S. What did you do with the "old brick"? I love old brick!

xinex said...

Your backyard transformation is amazing, Sue. It looks so inviting and just gorgeous. I like that it still looks natural. You did a great job in the landscaping too....Christine

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Hi Sue, Congrats on the magazine article. I can see why your beautiful yard is being featured. Thanks for joining the Open House party and have a great weekend.

The Magical Christmas Wreath Company said...

Sue your house is gorgeous and the garden is amazing what a transformation. I love the patio, the huge chunks of rock really make a fabulous impact.

Bon weekend.


Polly said...

wow! Sue it's amazing!

Polly said...

wow! Sue it's amazing!

Custom Comforts said...

Wow Sue!!! What a beautiful transformation! I bet you're just loving it. Too bad it's to hot to step outdoors. It is just gorgeous - just like you see in the TV makeover shows. You must be estatic with it.

Anita @ Cedar Hill Ranch said...

Oh my goodness Sue. I remember months ago, when you shared photos of the work going on. The result is amazing. Do you just sit out here all day basking in the glorious view? I would!! It's just stunning.

Fishtail Cottage said...

AMAZING! i would love to invite you over to share this amazing landscape transformation at Fishtail Cottage's garden party (& every party after too)...xoxo, tracie

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

I featured your backyard at Mod Mix Monday!

The Tablescaper said...


Your yard is just gorgeous! Thanks so much for bringing your post to Seasonal Sundays.

- The Tablescaper said...

Thanks so much for sharing! Your backyard oasis is just beautiful and so serene! Found you via a blog hop and am now a new follower!

Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm said...

Hi Sue, I can remember when your yard was first done and thinking how beautiful it was, and today, it is even more beautiful, so you must be doing something right when it comes to maintaining it. Congrats on the magazine feature!

Now, do I need to come and nurse you back to good health? Sure hope you get this under control and get to feeling better soon.

Balisha said...

Thought I'd add my comment to the already 65..Fantastic! What a transformation. that the heat wave has broken.

Ivy and Elephants said...

Hi Sue!
Back again, just wanted to let you know we will be featuring your post this week. Please stop by and grab a featured button.

Kathy A Delightsome Life said...

Hello Susan, this is an amazing backyard transformation - it is now a dream Oasis! I love all the details! I sure hope you recover from Vertigo. I had a decent case of it years back and have moments now and then - not pleasant! Especially for one who loves to get on ladders!
I will be sharing your wonderful post in my Home and Garden Post this evening, I appreciate you sharing,

Athena at Minervas Garden said...

Hi Sue: What a lovely before and after of your yard--it is so inviting. Take care--hope the vertigo subsides--and have a great weekend!

Lori E said...

I so wish I was there with you Ethel. I see that cute cart on the patio. It looks good there.
Do you get a lot of birds enjoying your water? I am sure they are drawn to the sound of the water especially during the heat you are getting.

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Oh My Word! Sue, this is absolutely stunning. I hope your vertigo has cleared up. I've only experienced that one time, and I hope I never have to again. laurie

imsteelefullofscrap said...

Wow it looks just amazing newbie here from Ohio

Crystal Rose Cottage said...

Hi Sue....your backyard is so pretty! It must be so nice to escape from the world back there! Sorry to hear about your vertigo. I remember when you fell a couple of years ago and you had that problem. I have been kind of out of it the past few months. Family visits and family chaos has been keeping me occupied. Not much energy for blogging that's for sure. Hope you are feeling better and staying cool.~Hugs, Patti

ketz said...

Such a wonderful place you have. I hope I can go there and feel the beauty of your landscaping.

broomfield hardscape

ketz said...

Such a wonderful place you have. I hope I can go there and feel the beauty of your landscaping.

broomfield hardscape

Brielle Franklin said...

What a beautiful backyard. We have been trying to figure out what else to add to our back yard. We just recently were looking for pool companies in PA to help us with one part of the yard. We are also now looking for inspiration like yours for the other half of the yard. I really like your idea of all the stone with the plants. I think we may end up going for something like that. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures. It was such a beautiful yard.