Now that you've seen what we're working with, here's what we've done to get "Operation: Beautiful Back Yard" started.
First David whipped up a "floor plan" and printed several copies for us to doodle on. (This is just one of the MANY reasons why being married to an engineer is the best thing ever.) We each drew our rough visions for the yard, shared them with each other, then critiqued and revised and discussed ad nauseum. He needed a clear path from the shed clear around to the front yard for mowing purposes. I needed a clear view from the kitchen and living room windows of any play areas. We both wanted seating under the patio and better privacy from our neighbors. After several revisions, discussions and disagreements, seemingly brilliant ideas and discouraging vetoes, and finally we ended up with this:
It might not look like much to you but it makes my heart go all pitter-patter because plans! Projects! Possibilities! I love that stuff!
Here's the key (you can cross reference with this post to see pictures of what things look like now if that helps):
1. This is the storage shed. Nothing's changing here.
2. This is the kitchen, which has a huge window overlooking the yard and a door opening onto the patio. I only included this to help you orient yourself.
3. Since we already have pavers and a cabinet here, we plan to use it for our cooking space. Not sure yet how much will be freestanding and how much will be built-in, but we'd like a grill, possibly a brick oven, and some storage in this corner. (There's a photo in this post that shows what we're thinking.)
4. The sandbox is here, and it's like three times the size of the one in the image below. There is plumbing and a spigot right next to it which David plans to turn into a drinking fountain.
Contemporary Landscape by Encinitas Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Falling Waters Landscape
5. David wants to put a platform around the mulberry tree. I'm leaning more toward a bench...nothing too big but still surrounding the tree. We're still figuring out details here.
6. We will be pouring a series of long thin concrete slabs to serve as a walkway to the alley gate.
7. A raised bed planter will go along the back wall. I want to fill it with a bunch of succulents and desert grasses.
Contemporary Landscape by Encinitas Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers debora carl landscape design
8. We'll build a playhouse around this big tree. I showed a really simple and pretty idea in this post, but David has something else in mind. It's more complicated but could be really cool if it works out. Since that's his baby, I'll let him tell you about it as it comes together.
9. More raised beds, including a peninsula out into the yard. Most if not all of this will be vegetable garden.
10. I'm not sure if we'll pave this or not, but this area will remain clear so David can wheel out the lawn mower and access the shed as needed. We'll also put a small planting bed against this wall for something bright and pretty to climb--probably bougainvillea or yellow bells. We're LOVING this trellis as inspiration.
11. The patio will have a freestanding table and chairs for eating, as well as a built-in seating area by the pillars, which will be bulked up to be part of the bench seating. We both like this concrete and cantilevered wood bench. Storage will probably be added under the windows so we can have picnic blankets, throw pillows, toys, and other outside things handy.
Contemporary Patio by San Francisco Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Arterra LLP Landscape Architects
You can look at our Pinterest boards to see more images that are inspiring us right now (David's and mine). We're leaning toward a sleek, minimalist, slightly industrial look that uses lots of concrete and wood. To soften that, we'll have a billion plants, give or take a few, both in the landscaping and in hanging baskets and pots.
We will have to strike a balance between our not-at-all-modern house and what we do in the backyard, so don't expect to see anything ultra-modern or avant garde. But you may be surprised when you see what colors I'm testing out on the block wall!
(Spoiler: we're going black and I'm so excited!)
All images except the floor plan are from Houzz.com.