Summer Updates to Our Yard and Deck

Outdoor space in Chicago is a hot commodity. When we were home buying last year, we were so excited when we saw that this house had a backyard AND a side yard. That meant we could have some grass for our daughter to play and a back area for furniture and a grill. Yessss!

However, our yard wasn’t the best looking on the block (that’s quite the understatement), and while we’ve made some upgrades, we still have a long way to go around here. But since I rarely show this space here on the blog, I figured I needed to do a status update and also show you some new landscaping we recently added.

Let’s take a look at each space and how it has evolved from last year.

The Front of The HouseExterior outside of our finn fixer upper

The front of our house with new landscaping

I feel like we haven’t done much to the front of the house, but wow…these pictures seem to prove otherwise. The biggest change is the new fence. Aluminum fence on the front of the houseNew white fence

If you remember from this post, we had three different fences in our yard (metal, wood, and chain link). And they were all looking pretty terrible. We upgraded to white vinyl and it was the best choice ever. It stays looking perfect and all we have to do is hose it off if it gets dirty. Plus, it gives us a lot more privacy. Our blue front door

We also painted our front door in the color “Blue Note” and it really refreshed the entire front entrance area. Blue was the perfect choice next to the red brick.

Adding New Landscapingnew landscaping in the front area

The week Rory was born, we actually had some new landscaping put in. We were planning to do some of the work ourselves but hired it out when she arrived early. We had the landscapers transplant two of the boxwoods that were originally in front of the fence and put them under the front window. We also added a hydrangea bush, two purple salvia, and three hostas. New landscaping in the front of the house

In front of the fence, we added three ivory halo dogwood. These have been growing and growing all summer long and I adore the white and green color. Adding new landscaping to the front of our house

We also had the front of the house re-sodded because we were having some drainage issues and needed it to be re-sloped. This made the grass 10x better! Of course, new flowers and plants also help beautify the entire front yard.

Our Future Plans: In the immediate future (this summer), we plan to build a new front window box (this one is rotting a bit) and re-paint a few peeling spots on the outside. Eventually, I would love to paint the brick and change up the front a bit. It’s very flat on the front of the house and I feel like we need more depth. I’m not totally sure what we would do because that’s a project down the line.

The Side YardOur side yardWho pays for a new fence?

Our lawn and new white vinyl fence

Again, the new fence is the big show stopper here! It’s crazy what a difference it makes in transforming our side yard. But I must say that Finn has done an amazing job at our lawn and getting it looking good! That man loves to spend a good Saturday morning mowing, weeding, and watering! I think it’s his happy place.

Our Future Plans: I think we’re planning to let it be so we have as much grass as possible. I can just picture Rory running around here next summer playing sports with her dad or splashing in a kiddie pool!

The Backyard

Our garage beforeOur backyard before

The backyard area

We have a bit of grass between our deck and our garage. It originally had some raised garden beds that were rotted through. We immediately ripped those out, but we were then left with a huge patch of dirt that became mud when it rained. Ugh. This spring, we had sod installed near the garage and it made such a big difference. Our chain link fence beforeOur new white vinyl fence

We also had river rocks added near the white fence on the side. This is good for drainage from the garage and away from the house. Plus, it’s much easier for Finn to mow!

Our Future Plans: I’ll chat about this in the next section about our deck…

The Deck

the back of our house before

Our deck one year laterOur deck beforeOur deck makeover

Rug // Couch // Planters (HomeGoods & Lowe’s) // Chair (HomeGoods) // Umbrella  & Stand // Barn Lights // String Lights

When we bought our house, the deck was raw wood and needed to be stained. I stained it and shared the process over in this blog post. We then purchased furniture for the back deck and I revealed it last August right here. Since then, I swapped out the outdoor rug for this one (it’s such a good one…highly recommend!). And earlier this summer, we planted flowers back here that are alive and thriving!

Our Future Plans: Next summer, we’re planning to rip out the deck. I know, I know…so many of you are probably shaking your head right now! But let me share our ideas…Ripping out our deck

Right now, the deck is nice but awkwardly small. We can fit a few people on the couch up there, but we certainly can’t have our entire family hanging in the backyard together. We’re toying with the idea of ripping out the deck and making the entire area between the house and the garage pavers or stone. That way, we could have a large dining room table, a seating area, a firepit, and more! We would have stairs down from the sliding glass doors (which we’re swapping out for french doors when we redo the kitchen this fall) that lead out to the stone patio. This would give us sooooo much more room and we would be able to keep an eye on Rory when she is (eventually) playing in the side yard.

We have no specific plans for this just yet, but hoping that next spring we can get it done and DIY a good chunk of it! I’ll keep you updated as we plan for that big project in 2021.

Sharing our new landscaping and patio updates

So there you have it! Updates about our new landscaping and eventual patio plans. But for the rest of the summer, you’ll find our little family sitting back here under the big umbrella enjoying the warm temps.


P.S. I’ll be taking tomorrow off to enjoy a long holiday weekend! Have a wonderful 4th of July.

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.