My Backyard Oasis: The Before (1/3)

My backyard has been “undergoing renovations” for the past two years.

One of the reasons I fell for this house was because of the potential that the backyard had. It was huge but overgrown in the wrong places, undergrown in the right places, and spoke to the previous elderly home owners. It was dated and junky, albeit adorable: there was this handmade ladder step-system that they straddles over the fence that created a safe bridge to the backyard neighbors. We heard stories of the woman traveling over the ladder every Thursday with a box of pizza rather than rounding the block. There was oodles of bird houses, feeders, and jars filled with backup nuts; there was a zillion terra cotta planters, chachkies and handmade things the husband crafted from wood. A life-size skunk sat in the garden, a flamingo sat in the doll house, and a giant siting witch was stored in the garage for Halloween).

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So needless to say, when we first moved in, we made some small but immediate changes that made being back there more bearable (and created a more tenant and dog-friendly space conducive to having friends over): We removed the flimsy burgundy fence, tore down a tree (that would have eventually fallen on the house within our lifetime), replaced some of the hard-to-stay-onto-of hedges with cedars, and expanded the gardens (which included tearing down a doll-house which was bitter-sweet)!

This was right before the tree was removed:

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And this was the after, which actually looked way worse as we waited for the mulch to settle before we were allowed to build on top of it:

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As you can see, our “patio” was comprised of nine humble square pavers which barely fit our secondhand patio dining set. And leading up to it were a handful of tiny stepping stones, bridging the gap between the patio and a massive, cracked concrete slab off of the back door.

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It simply looked junky. That burgundy bin held against the house garbage and recycling, so the smell would waft over you as you ate (ew), and despite the yard being quite large, it was mostly grass and weeds that had been treated with pesticides for decades. Once again, it took two years of us using corn gluten in early spring and back-breaking weed-pulling to naturally make it healthy again.

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Not good, huh? But that means it’s only up from, here, right?

It’s been such a long, tedious process over the last two years to get this backyard in shape, but I can confidently say that we’re nearly done. As I type this now, I’m sitting on my new patio (!!!) at a proper outdoor dining table and overlooking a backyard that barely resembles the one in these photos. Next up is sourcing a bunch of amazing furniture and decor from my favorite online shop, Wayfair (which just launched in Canada)!

Next week, I’ll be sharing the second post in this series giving you all the inside scoop on my plan of action, including a mood board and source list for where I scoured to shop for new furniture and decor without breaking the bank.