My backyard has always been my sanctuary. I love to garden and over the years we have slowly turned our yard into a bit of an oasis. Our home in the suburbs of Chicago is in close proximity to our neighbors, and as much as I enjoy them, I wanted an outdoor space that was private and beautiful. We put up a privacy fence several years ago, and since then have added layers of trees, bushes, a pool, and beautiful flowering plants to the space. We also had room for a vegetable garden. Honestly, I think I’m going to miss my backyard the most when we move later this summer. Isn’t that how it always is? You finally finish a project, and then it’s time to move on.
The backyard here in Charleston is very different. There is only one neighbor right next door. We have a wooded area behind us and a pond on the other side, so I’ve been taking my time being in this space, to get a feel for what I ultimately want the yard to look like. I want the surrounding landscape to influence our yard, if that makes sense. By the way, that ugly satellite dish is going to be removed.
The previous owners were the original owners and kept the landscape that was original to the house, which is pretty basic and blah. The front yard was easy because there wasn’t much to do in such a small space, but our backyard is quite large and has lots of possibility. Like my previous yard, this space is going to take time to create but there were a few things I wanted to get done right away. We started with planting a natural wall between our yard and our neighbor’s. They have a young child and two large dogs and there was nothing separating us but a fence. I shared my ideas with a landscaper and am very happy with the end result. The landscape extends along the back of the garage and along the back fence. Over time the bushes along the fence will grow tall and fill out, making that area of the yard very private.
We have a very large oak and pine tree in the yard that were overgrown and made the yard somewhat gloomy. I had them trimmed up and shaped and now there is definitely more light back there. We originally thought we would put a brick patio around the screened in porch, but the root system on the oak was going to make that very challenging, so we decided on a deck. I am really happy with the finished product and will seal it in the fall, when it isn’t so hot and humid. It’s going to be a great area to spend evenings with friends or read a good book.
As much as I love the oak tree, there isn’t too much that can grow right under it, plus I’ve discovered that oaks are always in a state of shedding something including leaves, acorns, and twigs. Plus, it is dripping with Spanish moss. We created a stone path that goes from the deck to the driveway, garage, and backyard. It looks great, is functional and it’s easy to maintain. The heavy downpours down here always resulted in a big muddy mess in this area, and now the water just soaks into the stones, and the best part- no muddy paws to wipe!! I’m also planning to put a hammock under the trees, perfect for lazy Sundays. I don’t know if I’ll get to it this year, but how cool would it be to hang an outdoor chandelier from one of the branches of the oak tree??
We have a screened in porch out back and didn’t do too much to it, other than add windows to make it more user friendly. Every time it rained it would get soaked inside and it was a huge mess when I arrived the week after hurricane Matthew came through last fall. These windows are a breeze (hence the name EZ-Breeze windows) and were easy to install. We don’t have an eat in kitchen and since the room is small, I decided to fill the space with a table and chairs allowing us to eat meals overlooking the yard. I added a rug for texture and will bring in just a few more finishing touches. Now the room can be used all year round. I am an early riser and love sitting out on the back porch with my coffee, listening to the birds, meditating and setting my intention for the day. Nature is the perfect place to do that.
Now I’m starting to dream about phase 2. I think I would like to soften more of the fence with low growing plants, but I also need to keep it simple. I am quickly learning that summers down here are continuously hot and humid, and I won’t be able to garden the same way I did up north. So, this is our yard, just a start but I think it’s going to be a beautiful journey.
Have a great week! ~May