Follow Up to Back Yard Make Over (with Pics)

sah54July 20, 2013

Three years ago, I came to this message board asking for help as I had no idea where to start with this yard. I just wanted to cry because I had no idea what to do or how to go about doing it.
This is a view facing southeast.

This is a view facing northwest

This is on the south side, looking west.

After receiving encouragement from members of this message board, I just started doing. It took me three years to get it done because of money. I first began by having a sidewalk and concrete patio poured because I wanted to cut down on the amount of grass I had to take care of. The second year I wanted to have another sidewalk poured on the other side of the patio, and while the owner of the company was here to give me an estimate, we decided to do another patio so I could have a fire pit sit on it. I also had an irrigation system installed, but for the past year, I didn't have the zones in the back yard turned on as all that was back there was dirt and weeds. This spring I had sod installed, and now I am finished with it. I am very happy with what I have created. I wish I had the money to have it professionally done with wonderful hardscapes, but I still enjoy my back yard. Before, I never went out there, except to let the dogs out. Now, I am back there all of the time. Here are some after photos. Most of them are right after the sod was installed so the grass is not as green as it is 4 months later.

This is the first sidewalk I installed (south side), looking west.

This is standing on the first sidewalk poured, looking east. In the rectangular area that concrete pavers (turned on their sides) are sectioning off is an herb garden. i put down mulch around it, and wanted to change it up a bit, so I had rock poured in the area where the bench is sitting. To the left of the rock is the fire pit patio (which is not visible).

This is facing southeast.

This is facing west.

This is facing southeast of both patios that have been poured.

This is facing northwest, after watering the sod for a month.

This is facing west of the second sidewalk that was poured. It created a place for me to create a butterfly/humminbird memory garden for my sister-in-law. Here is a photo of it taken this past week, with all of the plants almost fully grown for the summer.

This is the second patio I poured for the firepit (with the first one in the background).

I want to thank the members of this message board who gave me courage to just go ahead and start. I just love to sit out on my patio. My sons and I (and our friends) have had several great times, sitting around the fire pit in the winter. (Florida has mild winters.)

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WOW, isn't it amazing what a little(ok, maybe a LOT!)of elbow greese and hard work can do? It looks amazing! I have to say the patios, walkways, beds, and plantings are wonderful, but the biggest bright spot is the white painted fence. Give yourself a couple of pats on the back! ;o)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 4:02AM
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Thank you. That is actually a new vinyl fence. Slats from the old wood fence would fall out, and then the dogs would get out. I knew I had to replace the fence, but didn't want to replace it 7-10 years later, so I went with vinyl.
I agree - that is probably what made the biggest difference. It really brightened up the whole yard.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Amazing transformation!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 8:57AM
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It's nice to have you come back and post the "after" pictures. It's often the neglected part of the threads. Your yard looks much more inviting. Just curious ... is there an estimate of your total cost?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Thank you for showing results. You did a nice job.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 3:54PM
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Yardvaark, I have wanted to clean up my file cabinet of all of my invoices that I have from the past 4 years, so you have spurred me on to get it done. I teach a night class at the local college this summer, and am getting ready to go to that. I'll get back with you in a day or two, once I get my files organized.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 1:07PM
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So glad you shared your amazing transformation. It's in a word "WONDERFUL".

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 2:36PM
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So here's the cost. I could not find the receipt for the second patio and walkway, so I had to just guess.
Concrete patios and walkways: $3350
Firepit kit: $521 (includes deliver)
Rock: $152 (includes delivery)
Vinyl Fence $5130 (I would have had to get this whether I did the back yard or not because I have dogs.)
Sprinkler, French Drain, outlet for sprinkler: $2750
Patio furniture: $1668
Sod and more sprinkler heads: $1435
Porch Repairs - Rescreening, new door, fix panel where dog-door used to be, and replace some panels in the roof: $850
I have no estimate for mulch and plants, so I would say I spent between $15,856 and $16,500.

WOW - I honestly did not realize I had spent that much money on my backyard over three years. I wonder if I had given that to a designer, if they could have come up with a better designed yard?

After I had the fence installed (the first thing I did), I tried to use pavers to cover up the sand/dirt to help keep the dogs from tracking in sand or mud (when it rained) by using concrete pavers. This is where I got my first idea to get a concrete patio installed. See Before and After:

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 9:57PM
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sah54, thank you for taking the time to list and tally all of your expenditures. There are loads of times when people who come here looking for help wish to know the cost of landscape items. Just the "ball park" is often all they need. Too, some people have an idea that things for the yard should somehow cost next to nothing, and they are surprised to find that it's not the case. The information is helpful for letting people in on some of the costs they could expect.

There is not a good SCIENTIFIC way to answer your question about whether using a designer would give you a better plan for the same money. I think it depends on the designer. Some people choose the wrong designer so are not as happy as you are after they have the work done. Admittedly, since I have a dog in the fight I am prejudiced, but I believe that IF a person chooses the right designer, they will achieve more for a given expenditure. Often, a homeowner does not know how to avoid wasting money, whereas a designer knows many ways. And they know many ways to enhance property. Hopefully, they have good taste as that would be key in how helpful they can be. But using a designer can be a double-edged sword as sometimes they find ways to design too much spending into the plan. You've done a good job and made yourself happy so I'm sure will have no regrets.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Yes, I am happy with what I have accomplished, especially when you see where it all started.

As I said, I never went in the back yard, except to let the dogs out. It was just such a depressing place to me.

And, now - I am out there almost daily. The mosquitos and flies are not allowing me to use it as much as I would like during the summer, but I still walk around out there, checking for hummingbirds and filling the bird feeders.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 8:17PM
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I found my original post I made.

I remember how defeated I felt before I had even started. Now, I have much more confidence, even if it doesn't look professionally done.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 8:28PM
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