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Remember this? This is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in. A small weed patch. Because of the small size and the fact that it doesn’t see much sun, we decided to forego plants in favor of a paver paradise.

This idea has not been very popular until now. We have heard it all, including how our house will have low resale value because pet owners will want grass in the backyard. First of all, I’m not moving. And after years of renting, I want to enjoy where I live. Change what I want to change and do what I want to do. Resale value! I could not care less. I’m not moving!

It is worth noting that the naysayers have changed their tune. I think people are catching our vision and they are impressed. The neighbors on this side of the street complain that their backyard grass is a swamp. It’s difficult to mow because it is so soggy back there. Some neighbors really can’t use their backyards at all. They definitely like the direction we have gone with hardscaping the whole backyard.

It has been a journey.


The first thing we noticed with our backyard was this sheer cliff in the back corner. (Pictures don’t do it justice.)


The slippery slope ran along one whole side of our yard rendering this space completely unusable. The builders refused to do anything about it. They said the slope was up to code, including the 6 ft. hole in the back corner. We were left to wonder if this is why no one had chosen this lot. We were also left with the financial obligation of fixing the issue. Which, as it turns out, is more expensive than we thought and therefore our yard will be finished in stages.


We hired someone to build a retaining wall. I can’t say enough nice things about him either. He was quick, efficient, friendly, and an overall joy to work with.


These concrete blocks were so heavy he and a buddy moved them two at a time in a wheelbarrow.


The completed retaining wall raised the land 4 ft. in the back corner. He left a gradual slope up to the rest of the backyard because we are going to float a deck over it. The deck is Phase 2 of the backyard. It will give us a beautiful place to relax and entertain with spectacular views of the natural growth area our property sits next to.

When you look past the initial challenges of this yard, we really do have the best lot in the neighborhood! I still don’t know why this lot was never chosen and ended up with a spec home that we serendipitously stumbled across and love.


The retaining wall leveled our side yard. We went from a precarious walkway alongside the house to a nice 9 ft. wide stretch of flat land. We will extend the deck along this side of the house. I want some chaise lounge chairs for sun worshipping in the summer. This is probably the only part of our yard that really sees a significant amount of sun.

We plan to build a shed in the front corner of this side yard. It will be the perfect storage for bikes and other outside equipment. Since this was the side that needed the retaining wall, Gustavo put a gate in on that side. It made his life easier with getting all his equipment and materials to where he needed them. We were pretty excited since we wanted to put a gate there anyway. Now we’re thinking of putting stepping stones up to the gate since this is the better entrance to the backyard for entertaining.


Gustavo built a nice foundation for a shed in the other back corner. He built a small retaining wall under the fence on that side of the yard to fill the large gap between the fence and the ground. Our next door neighbors were willing to help pay (a retaining wall under the fence was their idea when we first moved in) since their yard was basically rolling into our yard under that gap. You have to understand that the land in this neighborhood is very hilly. Their yard slopes down to ours.


He also put rock on both sides of the yard and over that back corner where we expect to build a deck. First he laid down landscape fabric so there would be no weeds. It’s like he knows us or something! He buried the French drain under the rock and sloped the land so water will still drain as the county expects. Since our grass out front was decimated by this project, Gustavo put in fresh sod when he was finished. We now have the nicest lawn in the neighborhood!

Feel free to scroll through those pictures again noticing the uneven fence. We were lucky enough to have our fence installed for free by the home builders. It may have been a little premature since the recently leveled ground now makes the uneven fence look funny. It once followed the ground perfectly. Now you can use the fence as a measuring stick to see how much we had to build up certain areas to achieve a useful yard.


On Friday a cement truck backed into our driveway to deliver concrete to our backyard. Once upon a time we considered doing the concrete ourselves! While it’s a small yard, concrete is a BIG job.


For a couple thousand bucks we were able to watch a family of burly Polynesians do it for us. They built forms and wheeled in rock to build up the land. One wheelbarrow load at a time, they brought in the cement. Our patio is now extended from what the builders put in originally. I’m just wondering how soon we should report missing family members after concrete is poured! *wink*

It is worth noting that Friday was supposed to be a mixed sun and rain day. Not a drop fell from the sky. I know people have learned to just work in the rain here. When it rains so much of the time it would be silly to stop everything for rain. I felt like it was a blessing for the guys to put in our concrete under such favorable conditions.

Late yesterday afternoon was the first we saw rain since we had our patio extended. Rain has been pelting down hard off and on all day today. So far no puddles on the patio. A sure sign it was poured well.


The slab on the left is the foundation for an outdoor kitchen. The deck will be built from the back door straight out. The rest of the patio will be covered with outdoor patio tiles that snap together. It will look much prettier than a concrete patio.

So outdoor kitchen and deck to the left, patio and dining to the right. Gwen and I want a swing back there along the back fence next to the shed. All in good time.

In a couple of days we will have our heat pump installed. Our home will be comfortable year round!

After the egg hunt on Sunday we had a couple of neighbors walk through our backyard. People were asking about the cement truck they had seen. It was easy to invite them over to see for themselves when their kids were walking to the park by our house anyway. Everyone who has seen our yard is so impressed. I love the glowing response to only Phase 1! People seem to love our future plans. Our backyard is going to be epic.

I agree with our neighbors that we will be able to use our backyard for most of the year based on our plans for roofs and such. We have made good lemonade with the lemon of a yard our beautiful home came with. It will be wonderful to be out there enjoying the quintessential view of the Northwest we call home.