Home & Garden Next Reno Project: The Backyard! Any Inspiration/Tips?

CocoaBelle

Member
May 26, 2014
25
25
Six months into my home ownership journey, I've decided to tackle my next big reno project: the backyard! Because it's such a bright, sunny, quiet space, I'm hoping to transform it from the morass of weeds and overgrowth that it currently is into an oasis of relaxation that would also be great for entertaining. I'm toying with so many ideas right now (decking or stone/pavers for the hardscape? An outdoor firepit or fireplace? Maybe just a *teeny* tiny pool?), and would love to see what other TPFers have done with their backyards as inspiration! Would also really appreciate hearing advice from anyone who has done a backyard reno and lived to tell. [emoji6] Some inspiration photos that I've collected so far (from landscape designers I've spoken with, and from the interwebs in general) are below:

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HavLab

Member
Feb 25, 2015
875
868
I'm still working on mine too. If I could turn back time however I would not chose a wooden deck! Mine has not held up well at all. There was a wooden deck when we moved in, so we opted to replace it versus getting pavers or tiles. Big mistake. I have already refinished it twice in four years and it will probably need to do so again this summer. In contrast my brick paver driveway which hasnt been touched in who knows how many years still looks great....
 

CocoaBelle

Member
May 26, 2014
25
25
I'm still working on mine too. If I could turn back time however I would not chose a wooden deck! Mine has not held up well at all. There was a wooden deck when we moved in, so we opted to replace it versus getting pavers or tiles. Big mistake. I have already refinished it twice in four years and it will probably need to do so again this summer. In contrast my brick paver driveway which hasnt been touched in who knows how many years still looks great....
Ooh! Thanks for the advice re: wooden deck, I was absolutely thinking about building one in a portion of the yard as a "sundeck"...I hadn't thought about the recurring refinishing costs. Looks like it might be low-maintenance pavers for the win.

What else in your backyard are you still working on? I was talking to some friends about pool installation last night and they advised against it because of the hassle of fencing it in if/when I ever have small children, and it doesn't really increase the resale value as much as one might think...food for thought!
 

HavLab

Member
Feb 25, 2015
875
868
Some wooden decks look amazing! Maybe it was the installer or materials I used. But definitely give it some thought. Sometimes I feel that pavers or tiles can be overwhelming but I'll probably go there eventually.

I need to figure out more landscaping. I live in a city center and my backyard is small. Last year we put up a podocarpus hedge and its finally starting to fill in, but there is no color in my yard at all. There isn't a ton of space. I want it to look private but also interesting. I have had several landscape contractors provide various ideas but nothing is striking me yet. Plus some of them are so expensive, I have to be really wowed to plunk down that kind of cash!

I have a small pool. I do like having it (I dont have kids, just two dogs) and I really wanted a pool when I was house hunting. That being said I dont know if I would put one in - that's another big design decision. My neighbor did it, but she knew exactly what she wanted. It looks great. But she spent at least $25K if not more!
 

Jesssh

Member
Jan 20, 2012
6,493
205
A lot depends on the temperature and how close the outdoor living areas are to the back door.

I have a south facing backyard. It gets really hot in the summer. I have an elevated composite deck outside my patio door that I use several times a day. It has a sectional on it, so I could take a nap out there if I wanted to. I keep the cushions just inside the door so that they last longer. The elevation lets me see a lot more of the view and it feels a little like a treehouse.

Composite decking does not need maintenance. Concrete and pavers get hot if not shaded.

When it gets hot, I have a lower composite deck with a wood pergola that is partially under the trees. There is no house exit to this deck, so it does not get used nearly as much. Vertical wood surfaces like the posts and pergola slats need maintenance, but not nearly as much as floor planks because water and snow don't sit on them for long periods. (Composite is generally too heavy and/or not stiff enough for posts or roof slats, so you are usually stuck with wood or vinyl/pvc.)

You can have beautiful outdoor rooms, but if they are far away from the house, or hot, you may not use them much. In that case, you would want to build up the scenery. Make a space close to the house to view the scenery, and make the yard into a beautiful view if you do not have a view beyond your backyard. Trees, shrubs, gardens. Hardscaping doesn't change, but plants and wildlife do. We can watch birds, squirrels, rabbits (in other people's unsecured yards), my dogs playing, sunrises and sunsets, blooming trees that change colors with the seasons... Lots of entertainment.

I'm a big fan of large grassy areas to play in. But gardens and water features are nice too. I go for low maintenance and skip flowers, but I have lots of low maintenance trees and shrubs around the perimeter. Big rocks are nice too. Potted flowers on the deck are good because you get a lot of bang for the work since they are close to where you sit and look out the window. They have a bigger presence since they are close.

Also if you grill, it's nice to have the grilling area close to the door which is hopefully close to the kitchen. You might want some sort of counter nearby.

If you do a pool, think about privacy, especially if your neighbors see you coming and going. I would plan on having the pool close to the door, or have a private path to get to it, or have a place by the pool to disrobe. It may not bother you, but over time, some neighbors may become a little more interested than you like. Think about what you will use the pool for, and pick the best size and shape for that. You could have a lap pool built or one of those small workout pools with a current.
 
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