Obsessing about a “Go out and play” backyard

We moved into a new-old bigger house a year ago. Between having a third child and my work-from-home job, we wanted more space to live and breathe. Not to mention we wanted to be able to have friends over more comfortably.

Top of my list of requirements was that we have nice outdoor space, good indoor-outdoor flow, and a barefoot backyard. Ha ha! Upon moving in, our new-old home had none of those things: instead there was broken glass, rusty nails, mud pits, wild onions, rogue bamboo, falling-down fences, construction material, old windows, a large wall mirror and two toilets. Not kidding.

I really wanted to send my five- and seven-year old out to play and sit outside with the toddler without saying, “NO!” every other minute.

My friend Jeanine is a talented landscape architect in her real job and was willing to do some brainstorming with me in exchange for favors to be named later. She drew up sketches and scoured pinterest and Sunset magazine for so many amazing ideas that it was hard to narrow it down between her woodland fantasy, Asian escape, and Berkeley craftsman designs.

See my fantasizing on the Outside Space pinterest board to peek into all the fun in my imagination!

Eventually, Jeanine helped focus our fantasies before I hired a contractor to get it done as fast as humanly possible. I irrationally wanted to complete the work in time to throw a birthday surprise BBQ for my husband (last weekend) and not waste a moment of Summerfun time.

Whenever our backyard guy would ask a question about details, I just kept showing him this photo (in tiny version on my iPhone) and we did our best to emulate it.

My dream backyard

[Photo by Jennifer Cheung for Sunset Magazine]

In addition to the adult entertainment zone — minus toddler-burning firepit — we wanted fruits and veggies; play space; grass for cartwheels; and a little woodland path for getting lost. Reading this, I sound crazy to myself. I’ll show you a few before and after pictures if I make it all the way to the AFTER state.

Inspired by the gals at Go Mighty and a grant from P&G, I am well into the DURING state of transformation. We did create mini fruit orchard complete with an apple tree (four kinds of apples on one tree!), pear tree, and Meyer lemon. I also planted some cherry tomatoes and strawberries.