Thu 31 Jul 2014
Although we have a good-sized patio in our backyard, the last few years we’ve been drawn more and more to our front porch, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening. It’s covered, so we can still sit outside if it’s raining, and in the afternoons the slight breeze makes it surprisingly cooler than even our well-shaded backyard, so on hotter days it’s been an ideal spot to have a little break or enjoy a popsicle, snack, or even dinner.
We started with a simple wooden garden bench that we picked up at a garage sale but, as our family grew, we quickly outgrew (or, more precisely, outweighed) the aged bench. We relocated two Muskoka chairs from the backyard to the porch to compliment the bench, but the narrow porch meant that the bench had to be situated several feet off to the side and conversation wasn’t really possible. So, this Summer I set about meeting the challenge of how to transform our porch into a more usable configuration.
The first thing to tackle was the front garden, which was pretty empty anyway. When we moved in, we had a gorgeous garden in our backyard but half of it was destroyed when we had our fence installed, despite my best efforts to relocate the plants before the post digging began. As a result, much of my gardening time the last few years has been spent trying to get our once thriving back garden going again. And our front garden has certainly been neglected. I put in a stone border a few years ago as a feeble attempt to add some character, and a smattering of plants to keep it looking somewhat alive, but it has, for the most part, been ignored. Most of the time I don’t even water the plants, they have to fend for themselves with the rain that falls.
The first step of the transformation was to figure out what to do with the few plants that had managed to stay alive in our front garden. After all, if they had lived thus far, they deserved at least a chance at continuing their existence. After trying a few ideas, I decided to extend the seating area into the half of the garden closest to our door (removing the plants first, of course) and to double the depth of the other half of the garden to accommodate the uprooted plants. The picture below shows it mid-reorganization as I tried to determine how much space I needed for seating (and how many plants needed to be moved).
My original plan was to use gravel for the seating area, mostly because it seemed like the simplest solution and something that I could accomplish myself since Charles had embarked on two projects of his own for the backyard. But while I was still playing with my layout, Charles mentioned that we had several large 2′x3′ patio stones behind our shed that could be used. I resisted at first, figuring that gravel was still my best bet, but soon realized that his “could be used” was more of a “would like them to be used”. So, after an unfortunate incident where I attempted to move one of them myself and instead ended up with a huge bruise on my thigh, “my” project became “our” project. And one very hot Saturday, Charles laid the patio stones. And then on the Sunday, he relaid them all to run perpendicular to their original arrangement because, despite both of us thinking that the first alignment would work, it just didn’t. But once they were relaid, it was beautiful. And “my” little project for this Summer suddenly started to look a little more real.
A few weeks later the finishing gravel was added, the planters filled, and the final pieces placed. And the end result makes me very, very happy.
I love having a space where all of us can sit comfortably, and if we needed to, there’s room to place even more chairs as well. I do feel a little bad that Charles was distracted from his projects to help with this one, but the patio stones do make it feel more “finished” than just gravel would have.
The garden has so far been thriving and I’m even remembering to water the transplanted plants and the few new plants that joined them! These small lanterns have been languishing in our shed for a few years, never quite fitting into our backyard decor, but as soon as I put them around our new patio, I knew they had just been waiting for the right spot. The flamingo is a new addition this year, spurred on by our lovely Christmas flamingo that stayed out until March.
The birds that I received for Christmas a few years ago have previously lived in our side garden, but I wanted a more prominent spot for them this year since I’ve fallen so in love with our bird feeder.
Laughing bunny found a new home in the dwarf tree in the front yard. And, of course, no garden would be complete without a gnome. This little buy has been lounging around the backyard for quite a while, having followed us from our previous home to this one, but now the that front garden is worthy, he’s taken up residence there instead.