Our backyard is done, minus a few hostas and some decorations. It took longer than I thought--I was predicting that we'd be relaxing on our patio by the 4th of July. No such luck, which is a shame as the 4th of July was exceedingly beautiful this year. Alas, as I did predict, the yard is done just in time for a horrendous heatwave.
The heat, it kills the grass. Have I mentioned how much I despise grass? It hates me back. Actually, in the pictures it looks a bit better than it does today--it wasn't as hot two days ago and the weeds in the middle of the yard have grown like 6 inches this week (not actually an exaggeration, because you can't see them in the pictures).
Next to the deck is a tumbled paver patio. It is pretty big--roughly 15x20. We have a 6-seat rectangle table that will probably sit down there, plus the grill and smoker. And there may be room left over for a low seating set with a firepit (TBP -- to be purchased). Along the wall on the right side of the picture, I need to find some large pots or something to soften the edge of the foundation and blankness of the siding.
Around the concrete drain are six good-sized Rose of Sharon. There are rocks around there too--I apparently grabbed a photo pre-rocks. If you can't hide the darned thing, make a pedestal out of it. With the brick edging, the rocks, and the bushes, it is crying out for a Grecian Urn or a birdbath or something. I'm not actually kidding on that (though I'm pretty sure that a 3-5 foot statue would be heavy and expensive)..
The landscaper also added rocks under the deck, and a nice border of shrubs around the base of it to soften things. Along the back of the yard are five good-sized white pine trees with clumps of the tall decorative grass between (they are almost visible in the shot of the patio...bad light in the evenings when I'm trying to snap photos). They aren't a wall, but do distract the eye from the street beyond it. And they will get bigger as time goes on. The tree line doesn't completely cover the back border, because if you look toward the other corner, there's a lovely view of a lake and open greenspace. We want to emphasize the nice view and downplay the road.
Finally, the part that's not visible is all the drainage work. The long straight line of dirt leading toward the concrete pedestal is where they buried a drain pipe that comes off a downspout and the sump pump. Previously, those outlets left a swamp on the side of the house (and made the sump pump work overtime). They ran the drains that were in between the patio and deck out underground as well. A swath through the middle of the yard has been smoothed to remove a rut formed by water runoff. The back of the yard behind the trees used to look jagged, as though the builder had pushed dirt back there and just stopped (which is probably exactly what they did). It now has a nice rounded shape that looks intentional and a fresh layer of grass seed that we can maintain easier than the weeds that we had before.
Our inground sprinkler system has been repaired and activated, and I might relent and have a lawncare company spray stuff on the grass to make it green (I'm tempted to just buy spray paint...do you think the neighbors would notice?) I have finally come to realize that we are going to have to fertilize the grass to make it grow, as our dirt is more gravel than soil. And it's way too expensive to just pave the whole yard.