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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Have Your Way With Me: Backyard Edition

After getting so many great suggestions on what to do around the new patio, I decided to take some pictures that show all my available space in the backyard. This way, all you idea guys can really see what I'm working with. This first picture is the view as I step outside my backdoor looking straight back toward the alley. Moving over to the left you can see where my 2 raised beds are placed. It's right over there between the cedar plant stand (aquarium holder) and the table with the winter sowing containers. Yes, I know it's messy but give me a break! It's been a busy chaotic week at MSG. One thing about the 2 raised beds - they are already filled with dirt so unless you plan to come over and help me unload, move, then reload them with dirt, THEY ARE STAYING RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE!
Now moving all the way to the left we have the nice big ugly AC unit.

Now I'm standing on the basketball court looking at my back door. Over to the left is the row of 26 hedge roses, and of course the new patio.

Remember there are flower beds all along the foundation starting right next to the AC unit and they wrap all the way around the fence and the foundation of the garage. These are established beds (wow I can't believe I just said that) from last year and already have stuff planted there that I'd really hate to move.

I really love that every single one of you would probably do something completely different with this space and I'd love to see/read more of your ideas. I got so many ideas for my front yard garden last year and Carolyn even suggested the exact trees/shrubs that I could plant along my foundation. I'm now shopping for those as we speak.

My only plan so far is that a Pergola will be built the weekend of May 11th by GB, Pie Guy and me. I'm not sure if it should be attached to the house covering the whole patio (or part of it) or if it should be detached off to the side or some other idea that I haven't thought of.

I'd really love to be able to remove all the grass back here and make some "garden rooms" but I'm just having trouble seeing how I can make rooms out of a big ass square. I do have the Tamarisk and the Smoke Tree that I'd thought of planting at the corner of the patio in a partial circular bed so that it would eventually provide a little shade. And I love Arbors that lead you into a special area but I just can't figure out how I can make that happen in this space.

So there you have it. You give me the ideas and I promise to execute them the best I can.


  1. its not all that fab, but we just finished a raised bed area with fence and arbor in our rectangular yard... you can see a short video on my latest blog post.

  2. random comment about your profile: I too am from tennessee too (and am living in Chicago).. damnit accent! lol :)

  3. How about some curved beds? That's what I have, and it really turned a square backyard into something that looks a lot more natural. Getting the pond installed also helped since that added a little height to the yard.

    So are you going to keep the basketball court or rip it out? We had a concrete pad back by our garage, too, but we got rid of it right before the pond install.

  4. The beds and roses sound like they'll be beautiful. From the photos, I'm seeing a lot of fence and flat ground surface -- essentially, the figurative walls and floor of your garden. The pergola sounds like it will be a great "roof" for your patio, but perhaps a tree in the far corner would provide some vertical height and a nice canopy for that portion of the yard?

    I do think your patio would look nice with a sitting height wall, or built-in benches. It would give it a sense of enclosure. Look at me, all telling you what to do! Just my humble thoughts.

  5. The patio looks great. You might want to extend the pergola over the AC unit if it isn't shaded by the house for at least part of the day. What are you planning to put on the patio to screen/camoflage it?
    Don't let the idea of the small square scare you. Have you ever looked at any of John Brookes garden design books? (He designed the English Walled Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden.) He does some very interesting things with squares.
    BTW - would you be interested in us Chicago garden bloggers hosting a garden bloggers get-together? I received quite a few strong hints at Austin's Spring Fling that Chicago would be a great site for the next Fling.

  6. j-dog - thanks for stopping by I can't wait to check out your blog. Wow, you're a TN transplant too? What part?

    lcshores - the basketball court is stayin! we've waited years for it. If I could soften it (hide it) I'd be open to that.

    Amanda - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the suggestions! Keep them comin!

    MMD - I'd be very interested in a chicago blogger hosted event. And I'd be glad to help coordinate - just let me know.

  7. Hey Gina,

    My ideas for your back 40 are up on my blog. Check it out !

  8. I agree with extending the pergola over the AC unit or planting something else to shade it. That will do a couple of things for you. It will camouflage the AC unit and it will help your AC unit run more efficiently which is good for you and the environment.

    You could put some large container planters with flowers and vegetables and that would add interest and color too.