Backyard Face-Lift, Part 1

Author:  Spring

When we  bought our house, we felt as if we got a great deal, and we think one of the reasons was the backyard.  The backyard didn’t have grass anywhere.  It was what you would call a nightmare.   The previous owner had taken out all the grass and put down little pebble stones and some circle zen gardens (use that term loosely).  I used  some of the rocks for a wet-shoes project you can read about here. While I am sure the previous owner loved his yard, it wasn’t going to work for us.  We wanted to have grass for our puppy, and I just love the look of green in the yard.  I am from Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, and we like our grass.  The previous owner had a weird patio right in the middle of the yard, and it visually interupted the view and really made the backyard seem smaller than it is.  It had to go.

Mr. Spring and I decided we needed to make a change to make it ours.   We knew it  would be a lot of hard work, but the payoff would be great.  We both keep thinking about grilling out on our new patio, having a summer cocktail, and playing with our new puppy, who arrives next week-end.   But the dreams have to be put on the back burner for now, because we have a lot of work to do.  Here are some of the before pictures:

yard before 1

Here you can see one of the zen gardens covered with snow.  That was a common site for us this winter since we had one of the worst winters on record.  We sold the picnic table you see there that the owner left, and we decided we will buy new patio furniture.

Yard before

We were so excited to get started.  Before we took this photo, we moved some things around and cut down stray branches.  Here  you can see the rocks and part of one of the zen gardens.

Yard 2

We brought out the fire pit to help keep us warm because when we started removing rocks, it was still very cold outside.  We knew the project was going to take many hours, so, when we had some time, we shoveled away and moved the huge rocks that were around the zen gardens.

yard removing rocks and zen garden


Yard rocks around tree

We decided to move some of the large rocks around some of the trees in the backyard.  We used the small stones to fill in around the perimeter of the yard.  This was a way to help get rid of some of them and help with drainage around the garages that surround us.  In the future, we plan to add a higher wall to keep the rocks in and then add dirt and plant flowers to create a flower bed.  I don’t think that will be happening this summer, though.

yard digging dirt

The large zen garden by the house is where we want to put the patio.  We decided to tackle the patio first and focus on this area.  We removed the rocks, and the next step was to remove the dirt.

yard rocks in bagster

We filled many wheelbarrows full, and then we put them in a portable dumpster called “the bagster”.  To date we have filled 2.5 bagsters full of rocks. That is about seven cubic yards.  We found some people on Craigslist who were happy to take these rocks from us.

Yard taking up fabric

Here I am finally taking up the yard fabric where the patio will be.  I was so happy because we were finally getting to the dirt and the blank slate that we wanted.   We made a plan, but it seems to be changing.   Stay tuned for progress.

backyard plan

Are you doing anything to your backyard?



  1. Jan Smith says

    Thanks for sharing your hard work.

    Yes, I just had my septic system problems fixed and am going to be putting in grass (sod, so I can immediately enjoy it) after i get my watering system installed. I’m also going to redo my garden. Will send you pics later.


  2. says

    We’re doing some major planting… I’m looking forward to your finished yard! Like your plan so far!

  3. says

    This is going to be great! So much work, but totally worth it in the end. We did tons in our current yard, and still have too much to think about at the new house. But we just go one step at a time.

    PS – Don’t you love Craigslist? It’s amazing what people will take when it’s free.

  4. says

    You really have a big job! But what a beautiful new townhouse. It has a big house feel to it!
    I am looking forward to seeing all of you remodeling! I bet your countertops are divine! I think the hardest room in the house to remodel is the kitchen. Hard to live without! I’m sure you are anxious for it to be done!

  5. says

    Love the plan for your backyard. It will truly be a labor of love! We had to do a ton of tearing out of the last owners mistakes which makes your work twice as difficult. We are moving soon to a home with pretty much a blank slate in the backyard. It’s what we call, here in AZ, zeriscape. It has quite a large concrete patio & is surrounded with crushed gravel. We are looking forward to putting our “mark” on this backyard — AGAIN! Good luck with your yard project. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the progress.