Yes, we've let the yard go a bit in recent years. The current "footprint" is an awkward one; we knew that eventually we'd rework the space in a big way, and that day is here.
What we're starting with:
The front porch is too narrow to do much of anything but walk through. There's an old concrete bench there, but it's not comfortable to sit on for any length of time.
A long concrete driveway (buckled and cracked) leads to the backyard. That metal frame on the other side of the gate is for a shade canopy we put up every summer, in a somewhat futile attempt to keep the space cooler in summer and fall.
Inside the gate, the driveway area in front of the garage has become the dog-and-kid play area, except during warmer days, when it's like an oven out here (seriously!) even with a canopy. The architect says the expanse of concrete is what raises the temperature so much. The pavement just reflects and radiates heat.
Looking back toward the house from the driveway, you can see that the old wooden trellis is rotting and falling apart. The gas grill is in an inconvenient place...
...right outside the master bedroom and in a narrow walkway between one part of the yard and another. When we entertain, this area gets very congested, not a good thing in close proximity to flames and hot surfaces.
This very back part of the yard framed by the house and detached garage has some mature trees and is actually very pleasant, which is why le monsieur sets up his hammock back here in the summer. But otherwise this space just really isn't utilized as much as it could be.
These Tasmanian Tree Ferns planted throughout the front and back are messy and have outgrown the space. Fortunately, they will be transplanted in a new home at another site the architect is working on.
So here's the plan:
1. Remove grass, beds along front of house. Knock down the railing on the front porch, and extend out with a deck, benches around the front and sides.
2. Redo irrigation system, add lighting and more drought resistant plantings. We're doing our best to evoke a bit of Provence, so lavender will be a prominent element.
3. Add a gravel front path from sidewalk to deck, and a round gravel sitting area under the tree (will have two rounded wooden benches to fit the space).
1. Remove concrete in area in front of garage. This will be replaced with drivable grass, and should reduce the temperature in this area substantially.
2. Demolish and rebuild the old trellis. Add lighting, an overhead fan and a misting system to also help cool the yard. Both the deck and trellis will be built from a type of "lumber" made from recycled materials, and while it looks like wood is much longer lasting and lower maintenance. Add two or three steel cables from the trellis across the driveway to the fence. This can accommodate some lighting, and we'll also plant flowering vines that can grow up and along the cabling to add some overhead greenery.
3. Remove the grass in the very back area of the yard. Add gravel walkways, a seating area with lighting, a fountain area and an area for le monsieur's hammock (and permanent posts to hang it). More drought resistant plantings.
4. In keeping with our "pretend we're in Provence" theme, we're going to add some potted citrus trees against the fence that separates our yard from our neighbors to provide some privacy as well as fruit.
5. The gas grill will be moved against the back wall of the kitchen, and we'll add an outdoor baker's table for additional food prep and serving space.
Here's the fun(?) part; our goal is to have all of this done and ready for our annual July 4th bash!