This is what our backyard currently looks like. It’s a good size and has plenty of potential, but right now it’s lacking a whole lot of lustre and, most importantly, access.
I currently don’t use the backyard nearly as much as I’d like to. Every time I’m back there I focus on a countless weeds in the lawn and garden, and on the ugly patch of garden waste and unkempt space. We were left with a decent garden edging the south side fence, but one with plants we don’t care much about filled with weeds.
We’re slowly starting to add more trees and plants, and fill the raised beds with edible goodies. But this backyard transformation is going to take a lot of energy, time, and resources (aka money). Here’s a bit of an idea of what I’d like.
There isn’t an easy way to get to the backyard from the upstairs of the house. We have to exit our dining room door which leads into the tenants’ entrance, exit out their door, go around the fence and then enter through the gate. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you just want to nip out quickly for a few fresh herbs while dinner bubbles away, those extra 30 seconds seem like an eternity. This plan is far far in the works because it’s the most costly, but here’s what we’re thinking. Look up at the picture of the house from the back. The fence and overhang above the door will have to be moved, and the window on the far left (dining room west window) will be converted into french doors. This will lead out onto a little platform deck where the barbecue will sit, much like the above picture from City Home Collective. Then stairs will lead down to the rest of the deck, which will cover the current cement patio.
You might be thinking “Tan, why don’t you convert the south side window into a deck where you have more space?”. Because our neighbours, and the neighbours beside them, have a deck in the same location. I don’t want to be constantly waving to both my neighbours while on the deck – and more importantly I don’t want to block up 3 windows in the basement suite. That’s a huge no no.
As we relaxed on the last night of our honeymoon on the rooftop of Dar lalla F’dila in Marrakech, we vowed that our future house would one day have a Moroccan inspired backyard. I’m loving the colours and textures Emily Henderson played with here. While we can’t transform our entire backyard into a Moroccan oasis, we plan to incorporate a little something. Right now I’m totally in love with the idea of building this.
The neighbours behind us have a very unkempt backyard and home, and we currently have a very unkempt tall bush hiding the unpleasant views. Fighting fire with fire. I would love to rip out the bush (therefore gaining an extra 4 feet of backyard space) and replace it and the chain link fence behind it with this gorgeous horizontal cedar slat fence. I think the mister’s carpentry skills are just advanced enough to pull this off, right honey? (Source: The Direct Painting Group)
Patio string lights, like these ones from This is Brick and Mortar, are a must. ‘Nuff said.
Ryan is a permaculture guy, completing his design certificate, teaching courses on earthworks and other components, and working on a 5 month internship in Australia at the permaculture farm Milkwood. Needless to say, he knows about sustainability and producing as much as possible off the land. Above is a picture of Milkwood’s food forest, which he helped develop 4 years ago. We are currently putting in a food forest on the south side of the house (behind the oil tank in the photo above). Just the other day we put in a goumi berry tree, and we have a fig, several herbs, nasturtiums, and two blueberry bushes waiting to go in the ground. We plan to add an apple and mulberry tree, amongst other edibles. You can cram a lot in a tiny space if you plan it right. If you’re interested in permaculture or creating your own food forest in an urban setting, this is a great guide, and I highly recommend Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.
Can you tell I have backyard design on the brain? That turned out to be a longer post than intended!
I don’t know what we’ll get done this summer aside from starting our food forest, but I can’t wait for the day that I want to spend time in the backyard, every single sunshiny (and some rainy!) moment.