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Backyard Patio One Room Challenge Week 4 – The Process

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Hey there, friends!

Welcome back to our backyard patio makeover project as a part of this spring’s One Room Challenge!

If you’re just joining us on this project, be sure to catch up by reading the last three weeks’ posts:

Ok, let’s get to our weekly update on the backyard gravel patio makeover.

As you’re well aware of by now, we’re transforming this ugly space in our backyard into a peaceful, relaxing oasis.

Last week I shared all about my design for the patio, and I’m still super in love with what’s coming!

Here’s a reminder:

We are currently about halfway done with the space (good thing, since we’re halfway through the challenge!) and I wanted to spend some time talking through the process with you.

I mean, room or space makeovers sound easy in theory, but there’s always things that have to be decided as you go.

We’ve had to do a lot of research and make some decent design changes as we’ve moved through the project and since we haven’t done anything really exciting to show you yet in the way of transformation, I thought we could talk through that stuff!

Backyard Gravel Patio Design Changes

Landscaping Changes

Let’s start at the very beginning – initially we’d killed all the grass in this section so we could make the ENTIRE side into a gravel patio.

As you can see in this before picture, the whole space between the edge of the grass on the left and the flower beds on the right was going to be a patio.

It was going to be a huge space, and we’d planned to install a real-wood fire pit area as well as a small bistro table dining space.

In fact, I have the thirfted bistro table and chairs in our garage right now!

Here’s what we had in mind:

The process for installing the gravel patio started by tilling up dirt and removing about 3-4″ off the top to make space for the gravel.

Thank goodness we’d just inherited a large rota-tiller from my late grandpa… it made it so much easier.

The plan changed when we started to rota-till the dirt on the section where the table was going to go…

It didn’t take long before we realized that our large backyard maple tree had some HUGE roots in that front section.

I mean, roots that are like 3-4″ in diameter.

And those roots would have taken A LOT of work to dig out for gravel…

The other thing we were considering was the fact that our septic tank’s distribution box is located in that front section.

And we recently had some work done on the septic system that told us sometime in the near future we’d probably want to replace that box…

Both of these factors led us to decide to do a simple pathway along the garden beds over to the main section of patio inside the trees.

Initially we’d figured we’d just replant grass in that triangular area and then put our picnic table there and that was the plan for at least a month.

Here’s what that plan looked like:

But the more I thought about having that odd section of grass, the more I didn’t like it…

Which led us to our current plan – making that section a simple water feature!

The idea actually came to us on one of our family bike rides – we were riding along the bike path up the highway and went by a rock fountain shop and I looked over and thought, “that’s it!”

We stopped in, talked through the logistics of installing one with the owner, and decided to do it.

Of course, because this is a septic area we can’t have TOO much weight, so we’ve opted for a smaller rock fountain set up.

But I’m so excited for it!

Before we purchased the rocks, we spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at different set ups for small areas.

I’m still not positive how the surrounding area will end up looking with the large rocks surrounded by river rock, then surrounded by bark. But I’m sure it’ll look fabulous.

Here’s our mocked-up version with the rocks we purchased:

We’ll plant some ground cover and small plants around the rocks and then some along the edge between the rocks and bark.

I’m also going to put a large potted fern on top of the septic lid and cover it slightly with bark so it’s completely hidden.

But before we can do any of that, Chris has to install an electrical outlet (for the water pump) and get a water line to it (so it can refill with the sprinklers and doesn’t run out of water.)

To sum it all up – we went from one large gravel patio to a smaller patio with grass nearby, to a smaller patio next to a water feature.

I like where this has taken us!

Now let’s look at the decor changes.

Decor Changes

Initially, we’d planned to top the patio with a permanent wood-burning fire pit surrounded by chairs.

I love real fires, and so does Chris, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized that having to build a real fire, and deal with the stinky smoke, just wasn’t the RELAXING oasis we were going for.

That shifted our design to purchasing a propane fire table.

We have a pretty tight budget for this project, so I spent a lot of time scouring the internet for one that fit our style but was still affordable.

I ended up settling on this one, and I’m so glad we did – it’s perfect!

In order to offset the increased cost of the fire pit, we chose to reuse our metal outdoor furniture from the deck in this space and simply give them a fresh coat of paint and some new cushions.

I got these cushions, which fit perfectly and are super comfortable.

I have yet to paint the furniture, but I’ll get there! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The hammock was also a new idea as we started putting together the space.

We were out in the backyard one day talking about where we could hang Chris’ camping hammock so we could lay in it and relax but he wasn’t keen on leaving it out in the elements and I couldn’t find anywhere decent to hang it.

So I thought – why not get one on a stand for the patio?!

The far end of the new gravel patio is slightly tucked under that privacy wall of trees, making it the perfect spot for it.

Plus, we had a bit of extra room even after the rug, fire pit table, chairs and love seat are in place so it was a great way to take advantage of the extra space.

Backyard Gravel Patio Progress

Let’s take a look at our mini-project list and see how far we’ve gotten as of now:

  • Install privacy panels in the chain-link fence
  • Remove 3โ€ณ of dirt to make room for the gravel and new landscaping
  • Install walkway and patio borders
  • Move and adjust irrigation lines
  • Install and compact the gravel
  • Move a large tree from the middle of yard to the back corner of the patio
  • Plant new shrubs and flowers in surrounding bark beds
  • Install rock water feature
  • Install fresh, new bark nuggets
  • Spray paint old patio furniture and purchase new cushions
  • Purchase fire pit table, hammock, rug, pots and decor
  • Set up furniture and decor!

The items in italics have been started, but aren’t complete.

We’re definitely making headway, but we ended up going to our family beach house last weekend for a little get-away and that ate into a long weekend of potential work.

I’m not worried about us finishing the project, but we definitely have a lot more to do in the next 4 weeks!

Our first priority is moving the japanese maple tree to the corner, then installing the electrical and water lines for the water feature.

This is the maple tree we’re moving from the middle of our yard to the back corner of the patio:

It’s a LOVELY tree, but we decided it would be more appreciated back in our oasis than in the middle of the yard.

Plus then we plan to remove this large portion of the barked area in the middle of the grass and gain a little more playing room for the kids.

Here’s a real-time picture of what the space looks like this morning and some notes about what’s coming:

Check back in over the next few weeks for some fun DIY projects!

I think I’m going to paint some outdoor pillow covers and maybe even make a concrete pot or two. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We are having such a good time participating as guests in the ORC this season and have really enjoyed seeing what all the other featured and guest participants are doing in their spaces.

If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to click here to see the link-up where all the guest participants’ posts are available for reading.

I’m sure you’ll find some fun new bloggers to follow in the process!

See you next week!



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