Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Courtyard Foundation Complete

oh hai

As you can tell by my elation in this pic, the concrete work in the back is done. I think the walls help to cozy up the space, and I'm glad to have some decent looking planting beds and a concrete pad that isn't buckling up. It looks 342% better.

Before

_MG_1620

After

_MG_1671

The yard feels much larger, and despite it being gray block I like the feel of it. Some folks have suggested painting the block, but I like it the way it is. Frank Lloyd Wright was able to use concrete as a main material, and by mixing in other materials and textures was able to bring warmth to the space. This is what I'm hoping to do. I like the industrial/modern look of the material so I'm hoping to embrace it rather than attempt to hide it.

_MG_1674

The raised beds in the back and on the side help to break up the space, and once I get some plants in it will help to add texture to the space. Wally has even gotten used to hopping in the bed to do his business, so once we fill it with dirt he is going to be one happy pup. Seeing as I used to own a landscape design company through college I'm excited to be able to have plants again. The current plan for plants is to use a Bloodgood Japanese Maple, some boxwoods, and black mondo grass. I'm not showing you the details on this yet. You'll have to be patient. :-)

_MG_1675

The area around the A/C unit has 4 pressure treated posts set into the concrete. I'll pick up some lumber within the next couple of weeks and create a fence around this area to hide the unit, garbage cans, and any other crap that would otherwise clutter up the space. I'm still pondering over the fence and back gate design. I want it to have a modern look, but I want it to be easy to build. I'm also still debating what material to make the gate corral area out of. While I love the look of cedar and redwood, costs can be high and they require maintenance. The other end of the spectrum is pressure treated lumber, but I'd still have to stain it and deal with maintenance. I'm leaning toward material like trex, as it will have better strength properties that will resist warping and there is zero maintenance on the product.

I'm sure most folks would look at the back yard and would want more greenery and the open space that a place like the suburbs would provide, but for a yard in the city I am very pleased. I feel as if we've created an extra 450 sq ft of living space out of nothing. When you've only got 1300 sq ft to start with this feels like a big deal.

30 comments:

Erin said...

I think it looks great and definitely makes the space look a lot bigger. The plants will really pop against the cool gray of the walls and bed, plus now you can easily "redecorate" your outdoor space by just changing the plants.

Dru said...

Very nice... looks real good.

Lindsay Willman said...

LOVE it. maybe you could install the planks horizontally for a more modern look. just a thought.

Jenny said...

Looks great!! I will be so jealous of you if you but my favorite tree...the Japanese Maple. I told Leigh that I like this for your backyard:http://www.thisyounghouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/img_0612.jpg

Summer said...

The plantings sound great. Can't wait to see how it turns out! I was thinking horizontal planks too. Something unconventional. Is it big enough to weave?

Corey said...

Lindsay & Summer - I'm totatally leaning toward a horizontal design. I really like the idea about the weave too, but I'm not sure how I would be able to blend the gates into the weave pattern...

Jenny - I like the look of that ivy too. I'm also planning on a creeper to go up the back wall too, but the wiring to make that works looks difficult. My guess is if I do something like this it will be in phase II. :-)

maria said...

Looks great! I really like the look of the concrete too and definitely wouldn't paint it. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Summer said...

modern tikis

Katie said...

wow, it looks great so far, i can't wait to see how this all turns out. and i looooove that vine pattern...

Beancountingqueen said...

Summer, I love those!

Scenic Artisan said...

i have pangs of jealousy.

nice work.

Summer said...

This is probably getting totally complicated, but could you make the weaved sides as panels and then hinge them with like piano-style hinges so you could open the whole side if you needed to? Very minimalist. Could tuck a small latch into the corner so it looked like it didn't open at all.

Summer said...

Ok, I'm obsessed with your garden now...

not sure how you feel about flowering climbers, but I found this deep plum clematis that I think would be beautiful on that gray wall.

Beancountingqueen said...

Oh, I am in love with that purple clematis. Blooms last 4 months it says! That would be gorgeous. Mr. Landscaper, any thoughts?

Jenny said...

I want to make a plant suggestion....it looks really good as it falls over the flowerbed walls. http://www.crystalgardens.info/images/creeping%20jenny%20(2).jpg
it's called "Creeping Jenny"!

Corey said...

Glad to see other are as excited about plants as I am. :-)

Jenny - Creeping Jenny is a great plant. I'm going to think about using it. The contrast with black mondo grass could be pretty cool... I'm also looking to build some 4'ish long planter boxes and hang them about 5' off the ground. I was thinking these boxes would have either sweet potato vine in them to creep over the sides, and add some texture to the walls. The chartreuse sweet potato vine is a similar color to the creeping jenny and the blackie version is a pretty purple color.

http://plmmail.com/images/photos/Public/Color,%20Summer/Combinations/Fountain%20Grass%20-%20Purple%20with%20Sweet%20Potato%20Vine%20-%20Margarita%20and%20Blackie.jpg

Summer - Those tikis are sweet!Originally I was leaning toward a climbing hydrangea, so I have not problems with flowers. I decided against it because it can get pretty woody after a few years. The clematis is looking good, but I've always had trouble growing it. It works great over pergolas and up a smaller stake, but I I'm leaning toward something with a lower profile that would really hug the wall. My current leanings are toward some kind of climbing ivy. I'm still on the hunt though. :-)

I may need your help in planning out some smaller containers for veggies and flowers.

monica said...

Delurking to link to this mod horizontal slat fence thingy idea and to say enjoying the blog!

NV said...

I kill plants so it's probably best I stay away from them. :-)

I have had some good luck though with stone work and looks like you have, too! That came out awesome.

I had a hard time trying to picture it from your plans (I lack vision unfortunately) but it came out great!

Jenny said...

Corey-great minds think alike! I had two large pots in my "front cement yard" last year with the black mondo grass and the two different colored sweet potato vines....The combo is very appealing to the eyes.

p.s. hope you enjoyed the peanut butter brownies!

Beancountingqueen said...

Baltimore Blogworld - Jenny's peanut butter brownies are crack. If someone knocks on your door one random evening, beware! It could be Jenny delivering her amazing peanut butter crack. :)

Thanks Jenny! The PFILs loved them too!

modernemama said...

I saw this and I though of you and your screen. Actually I thought of my fence problem first but then I thought of you

Denise said...

Since you mentioned planting a Japanese maple, I thought of bamboo poles to screen your trash can area.

Mark said...

Nice job.

Oddly, I have the same cans and same grill you do. I realize that about a million other people do to, but still...

;)
M

Michele said...

Damn! Now that is getting down to business. What a huge difference a wall makes.

The space already speaks "come and hang out here". I can't wait to see the different textures that you will add.

Anonymous said...

Who did your concrete pad? I'm trying to dig out the rat slab that's in my basement and pour a new slab. Would you recommend the people you used?

Anonymous said...

It looks great out there. Just had a few questions...

Did you have to get a permit to do this? I live in baltimore as well and was considering putting up a fence but I wasn't sure if you needed a permit or not. Also it looks like the cement wall you put up is actually on your neighbor's property line. How are those lines determined exactly?

rablizzard@hotmail.com said...

Any chance you would share your contractors names? We are in Canton too and have been considering fixing up our backyard for some time and would love to know who you contacted and your reasons for going with this specific contractor. Thanks!

Corey said...

Howdy Anonymous folks,

The contractor I used is John from C&M Masonry out of Glen Burnie. 443-250-7164. We were very pleased and would highly recommend him. He used correct construction techniques, and was good at figuring out how to cut costs while making sure the area was structurally sound. We ended up choosing C&M due to his price, his understanding of what needed to be done without trying to gouge us, and just an overall feeling I got from him. We had bids that were twice as high as him, but there was another bid that was around the same price. We ended up paying $5,900 for the whole job, so this is not a cheap endeavor, but we thought it is worth it.

As for permits, from what I've seen you need a permit if the wall is above 6' tall. I didn't research this heavily, as I just asked John of C&M to make sure he took care of the permitting.

As for the shared nature of the wall with my neighbor, you need the neighbor's approval. The lines should be part of your survey, which you should have received as part of the closing of your house.

kitliz said...

I agree... 342% better! I'm excited to see what you do with the plans.

Erin said...

Hi Corey, I had a question for you regarding engineering...I'm wondering if you can help :) If so, shoot me an email erinzimmerman[at] gmail[dot]com