Back in the spring, we decided to tackle the yard – as much as it was awesome to have the ugliest yard in the neighbourhood, we figured a mud pit was not what we were going for, plus, we had Google Maps to thank for an online reminder of the prettiest time in our lives on Cabot Street.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 3.06.15 PM

As mentioned in the previous post Lets Take This Outside, we decided to do the yard ourselves (correction: the bank account decided it was best to do it ourselves). So, I came up with the plan and Mike slaved away all spring and summer. We hired a digger for the front but the rest was a one-man show (with the help of our dads and neighbors!) and I am happy to report we are 50% done and the snow has yet to arrive!

Not bad for a first-time landscaper.

Here’s a breakdown for those who are curious to know what’s been done and what will wait for next spring. 50% does not sound like a lot, but when you look at what’s been done versus what needs to be done, I think the worst has past.

  1. Dig down +1 feet for preparation for the stones and compress the ground
  2. Fill with gravel and compress
  3. Lay hand-cut flagstones in the back yard, side walkway and front walkway
  4. Lay turf pavers in front yard for an additional parking space
  5. Fill turf pavers with soil and spread grass seed
  6. Level the backyard with the pile of dirt from the holes dug for the stones
  7. Sod the front and back yard
  8. Build the front and side flower beds
  9. Plant bulbs for spring
  10. Transplant the flowers into the flower beds from the vegetable garden, where they lived during the renovation
  11. Fill the areas between the flagstones with crusher dust
  12. Paint the foundation around of the house – charcoal grey
  13. Stain the front and back patios
  14. Seed or sod the space between the side walkway and the neighbour’s driveway
  15. Buy new patio furniture
  16. Make the remaining dirt pile disappear and build a pergola next to the shed
  17. Build a swing set
  18. Re-pave or get a new concrete driveway
  19. Buy a fire pit and hanging chairs for the pergola space
  20. Plant a hydrangea

I didn’t add ‘plant a palm tree and install a lap pool’, so I think things are still somewhat realistic for a 2014 finale. xomeg

photo 3-1

photo 1-1

photo 5

photo 1

lets take this outside


Our poor yard is in need of major curb appeal and we are going to attempt this on our own. Don’t get any ideas, Mike and I will NOT be the next ‘Do It Yourself’ couple however, after dealing with a year-long renovation involving way too many incompetent hired contractors, we’ve decided to try this ourselves – hey, we may be as incompetent, but at least we’re free!

We have big plans, and by stating this ‘publicly’ there is now more pressure to follow through. Because these plans are SO BIG, I will focus on the backyard first. Most of this process will be trial and error, so it’s better to start in the back. Plus, barbeque season is fast-approaching and we need to get on this ASAP.


Here’s a bit of history… We moved in five years ago and since then, our backyard has been through a lot.

YEAR 1: When we arrived it was winter and things didn’t look too bad. The yard was 80% fenced in, however all of the sides were mismatched, rusted, chipped and in need of desperate repair. When spring arrived and the snow melted, we quickly discovered a lot of the trees were unhealthy and shading too much of the yard and house. This being said, we held off on any major work for the year.

YEAR 2: David was born and mother-paranoia kicked in. Even though he couldn’t even crawl, I convinced Mike we needed to be fully fenced in. We removed most of the trees to make space for our own fence and were smart enough to hire professionals to get it done.

YEAR 3: We decided to build a shed. It quickly became apparent that we needed outdoor storage for bikes and garden supplies. It still remains a household debate on who came up with the amazing design, however Mike gets all the props for construction. He also added windows to the design after a late-night score from the neighbour’s garbage pile (they were formally fridge shelves). The summer was also spent adding a few flower beds and a raised vegetable garden.

YEAR 4: Renovations started and we lost our backyard for the year.

YEAR 5: Our yard is now ready for some serious TLC. Game on.


The plan.

Long term… Yes please.


Oh, life could be a dream…


The thing about being an urban dweller is, regardless of how much you love your neighbours; it is still nice to have a bit of privacy. With this in mind, we decided to have the contractors build a small deck off the back, wide enough for garden doors with a wrap-around staircase. Our intention being, we’d eat and lounge at ground level. Our back yard is spacious enough, and with lots of public parks close by, there is less need for full grassage (is this a word, spell check seems to think so). Plus, less grass means less mowing so we are going to create a stone patio that will come out 4 feet from the stairs and run the full width of the yard. This will give us a great space for a dining set and the barbeque. Mike is then stepping it up a notch and planning a stone barbeque built-in. He figures it will look great, plus we can connect the barbeque directly to our propane tank.​

Inspiration! Image 1, stone patio leading off deck. Image 2, grey stones and gardens. Image 3, urban oasis (links below)

Inspiration! Image 1, stone patio leading off deck. Image 2, grey stones and gardens. Image 3, urban oasis (links below)

We selected a grey flagstone and have begun digging. First, we need to go down to a depth of 6-12″. Then, smooth and even out the grade with a landscaping rake. After that, further level and compact the surface then add and tamp 1″ layers of gravel until there is a firm 3″ thick compacted gravel base. Easy right? After all of this, the stones goes down and the joints are filled.


Once the backyard is done, the side walkway and front will be tackled. We have plans for that too, not to mention a bit of painting so hopefully this all comes together in time for a late fall / dead of winter / outdoor party! –xo-meg

mike digs

​digging a hole

Inspiration links:​
Image 1: http://parkdaleave.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2011-07-04T19:55:00-04:00&max-results=3
Image 2: http://www.remodelista.com/posts/outdoors-townhouse-garden-round-up
Image 3: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/–E0ccNA9vUA/TwoLTY9dggI/AAAAAAAAOCs/wLokplYucYg/s1600/image_thumb%5B7%5D.jpg.jpg