Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Taking stock of the landscape

I've been renovating since I bought this house in 2008. I knew that someday I would do something about the backyard. It ranged from basic to wild.

I had dreams.

But they were on hold until I could live in my house. I mean, really LIVE in it. The time has come.

I'm embarking on a landscaping adventure. I plan spend an idyllic summer outside, enjoying my non-ghetto oasis. Finally.
Step one: The requirements

I've been using the backyard for years, gathering ideas about what I really want.
  • No grass to mow!
  • A place to grow herbs and some basic edibles (hot peppers for my husband, really)
  • A bike shed
  • A (preferably stone) patio for a nice patio set
  • A spot for a rain barrel and my composter
  • A spot in the sun to lounge and read my book
  • Privacy from my neighbours
Step two: Inspiration

I have been looking around for inspiration, creating a landscaping Pinterest board just for the occasion. Annotating every picture with WHAT I liked about it. I did share it with my husband but he didn't really contribute. He's kind of anti-social-media

Step three: The meeting

We met with our designer and the landscape contractor a few weeks ago. The consultation lasted about an hour. They hung out in the backyard with us as we talked. There were no plants sprouting - just bleak basic nothingness. They showed us a slide presentation of some pics that I'd already seen on their website. We talked about budget.

They came back with a tree consultant to look at the silver maple in our backyard to find out if it could be removed. I sent the inspiration board, the requirements list above and a revised (smaller) budget.

Step four: The plans

Tonight, we met with our designer to go over the initial plans he put together.


  • Cost: This concept is more expensive because it includes a raised (larger) deck, plus a bunch of raised planting beds. It's ridiculously expensive (in the realm of $35k, which I'm not spending and I told them that when we first met)
  • Includes a back gate arbour (trellis)
  • I quite like the built-in deck planter by the BBQ
  • I like the amount of open space
  • Could have stuff growing up the side of the fence
  • Bikes would be stored to side of the deck, where it's cut off in the picture. BUT bike storage could move to the back left corner, by the gate
  • I don't see a rain barrel here
  • The composter would end up on the other side of the back fence (in both options). 


  • Cost: Not sure yet, but cheaper.
  • Both options show the silver maple that is normally in the back right corner, removed. This is pretty expensive, but I think it's worth it. It's an AWFUL tree that creates a lot of mess.
  • We talked about a built-in bench, which this has, with an arbour over it for privacy. Nice, but I'd originally wanted a built-in bench with a planter in behind. Not sure I love arbours...
  • On the interlocking patio would be the patio furniture
  • There are 8 trees here. This is a lot. However, they are ornamental trees and thus smaller and less messy. But I only need to replace the silver maple with 2 trees. While the trees provide privacy, they also provide a LOT of shade. And if you know me, you know I like sun. So we could remove a few trees, especially close to the house/deck. And probably take out the hemlock at the back.
  • I like the checkerboard garden - pretty cool way to garden for someone who has a bad back and doesn't like to reach.
  • Again, the bike shed could be in the back left corner. 
  • The BBQ would remain in the corner of the deck by the house.
What's next?

We talk about these plans. Figure out what we like and don't. Write down changes. Get some pricing for the options. For different pieces so that we could potentially phase it in. 

And then meet again next week to go over our comments.

It means I'll be looking for input from my friends, family and other folks of style. If you are none of the above and still have an opinion, I'll still be happy to hear it.

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