Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Backyard Vignette Details

I like having the backyard entertaining areas decorated just as if I had decorated a room.  I like to think of them as an extension of the main rooms in our home, and as such, think that they should be just as comfortable.


twig table and flowers

The sunroom patio tends to stay shaded most of the day. We get the afternoon sun since it does face west, but the deck overhang provides quite a bit of shade. I wanted to create  a space that was more than just an  accumulation of chairs. The seating here makes for an intimate spot to have a conversation with friends. The glass topped table is a vintage find- I bought it a few years ago, along with its twin, at a going out of business sale. It received a textured paint job because its previous look was just a bit too chippy for me.

When big chunks of paint keep flaking off, I think that’s a good indication that a finish needs to be wire brushed and re-done, wouldn’t you say?  I used a hypertufa container that I found at a spring barn sale to plant some succulents. I purchased the plants at  Lowe’s for a song- quite a bit less expensive than the ones I saw at the nursery. Why spend $6 for something that I can have for half the price at a big box store? 



I love the rustic look of these containers. There’s something about the uneven lumpiness of the concrete mixture that just says perfection!  Although I found this one at a reasonable price, I really think I’ll be attempting making my own. The procedure doesn’t look to be that difficult and it will be a heckuva lot less expensive.


washtub 2

In the corner of the sunroom patio is this old metal laundry tub. The husband bought it a few years ago for a very inexpensive price- under $30, I believe. I used it to fashion a display using concrete urns placed on a piece of sheet moss.  I seem to always have a bird in my vignettes, and this little iron bird seems right at home on the moss.




The heat has taken a toll on many of my flowers. There aren’t nearly as many blooms on this one as when I first put it together; but at least it’s still alive and green!


3 pots

On the opposite end of the yard, I used several clay pot containers for some color and texture between the adirondack chairs. Most all of these plants came from Wally World or Lowes and have done really well. Of course, they get lots of care from the husband, who has taken it upon himself to be the official plant and flower water-er every morning.  I think they must be hardier than the ones on the sunroom patio, because they actually look much healthier in this heat


table 3.

This simply set table is ready for a quick and easy luncheon.



dining table

I used black and white bird themed plates from Tuesday Morning and placed them on some textured woven chargers.



There are two different patterns in this particular set. I opted to purchase only the luncheon plates so I could layer them on different colored dinner plates.  Here, they are just placed on top of a simple white plate.



Clear acrylic flatware was placed on black napkins. Nothing fancy, at all- merely functional. The water glasses have a gradiated black tint on them and are perfect for this black/white table setting.



bird in a spring

Told you I liked birds…..  I haven’t changed up this cloche for a while; I just keep moving it around the house.  It is a perfect foil for this bird themed table.  An old bedspring filled with shredded sheet music makes a perfect nest for a tiny bird. The mushrooms at its base continue the nature theme.





drink container

The glass beverage container holds lemon/lime flavored water. A few sprigs of my basil plant add another fresh taste sensation. 


potting table 3

This potting bench used to be in my laundry room because I never had a place for it before we re-did our yard. Now, it’s in the perfect spot outside the kitchen door. Usually, it’s full of dirt and my muddy gloves! The watering can is vintage from the 40’s- I finally found one in good shape. They seem to always be missing the spout!  I think it was a bargain at $25.  The tricycle plant holder is a $3 yard sale find.

To see more of our landscaping transformation, please click  HERE.  We love our new backyard oasis!


The temperatures here in southwest Ohio have cooled somewhat and we expect  warm, but tolerable, temps today. My pal,  Debby, is coming to Dayton to have an adventure with me today. We’ve planned a trip to Tipp City to pick up some chalk paint and do a little vintage/thrift shopping. Should be fun! 


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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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