Five days ago our backyard looked like this:
And now it looks like this:
I can't even tell you how happy I am and how thankful I am for a functional backyard.
It's been a long time coming. Too long.
We tried to get a stone patio for-ev-er from a guy who does stone work in our neighborhood but he was just too busy and could never squeeze us into his schedule. We went back and forth with him for about 5 months, calling him every week, and he'd always have some excuse like not having enough workers or enough rock or yada yada, and the only reason we stayed after him so long is because he doesn't charge for stone, he only charges you labor. And if you know how much stone patios cost, you know that stone is $$$. So not having to pay for it would have been awesome. Our neighbors have a beautiful patio that this guy did long ago and we've always loved it. But after months of getting the run-around we just decided to go with concrete. I'd seen stamped concrete at a wedding recently and so I googled "stamped concrete in Alabama" and found a guy named Greg who ended up being our patio guru.
Here is what they did:
They busted up the 3 concrete pads that were in front of our stairs and the 2 doors.
They also dug up the existing grass and started to level the ground.
All of this happened on Thursday and Friday.
On Friday afternoon while I was gone, the boss man (Greg) called and asked if I'd mind if they dropped off some gravel to be used in the next phase of the project. I told him to go ahead.
But I didn't really know that he meant a mountain of gravel and that it would be dumped in my driveway, blocking Chad and me out of our garages. Ha!
The kids didn't seem to mind it though; imagine that.
They spent Saturday and most of Sunday shoveling and wheelbarrowing the gravel to the backyard, where they leveled the ground with it and began framing it so that the concrete could be poured.
(We weren't really expecting them to show up on the weekend, but they did, which was nice.)
They framed it with wood and peg board and secured the frames with stakes.
On Monday I woke up to the sound of a large concrete truck outside. I immediately texted all my neighbors and apologized for waking their children and for blocking the entire street. :)
Most of them texted me back saying something to the effect of "No, thank YOU! My boys are fascinated! They've been at the window all morning."
Ha! Well then, you're welcome. :)
The crew had the concrete poured into their wheelbarrows and then pushed it around back (I know, in the 100 degree weather, crazy right?) and dumped it into their framework.
Soon after they poured it and smoothed it out they would apply these huge rubber stamps that looked like mats; they fit them together in a puzzle-looking formation and then they'd use a mallet-looking tool to press them into the ground. It was all pretty interesting to watch.
I was thankful I was indoors because [whew!] it was h.o.t.
They did this all day Monday and by that afternoon it looked like this. Pretty neat huh?
By that afternoon we could walk on it but they came back Tuesday and pressure washed it, put an acid stain on it (basically a top paint color) and then sealed it. I couldn't believe the difference the top coat made.
The guys left around 4pm on Tuesday for the last time and told us we could walk on it around 7pm. It still had a few wet spots even then but we just tried to avoid them. We couldn't wait to enjoy it.
And I, of course, wasted no time 'staging' it and getting furniture. (Some of it I already had and it was just in our garage waiting to be used.) Thankfully I found some great deals at World Market and Christmas Tree Shops (which happen to be side by side here in Birmingham if you ever need a two-stop shop for outdoorsy stuff.)
I didn't really have a color scheme in mind but I knew I wanted it to be bright and cheery and fun.
Especially since the patio was so dark and most of it is shaded.
Round table and chairs from Old Time Pottery; umbrella, adirondack chair and cushion, and blue 'drum' table from World Market; red lantern, citronella candle and quatrefoil vinyl tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops!
3-pc wooden conversational set from World Market (I believe it's called the Belize set.) Swing from Grandaddy and cousin Brooks; Lantern and ikat throw pillows from CTS
We requested this 'step-down' area for grilling and such and I'm glad they were able to do it.
I also love that our crabby sandbox (Sam's birthday present from us that he hasn't been able to use yet!) was able to fit under the stairs.
Green wicker chairs, yellow metal side table and yellow ikat cushions from World Market.
A few more before and afters:
I'm sure I'll add stuff as I go and I'll update more soon.
But for now we are enjoying this new space. We had some landscaping done yesterday and I have 3 new hydrangea plants outside as well as some lantanas and some sweet olive trees. I've enjoyed having my morning coffee out there the last 2 days and watering my new plants. And Sam is loving being able to play with his water toys and throw the ball with Lucy without being in the driveway, where it stays 100 degrees all day long.
I'd love any tips on how to take care of hydrangeas! I'm sure I'll have questions along the way and they probably won't even bloom until next year anyway.
I will also be having Laura from Happy Valley provide us all with a tutorial on a DIY garden fountain. Oh yes you will, Laura. Yes you will.
She's a fantastic gardener and DIY-er herself. She lives down the road a bit from the Compound.
Oh, and she's a world touring musician and has opened for ya know, little people like Elton John and Brandi Carlisle and has been on Leno and Letterman. No big deal.
Get er' done Laura, so we can blog it, sistah.