|"Before" panorama shot (with partially dormant plants)|
|"After" panorama shot taken today|
The one thing we really hesitated over when buying this house was the small backyard.
Our old house, while it was itself small, had a big backyard, and we are backyard people. We go outside several times a day; whether to play with H, grill dinner, sit and chat on the patio, or work one one of our numerous projects, we just like hanging out outdoors.
The new house had beautiful landscaping, which we had never managed to tackle at the old house, and some neat things like a water feature (you can't really see it in these pictures, but it's outside the living room windows). It was also incredibly shady, which is a huge big deal in such a hot climate (and which we had very little of at our old place). But it also had small square footage, most of which was occupied by stone patio. The stone patio is nice, but it's not exactly conducive to sprawling games of chase, kicking a ball, tackle, or little red wagon parades.
We weighed it in the balance and decided that, considering how much we loved the house and neighborhood, and how close we would be to playgrounds and parks, it was worth the small backyard.
Still, a few weeks after moving in, I was having serious doubts. "We're going to have to move again in a couple of years if we don't do something major to the backyard!" Believe me, the idea of moving again in a few years is NOT appealing. We're not totally done moving in here yet! So we started doing some major soul-searching into what would make the backyard more usable.
|Pretty, but a bit hard! H has had plenty of bruises from playing out there in the few short months we've lived here.|
It turned out, we had to just sort of look at the backyard differently. We are never going to be able to have huge spread-out ball games back there, so we'll save those for the park. But we CAN have lots of fun back there if we break it into usable areas.
Our main project was to create a kid-safe play patio by covering the lower section of the patio in commercial-grade rubber playground tile. This wasn't cheap, but I think it was a fantastic investment (and a whole lot cheaper than moving again!). We ended up using Playfall tile from Overstock and Amazon (they sell it in different increments) because both offered free shipping. All the other rubber tile products we found looked great, too, but it would cost nearly as much to ship them as the product cost! We went with 2.5" tile because it can supposedly protect against a fall from a six-foot height, so it seemed like it would offer H, her little friends, and any other little kiddos who come along a very safe place to play.
The hardest part was figuring out how many tiles to buy, since they are 2' squares and the patio is veeerrrrry curvy. I ended up cutting a more-or-less 2' square of cardboard and chalking it out. We still ended up buying a little extra after our initial shipment, but we were close -- and it was better to do it that way than way-over-order.
The tiles came in two shipments, one in two big boxes and one on a HUGE pallet. The pallet of 40 tiles weighed over 850 lbs. These things are heavy and not much fun to move around.
It took a lot of work (poor N did most of it himself as usual!), most of which was done on the hottest day of the year so far (108, ugh) but it got done.
|The tiles don't connect to the patio at all; they connect to each other using pins and adhesive. They have drain holes underneath.|
Anyway, once that project was done, the backyard started feeling a lot more friendly. We started thinking about all the fun things we could put on the play patio for H to do. Right now, there's a mini-trampoline, her baby slide, her new-to-us tricycle, and, as of today, a balance beam N and I made her using 4x4, 2x4, and yoga mats.
Oh. And chalk. :-) We've already had several little friends over to help "break it in," and they all seemed to like it.
|You should see H on that balance beam. So cute!|
|N and I took a nap in here this afternoon while the kiddo was at her grandparents'. True story. You can't waste a breezy, 80-degree afternoon in mid-July!|
|The "grownup" part of the patio, including a TV the previous owners kindly left!|