I imagine it would have looked like this:
This was how the backyard looked when we moved into this house nearly four years ago. It was a foreclosure, and before that had been a revolving door of owners and also did a stint as a rental property at one time. The backyard? Nothing to write home about. That patch of brown near the front? Should have been a lawn. The concrete slab? Broken up by set-in wood planks that were rotting and splintering. The wooden “retaining wall” at the left of the picture was bowing out, was rotting, and had sharp, rust-encrusted nails jutting out all over the place.
It was a train wreck. The epitome of neglect.
Oh, and we neglected it. Oh yes we did. We NEVER even stepped foot in the backyard unless it was to use the grill in the summertime, then we hurried back inside to more civilized environs.
And then we had a child. And he grew up (a little bit). And guess what? He LOVES the outdoors. He loves to run all over that uneven pavement with the splintering, rotting wood planks reaching up like hands from a nightmare to trip him. He tries to climb the crumbling retaining wall, the nails leaning toward his little hands, arms, and legs, just begging to make us take him for a round of tetnus shots. And so we looked at each other and said, “So I guess we’re actually going to do something about this, huh?”
Indeed. We ripped the whole thing out.
We pushed the old retaining wall back about 6 feet, and they built it out of masonry blocks before putting some decorative slate on the front and bull-nosed bricks on the top for an adult-sized seating surface. There’s also drainage behind the wall and beneath the dirt, to channel the water away from the house.
We didn’t stop there. The entire side yard, which was built as a parking spot for a double-side RV, was also ripped out for the project.
We also extended the front step so it was wider and more centered with the door. To address my concerns about the step being too far of a drop for little kids — I can’t tell you how many times Sean practically ate it just trying to get out the door — he added more bull-nose bricks and filled the space in with cement. Behold: A step that small children, adults, and the elderly can safely manage. The brick also serves as a good “look at me, I’m a freaking step!” color for those who tend to not pay attention. (Ahem, Sean!)
We put grass in for the kids. Because kids should have grass. The dirt/mulch area at the bottom of the picture will eventually become a spot for a play area. We’re looking into a couple of options. Which means I’m not-so-patiently waiting for estimates for rubberized mulch and a poured-in-place rubberized surface (that squishy-bouncy stuff you find at playgrounds today). I want to put a play house and/or play structure here.
And now we can play out there all the time and it is lovely.
Except now that it is July, it will top 100 degress out here. We redid the yard in early spring, now that it’s full summer, the Super Spouse and I are realizing that we don’t have any shade in our backyard. Dowt!
Looks like a retractable awning is in our future. Guaranteed 20 degrees cooler under those bad boys. Oh yes. We’ll be using it soon!