By Erin Huffstetler | 06/29/2021 | 1 Comment
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There’s been an awful lot of painting and digging going on in my backyard lately. Come see what I’ve been up to.
Let’s start with an overhead view of the backyard, so you can get a sense of the space. I took this picture looking out from the top floor of my house. That’s our cottage at the top of the photo. It sits at the back of our property, and has its own garden, which you can tour here.
And here’s a picture standing in the middle of the yard, looking back at our house.
Okay, now that you literally have the lay of the land, let’s jump straight to the most exciting change that we’ve made to our backyard.
That would be this dining and seating area. It didn’t even exist before this spring. In fact, that area behind the garage served as our junk pile up until a couple months ago. But that all changed with one lucky curb find.
On our first curb shopping trip of the season, we found this awesome wrought iron patio table. It was black and had a bit of surface rust, but I fixed that with a fresh coat of my go-to copper spray paint.
The table didn’t come with any chairs, but my mother-in-law had given us some white wrought iron folding chairs a while back, so I painted them to match, and now we have a complete set.
I didn’t think our free patio set could get any better, but then we found a huge umbrella in a curb pile a couple weeks ago. It’s big enough to cover the entire table – and that’s saying something because it’s a big table. We eat dinner out there almost every night.
The row of Spartan Junipers that we planted as a privacy screen down this side of the yard have been growing like crazy.
Here’s what they looked like back in 2019, when we planted them. I can’t wait until they completely block out the view of the neighboring houses. I want out backyard to feel completely private and secret garden-like.
Finding the patio table inspired me to build a brick patio behind our garage, using the bricks that I’d rescued from curb piles over the years. It took a fair amount of digging and leveling, but we love the results.
I thought I was going to stick the patio table here, but then I found this awesome outdoor sectional set on Facebook Marketplace, and my plans changed.
It’s crazy how perfectly the sectional fits on the patio. This spot is in the shade most of the day, so we spend a lot of time reading and hanging out back here.
Earlier this spring, I also used my trusty copper spray paint to transform our firepit area. After scooping up two more vintage metal chairs on Facebook Marketplace, I decided it was time to finally paint all my chairs the same color. I’ve been collecting them at yard sale for years, and each one was a different color.
They look SO much better now that they’re all the same color. Our firepit is an antique cast iron wash tub that we were lucky to find at a yard sale years ago for $20.
We keep a table close to the firepit, for our hot dog and s’more supplies.
That’s where this planter of succulents sits.
This bench also sits close by. It’s right next to the back door of our cottage. It was white when it was given to us a couple years ago. My husband painted it brown this spring, so now it matches everything else in our yard.
And this gizmo is a weather station. When we stopped at a yard sale a few weeks ago, it had a “free” sign hanging from it. We asked the owner about it, and a few minutes later we found ourselves breaking concrete off its base with a pick ax and loading it into our car. The frugal life is never dull, that’s for sure.
This particular weather station retails for around $400, so it’s an amazing freebie, and a fun thing for my weather buff husband to own. Our youngest daughter has been doing weather reports whenever she walks by the display. Ha!
We extended the row of Nellie R. Stevens on that side of the yard a few years ago, when we bought the cottage. In three years time, they’ve grown to be over six-feet tall. I can’t wait until they grow together and form a tight privacy screen.
Until then, you can still see our treehouse from the backyard.
These adirondack chairs currently reside next to the garage. They were rescued from two separate curb piles. After they receive a few carpentry repairs and a paint job, they’ll be heading up to our cabin.
And here’s the aforementioned garage. We added the double doors, brick path and garden several years ago. It’s matured quite a bit since then. The big bushes are white tree hydrangeas. They bloom later than regular hydrangeas, so they aren’t putting on a show yet.
I also have peonies, irises, daisies and daylillies planted in this area.
The chickens and I disagree about the design of this space. They think all the mulch should be on the brick sidewalk, while I think it should be in the garden beds. They usually win the argument.
This seating area is part of the same garden bed. We ripped out a couple over-grown, non-productive apricot trees from this bed a couple years ago, and replanted it with flowers. This year, we added the two galvanized tubs of irises (they came from my mother-in-law’s house) …
and a super-healthy lavender plant that we rescued from a curb pile. The bench, statue and gazing ball are all curb finds, too.
I still need to put more work into this area, but it hasn’t reached the top of my priority list yet.
My grape tunnel stands next to this bed.
It started out as a grape arbor, but I extended it into a tunnel, using cattle panels and a couple curb-shopped carport posts.
We get tons of grapes each year, but we have to fight the mocking birds, robins and raccoons for them.
I recently strung solar bee lights throughout the top of the tunnel. They come on automatically, when it gets dark, and flicker. It’s magical.
The flagstone path through the tunnel is planted with mondo grass …
and strawberry begonias.
I’ve got some campanula bellflowers planted in the bed on the other side of the tunnel …
but most of that bed is taken up by heirloom raspberry canes and cherry bushes. Our raspberries weren’t very productive, until storm damage forced us to take out our apple trees last year. Now, they’ve completely taken over that bed, and we’ve been picking berries daily.
Our cherries are pretty productive too, but so are the birds that always seem to beat us to them.
At the very end of that bed, there’s a burgundy hydrangea bush that I planted 10 years ago. It’s finally starting to get some size. Hydrangeas can take FOREVER to get started. For the record, I realize the flowers are pink. I’ll have to do some soil amending, if I want them to turn burgundy.
I bought a gate kit for this grape arbor that leads to our side driveway. So, installing it is next on our list of backyard improvements. Or at least I think it is. Because let’s face it: you never know when a lucky curb find will inspire a new project. Whatever comes next for our backyard, you can be sure I’ll keep you updated.