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Need Ideas for a BackYard with an Old Swimming Pool / Firepit / idk Deck in the Back

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Jul 28, 2013, 07:26 PM
Need Ideas for a BackYard with an Old Swimming Pool / Firepit / idk Deck in the Back

I am 22 years old and just bought my first house. I love my house, but I do not love the backyard... There is a an old, funky shaped, wood deck in the back from an old pool / fire pit / use your imagination (you don't want to hear the stories from some of my neighbors). The back yard does have some very nice pine trees that are between 80-90 feet tall and it has quite a bit of landscape boarder on it. My predicament (and reason why I am posting for the first time today) is that I am really at a loss about what to do with the back yard. I do not have a lot of money to put into a large overall project and was looking to do a lot of this over time. If anyone has any cool design ideas, it would be much appreciated. I am attaching a picture to this message so that you can get an idea about what the back yard looks like. (I can't figure how to post more than one photo)

Since the back yard has the large pine trees already, I thought it would be cool to give it a sort of camp fire feel. Typical firepit with maybe some nice river rock, but what do I do about the wood deck and the rest of the yard? Should I tear out the deck, re-use it - I simply do not know.

Thank-you in advance for any help, much appreciated.

Jul 28, 2013, 07:30 PM
posted Jul 28, 2013 07:26 PM

Actual Picture of the BackYard

Jul 29, 2013, 12:25 AM
First, some thoughts on the space inside the deck. One option is to fill it with shade perennials to provide color and contrast as well as lighten up the yard. Hostas come in a variety of hybridized shapes, sizes and variations of green, as well as a fairly new white hosta which is stunning. The lighter greens will provide some color in the dark shaded yard.

Other shade plants to consider for that inner circle are astilbe and ferns. Ferns especially create a woodsy look. Silvery plants such as Dusty Miller, Lambs Ears and the Artimesias provide light and contrast.

Limited selection of shade perennials:

You might want to put the taller perennials in the center with the lower ones in front, in a graduated configuration. Or consider plants that are relatively the same size but with different color variations and foliage for a dramatic collage of color.

These kinds of plants could create the woodsy, camp fire look of which you speak.

Another alternative is to make a formal garden with brick or paver paths, birdbath or inexpensive statuary in the center, and low growing shaded perennials inbetween the paths. Coleus, heuchera, impatiens and begonias would provide some color to brighten the area.

Here's one example:

And another, which I think is really quite lovely:

You could also use containers spaced at intervals around the deck. Again, add some color to brighten the darkness of the yard.

I can't speak to the issue of firepits; any type of fire is prohibited in my community, so firepits aren't something about which I'm knowledgeable.

The deck would provide a good place for outdoor entertaining or lounging. I could see redwood furniture in the angled portions of the deck. If you want to barbecue, that might also be a place to put your equipment.

Do you want grass? If so, and assuming the soil is in good condition and plantable, do some research on grasses suitable for your area (there's no indication where you live in your post) and use seed. It's much cheaper than sod.

Ground or herbal covers are another low maintenance alternative.

There's a structure at the far end of the deck which I think is the bench, but it's hard to see it to make any suggestions.

I don't know how much you could plant in the tall back pine border, as the tree roots probably are pretty extensive and would have to be disturbed in order to put in a lot of plantings. But it looks as though there are a few shrubs already there.

If you're fond of vines, some perennial vines could be planted and allowed to grow on the fence. That would give color to highlight the back, which is in very deep shade, and "bring it out". The vine base wouldn't require as much digging as a larger perennial or shrub and would be less likely to disturb the conifer roots.

I've found Fine Gardening to be a good source of design ideas.

Here are links for:

Shady areas:

Perennials for shade:

Large leaved shade perennials, to fill in some of the large open spaces:

Ground covers for shade:

Shady yard designs: (some of the articles are featured in more than one "shady" link)

FG publishes some annual specials, including one of design ideas. You can usually find them at a Kroger's, or Lowes or Home Depot.

As to cost, now could be a good time to pick up perennials as nurseries try to clear out what stock they have left. Many can be grown from seed. Thompson & Morgan has the best variety of seeds that I've found:

I prefer to grow from seed. It would save you lots of $$$ and you don't have to worry about wasting money on bad plants.

Hope this helps.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jul 29, 2013, 02:04 AM
We provide complete and beautiful degins for patios and pools..

classic patios and pools
Jul 29, 2013, 09:01 AM
Originally posted by classicpatios:
We provide complete and beautiful degins for patios and pools..

classic patios and pools

You do realize that:

1. This website has mainly a US based following.
2. You're in Australia
3. Spamming for business is a lousy model

General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Jul 29, 2013, 04:51 PM
GardenSprite - I like your idea of Putting some nice flowers / perenials in. I am in a part of Nevada that has temperatures from -20F in winter and 100+ in summer. Any ideas for how well some of those perennials do in that type of weather and how high of maintenance are they? Also, thank-you for the detailed responce, much appreciated!

I have seen a lot of advertisement for that deck restorer from Rust-Oleum. Anyone ever use the product and how well would you rate it? How much does one package cover? Again, thanks in advance.
Jul 29, 2013, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by classicpatios:
We provide complete and beautiful degins for patios and pools..

classic patios and pools

You will also be criticized and ridiculed mercilessly. And in support of Sparky617's advice, anyone who has to spam to develop business is not a merchant with whom any of us would want to do business.

You're not welcome here.
Jul 29, 2013, 10:11 PM
I did think it was weird that a "design company" was posting on a DIY board...
Jul 29, 2013, 10:12 PM

I thought of your post today as I passed a place with what appeared to be cedar swing sets, the kind often seen in rustic lodges. They'd look nice in your yard and create the kind of rustic woodsy look you mentioned. You could even create seating areas with the swings on pavers surrounded by container plants, little oases amidst the vastness of your yard.

As to the plants' tolerance to the wide temperature swings, I know that the ostrich ferns, begonias and some of the hostas would have trouble surviving if they were in direct 100+ degree sun, but if your soil is well amended and they're planted in the shade, they would have a better chance. Adding some peat moss and well rotted compost to your soil before planting would give them an advantage in coping with the heat.

The begonias and coleus are annuals and might succumb, but the perennials would likely bounce back either in the fall or the following year, even if they do brown out and set back during summertime.

I have seen some hostas with dried edges around the leaves, but they're in at least partial sunlight. It's hard to tell exactly how they would do in a hot climate but in a lot of shade.

Those evergreens at the back are going to lower the temperature though for anything in their shade so they're a major factor.

Catalogues typically have temperature ranges for plants though. Before deciding, you might want to order some of the catalogues I referenced and select those that would tolerate the kind of temperature swings you experience.

My area in Michigan has occasionally experienced -20 below, but only infrequently. We've had more 95+ days than normal during the last few years and I've noticed the ferns in partial shade and my very overgrown daylillies turning brown, but the daylilies will bounce back in fall and continue to multiply. And they're browning because they desperately need to be divided, so there's a lot of competition for water.

In my area though, they're one of the perennials that can tolerate really dry weather and a lot of competition from junk trees.

Your perennials would have to be mulched well in the fall to protect them from the extreme temperature drops though.

The perennials I've mentioned are low maintenance unless you plant ground covers and want to restrict their growth. Ostrich ferns will spread and become thick, but I wouldn't consider them invasive. That's one of the benefits of the perennials; they're low maintenance.

I thought of another potential treatment for the conifer area: large leaved foliage plants to offset the linearity of the evergreen trunks. Designers sometimes mix linear and curvilinear foliage for dramatic effect. Elephant ears, petasites, and astilboides are interesting plants. The last two are sometimes referred to as Jurassic plants because of the large size of their leaves. They're really quite dramatic.

As to the deck treatment, there have been 2 posts on this issue in the last month or so. I'll see if I can find them for you.
Jul 29, 2013, 10:14 PM
Originally posted by jbrudvig:
I did think it was weird that a "design company" was posting on a DIY board...

There are a number of spammers here, and occasionally some of them claim to be designers. One posted a photo of an alleged upscale bathroom which looked like something from a horror movie featuring giant spiders. The room was draped in gauze, or something like it, and resembled a massive spider web. I don't think this character was a very successful designer.
Jul 29, 2013, 10:42 PM
Originally posted by jbrudvig:

I have seen a lot of advertisement for that deck restorer from Rust-Oleum. Anyone ever use the product and how well would you rate it? How much does one package cover? Again, thanks in advance.

See “Deck Restore”, posted April 22 by Joecercone, at

Is this the same product you're thinking of?

There was another deck restoration post but I can't locate it.
Jul 31, 2013, 02:31 PM
build a pond and enjoy the fish