Backyard “before” pics (and I really mean “before,” as in I have a lot of work to do…)

It’s suddenly super hot and humid, and the weather is weird! We have a severe thunderstorm watch on right now, so I rushed out to take these photos with bandito in tow before the rain started. I do apologize that some of these pics are a little fuzzy. It’s not easy to hold onto a 60-lb. Clumber while trying to take photographs, and I was never that good at multitasking anyway….

I wanted to share these photos of my sad little backyard because I need your help. I want to create a more inviting landscape—a little garden getaway, if you will—one that will invite relaxation and offer pretty things to look at. Maybe you have some ideas for me? Hmmm?

Now keep in mind that I don’t have a big budget or lots of time this summer to do a major overhaul. My big outdoor focus/project for the summer will be having the enormous trees on my property—a monolithic copper beech and very large Norway Maple—cut back. They are overgrown. It’s actually becoming a bit claustrophobic, really, and I could do with a little more sun in the backyard. Limbing the trees properly should help open things up and let the sunshine in.

As far as landscaping goes, my main focus will be creating a nice container garden on the back patio area:

I did a little work the other night, focusing on leaf clean-up, but as you can see from the photos, there’s still a lot of work to be done here! Maybe next week, I will add some ferns (they really thrive in this shady spot) and some other shade-loving plants. I want to create a bright color palette for the patio, with plants and flowers in preferably cool colors: bright pinks, fuschias, deep purples, deep reds—possibly with some bright white and chartreuse-y green plants and foliage as accents. Since the house is so dark, and since the patio is pretty shady, I crave bright, more saturated color here to liven things up and energize the space.

To this end, last summer I purchased some cheery yellow planters. They need to be cleaned up and made shiny again after being out all winter, but I think my yellow containers—and the bright yellow patio umbrella that I still need to put up!—should up the happy factor considerably…and it’s clear the patio needs it!

My other focus area is the bed in front of the garage. I need to do some major weeding here! I’d like to enlarge and re-shape this bed so that it’s circular (I think a circular shape would soften the lines and angles of the house and garage). I think this bed would benefit from some plantings of various heights and shapes to give this part of the landscape a little more dimension and interest. It might be nice to even integrate some kind of garden structure here—a leaning or pyramid trellis, or even an arbor. Since this is also my sunniest spot in the garden, I think I’d like a flower that packs a lot of punch here. A David Austin rose, perhaps—maybe his bright pink Gertrude Jekyll variety?

The one nice thing about this part of the garden is the peonies (you can see one of them below—the tallish shrub in the center). They’re absolutely gorgeous when they bloom. They’re just beginning to bud now. Hopefully I’ll have some good photos to share of the peonies in the near future!

Here’s a shot of the other part of the bed, along the side of the garage. I’ve got tons of day lilies here (which I’m not that crazy about) and shade-loving pachysandra (which I do quite like).

And here’s a photo of the bed along the path that leads from the back door to the garage. More peonies on the way here! But this bed also needs major work…

Here you can see the opposite side of the lawn, where I have a cluster of arbor vitae. You can also see poor Mossy Lion, my lone garden ornament at bottom right, who didn’t weather the winter so well. The swings in temperature did him in. I’m really sorry, Mossy Lion.

I actually have quite a few real animals that inhabit the backyard. Indeed, wildlife abounds at the residence! Witness cute bunny:

And not-so-cute birds who have also taken up residence IN the residence! Ugh! They’ve built a nest in a spot where a few of the shingles had fallen off on the exterior wall of the mudroom.  I have someone coming to remove the birds and seal up the hole, which is good since the birds chirping frantically every time I open and close the back door is getting really annoying, not to mention that the back entrance is looking a little ramshackle:

A close-up. Grrrrr, these birds are awful!

So that’s the penny tour of my “before” backyard. I have my work cut out for me, folks.

Your comments and suggestions are most welcome. Aaaaand….

Anyone want to help me do a little weeding/planting/clean-up? Thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask!

The Writer

Writer & Residence blog. A blog dedicated to two of my favourite things, interior design, and writing.


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