I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and making the most of whatever type of weather Mother Nature may be throwing your way!
We’ve been very fortunate here in Chicago and have had beautiful weather in the 70s – I’m totally loving it and don’t miss the humid days normally associated with August. While it has been cooler than normal, it’s made outdoor entertaining so much more enjoyable. I don’t have to lug the fan/mister as I’ve done in past years when the heat has been unbearable and you would rather just stay inside with the air conditioner running at full blast. This milder weather has also been great for all the new plants I’ve been adding to the yard ever since I had the fence put in. I haven’t had to worry about them frying in the heat and they’re actually settling in nicely all throughout the yard. It’s been hard work and has kept me very busy, but it’s been worth it.
So in today’s posting, I wanted to show you the transformation of the yard with a simple fence and how I spend my summer days in the back yard.
Along one side of the yard was a row of overgrown bushes after 40+ years of neglect. The only landscaping I ever did was to plant some hostas in front of them as you can see above (photo after the bushes were yanked out) and below, with the new fence installed. Pulling out the bushes really made a big difference and you can see how much area the bushes occupied.
I can’t stop telling you how much I love the new cedar fence. It has a great aroma and nicely frames the backyard area. I didn’t even realize that the color ties in nicely with my patio furniture – that was just pure luck!
So with the fence installed, I’ve been adding new perennials and testing out my “landscaping” skills. The one thing I’ve learned with most plants is that it’s easy to move them around if at first you don’t succeed. And if you follow me on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen all my random photos of flowers from the garden. I especially love all the roses that I’ve planted — so far, so good (with the exception of those darn Japanese beetles)!
Just like any room inside your house, try to create zones within your patio area.
When it comes to the patio area, I stumbled across a set from one of my most favorite stores, Crate & Barrel about three years ago. I started out with the main dining table and chairs/bench and have been adding pieces on with each subsequent year. Unfortunately, they discontinued this particular color this year but continue to sell the furniture line in a dark gray. Good thing I already bought all the pieces I need!
Just like any room inside your house, try to create zones within your patio area. I have enough room for three — dining, a conversation area and one for lounging and relaxing. Above is where I nestled two chaise loungers to get a great view of the yard. Pair it up with a nice end table to place those wonderful summer drinks.
The whole design started with the dining table and chairs above. I fell in love with the simple lines, color and flexibility to take it all apart for easy storage. At the end of each season, I dismantle the table and benches and store it away for the winter. I could leave it outside, but I want my pieces to last. The chairs easily stack and all the cushions are attached with velcro strips.
The umbrella was really the main design element. I loved the striped color combination and have simply tied all the accessories to a color from this palette. It’s the same design rule I use when I decorate any room — pick the colors and style from a piece you truly love and use that as your design inspiration.
The third area I created is the shaded conversation area underneath the big crab apple tree. The “sofa” and “lounger” were the newest pieces I added last summer and really make for a great spot to unwind and catch up with family and friends. I really love how everything has come together — the vibrant colors really pop in contrast to all the greenery.
I’m hoping that all the perennials I plant will extend the color explosion through the perimeter of the yard. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my plantings will come back next summer. But for now, the plants are doing well and I’m learning a lot. Below are just some of the newest additions to the garden – hydrangeas and lilies. Enjoy the rest of your summer!