Home Improvement

Since we didn’t end up buying the farm last weekend, DH and I have refocused on our current house. We are both happy and sad not to have 103 acres of our own to roam. To my way of thinking, we can roam in the 100-acre park across the street and yet live in our house that is both 100 years newer and in 100x better repair. Still, while looking inward has you re-appreciating the upsides, you also tend to cast a critical eye. There are a few things that we want to do around this place to make it more ours and adapt it a little more to our lifestyle. So we’re tackling some medium-sized projects that have been muddling around our collective consciousness the last four years. One is a patio in the backyard.

Our backyard, at least until recently, is like a park. There are so many mature trees on our property and the adjoining neighbors’ that it looks like you’re in the woods when you glance out the back window. We have very sparse grass in the back corner because the canopy is so thick. In fact, the previous ower gave up on grass back there entirely and planted a zillion hostas instead. This time of year, late spring and early summer, is almost breathtakingly green in our backyard. The trees are full, the hosta is up, the ivy is climbing, and you have to peer in through the heavy shade to see the back edge of our lot- even though it’s not exceptionally big.

Last spring, though, our neighbor to the south cut down six or seven trees in her backyard, taking a bit of our forest illusion with them. It wasn’t as glaring as our neighbor behind, though. He just whacked four trees along our mutual property boundary to help keep stuff out of his swimming pool . Before, we couldn’t even see the neighbor catty-corner behind us. Now we can see almost his whole house. There’s also a big, bright, sunny gash in the treeline that is most jarring, especially if you knew what it used to look like. But, I admit, having a little more light in the area isn’t totally bad. It will definitely help keep the mosquito population down, give the grass a chance to grow in late summer, and maybe even allow me to grow something besides hosta on our lot. So I’m not planning on dumping nasty things into their pool in a vengeful fury. Not today, anyway.

Instead, we have started putting in a little patio with a (shhh!) firepit, where we can sit with friends and relax on nice evenings. DH, being the engineer (where form = function and generally <> aesthetic), wanted to make it rectangular or even square. I really wanted it to look more like a puddle. Not circular, not symmetrical, just a rounded shape. The hosta beds in the back are curved that way, and I felt it would look more natural to copy the shapes already in our yard. Well, after a few days of seriously thinking about it, he seems to agree.

We were lucky enough to get a free trailer-load of blocks from my father-in-law, enough probably to build a small house if we really wanted to. Yesterday, DH scraped the sod off the area where we want to start, and he’s going to copy not only the shape, but also the rise of our yard and put in two levels. (This is a case of form = planning – digging.) Today we went shopping for some material to use as edging for the blocks, and for the sand and gravel to lay underneath. Tomorrow morning, DH and his dad are going to pick up some more of the rock we used to edge our loose gravel path, which we want to extend further into the back and around the patio. The end result will be a nice patio to enjoy, fun paths for the kids to wander, and lots of pretty garden to tend. I’m excited.

Here is a (terrible) freehand drawing of the project. I made it in Paint while nursing DD2, and those are my excuses for why it’s so lousy.


Here’s hoping the real thing comes out a little better than my drawing!


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