Almost two weeks ago, we had a contractor give us a quote on a stamped concrete patio. I had called that company in part because their website advertised that they did both concrete and paver work. I love the look of paver patios, but I've seen nice-looking stamped concrete also, and I know the concrete is less expensive. Alas, the actualy company rep said that they were no longer doing the pavers. The quote on the concrete work, however, was fast and reasonable, and I am confident that they would produce a nice-looking space.
But, we need more than just a patio. We need help with drainage and trees and visual screening from the road and updates to our sprinkler system to support all of the above. Last night, a landscape designer from a local nursery came. That was fun. Way too much fun.
We walked around the yard, and he frequently pointed out problem areas that we want addressed before we could get to them--the bad runoff from our sump pump, the trench in the grass where uphill runoff pools instead of runs, the big concrete square catch basin where all that runoff is supposed to go (it's an eyesore), the ragged back edge of the raised side of our yard (there's a bit of a stream back there, so we want a big berm-like structure to stay, but what we've got looks half-finished). You could watch the options flitting through his mind.
His company does paver work, so the hardscape portion of his design will reflect that. He's also talking trees and boulders and fixing the drainage issues, and said that they work with the irrigation companies on the sprinkler systems. He will be coming back early next week to measure and sketch and will be presenting us with a nice color design. He also was respectful of potential budget limits (though we aren't exactly sure what our budget limit really is, and are probably willing to stretch it a fair amount for a comprehensive design). He easily talked through things in "phases" and mentioned options (i.e build the patio vs build patio with seating walls vs patio w/walls w/columns, opting for smaller trees or more mature ones depending on price, etc).
Interestingly, he never mentioned the word "fence". Given that our lot sits between a straight-line fence that borders the neighborhood, the next neighborhood's bordering fence, and our next-door neighbor's fence, ours almost looks like it is missing a few sections. And while I quite like a fence (clear limits are good for defining where we can put our stuff and where the kids can play), my husband shudders at the thought of a fence. (I don't quite understand why, but his immediate family shares the aversion...). Anyway, the f-word never came up, but various trees and boulders and knockout-roses all did. Maybe we shall get a nice plan that both defines our lot's limits and yet doesn't contain a row of metal pickets.
The process just got fun. I know it will get ugly when we have to start forking over real cash. And uglier when our yard turns into a dirtbowl more while they work. Then ugly again as we dig our pretty patio table out from a year's worth of accumulated junk in the garage (and probably have to stop and clean the garage). But I am feeling hopeful.