May 23, 2011

Dinner for Two

Today I finally finished fixing up the corner of the yard and turned it into a summer outdoor dining area.  I started this project back in March.  Last year we used this space as a bunny pen so the bunnies could enjoy the outdoors while being out of the hot sun.  Unfortunately they do not enjoy being outside and never played in their pen so I decided to take it down.  I thought about putting in a pond or a fountain but I decided on a outdoor eating area because it was cheaper and it can be a multipurpose area. In the future if I want to move the table and chairs I have the options of putting in a fire pit with shorter, comfy chairs, I could put in a  birdbath and some shade loving plants or I could put down a small swimming pool for Charlotte in the summer.

Tackling this project took countless weekends of work.  It took longer than expected but I had to wait for weekends that were sunny and warm enough to work outside.  I spent I total of $45 for all my supplies including lanterns and the table cloth.  I chose materials that I had on hand or that I knew I could get for little to no cost.  I like being surrounded by beauty in the garden but I also have a tight budget to work with so I make every penny count. 


This is what the corner space looked like last year when the bunny pen was up.  Its not the most attractive spot.  I planned to use a nicer, shorter fencing but Cocoa is too clever for his own good and can jump very high so I had to use this less attractive chicken wire.

Another view of the corner from last year.  I did my best to put potted plants around it to make it look better but it didn't help.
Inside the pen there is a small tree/shrub that was not my favorite.  It looked like it was full of spiders and pests from the garden.
I also tried planting some hostas and put in some little chairs but nothing helped to improve the look of this space.  I ended up replanting the hostas in another location and spray painting the chairs and turning them into bird feeders for the fence.


To complete my project I first removed the chicken wire and used it to cage in my veggie garden from Le Tigre (Charlotte).  I then replanted the hosta along the fence with some other plants.  Then I had to level out the ground.  To do this I could have  used a tamp, but instead I went in a slightly more involved direction and used a hand rake and a level to make a smooth even space.  Using the tamp would have saved me a few weekends worth of work but I was too lazy to drive down to my work and borrow it so I went the long route and leveled the ground by hand.  Then I laid down the concrete blocks.  Originally I planned to use slate slabs but the store was getting rid of some old concrete blocks so I took them home for free instead of paying $60-$80 for stone. 
The beginning of leveling out the ground.  Once I layed down the concrete I made sure they were spaced evenly and level between each concrete block.  The Corsica mint in the picture I used as a filler in between the concrete.  Eventually it will fill in completely and cover all the dirt.  I chose to use this because you can walk on it, it takes shade, it smells delicious and the flats of plants were free because they  looked bad enough that no one would buy them. So I got a steal of a deal.  And once I put them in the yard they perked back up in a few weeks and looked good as new.

I'm almost done.  At this point I have a few more blocks to lay down and then fill in with top soil.  I used topsoil to fill the cracks in between the concrete because it is a denser soil than potting soil and will compact nicely and not leave dips later on when the soil settles.

I added edging around the edge to contain the dirt and make a clear border between the lawn and my sitting area.  I could have made a  square shape pattern with my blocks but instead I chose to make a 1/4 circle because it visibly felt better in the space.  It took some extra effort to do this but it was worth it.  I had to break some of the blocks to make it looked curved.  To do this I borrowed a durable metal lever and a hammer and used it like a chisel to chip away pieces of the concrete I didn't want.  My arms were very sore after this.  I thought it would take me all day to do this but luckily, when I was about 1/6 of the way down the concrete it cracked on its own and I didn't need to chisel all the way through the blocks.  I don't know if I would have finished if that was the case.

After that I just needed to finish filling in with my topsoil and Corsica mint and water it in.
The final step of this project was to add a table and chairs and a few decorations and I was done.  I chose to add some plants around the edges of the patio area to blend in different parts of the garden.  I added a few gnomes and planter as well as shade loving plants.
Now all we need is nice warm summer weather to sit outside and enjoy our garden.

 I hung these lanterns above the table from the over hanging tree branches.  I found them at the craft store for $4 each.  They matched my tablecloth really well.

 This tablecloth was a cinch to make.  I bought a yard of oilcloth fabric from the craft store and cut out a perfectly round circle.  I didn't even bother hemming the edges because it didn't need it.

The pot is made of bamboo and is one I reused from last year.  I planted perennial violets in it.  The will bloom throughout the year and are perfect for a shady spot.

My favorite part about this area is that I fill emerged in the natural world.  With the overhanging trees I can watch the chickadees at the feeders and I have a view of all the areas in the garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...