With patio season quickly coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to take a trip back in time. Back to the days when the patio and backyard gardens at my house were non existent.
My house was built in 1941 but I've only owned it since 1995. During the home inspection I took a series of pictures of both the inside and outside of the house. Over the years those pictures have occasionally come in handy and have been fun to peruse. I think you'll agree that the change has been dramatic.
|The back of my house in August 1995|
|The driveway and west side of my house in August 1995|
For the first seven years I developed gardens in the front and side yards. Believe it or not but at the time I really wasn't much into gardening. I started by removing the sod around the lamppost to plant a few annuals. Then I removed sod from around a shrub or a tree. Then I connected the areas by creating pleasantly curving beds. What fun! Before long, turf grass became accent plant.
Throughout these years, the back yard remained untouched except to install some fencing to contain the dogs. Due to the placement of the attached garage, the only direct access to the backyard from the house was through the screen porch. In the spring of 2003, the house underwent extensive renovations to what was a dark cramped kitchen. Walls were removed and the attached garage was converted to a breakfast room extension of the kitchen. Finally, the back of my house was open to the outside!
|My garage in March 2003|
The main goal I had for this particular part of the renovation was that a visitor who had never been to my house would never know that the breakfast room had once been a garage. From looking at this recent picture, what do you think? So far I've yet to find anyone who believes this walkway used to be a driveway and the back room of the house had been a garage.
But back to the patio...Fast forward to spring 2004. A new free standing two car garage had been built behind the house in the fall and winter. A photo album of that project can be viewed HERE. It was time to create the backyard space I had been envisioning for many years. After the dust settled, this is what I was left with as a starting point.
The patio contractor had also done the stone facing on the new addition. Impressed by his attention to detail and work ethic, he was also contracted to build a 75 foot stone retaining wall along the new driveway and rebuild the chimney from the roof up in addition to the patio. From the spring of 2003 and continuing into the spring of 2005, nobody could accuse me of not doing my part to stimulate the economy..
Next the fence contractors arrived. In addition to the privacy and aesthetic benefits, my dogs (at the time there were two) are the nosiest creatures on the planet and require a secure boundary. By the time all the contractors were finished, I was left with a compacted clay mess that doubled as a graveyard for large chunks of shale in the areas that were slated to become lush gardens.
After a failed attempt to use a rototiller, in the fall of 2004 I resorted to hand digging this area with a garden fork. One extruded disc and a ruined ski vacation in Banff later, I decided to order a truckload of compost and raise the grade. That was the best decision I could have made. Occasionally if I need to dig a deep hole in these gardens I have to punch through the clay layer or extract a bucket load of shale but building up was definitely the way to go.
|Same fence area a few months later in summer 2005|
|A privacy fence was also installed along the property line. I am the last house on a cul-de-sac and only have neighbors on one side.|
|Patio September 2005|
|Patio August 2012|
|Back to the beginning-the back of the house October 2012|
When I look at this series of before and after pictures, I'm of course amazed at the transformation. But what amazes me the most is how close the finished garden areas are to the vision I had through the early years of home ownership back to 1995. It took a while to get here but as far as I'm concerned it was well worth the trip.