My newly landscaped backyard makeover

Posted on Mon, 17 Aug 2020 by KiM

This is the third house I have owned, and the first time I have really gotten to do some landscaping. If you know me, you know I detest winter and live for summer, so having a decent backyard space is essential to my mental well being. Throw in a pandemic and it’s a literal life-saver. We started this project last summer. Luckily we had a fairly blank slate to start. Not sure how no one had ever done any landscaping to this property since the house was built in 1940, but there was NOTHING but weeds for grass, and very wide, overgrown cedar hedges along the left side and the back. Above is right before we started the work, when husband brought home a fun mini-excavator to get this party started. Before this overhaul happened, we had at one point torn out the tiny back porch and built a massive 3 sided stair situation, and built the raised garden bed you see above (the odd white blobs are my massive fibreglass outdoor seating set I eventually sold). We tore out EVERYTHING – the grass, the hedges, the driveway. I’d love to say we tore out the garage too but that’s a makeover project for another time.

And this is what we ended up with. We are so sooooooooo happy with how this all turned out. Being total landscaping amateurs, we had a general plan for most of the yard and the rest was alot of last minute decisions and praying things would work out. We completed most of the structural work last summer (you may recall my “she-shed” post, now called the greenhouse).

We needed to rip out the driveway (the asphalt was in really rough) and rather than spend $8K replacing it, we figured it made more sense to keep the car at the front of the house and use up all of the backyard as hangout space. That area and the rest of the pathways are filled with crushed stone. It’s reddish, which I am not a fan of but all the quarries around here only produce that or the regular grey stone. The neighbour’s house (you can see it in the first photo) is about a foot from the property line and there are 12 windows that look out onto our yard, so one of the last projects which was a last minute design decision was to build some sort of fence to block their property. We found some online inspiration and came up with this haphazard design with some strategically placed cut-outs with views of a brick wall or the greenery in the neighbour’s courtyard, as well as a few shelves. Along this fence we created 3 zones. The first in the photo above is the sunny lounge area. The rope chair was from Home Depot, the bamboo lounge chair was $50 from Facebook Marketplace, the rest I already had.

Next to the lounge is a potting area. The pandemic has made it really tough to source the items I want for out here. The green table is not meant to be outside and I would love a really old wooden workbench, but maybe next year.

We ordered the hexagon picnic table at Rona and I painted it with a grey stain. This became our outdoor eating area. My husband wanted to build some sort of canopy for it, but I told him it was redundant, as the neighbour’s tree makes a beautiful canopy (I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and I’m amazed how much lower the branches are now). It’s really beautiful. To the left of the table is a wrought iron lamp that still needs wiring, and I found a bamboo plant pot in my stash and turned it into a lampshade.

At the beginning of May I placed an order with a local nursery for a whole pile of evergreens (which turned into a bit of a nightmare experience, but that’s pandemic life for ya). Since we live in Canada, and winters are long, I figured why put in plants that are just going to look brown and dead for 6 months? Evergreens look beautiful and alive all year.

Another last minute decision was to create a succulent garden. There were some cool engraved stones left in the garage when we moved in, so we buried some in the dirt and planted the succulents around them. To my surprise they are all thriving!

The back porch. We have a new door coming in October (?!) that we ordered a couple of months ago. We ended up tearing out the wood on the last 2 stairs and creating more herb/veg garden space because of the pandemic and wanting to be more self-sustainable.

The catio! When we initially built it, it went lengthwise into the yard and took up a fair amount of space, so another last minute decision was to take it apart and have it running width-wise which gained us about a 10′ square space. We also added a little addition in behind with an air conditioning cover box my husband had built but then didn’t want to use so we repurposed it for the catio. The ferals love this sooooo much. Just to the right of this photo is the BBQ deck/pad. We were able to move this closer to the catio when we turned the catio horizontally. You’ll see what we did with the extra space in a few photos πŸ™‚

Another last minute decision was to reuse some of the leftover stone from the interlock driveway we put in and make a stone “carpet” in the large empty space within the crushed stone. We then hunted Facebook Marketplace and found a chiminea ($80) and the chairs ($40). We roasted marshmallows out there one night when it finally cooled down a bit. I loooove the smell of burning wood. And stuffing my face with perfectly roasted marshmallows. πŸ™‚

Our raised vegetable and herb garden. Lots of goodies going on in there. The back corner is a massive tomatillo plant. I had no idea they grew so large. It’s taking over so I’m never growing tomatillos again. It hasn’t produced any yet!

Back to the other side of the yard. This area used to house the BBQ desk, but once it loved next to the catio we used the leftover space to put in a pond and bought a fountain pump! I really wanted to hear water to distract from the sound of traffic at the front of the house (we live on a busy street) and it’s been AMAZING. The bench is from Highjinx, that I reupholstered in black tufted marine vinyl. The statue is from Robert PlanteΒ and the pot is from my one and only trip to Homesense since the pandemic. (Man were the shelves empty!)

Felix LOVES drinking from the pond

The statue I bought several years ago from the One World Bazaar in Manotick. The scalloped pot I found at Rona or Lowes, and it became a water dish for the cats and my grey squirrel buddy Sherman who comes for daily peanut visits.

The greenhouse. I could not love this little outdoor sanctuary more. I have been working from home since “day 1” of the pandemic and as soon as the weather was reasonable I started working out there. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere compared to my regular office setting.

I’m hoping the neighbours paint this side of their garage soon, since they painted the rest a few weeks ago πŸ™‚ I tried to hide it with these pots I found at a nursery. I could not afford really tall ones so I bought these @ $20 a piece, and then painted a wood door we had taken off a basement storage room with some leftover brown paint we had, and my husband made some legs for it. The tub in the background we bought recently while antiquing ($30). It’s an old bathtub that on hot days I will fill with water and soak myself in it.

You can’t see it clearly in this photo but another project we tackled this spring was husband built me a sofa for the greenhouse. On each end is a covered section with a hole cut out, and on the far side it houses a litter box. We built it to fit a twin mattress. Everything in here is either stuff I already had, or from Amazon (Macrame plant holders, sisal rug), Wayfair (fitted bed sheet), Indigo (some pillows) or I purchased from Mexico. The art of the wall was another Facebook Marketplace find.

The view while I work or when I spend time in there in the evenings laying on the couch and catching up on Instagram. We also installed a shelf on the back wall to hold a projector, and bought a fabric screen that is hung with hooks on the window wall so we can watch movies out there. We’ve done it a few times and it’s alot of fun!

I took this photo the night we roasted marshmallows. The string lights were from Canadian Tire, and the LED battery operated lights in the garden were from Indigo. It’s magical out there at night.

Hope you enjoyed my backyard tour!

Anna L says:

It is lovely. Made to spend time in and enjoy. I agree with Suzanne that you should ask the neighbors about painting the garage wall. They may think of it as being on your side and ‘yours’ any way. You could even ask if they have left over paint you could use to finish the job for them.

I love it all. I intend to build a circular pond like that, but it is way down my to do list. Eventually I will extend the gravel paths to my rear garden, as they have worked so well at the front. We bought from a Canadian company those mats that you install under the gravel and can drive over without it all shifting. The succulents will thrive against the gravel and spill out. Great fence with nice detail. As a fellow diyer I just finished a horizontal fence/screen and am proud of my own outdoor sofa build.

KiM says:

I didn’t know about such a mat! And sounds like I’m not the only busy one outside πŸ™‚

pam d says:

This is truly stunning!!! πŸ™‚ I love everything about it!

KiM says:

Thanks everyone for the kind words!
To clarify. the neighbour’s first told us they were painting their garage and suggested we could paint “our side”. I was a little taken aback since we were busy with projects of our own, but then they bought paint and painted the sides they could see, and asked if we liked the colour and they said they’d paint “our side”. Then they took off on a couple of vacations. So I’m hopeful it will happen. I am still not interested in doing the work myself because it’s theirs, I’ve done enough and now need to start on the front yard, and it needs sanding which i hate doing.

atma says:

Beautiful! Which, of course, comes as no surprise. Love this so much!

KiM says:

awwww, thank you atma! XO

Leslie-Anne says:

Very nice!

KiM says:

Thanks so much!

Bettina Spagnuolo says:

beautiful job! …and so inspiring!

KiM says:

Thank you Bettina! πŸ™‚

Nick C says:

I just watched a YouTube channel called Urban Farmstead and he talked about having the same problem with tomatillos. He said you have to grow at least two tomatillo plants so they can pollinate each other or they won’t bear fruit.

KiM says:


Lizzy says:

Great and amazing
Loved every bit of it. Thanks for sharing.
I am wondering where you got tgat easy chair from, the area where you have tge green carpet. There is that striped cloth on that chair.

KiM says:

Thank you Lizzy!
I found it on FB Marketplace

axie says:

What a labor of love! It’s beautiful, Kim. I can’t believe how much gorgeous fun is fit into that space! After getting bits and pieces of different projects over the years, it’s so great to see the whole area- love it, and thanks for sharing with us!

KiM says:

Thank you axie! I could not be happier with how it all came together.

ru says:

Hope it’s never too late to say…Wow! What a beautiful transformation Kim. Congrats for the hard work. Clearly it has paid off. Wow…

KiM says:

Thank you so much ru!! I can say it certainly has paid off in spades.

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