We moved into our new home in 2007 and we had so many big plans -- with the No. 1 desire of planning our outdoor living space. Unfortunately, two serious car accidents, my daughter's wedding and having to take custody of our 8-month-old grandson brought those plans to a standstill. Money seems to have gone everywhere but the backyard, which is in need of serious help.
Our "builder grade" deck literally fell apart when I leaned on it a few weeks ago so now it's just the landing and that is not safe for a 2-year-old. We would like a safe place for him -- and our other three grandchildren to play. We also have an 11- and 13-year-old at home still. It would be nice to come home from work and sit out back with the family while the little ones play. We have done some work but due to the grade on our property our topsoil and mulch just float away. We also feel like the oddballs of the neighborhood because all of our neighbors have beautiful patios that they can entertain on -- and we were here long before any of their homes were built!
Please help us so we can enjoy our family! I want my family to be safe.
What the experts at Knupper Nursery recommend, with a budget of $10,000 to $15,000:
The before back yard is a plain, grassy area with a patio door opening onto a step. A grill is located under some windows. The rest of the back of the house is featureless.
This homeowner is looking for a safe place for her grandchildren to play, so the first step would be to install a large, free-form patio with some wide, low-rise steps down from the patio door. Adding a dining set that will seat all family members and a large swing would create an outdoor living area where everyone can gather.
Surrounding the patio with tightly planted shrubs will keep small children from having so many choices of exits from this area. A mixture of dwarf Korean lilacs and Cayuga viburnums will provide fragrance and privacy. Layering both sides of the shrubs with ornamental grasses and perennials will let both the family and the neighbors enjoy the view.
We would add a flagstone path into the yard, offset from the patio door so it is not a straight shot for little feet. A gated arbor with clematis growing up both sides would bridge the walkway and connect the two sides of the planting beds, while also providing an additional barrier to the outside yard. A small sand and water table will help keep the little ones happy and busy on the patio.
Beginning May 6, through June 3, the Daily Herald is publishing finalists in our Get Your Summer On backyard makeover contest. Two winners will be chosen and they will receive prize packages valued at about $15,000. Winners will be featured in Home & Garden on June 10. To see more backyard makeover ideas, special Web page at www.dailyherald.com/entlife/homegarden/summer.