Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our backyard - patio edition

To refresh your memory, back in July, we cleared our backyard of 7 foot tall weeds.  Then in September, we installed artificial grass in our yard and added mulch to the perimeter of the backyard.
The last and final touches we need in our backyard are a patio area and garden!
In November, we got to work searching for an outdoor patio dining set and started working on a garden.

For the garden, I can't plant anything into the ground since the ground is covered with artificial grass.  As a result, I went the "container gardening" route, which is very hip among city and apartment dwellers!  I don't have a green thumb so cutesy, delicate, flowers were out.  Succulents are plants that are very hardy and independent. A succulent garden is perfect for me because I would have to be incredibly inept to kill succulents!  For containers, I collected flower pots from family and friends, dug out old unused tupperware from the kitchen and also purchased a few flower pots from Home Depot.  Then during my daily walks around the neighborhood, I took succulent clippings from other people's yards and walkways and planted the clippings into my flower pots.  Now, I can brag to others that "my succulent garden consists of succulents from all over Los Angeles!".
My succulent container garden. All the succulents are still babies.
Can't wait to see how big they get in the next few months.

I also purchased 2 used wicker chairs for $5 (what a steal! I bought it from the "Westside Swap" group on Facebook) that I placed adjacent to the succulents, so people can sit, chat, and enjoy the view of my container garden.

For the patio dining set, we spent a long time deciding what kind of patio set we wanted. I've always liked the "sling" look on patio chairs but they tend to be more expensive and have to be "re-slung" every few years.  I didn't want to spend more than $600 on a quality outdoor dining set but at that budget, our options were close to none.  We looked on Craigslist for used options but many were still higher than $600 and we don't own a truck to pick up the dining set.  Sure, we could go through the effort of renting a Uhaul then coordinating a time with the seller, but the logisitics would be too difficult.  It was just easier to pay for something brand new that could be delivered to us.
Good ol' IKEA always pulls through!! 
Through a blog post about quality budget patio sets, I discovered that IKEA sells a 6-seater, solid wood, outdoor dining set (The Applaro) for only $400!  After reading some reviews about the Applaro, all the reviews were very positive: comfortable, durable, kind to the eyes, and affordable. I think we paid an additional $100 for delivery, which was still well below our budget. 
A 6 seater, with an extra flap you can extend to make the table longer

Caitlin was an integral part of the Applaro building process

We invited some friends over to BBQ in our yard and try out the new patio table.  Everything was great except one thing:  it got really cold in the evening and we eventually had to move the party indoors.  We casually eyed some patio heaters but they all seemed too expensive, and I was unsure how often I would even use the patio heater.  The cheapest one we found was a $130 heater at Home Depot.  Then cyber Monday came along (the Monday after Thanksgiving) and got an email from Home Depot: outdoor patio heater, originally $130, is now $99!  I had Jeff immediately place an order and he picked up the patio heater that evening.  Jeff even found a $5 off coupon at RetailMeNot, dropping the price to $94! 
We are currently in the process of trying to figure out how to power the stupid thing (sure, it takes propane but how do you get the tank to fit in the base of the heater?).

Caitlin helping Jeff assemble the patio heater

Last thing we needed was a kids picnic table for all the times that we have little kiddos over at our house, or for when Caitlin wants to dine al fresco!  Kid picnic tables run at about $70 on Amazon, which is pretty steep. I put one on Caitlin's Amazon Wishlist, hoping some generous person , that loves Caitlin very much,  would buy one for her.  But as it turned out, we didn't need to! 
During one of our daily walks around the neighborhood, I saw that the local daycare threw out an old picnic table on the street!  I texted the lady that runs the daycare and asked "I see you put a kids picnic table on the sidewalk.  Do you no longer want it? If not, can I have it?".  She said I could have it! Yay!!  After struggling to drag the picnic table home one-handed, while carrying Caitlin in my other arm, the lady said she would hang onto the picnic table for me until Jeff can come over and get it.  How sweet her.  Later that night, I sent Jeff over to pick up the picnic table and voila! We were the proud owner of a new old picnic table!  Everything worked out so perfectly.

the kids picnic table with 2 additional plastic chairs added on the sides.
The Applaro in the background

In the back of our yard, we have a creepy alley behind our garage.  It's filthy and not very safe back there.  To draw one's attention away from this alley, we purchased 2 succulent shrubs from C&S Nursery to hide the entrance of the alley.
The entrance to the alley on the lower-left frame.
Top photo and bottom-right photo shows how it looks now with our new shrubs!
Alley?  What Alley?

The ultimate goal is to have a container garden along the entire back wall as well.  But the plants would need to be shade plants since that area gets very little sun.

What do you think of our backyard now?
It took a long time getting here (oh, about 4.5 years), but we finally have a usable backyard that we aren't ashamed to show people, and we aren't afraid that snakes would come haul Caitlin away!

Happy Holidays 2013!

As we are wrapping up the whirlwind year of 2013 (where I still think it's January 2013), I want to wish everyone a very happy holidays full of laughter, love, and warm fuzzies.

Let's hope 2014 treats us equally well as 2013, if not better!