Exterior & Garden

The Lay of the Land

OK, done with the front of the house! For now at least. I’m eager to get out there and make some changes and additions, but the perennial beds have been cleaned up, the boxwoods trimmed and thinned, and everything fertilized and mulched. We’re good.

Onward, to the back! But first, a layout of the property. The lot (50’x145′) and house footprint are to scale, though the details on the house itself are not. They’re close, but the roof lines are definitely a little wonky (the house is not entirely the odd assemblage of angles it appears to be!). I gave up on getting them exactly right because the focus is on the overall land here.

Balch Property

There’s a 3′ purple cast iron fence out front, a 5′ black cast iron fence next to one neighbor, a 4′ wooden fence next to the other, and 6′ wooden privacy fences elsewhere. None of them match, none of them are in perfect shape, but they’re there. The boxwood hedges, we’ve talked about. Everything else is garden space, aside from the parkway, the small patch of grass out front, and the flagstone patio in the back.

Our neighbors in the greystone are clearing out their yard and putting in a paver patio. They had some flagstone that matches ours, so we’re taking it (thank you!). The plan is to either create a small patio, use it for stepping stone paths, or both.

Patio Option 1

The first option would be solely for the kids and their friends. We have a table and chairs on our patio, and there’s a kids’ picnic table off to the side. It’s cute and they like to sit there because it feels secluded next to the fence, beneath a row of lilac trees, but it’s just dirt and mulch beneath the table right now. I feel like we could turn it into a pretty cute space! It would only be useful for the next five years or so, but I’m OK with that.

Patio Option 2

Option number two would be to make a lounge area. There’s a dirt path to the egg chair right now from where foot traffic has trampled the plants. Go with what has already been started and turn it into a paved area, or just make a stone path? If we’re going to do a patio, we’ll have to do a lot more planning before we can get started, but if it’s just a path, I can dive right in and get it done.

Kids’ area, lounge area, or a combination of both? I’m thinking the way to go may be to do a stone path to the chair, leave the rest alone, and then a small patio area beneath the kids’ picnic table. I’m heading out now to figure it out.

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  • Sarah
    June 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    You may find useful help at Tara Dillard’s blog. I like what she says about considering the garden design as views/transitions from inside the house.

  • Amelia @ House Pretty Blog
    June 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I love the idea of a stone path to the egg chair and creating a small patio area for the kids – something for everyone!

  • Amie M
    June 8, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Do a combo at the egg chair! Or move the egg chair over to where you want the kids patio, to ensure longevity of the space. I remember you saying earlier that the kids love the egg chair, and you can set up a great space for them around it.

    Or keep it entirely as a secluded spot for Mom and Dad to relax.

    The kids area can be adapted to other things as they grow. A potting station? A mini dance floor? Comfy bench and floor pillows?

  • jannike
    June 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    stepping stones can be a great garden feature, no matter the destination. If the egg chair area will always have some kind of seating, a patio would make sense in that area. The kids area could stay mulch if it’s not a space for the long haul.

  • Michelle
    June 9, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    When we bought our 1925 bungalow the previous owner’s son had let his mother’s gardens (I’m told she had beautiful roses, shade gardens ect) be over taken by weeds and such in the year it took him to clean out the home so instead of either selling the home like that or weeding the property he took a backhoe to the whole lot and laid sod. Eight years and a sewer pipe replacement later I am still fighting my way back from the disaster. The sod looked nice when we purchased but I’ve learned grandma with her shade gardens knew best. I have 3 young kids so I totally get your struggle between yard and what will work with the availabe sun you have. What a great idea to establish areas just for them and paths to encourage little feet to stay off plants. I just totally envy the established plants you have to work with! It’s fun watching along as you figure it out!

  • Green Butterfly Photography
    June 20, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Who did you use for trimming your trees? We are looking for someone in Oak Park. We are also redoing our backyard–what a project! what software/program did you use to get this layout. It’s so much better than my very rough sketches, would love to put my ideas into something like this.

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    July 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

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