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The Backyard is (Finally) Finished!

Back in August I posted some pictures showing off some preliminary work we'd done to our backyard. Well, four months later I am thrilled to report that we've finally finished landscaping and that I couldn't be happier with the finished results. While we spent a huge chunk of my 2010 bonus on the yard, both Dave and I believe that we've managed to create a little something out of the ordinary, something that would set our home apart from our neighbors, and somewhere that we'd be happy to spend our spare time given that Baby Boy Conn's arrival will almost certainly mean an end to our big trips (at least for now). In short, I think it was worth the money...and the wait.

Probably the single biggest change to the yard was the extension of the patio and the construction of the pergola. We decided to go with the same brick as the house and the same paint as the trim for a seamless look and I must say that the finished product looks like it came with the house.

Our landscaper Kevin insisted that we must have pots (and big ones!) for annuals and some small citrus. Dave was hesitant initially (both because of cost and an inexplicable aversion to pots) but we found some simple, inexpensive gray pots at a local garden center that blended perfectly with the crushed granite beds and that we're both happy with. I must say that these may be my single favorite element in the design as they add both height and color around the patio.

The side entrance to the backyard has been transformed from ho-hum to something quite lovely. Note the Meyer Lemon tree on the right. I can't wait for those babies to ripen so I can use them to make some lemon pistachio cookies for the holidays! We still need to add a few pavers to the pathway (and let the grass grow back in), but come spring when the hydrangea bloom this corner of the yard will be almost magical.

We decided to erect a few screens to block the view of our red brick fence (which isn't awful, of course, but it does rather clash with the brick on our house). I love the circle motif on the screens, which echo the circular fire pit and break up all the straight lines of the fences. Vegetation is a mix of tropicals (an orchid tree, hibiscus), citrus (several orange varietals), native Texas plants, and more traditional garden plants (camilas, roses, etc.).

Absolutely love the vivid silver of the Texas sage, especially against the darker green of the rose bushes. Can you see the large planters behind the screens? They've been seeded with wildflowers and I'm looking forward to seeing what pops up this spring.

The patio extension and fire pit are flanked by six crepe myrtles, which come spring will be in full bloom through most of the summer. We've planted a few wisteria at the base of the pergola. Kevin promises that they'll quickly grow up and along the pergola, creating a wonderful canopy of violet and deep green. I love the romantic quality of wisteria -- there's something very Southern about it -- and I look forward to spending some quiet afternoons sitting outside, sipping lemonade and playing with the baby.

Ah the fire pit: Dave's big "want" that I'll admit I was a bit dubious of at first. I insisted we put it away from the house and Kevin came up with a great solution for making it blend in perfectly with the rest of the design. The low wall behind it provides excellent seating for toasting marshmallows or just sipping a beer or two. We actually built a fire on Sunday for the first time and had a lovely time sitting outside in the chilly weather enjoying the smell of burning wood (it's rather intoxicating, no?) and watching the fire. I'm having family over for Christmas Day dinner and I'm hopeful that the weather will cooperate so we can build another fire and move the party outdoors.

If you live in the greater-Houston area and your yard is in need of some serious sprucing up, I'd highly recommend Kevin Boyd (of Nature's Realm) for any sort of landscaping or hardscaping needs. He was by far the most creative landscaper we spoke with and his ideas really helped make our less-than-defined vision a reality.

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