Group 6 4 minutes Read

the backyard reveal!

Lauren Zerbey

We had a few scheduling delays, but guys – the backyard is DONE. While Avery was down for a nap yesterday Kyle and I grabbed the baby monitor and quickly scurried to sweep the deck, round up the hoses, and shoot a few photos. Twenty minutes after we finished it started pouring and our deck was once again covered in itty bitty little fir cones (aka bane of my existence) from our neighbor’s tree.

Anyway. Let’s take a gander, shall we? [And if you need a sobering reminder of what our yard has been through and what the proposed design was, refresh here.]


Spiraea in front of the planter box, Brass Buttons and Speedwell as the ground cover.


Ahh, real grass (freshly striated from its inaugural mow)! As you can imagine, Bailey is ecstatic. The crew removed all the old grass/weeds with a sod cutter, laid down new compost, leveled it all and then rolled out this beautiful-ness. Having a big grassy area has never been a priority for us, but it is nice to have a little patch for Bailey and Avery.


In the great chair debate, we went with the ones from CB2. So far, so good. (By the way, that’s Creeping Jenny and Hebe in the south planter box.)


Instead of running the grass to the fence line, we decided to soften the edge with some low shrubs and plants (Bishop’s Hat, Evergreen Huckleberry, Lavender, Lenten Roses and a Red Flowering Currant). We kept the older Italian plum tree and transplanted the Katsura.


The evening light made it tricky to photograph the north side yard, but you get the idea – Kyle actually saw cut the existing sidewalk to create a pattern that would compose with the new pavers at the deck steps. (We still need to add a guardrail at the basement stair. Always something, y’know.) We kept the Winter Daphne (the only plant to survive 6+ years at chezerbey) and around it are more Huckleberries, Hydrangeas, a Vine Maple and Inside-Out Flowers as ground cover.


We decided to relocate the edibles to the strip in the middle of the driveway. This gives us 360 degree access and the plants aren’t as permanent in the event that we need to drive a car back there. (I’m so late to the tomato game, but hopefully buying starts that had actual tomatoes on them will work out.) A row of Little Gem Magnolia trees line the new north fence and will eventually create a bit more privacy. Orange Hummingbird Mint and Pt. Reyes Ceanothus help fill in the bottom.


Oh yeah – new fence, did we mention that? We knew at some point we wanted to replace the boards on the existing fence (it was done more recently, so not in too bad of shape but definitely some rotting boards) and figured we should do it now before access became an issue. The hope was to reuse the existing fence posts and footings but a few of the posts were rotting so a new fence it was. Fortunately, we split the project with our neighbors which saved on costs and labor. (Side story: they have chickens and during the construction process Bailey got into their yard while the chickens were out. There’s nothing quite like seeing a goofy and somewhat uncoordinated golden retriever attempt to catch a fleeing bird.)


We’re also happy with the new table from Crate&Barrel. The ipe deck has grayed out quite a bit since we installed it two years ago, but we’re planning on doing a fresh coat of Penofin next month. (Remember when we did the first coat?)


After letting the steel hang out (err…develop a patina) in our driveway for the last two years, Kyle finally got around to welding up the remaining planter boxes.


Along the south fence line is a row of bamboo that will provide privacy and a nice vegetative screen in a year or so.


This. Yes. If you saw my Pinterest spree of summer cocktail recipes a few weeks ago this is why. (We bought outdoor pillows for the Adirondacks from C&B.)


Kyle installed pressure-treated 4x’s at the base of the fence to compensate for the grade change between our yard and our neighbor’s. To hide the ugly PT wood, Kyle installed 1/4″ steel plates with countersunk flush brown-tip stainless steel trim head screws. (If you had any doubt that Kyle was a perfectionist, well…countersunk.flush.brown-tip.stainless steel.trim head.screws.)




Kyle also installed 1/4″x6″ steel edging between the grass and planted areas, welding the seams and corners.


Funny story – the one plant that we were a little unsure of were these somewhat tropical looking guys in the north planter box. Turns out, a minor typo was made to the latin name on the planting list and they were supposed to be California Fuchsias (which look quite different). We’ll probably transplant the existing plants to pots and pick up a few actual Fuchsias.


There are also pavers that connect the deck to the driveway and our trash/recycling/compost station on the north side of the house. We were a little concerned about all the sharp edges with the steel, so Kyle went back and rounded all the corners to make it slightly more kid-friendly (as much as raw steel can be I suppose).


Instead of extending the horizontal cedar boards to the front yard, we collaborated with our neighbors on the design and installation of hog wire panels that are attached to the 4×4 posts and covered in cedar trim boards. The idea is that the hog wire will become the structure for a future double espalier with our neighbors (there are panels on both sides). We’re not sure what we’ll plant just yet, but have been thinking of some type of edible. (Kyle’s vote is for hops.)

Finally, who’s got two teeth and is super excited about the backyard?


This girl.

Once again, a big thank you to Mark Garff at The Watershed Company for an incredible design and to the folks at JP Landscape Services for another quality installation. We love it now but also can’t wait to see what it looks like in a year when everything has had a chance to grow and fill in.

This weekend calls for sun and temps in the 80’s. I know where we’ll be.