Throwing Shade: Our Hopes for the Backyard

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So…I mentioned that we finally moved into a house!

I’ve sort of mentioned it in passing, about how awesome it has been thus far. And “awesome” really is the best way to describe it. But so is “overwhelming.” After three years of living in the same apartment and doing all that we thought we could really do to make it “home”, I admit I fell into a bit of a decorating rut. I just didn’t feel like doing anything new.

But now, with all these fresh, new rooms to decorate and more outdoor space to play with than we’ve had in years, my inner decorator has come back to life.

But before I go too much further, here’s a photo of the house, because I can’t wait any longer to share:


Pretty, no? We’ve done a little bit inside, but that’s the easy part. One of the first big projects my hubby and I would like to tackle is the backyard. We like spending time outside now that we have so much room to move, but right now, it looks like this:


Nothing to write home to mom about. The grass is patchy and there are tons of fire ant hills. So that needs a lot of work. We’d like to lay sod and enclose the space with a fence from, but given that this is a rental and not a home we own, we have to price those projects and decide just how much we want to invest. There’s a part of me that’s hoping we’ll eventually be able to buy this house, but even if we don’t, being able to really USE the back yard seems like it would be worth the investment.


The other thing the back yard severely lacks is shade. If it looks really bright back there, that’s because it is. VERY bright.

My hubby and I like to bring the baby outside in the morning to get some sun, but the back of the house gets full sun early in the day, and it gets really, really hot really quickly. In the late afternoon, the back of the house does get shade because of the position of the sun, so it’s a bit better. Still, adding some sort of structural shade will go a long way toward making it usable all day and making it look finished.

We’ve considered a couple of options, including awnings and umbrellas, but I think we want something a little more substantial.

Then we came across Patio Living pergolas and patio designs. Some of them are way beyond what we’d want to do as renters because they’d require structural modifications, but there are a couple that really make me daydream of the possibilities.

Read these welding helmet reviews by CutterWelderMaestro to learn more.

Check out these two beauties:

Photo from

Photo from

Photo from

Photo from

That first one really makes my heart go pitter patter. The metal. The wood. All of it is just gorgeous.

Still, I need to temper my expectations a bit. We may have to do something a little less permanent for now. So we’re on the lookout for a nice gazebo as summer winds down and home stores start to put them on clearance before fall turns into winter. The point is, we have to do something soon, because spending time outside is all but unbearable without some shade. This is made especially frustrating by the fact that one of our neighbors has a beautiful covered porch with a ceiling fan.

Repeat after me: “I will not envy my neighbor. I will not envy my neighbor.”

What have you done to make your outdoor space more livable?

Read this guide by Ryder White to learn more!

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4 comments… add one
  • Lia August 25, 2014, 5:45 pm

    Your post is especially relevant to me. I, too, am a renter with big dreams for a wonderful outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining. One year ago, my newly-rented backyard looked like a field with two giant trees (YES!) and a large hole (where a third large tree had been removed) smack dab in the center. Instead of trying to tame this beast, I asked my landlord’s permission to xeriscape with native plants and make it livable! She said YES, so I trolled Craigslist for bricks and free plants (you dig ’em, you get ’em). We can get free compost from the city here, too. Then I invested $100 in decomposed granite from a local gravel pit and built the pathways. For the shade, I took two heavy duty metal umbrella stands, attached poles, then hooked UV-treated sailcloth to the poles and attached that to one hook on the roofline. Instant patio! Potted plants and outdoor seating complete the look.
    I love my retreat, and it’s a great gathering spot for friends and family. I wish you well as you create your own backyard retreat!

    • jennae August 26, 2014, 6:11 pm

      Lia, I absolutely love this idea! Do you happen to have any photos of how it turned out? I’d love to see it!

  • Lynn August 25, 2014, 5:45 pm

    The house looks fabulous and you have so much room. That must be fantastic! As for the back yard, shade is a must for sure. I’ve seen some neat things done with canvas. Look up “sun shade sail cover” on Amazon and elsewhere. I’ve seen people do this themselves by going to the fabric store, buying the canvas or other cloth, then using either wood or plastic poles to hold it above the ground and screwing screw eyes into the house to attach that part. Anyway, lots of temporary ideas around. Good luck!

    • jennae August 26, 2014, 6:14 pm

      Lynn, it’s awesome! I am ecstatic that I finally have a dedicated office space, though it’s somewhat open to the living room. I plan to fix that with some panel curtains.

      But I will absolutely look up sun shade sail covers. This sounds like something we’d be able to tackle ourselves 🙂

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