When we first moved into our house, we didn’t fully appreciate how impossible it would be to utilize the backyard. It is a steeply sloping site and when the former owners added the family room, they built it over the existing patio.

So, when we moved in, it looked like this:

There was a hugely overgrown Japanese maple blocking our view to the backyard from the family room, and a random gas-powered lamp. The porch was not big enough to do much of anything with, and the cement area under it was just big enough for a grill and a chair.

Making matters worse, the lowest part of the ground seemed to be at the Japanese maple. Before we took it out, I could actually shift it around with just one hand after heavy rains. Not great.

So, we took out all the old bushes, moved out the cement bricks, and took the Japanese maple tree out. We were sad to see it go, but it was kind of a menace.

Dale added built-in planters along the fence line:

We reused the bricks to make a tree ring and it’s now a herb garden that I use for cocktails!


And last spring, we poured a patio! And it has dramatically improved our ability to enjoy the yard. It truly transformed our summers and ability to entertain.

Dale designed the shape and had a terrible company come in and pour it! LOL. We nearly fired them and the owner drove us nuts with endless delays and rude behavior (however the people who finally showed up and did the work on-site were lovely!) before finally presenting us with a bill that was 33% more than we were quoted! Nice people.

The patio is roughly 15.6 feet by  x 29 feet:

HUGE lifestyle upgrade.

We got a fire bowl and Dale put up cute lights:

Watching baby bunnies eat flowers as the #empireofdirt slowly turns to grass.

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We bought an outdoor dining set and I made cushions for the chairs!

I also made teacup bird feeders:

And this year, we bought a nice grill:

And we’ve added a retaining wall in order to combat the mountain of dirt and add some nice landscaping (which is our project for this coming weekend). I’ll post more about that once it’s complete.