Spring Landscaping Project for the Backyard

Spring Landscaping Project for the Backyard

Welcome to our Spring Landscaping Project for our Backyard

Julie and Veronica backyard Easter 2016_small

When we bought our home several years ago we knew that there would be many changes that we wanted to make to the landscaping, mainly additions.  We want to transform our front yard and back, into what we want from our property.  Here is yet another one of our projects that not only improves the aesthetic, but also helps to raise our property value as well.

We decided to upgrade this side of our house and yard to have it flow more evenly with the other landscaping projects that we had done in our backyard.  So we added a new retaining wall, and a patio area for our new potting bench.

Here is how we did it.


A our backyard originally_small

The Before Photos

The BEFORE photo of the project_small

I think that everyone has seen this photo of me sitting out on our bench by our fountain.

Our Outdoor Life Preview

Gordon built that retaining wall that you see to your right, he also added the gray stone slate and rock path to the water hose area, and we also added the pretty white rocks to our landscaping beds as well. 

But what you don’t see is what is to your left of me.

Well, now you know.

the before_small

Actually This Photo Above is an AFTER Photo From our Original Work

This side of our yard used to look like this:

B backyard fountain old one_small

A our original backyard when we first created it_small


This was a lovely idea but it just didn’t stay that way.  We just had too many big oak trees that surrounded our property and our neighbors as well, that would litter their leaves all over the lovely rocks and stones that we had laid down.  When we raked up leaves we were raking up our ground pebbles as well.  This just wasn’t a good backyard design for us.

A it no longer works anymore becuase of all the leaves_small A Our old wine barrel_small

barrel landscape project_small

Our wooden water barrel eventually deteriorated after two years from the Florida humidity and the lovely sconces of vines that I had growing along the side of the house eventually embedded into our wall making it look like this:

we had chipped paint and vines growing up the walls_small

So we started from scratch and built it back up again to make it beautiful.

Julies potting bench_small

This is the AFTER photo, Just in time for Easter

We not only wanted to make this area attractive to match the rest of the landscaping that we had in our backyard, but we also wanted to make it functional seeing as how we both do a great deal of gardening.

In the photo above you can see that we have replaced our wooden water barrel with a hard plastic one.  It may not look as rustic but it will work better for our hot/humid climate. 

We also added a potting bench, the rest is pure aesthetic.

Background Herbal Gifts_small


The Area is Now Beautiful and Functional

A The AFTER photo for our potting bench landscaping project_small

The AFTER for our potting bench landscaping photo_small

A pretty view_small A potting bench and fountain_small


But First a Small Retaining Wall Had to be Built

end retaining wall 1_small end retaining wall_small

This retaining wall would tie our entire backyard landscaping around our house, together.


BEFORE landscaping project end retaining wall_small

Isn’t it Pretty?

there will be a wall there soon_small

The area was already bordered off, it was just a matter of Gordon building it up.

the before of the end retaining wall landscaping project_small step one was trimming everything up so that we could decide what we wanted here_small

You can see what a mess that it was.  Before we got started on this project though, we needed to clean the area up so that we could see what we were doing.  We cut down the variegated hibiscus and trimmed all the spider plants that border the area.

time to pull out these stones_small Gordon loosening them up with a shovel_small

Next Gordon had to dig out these stones that had sunk into the ground over the many years they were there.

pulling up the stones_small removing the stones_small reusing the stones_small

Pulling up the Stones and Reusing Them

Most people might want to buy new stones, but we don’t like to spend money when we don’t have to and to us it is recycling.  They were really just dirty and in need of a clean.

washing down the stones_small

Gordon Cleaning Them Off

paver sand for this project_small pouring the sand in the track path_small play sand works great on these projects_small

Once the stones are removed Gordon is filling in the ‘trench’ with some paver sand, then followed by the regular sand.  This will elevate the stones to more of a ground level and help prevent them from’ sinking’ in the future.

now start placing the stones along the little trench_small Gordon building the wall_small Gordon always stomps it down with his feet_small

Now It’s Time To Build This Wall

You will of course need a rubber mallet and a level in order to make sure the stones are all level with each other.

Gordon does use his feet to stomp down the sand. 

Neither one of us ever wears appropriate shoes for any of our projects.  So don’t try this at home!

when the little path is filled with sand and paver sand and patted down by Gordon_small


Cute Lizard Break

kermit the lizard_small

Kermit The Lizard?


then add the paver sand_small use a mallet and a level to make sure the blocks are even_small

To start the project, I always begin leveling the stones at the end of the run as I did here next to the wall.  The first run of stones is the hardest as they set the course for the other stones and need to be perfectly level, so the other stones on top of them will be level.  Doing this will take time as the sand under them needs to be firm and level.  I usually stand on it as Julie stated to ensure it is evenly packed down.  You will likely have to hammer the stone down some from edge to edge ensuring it is level.  Use the first stone as a guide for the rest of them and then move to the next stone.


second row of blocks_small its coming together a bit better_small

Gordon has Started the Second Row of Stones

It’s starting to look like a retaining wall.

Gordon cutting the stones to fit into the wall_small we make do with what we have_small

Gordon Cutting the Stones

Here I cut a stone to start the second level up against the wall.  The stones go on top of each other slightly back from the first as the lip underneath them hold them in place, locking them together.  As the path curves, the distance covered gets slightly shorter and you may have to cut more stones to ensure you stay with the common brick pattern.  To do this, slightly take off some of the edge if needed to keep the pattern if only making a short wall.  For longer walls, it may be easier to simply cut one on each side just a little to make it not so obvious the stone was cut.  Then start with another full stone and begin the row again.

Hey, we make due with what we have.

Gordon building the side retaining wall landscaping_small Gordon is creative_small Gordon cutting the blocks to build the wall_small

Gordon Can Turn Anything into a Work Table

use what you have_small

If you want capstones to top your wall, simply lay one capstone on top of the other making the curve as if it hadn’t been cut.  Now with a marker, simply scribe a line at the front of the stone, marking where the cut should be to make the angle of the curve.  This method keeps the straight edge of the stone to the back or aft.  Using a circular saw with a masonry blade (NO WATER REQUIRED) cut the capstone on the line.  Place your capstone in position and now work the next one the same way working your way around your retaining wall.  Below right you can see the uncut straight edge of the capstone which ended exactly where I wanted it to.  If it didn’t, simply cut the capstone to even them out.

Gordon built the side retaining wall_small recycling our old blocks_small

this will tie in with our other backyard walls_small

Retaining Wall All Finished!



Spring Intermission

our backyard is in bloom_small

The above section of the yard may look bad but that doesn’t mean everything does.

my fountain girl_small

Spring Is Here!

spring is in our backyard_small


What you don’t see among all this beauty is THIS!

Florida spring is when we lose our leaves_small

Spring in Florida is when we lose all our leaves.



Painting and Waking up the Backyard

waking up the backyard_small

Our Florida climate is pretty mild compared to most.

still charming_small

  We do have a few cold days, but nothing that lasts very long.   We tend to live outside about 9 – 10 months of the year, but for those two – three months of indoor activity, we cover everything up outside and prepare for the onslaught of LEAVES!!

ladder for painting_small

It’s my job to do the painting.

paint the trim and spray the gutters_small

The entire back of the house needed freshening up.  Also the gutters and the trim.

my job is to spray paint the gutters_small painting some of the trim around the house_small spray painting the gutters and painting the trim_small

A Paint Brush in One Hand and a Can of Spray Paint in the Other

As usual, always wearing my ‘sensible’ shoes.

the dogs are tired and dirty_small

The dogs are tired and dirty.

Painting the Back of our House

drill attachment to stir paint_small painting the back of the house_small

The Color of our House is Peach

fast way to stir paint_small

It is about to get a refresher!

Gordon adding the drill attachment to stir the paint.

its peach_small its peach 2_small mixing paint 3_small

Works Great!

painting 1_small painting 2_small

I had painted this side by myself but Gordon decided that it needed another coat.

painting 3_small

This back section Gordon did paint himself.  It was horrid!


The New Water Barrel

Using the old water barrel base, which is the bottom of an old broken fountain.

Another beginning photo_small the old fountain base_small


look how horrible_small

Look how horrible this fountain base looked like?  All it needs is to be cleaned up.  Gordon is scrubbing all the mold off of it, then we give it a good spray of bleach that penetrates down into the pores of the white cement.

using an old fountain bottom to support our barrel_small

Gordon making sure the base is level.

adjusting the rain barrel_small

Once everything is cleaned up, Gordon adjusting the rain barrel on the base and attaching the drain spout for rain water.

all along the back of the house_small

Things are starting to come together.

its getting there_small


Finding my Old Neglected Pot

   an old neglected pot in the backyard_small succulents_small the pot that i ignored_small

Two years ago I just threw everything into this pot in the backyard and then just set it aside.  Now I think it looks beautiful no thanks to anything that I have done to it.


Spray Painting

spray painting_small

It’s amazing what a can of white spray paint can do.

pretty chair with flowers_small

I refreshed an old vintage chair and a birdcage.


Patio Potting Bench

Potting Bench Patio_small

Gordon and Brodie finished this project just in time for Easter.

Here is How They Did It

moving away the rocks_small MATR_small

First you want to clear away the area as much as possible.  Here Gordon is removing some of our white rocks from the area as well as the stones that lined the landscaping.

digging up these stones_small DUTS_small

You can see how the old cement blocks had sunk into the ground.  Gordon is digging them back up here by inserting a shovel underneath them.


Brodie helping his dad_small

Brodie is a big help to Gordon with these projects.

Brodie pouring the sand_small Brodie covering the area with sand_small

Here he is covering the area with paver sand to help even out the base of the area and to ensure the large concrete paver stones don’t sink into the ground over time.

Paver sand and regular sand_small

Paver Sand and Play Sand

you want to cover the entire area_small

Again, stomp it down flat to assist in leveling it out.

paver sand first and then play sand_small play sand_small

First the Paver Sand goes down and then the Play Sand

Gordon smoothing out the area_small Gordon smoothing out the sandy area_small

Gordon Using a Board to Smooth out the Area

Gordon leveling the area to make sure_small

Gordon is making sure the area is level.

it has to be even_small place it onto the wood to be sure its level_small

Place your level on top of the board to make sure everything is even.


white cement stones_small

2 Different Sizes of White Cement Stones

once level start bringing the stones_small

Here Comes our Patio

Gordon and Brodie building_small

Once your area is level then it’s time to start building it up.

Gordon and Brodie bringing in the stones.

building the patio area_small

Using the same process as before with the retaining wall stones, even out the paver by using a rubber hammer starting at the end and up along the wall first as seen below left.

this is to be a patio of sorts_small Gordon leveling the sand for more blocks_small

Next you start laying the stones that you want to use, while still smoothing the area to allow for more. 

I chose (No Gordon, I Chose Them.)  🙂  these white cement blocks, I wanted them to tie in with all our other white cement attractions that we have in our backyard.

its starting to take shape_small use your mallet to make everything level_small

You still need to use your rubber mallet and your level to make sure everything is perfectly level.

you can use the end of your mallet to push sand underneath to make it even_small this design was my idea_small

You can use the end of your mallet to push the sand underneath the stones and fill in those ‘gaps’ in order to make them even.

completing the project_small Gordon measuring all angles_small

The project is starting to come together nicely.

potting bench patio section_small

It was my idea to create some sort of ‘cut out’ in the middle of the patio.

we bought gray stones_small filling in with the stones_small

We Bought Gray Stones as an Accent Here

It was an easy design to do.

coming together nicely_small design in the project_small

a preview of things to come_small

The Patio Area is starting to Take Shape

Next Gordon needs to place the stones that will border the area in front, and along the sides.

Sadly, I didn’t get to take the photos of Gordon positioning the stones in front of the patio area.  But you can see them in this photo.

you can see the stones all along the front_small

In these photos you can see the brick outline that sections off this patio from the rest of the landscaping.

Timbale dinner on the potting bench_small

you can see the border stones here_small

We used different stones to border the sides of this project.


Capping Off/Removing a Sprinkler

Sometimes it is necessary to cap off a sprinkler which is in the way of a project and isn’t needed to work anymore.

Gordon removing the sprinkler_small

First, you need to remove the rocks and dirt around the base of the sprinkler pole down to where it joins with the main sprinkler piping.

you have to dig down to where it is connected_small

digging down to remove the sprinkler 1_small untwising the sprinkler_small

This type of pole sprinkler is connected to the main system by screwing it into the main system.  Here, all you then do is just unscrew the sprinkler pole and remove it.  Next, find a proper cap at your local hardware store which will fit either the screw in type or as shown below the regular caps  which slide onto the pipe.  If my sprinkler pole didn’t unscrew, then I would have cut off the pole just above the joint using a hacksaw or PVC cutting tool to allow enough room for the cap. 

PVC cement_small

Using the PVC Cement glue above, simply use the brush provided under the glue cap and coat the  inner cap and the outer pole with glue.  Then simply push the two pieces together until both fit snugly together.  The glue over time will chemically melt the PVC pieces together making a tight, waterproof seal.  Below right you can see the capped pipe.

you want to cap it off to close it for good_small capping off the sprinkler_small

Shown above are three different sizes of caps which you might use for this type of job.


Another Cute Lizard Break

cute lizard break_small

They help keep our backyard bug population down.


We are thoroughly Enjoying our Patio Area

Julie outdoor bench _small

Slider Photo Potting Bench_small

Whether we use the area to eat, or garden, this is now a favorite space in our backyard.

potting bench gifts project_small

Potting bench gifts background_small

We hope that you enjoyed our backyard spring project.

Happy Spring!

Gordon and Julie