Our Projects: An Urban Dust Wasteland Becomes a Civilized Backyard

Since we bought our house 3 years ago, the projects, although constant, have obviously progressed with the seasons, so we are limited in what we can safely outside without fear of snow/hail/plagues. Generally there are 2 seasons in Toronto as the joke goes: winter and construction. This is pretty accurate. Last summer we took care of the deck, this summer, the dusty wasteland of our remaining backyard. When we moved in it looked like this:

It was pretty bleak...

It was pretty bleak…


Like, it's not much better from this angle

Like, it’s not much better from this angle

And see that charming heart cut out? Yeah, they had 4 of those in the wood for each card suit. It was precious. So precious the previous owners didn’t even realize it until Keith pointed it out. Which gives you an idea of the amount of thought put into aesthetics and decor in our house when we bought it.

Does it look slightly better like this? Perhaps...

Does it look slightly better like this? Perhaps…

So after the deck we had to even the playing field… or remove the playing field as we were under no illusion that grass was going to be able to grow back here. The combination of 2 dogs, copious urine and shade from the large trees that dot all the neighbourhood backyards ensured trying to sod the areas was going to be a long, but losing battle. So we said sod it  (see what I did there!?!). And decided to put in pebbles and pavers instead as they are a) infinitely more attractive than dirt and b) easy to maintain/removed dog poop from.

Making this straight: not as easy an one would think...

Making this straight: not as easy an one would think…

We first lay black landscape fabric to try to keep weeds from growing through into the stone area… There are some articles on line that say no!!! This stuff doesn’t work, don’t do it! But this is what I used in my last garden and it worked. And it cost $40, so really, if it kinda helps? It’s better than weeding. Because weeding blows. We are NOT those people who are relaxed by gardening. Blech. Minimal effort and things that come back every year? Sounds good to me.

Laying the paving stones pt 2

Getting there… but good God was this painful.. For Keith. While I made him move the stones around and “supervised”

The straightening of the pavements stones first… but if you think it’s a 5 minute job and then you’re good, you’d be wrong. This layout had 3 or 4 stages, because you can get it straight here, but then when you add the pebbles it will look totally different. Plus getting the surface flat. Yay.

Mid paver stone moving around-ing

planters and pebbles stage 1

So once you put the paving stones down, you spread the gravel around… And in the interim between the stones being moved around and putting the gravel in, Keith built 10’x1′ planter boxes, which ultimately will have some sort of shrub in them… But we may wait until the spring. Not sure. It’s 13 today in Toronto but going up to 29 during the week, so who knows? Maybe theres a little gardening left in us yet (10% chance, but there’s a chance). FYI, you need to have the pea gravel under the planters as well as you will undoubtedly realize everything isn’t level.

planter side angle

Planters from a side angle

This was probably iteration 2 or 3 of the paving stones being moved around (this happenes every time you add a new element in with its own set of right angles)….? Keith was praying to the patience Gods at this point, I think. Another thing to note: if you have a male dog that likes to pee against things and corners, make sure you planters are higher than the maximum height your dog can lift his leg. Buster’s max is about 1’6″, so the planters are 2′ high. No chance for urination ruination in the nation.

spreading the gravel

This is the next phase with pea gravel and planter boxes, which still have no plants in them…

The cost of the pea gravel for this space (10’x18′) cost about $60. Plus delivery. The paving stones were about $200. Delivery was $60. So we got all of this delivered to the curb for about $450 including tax. We got our supplies here: Urban Green Supply in Scarborough.

The birth of the back platform

And now, for another wood platform! (disregard artistic finger in the upper left corner)

So once we kind of had the main garden part sorted, we (Keith) started building a back platform that we could build a back fence out of. Because otherwise, this area was going to become a pee and poo party palace. We were already starting to see the beginning of this aesthetic intention c/o Leelu and Buster, so we needed to put a stop to that right quick.

And drumroll…..

Backyard Ta Da!

All done! 

We have since added in a light at the bottom of the tree to do a little up-lighting, because uplighting always makes buildings and outdoor features look better. And we move chairs out there every once in a while too, now that the bugs are all gone and we can sit as close to the tree as we want. It’s raining and assy out today, so we don’t have our final staged shot. I will post that tomorrow, when nature sucks less!

bfd.

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