Thursday, October 27, 2011

Backyard Stage 1: Pea gravel patio

Like Autumn temperatures dropping, my backyard project winds down and my attention and efforts return indoors. Besides the 1 cubic yard of left over pea gravel I need to move before the snow falls (did I dream that, hmmm. Yes I did, snow had fallen last night, in my dreams) I leave you with some stage 1 backyard pea gravel patio pictures.

Some stepping stones.

Large stone edging and raised garden area - ok, this picture does it no justice at all, but there it is! (Amaranth was cut down and pile of soil leveled and darn weeds have returned)

Looking back
The Beginning (digging out grass and concrete slabs):

Progress (oops, some over growth):


Current (hmmm, it shouldn't be so square looking, the lines were more rounded and natural):

This weekend I may look for a shrub / tree to put in the raised garden.  The plan is to work at building a natural fence along the north side (left side of picture), then remove the chain link and perhaps put in a post and rail fence, but for the time being it is useful for keeping the dog in and block the view of a parking lot (its a student rental and their backyard is a parking lot).

While researching patios and ideas for my backyard I discovered there is a huge LOVE / HATE relationship for pea gravel patios. When I stumbled across this idea, I thought it was perfect for the backyard and my needs. 1) The patio was meant to be somewhat temporary, until I build the deck off of the dining room window. 2) I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it, since it's an in between stage to the deck project. 3) I wanted to do it myself. 4) I loved the look of pea gravel patios and decided that a raised deck off of the dining room with steps down to a secondary patio would be really cool.  Pea gravel also works works well for my back yard as there are no trees around the area which means low maintenance / no dead leaves to pick out of the gravel. (Scroll to the bottom of any of the "idea" & "pea gravel patio" links to see other pea gravel patio inspiration photos or check out my pinterest board)

Considerations for backyard
1) I wanted the backyard to be accessible from the main level house. Right now I have to go to the basement to let the dog out. That became OLD very quickly.  Building a raised deck and changing a window to french doors is the long term plan.
2) I also want a BBQ in easy reach of the kitchen/dining room. Going downstairs and thru the basement to get outside completely discourages me from BBQ'ing.
2) I want the backyard to remain a play area for the kids, which, right now, means a long stretch of open space to throw a football. The garden will go down the side of the north fence in hopes of becoming a natural fence line so I can take down the chain link.
3) Get rid of chain link. This will open up the south side of the backyard, and the stone retaining wall will serve as a boundry between driveway and yard area.
5) The back of the yard is a steep, rocky but manageable cliff with a line of trees. This gives us privacy from the back neighbours and a fun, challenging area for Chaz to play.
6) Sitting area. The deck will be smallish and the pea gravel patio will serve as the mingling area. I want a large spool for a table. I used to have one of these industrial sized spools that I used for a dining room table. And then when I moved to my first house, it became an outdoor table, stained black. In retrospect and sadly, I left it behind because at the time, under the circumstances I was in, and it being the very last item to move, it happened to be too big to fit through the gate and I lacked energy and will, so I said screw it and left it for the new owners. But now I want it.

black spool, on its side, under a carpet, 331 kensington, circa 10/2005

The to do, overtime, list
-test soil-buy trees/shrub plants for fence garden
-choose some edible plants (blueberry bush, perhaps) to plant
-collect more stones to edge the raised garden
-work on dry stream bed
-place pavers down between stream bed and fence
-remove bad tree
-build deck and french doors in place of single window. Or just extend a paver patio area.
-build fort
-remove chain link fence.Yep. That has to go.

BUT for now, I need to haul the rest of pea gravel to back yard so it doesn't cause a problem with shoveling and snow plowing when winter arrives. Ugh.

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