Patio Refresher……

When The Partner and myself were house shopping, we each created a list of “must haves” that the new house had to feature including an attached garage (check), ample natural light (check), ample storage (check), hardwood floors (check) and a small outdoor space (check).

Yup, when it comes to the great outdoors, The Partner and I are in the  minority; we wanted some outdoor space but not a vast yard.  With this allergies and my aversion of manual labor, we could not see ourselves giving up countless weekends tending to a large patch of land.  So when we found our current home, it’s patio was the perfect combination of greenery and hardscape……

outdoor patio

We are able to easily host an outdoor dinner with seating for 8 or a BBQ for 15-20 thanks to the patio’s layout.  It is shaped like a bar bell,  with one end aligning with the kitchen sliding glass wall and the other end aligning with the barn doors of the garage, so we are able to have really great flow even though it’s a small space.

While the patio’s layout is great, we are not that enthralled withe choice of hardscape.  The developer decided that rather than place grass or ground cover between the paver stones, he would use pea gravel.  It’s economical, doesn’t require watering and keeps weeds at bay.  However, it also scratches the hell out of hardwood floors when tracked into the house.

Second, it also acts as a very large litter box for the various stray cats in the neighborhood.  If you have ever woken up to the sight of 3 stray cats taking a dump on walkway, you will understand my plight.  On that note, if you ever have woken up to three of anything taking a dump on your sidewalk, email me because that has to be a really interesting story…..

In any case, we have decided that after living with the space for 3 years,  it’s time to freshen it up.  This includes:

1) Extending the existing 12×12 pavers (French Vanilla Slate) through the entire patio.

french vanilla slate, stone, slate

2) Reversing the direction of how the patio gates swing.  At the moment, they swing in rather than out, ergo we must keep a space clear for the door’s path wasting valuable real estate.  In addition, we will be leveling out this area since it was originally intended to be a drive way and has a slope.

3) Remove that damn gravel and replace it with Irish Moss/Scotch Moss.

scotch moss



4) Ripping out our SAD potato vines and trellis.  They just never took off unlike our neighbors who enjoy a thick and fully wall of them.  So out they go.  In their place, we will be building a planter box on top of the cement retaining wall and planting another vine.  Any suggestions for fast growing vines are appreciated….

5) Adding in ambient and task lighting.  Right now, we only have two sources of light from wall mounted fixtures on the patio.  The goal is to add path lighting around the perimeter and some other type of lighting at eye level which I still need to figure out.

6) Add a fire pit!  Northern California Springs and Summers are not warm weather seasons – the evenings are chilly and not the best of lounging.  I am not a fan of heat lamps since the ones I like from s design stance are normally WAY out of my price range.  So instead I am going to search for the perfect fire pit.  I am imagining something concrete/stone and low.

The plan was to start work on Thursday but with the storms we have been experiencing, that may not be possible.  But nonetheless, I am excited that we can finally start this project and get the ball rolling.

Anyone else done any outdoor work lately?


12 thoughts on “Patio Refresher……

  1. Climbing Hydrangeas. I don’t know how fast they grow, but they are worth any wait. I have some really old ones that grow down a stone wall into a sunken garden. A friend of mine used them to grow up a small fenced in area. They are hardy and seem to withstand lots of drought an harsh weather. Honey suckle is nice, comes in different colors, and smells good. Ann

  2. Trumpeter (sp?) vines! Pretty flowers & leaves, hardy like a son of a … (they grow in the weather hell that is Buffalo). I wanted to plant ’em here in Oakland but it turns out we have honeysuckle on our fence already.

    We are definitely in the majority in that we love our giant, neglected yard. The Hub attacked with a weed whacker and is now weeding on the “pull 3 weeds a day” plan. He actually plans on getting a push mower so he can get more exercise. I find that plan to be madness incarnate. We may crib your moss idea if it works.


  3. You’ve got a great outdoor space, Courtney. It looks like your little guy is out there surveying his new domain . That Scotch Moss is very pretty. I may look into that for an area of our backyard.

  4. Great plans!! It’s going to be fab!

    I just read your funny bit about things taking a dump on your sidewalk to John (he’s watching Giants game, I’m snickering thru your blog). His response? “tell him to hook us up with some good real estate so we can move back out there!”

    He also gave me a courtesy laugh when I insisted on reading more funnies to him. 🙂

  5. We’ve got some gravel in our backyard so I know exactly what you’re talking about. I don’t know what to replace mine with so there it stays. I wonder how clematis would grow where you are? I think it does well in So.Cal but I’m not too sure about Northern.

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  8. I’m with Carmel…Clematis is a nice vine with pretty flowers; we had it on a fence between properties in Seattle, so if it can make it there, it should be fine where you are!
    BTW – I like your large pavers with moss idea…mowing grass between pavers really stinks…especially when you don’t get to it very often…

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