With beautiful summer weather approaching, wouldn’t you like to have an amazing backyard to enjoy it? We did! Our DIY backyard renovation and landscaping project was a complete success and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience – Part 1
When we first purchased our home 7 years ago, our backyard contained a tiny sad excuse of a concrete slab “porch” and a whole backyard of gravel. After a few years, our dogs had torn up our backyard with giant holes.
My husband promised me that we would have a beautiful backyard before our son’s birthday party. I am so thankful that my husband is a civil engineer and was able to design a backyard layout for us that included a large covered patio, raised garden bed, and a large patch of grass. It took over a month and a little hired help from some friends but we were able to get our backyard dreams to come true!
Down & Dirty Work
I think we all agree that the hardest part of this project was moving around all that gravel. It took several days to move all the gravel to one side of the yard so that we could put in everything we wanted. After laying down new landscaping fabric, we had to also screen the gravel for sand and clean it before moving the gravel back. It was definitely easier removing the gravel than cleaning it and putting it back.
Setting Up Your Sprinkler System
After moving all the gravel, we had to contact our home builder to find out where the water stub out could be found in our backyard. It’s usually 5-6 feet under the backyard water spout but sometimes there isn’t one and you must get the water line from the one from the front yard. Fortunately the stub out was right next to that sad piece of concrete slab in my backyard and we determined that the best place to put our watering system controls are on the left side of our backyard for easy access.
We dug a line that was 5 feet deep to ensure that the line would not freeze in the winter although this depth varies depending on where you live. We went to our local sprinkler world and they even assembled everything we needed and told us exactly where they recommend placing the sprinklers and drip systems. They were absolutely amazing!
Laying Down Grass
With the party coming up sooner than we expected, we decided the best way to go was to lay down sod. We used metal landscaping borders to outline where our lawn would be. The process for prepping the ground for sod or seed is actually the same. The soil out where we lived in New Mexico was basically sand and contained hardly any good soil that is needed for sod or grass seeds to survive on. We ordered 10 cubic yards of top soil (6 cubic yards for the lawn area and the remaining top soil was used for the raised garden bed and garden mound).
We rented a rototiller and sod roller from our local Home Depot and we used the rototiller to loosen the soil and mix in the top soil. We then watered the area to find any water pooling and redistributed the soil to adjust the ground level for proper irrigation. We started laying down the sod one patch at a time like brick work and cutting sod to fit around the edges of our design. We filled the sod roller with water and rolled it around the sod before watering the sod thoroughly and then using the sod roller again.
Laying Brick for Covered Patio Area
Laying down brick is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. It was difficult to remove all the rocks already embedded in the sand. Afterwards, we used lasers, string, and wooden picks to level the ground and outline with string where the bricks would go. We decided it would be best to leave the existing concrete slab and level the bricks with that. I then spent the next two days raking and watering dirt and pounding on the ground to ensure it was properly leveled. We started laying the bricks down and one side and working our way to the other to ensure that we didn’t have to cut bricks in the middle of our patio area where it would be most noticeable. We then spread paverstone paver sand to fill the small crevices between each brick using a large broom. We did this 2-3 times within the first month to ensure that the crevices were fully covered and this would prevent erosion and also help keep weeds or grass from appearing.
Building Our Patio Structure, Raised Garden Bed, and Garden Mound
By far one of the coolest things I’ve seen my husband design and build. I am truly blessed to be married to such a great engineer! We were able to build this with just two people! While my husband and friend worked on the covered patio area, my father-in-law was able to work on building and completing our raised garden bed that we would use for growing vegetables. While my husband and friend worked on the covered patio area, my father-in-law was able to work on building and completing our raised garden bed that we would use for growing vegetables. My mother-in-law and some of her sisters were so kind enough to give us a few of their grasses and flowering shrubs from their garden to bring to ours. This actually saved us around $250+! We created a mound between the grass and covered patio area to put these shrubs to add some beautiful colors with our landscaping!
Part 1 DIY Backyard Renovation Progress
By the time our son’s birthday party rolled around, we had completed about 90% of our backyard project.
We used one side of our house for a dog run area and a paved walkway on the other side with the left over pavers. My mother-in-law was about to give us two desert willow tree saplings from their yard which will be great for taking pictures with as my sons grow up. Each year our city gives away free tree saplings at our local library, first come first serve. I was able to get a flowering tree sapling along with a pine and Arizona Ash. With the trees in, all we had left to do was to clean and move the gravel back.
Below are the pictures from my son’s party and in Part 2, I will have our final project revealed! In part 2, I hope to have the fire pit in place!
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Have you ever did a major DIY backyard project? How did it turn out?
If you could renovate your backyard, what would you do?
What’s your favorite renovation from this post?
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