Our back yard and patio have been a work in progress since we moved into our house two years ago, but we’re finally getting it all pulled together, and I love hanging out back there when it's not too hot.
We just had a built-in grill and countertop put in, which makes everything look finished out, but we had a hodge-podge of furniture that needed to be replaced so the producers of Junkyard Wars would stop reaching out to us for a feature.
This is the perfect time of year - mid- to late-summer - to shop for outdoor furniture and accessories, because prices are cut to start making room for fall stuff.
I put that in quotes because it isn’t really a kitchen, since there’s no sink. But it does have a countertop, praise Jesus, for a prep area, and a nice grill, and outdoor fridge.
Right now, the storage area under the grill is just an unfinished cinder-block and concrete box, but we’d like to line it somehow - at least the bottom. That’s on my list of to-research, and I’ll link to that once we get that figured out and finished.
We found these wicker chairs at Pier 1 for 50% off, and they’re super comfy and sturdy. Plus, they’re stackable, so I’m thinking about going to get a few more for when we have people over, and then just stacking them and storing them in the garage when we aren’t using them.
A few months ago, I started some herbs from seed, so I have the little seedlings in my kitchen window, but they’re ready to be transplanted. I want to move them outside, but my dogs are monsters and trample plants when they’re chasing each other while simultaneously trying to ruin my life.
Plus, Coop pees on anything I plant out there, so I needed something raised if I plan to plant anything for human consumption.
I found that wicker planter underneath the window at Home Goods a few months ago, but it was way overpriced (by the way, Home Goods is notorious for this - they have amazing prices on a lot of their stuff, and then some things are way overpriced, so beware).
I kept going back to see if they’d dropped the price and they finally did, and I nabbed the very last one!
Mark pulled that giant outdoor rug out of our RV, where we use it outside under the stairs to keep from tracking mud inside.
It’s perfect out on the patio to anchor the sitting area where we sit and dry off before coming in.
The planters with faux ornamental grass are from IKEA. I love the clean lines of IKEA stuff, and I also love having pops of greenery in different settings, especially my outdoor space, and these give height to tuck back behind the chairs.
Patio Set With Fire Pit
This patio set is so amazing. We got it last year at Costco, and they have it again this year, although the price right now is considerably more than we paid (by about $800 😳- so just keep your eyes open for it to go on sale because it definitely will!).
The chairs are roomy and sturdy, the cushions super thick and comfy, and the fabric is weather proof.
It’s got a space underneath for a propane tank that feeds into that fire bowl in the center. I bring my laptop out here a lot and having a cup of coffee by a fire on cool mornings is amazing - which, admittedly, hasn’t happened in a while because it’s hot as balls here in Texas this time of year.
Palm trees are an expensive commitment, so I get a few of these cheap fan palms and put them in containers around the patio and pool to give a tropical vibe without a huge expense.
When we first moved in, Mark bought these solar landscape lights for the bottoms of the trees around our property. He aimed them up into the trees, to give some up-lighting, which is an inexpensive way to make a huge impact.
A few months ago he changed those out to these wired ones, which are brighter, but it did mean that he had to dig trenches from each light back to the side of the house where the transformers are located.
Mermaid & Tribal Mask
My mermaid is my most favorite part of our pool area. I got her at a local nursery called Hill Country Water Gardens and she’s about 50 pounds of solid something. Ha! Maybe bronze? Not sure. 🤔
I’m a big believer in having a statement piece or two.
Mark’s favorite part of our yard is this enormous tribal mask, which we also got at the Water Gardens in Cedar Park.
Plans for Future Upgrades
Railing Along Back - There’s quite a big slope to our yard, so they had to build up our foundation a lot, giving us a giant step off the side of our back patio. We’re wanting to add a railing along just that back edge, mainly for safety reasons, but also to keep the dogs from running through the flower beds that line the patio.
No-Slip Tile - If you have a pool in Texas, you HAVE to have a coating on your concrete to keep it cool.
Most people have their patios done in that, too, but we did not do that this time because we learned something from having that done on our last pool and patio: the oils from our dogs’ coats make dirt and dust stick in the nooks & crannies of the coating on the covered patio, and it was a huge pain in the rear to keep it clean. It’s not an issue around the pool decking because that gets rinsed off in the rain.
Our plan is to have a no-slip tile installed on the patio, just to make it look more outdoor-living-room-ish.
Long-Term Landscaping - We’re landscaping our back yard in phases, just for financial reasons, and because it just seems the most sensible way to do it. Our back yard slopes way down and starts to level out back in that group of trees, so when we get a lot of rain, it all washes down from the houses up at the top of the street and comes down through our yard and into that area.
We put in a truckload of river rock down there (by “we,” I mean that Mark did 99.9% of it, the boys helped for literally one hour on one morning, and I filled exactly two shovels full, then had to go inside and take a nap in the air conditioning) and I put some jumbo elephant ears back in the far back corner because they love wet soil.
Next year I want to add some other plants back there - something that’s perennial, and something with some height.
I also want to eventually put in palm trees back behind the pool, but they’re really expensive for mature ones, which is, of course, what I want.
Also, while we certainly have the heat here in Central Texas that palm trees love, we also have surprisingly cold spells in the winter time, so you have to baby palms through the winter for the first four or five years.
I’m not sure I have the emotional wherewithal to coddle plants through the winter, when I can barely manage my own comfort needs.
Camouflage the Zip Line Platform - I want to put a tree in front of this zip-line platform because I think it takes away from the natural beauty of the space back there. But it is a backyard where an 11-year-old boy lives, after all, so I suppose it makes sense that there’s evidence of kid-friendly accoutrements.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you keep your umbrellas from blowing away or breaking off in Texas storms?
You HAVE to tie your umbrellas closed when you aren’t using them. If your umbrella doesn’t come with a tie, use shoelaces or a cord of some sort to tie it closed so that the wind doesn’t get up under it and destroy it.
When we have a particularly big storm coming in, we go a step further and take the umbrellas out of their stands (except for the giant cantilever one, which is heavy enough to withstand heavy winds, as long as it’s tied closed).
Will your mermaid rust or ruin from rain and pool water?
According to the guy at the nursery, she will patina over time, getting even more beautiful, if you can even believe such craziness.
Do your dogs go in the pool?
Two of our dogs are Labrador Retriever mixes - water-loving dogs - but, alas, no. They don’t go in the pool because they’re not normal Labs, they’re anomalies. We are so happy about that, though, because the fur would be hell on our pool equipment, so keep this in mind if you are getting a pool and have dogs.
We do occasionally put the Goldendoodle in, because she doesn’t shed, but the water dries her fur out, so I don’t let her in very often. We have to protect those golden locks!
Do you leave your furniture out when it rains?
We usually do leave it out, yes. Unless there’s a lot of wind associated with the storm, in which case we’ll bring everything up onto the patio. Otherwise, the furniture gets blown off the deck and scattered across the yard.
Texas storms can be pretty cray!
Hopefully this time next year, I can report back to you with all those other pending projects having been finished.
If you want to follow along with this and other upgrades we’re working on, make sure to follow me on Facebook and on Instagram, and you definitely want to sign up for my emails, because there’s some stuff that I only share in email.