Outdoor space seems more important than ever right now. If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard, it’s time well spent giving it a makeover. We’ve been working tirelessly in our backyard for the past few months but we’ve been dreaming about it even longer. After going through a major renovation of the house, we had basically no budget for the backyard. We saved up $2500 and set out to transform the space as much as we could.
Our backyard is not only a retreat for us to relax, it’s also a way for us to connect with our friends. Now that pandemic related precautions are lifting we are very much looking forward to social distanced outdoor fun with small groups of friends this summer. We built our space with those 2 things in mind.
After using a jackhammer to take up a lot of cement, relocating soil over our entire yard, carrying hundreds of bags of sand and gravel in, carrying many bags of excess soil out, leveling pavers, and lots of planting, we are finally done! We can’t wait for you to see!
A before and after of our Backyard Makeover. After photo by: Shahnee Naftali
Time for the tour!
Walking out of the back door you step onto our 18×8 foot steel deck. It’s made of steel and concrete to comply with NYC building code (because our deck stretches from property line to property line it must be made out of non combustible materials).
The most important use for the deck for us was cooking and al fresco dining. We have a beautiful grill from DCS Grills (purchased before our backyard makeover) and a round table that expands for larger al fresco dinner parties! We introduced a pop of color with sun yellow chairs from ,,Article.
At the very bottom of the deck stairs you land on our hardscape area. We installed a pea gravel and bluestone patio. We used bluestone that we found in various parts of our yard with pea gravel in between. Pea gravel patios always remind us of Mediterranean gardens so we really like the feel it gives our backyard. This space was designed to have relaxing seating and a fire pit. It’s a bit more comfy than the seating on the deck and you have the feeling of being immersed in all of the planting around you.
Between the patio and the building we built a 24” raised raised flower bed that stretches across most of the width of the yard. On one side are the deck stairs and the other a small path. We painted it matte black to match the deck. We wanted to create some interest with varying height in the garden and also create a separate private space for our tenant. It serves both purposes well!
The back half of our yard beyond the patio is grass! It was dirt…but we seeded a lawn! We had major doubts we would ever see one blade of grass, but we spent time making sure we had the right grass seed. Then after taking care of it like a mama bird takes care of her chicks for 5 weeks we had a full lawn! (Watering 3 times a day!) We used a special grass seed mix for yards that don’t get full sun. It’s dog-friendly and drought resistant (aka us forgetting to water). The seed we used is #769 from ,,PT Lawn Seed. At less than $20 for a bag of seed it was definitely worth the 5 week wait over the more expensive but instantly gratifying option of installing sod. It definitely paid off because it’s a beautiful bright green carpet of grass!
There are 2 more relaxing places to hang it toward the back of the yard over the grass. A hammock and 2 Adirondack chairs.
All the way around the perimeter of the yard are shade tolerant plantings. With help from our backyard beautifier, Jeannette Williams from ,,Loam Brooklyn, we picked out plants that would work well in our yard and provide the relaxing environment we were looking for. We planted Bugloss, Hardy Geranium, Ghost Ferns, Ostrich Ferns, Echinacea, Butterfly Bushes, and 2 Ruby Falls. With Jeanette’s help we got all of our plants from wholesale places, and we are patiently waiting for them to grow in a bit and fill the space.
The last piece of the puzzle, that really sets the mood, are the 2- 60 foot strings of lights running from the house all the way to the back of the yard.
The result has really exceeded our expectations and dreams. We have spent morning, day, and night in the backyard ever since we finished! It was time and money (even with our limited budget) well spent. The total amount we spent ended up being about $2600. It might look a bit more DIY than what the $35,000 quotes we got would have, but we enjoyed the process and now really appreciate the result even more!
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