Thursday, September 1, 2011

Patio Inspiration

One of the things I love about Saskatoon are the back alleyways in the older parts of town.  As I never saw that kind of urban planning growing up in Nova Scotia, there is something about them that seems very quaint.   I've never been a fan of the garage being the focal point on the front of a house, so it's a nice benefit that the garage is tucked away in the back alley.  The downside of this is that the garage is our backyard - it takes up most of the space where we'd normally have grass/gardens/trees, etc.  What we're left with is a very cute little courtyard which is a work in progress at the moment.

When we moved in, the patio was already interlocked, but the side of the house was just crusher dust.  We just had the interlock extended along the side of the house, as the downspouts were washing away the crusher dust during heavy rains.   The added interlock gives us a bit more room to work with, so I've been brainstorming some ideas for the patio layout for next summer.

We have a few obstacles/eyesores to tackle here:

1. Our neighbour rents the house next door from a landlord with a strong affinity for ugly sheds.  Not only is there a two-car garage in the back, there are also two sheds, one of them built with state-of-the-art particle board, and just inches away from the fence.  To hide this outbuilding compound, Josh will be adding a trellis to the top of the fence to extend it, and we'll add some pots with climbing plants in front of it and encourage them to grow up through the trellis. We may also add a large trellis along the back of the garage to boost the greenery quotient.

2.  I LOVE having air conditioning, and appreciate it so much more due to the fact we lived without it through a sweltering hot Ottawa summer.  However, it requires a lot of power to cool our house, and as a result, the A/C unit out back is a monstrosity and it takes up a good part of one of our micro-mini gardens.  I can't have anything growing too close to it, but I'd like some big plants that will camoflage it a bit next year.

3. This is not an eyesore, but more of an obstacle requiring a bit of research.  Our garden bed that runs along the back of the garage gets almost no sunlight during the day due to the eaves on the garage.  So the plan is to fill it with some lush looking plants that need next to no sunshine. We didn't plant anything this year as we had to wait a few months for the garage to get stucco'd (is that a word?) before we could add the soil.
The left raised bed runs along the garage.
Here are some of my inspiration photos - some of them a bit more of a stretch than others...

Although this isn't a back patio, the hydrangea in this photo are so lovely I've decided so use them around the A/C unit in the hopes that they will grow full enough to disguise it.
Love the pops of colour and the outdoor mat on the right and the use of greenery in both photos.
Love the clean lines of this space.

Again with the bold pops of colour
Two great if only I had a spare corner to put one...
I don't have the space to create this bucolic look, but love the bistro set and potted flowers.
The main trade off we have is deciding which is more important, a great outdoor dining area, or a nice spot to lounge around, as we don't have room for both.  We've only eaten outdoors a few times this summer, so perhaps a nice outdoor living room would get more use.  

What would be more important for you?

Here are two last inspiration photos which perfectly portray the two options we'll have to decide between next spring.  The photos are from Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados' rooftop patio in Toronto. 


Mommajay said...

I think it all depends on the use, as you've said, of the space. Considering your house and outdoor spaces are not overrun with bright yellow, red and blue pieces of plastic belonging to children under three, I suggest making the most of the amazing adult space you have/can build. As an adult with a beautiful space, I would lean towards an awesome lounging/hanging out space. If you decided to then feed the crowd you are hanging out with, then they can eat on their laps or you can pull out the extra fancy tv-tray style tables for everyone to put their wine glasses on. My two cents, out.

Jules said...

Hey Mommajay!
I think that's the way I'm leaning now, as we usually just have a casual BBQ back there, so there's no reason people can't eat on their laps. Good point with the uber swank tv we'd just need a spot for wine glasses/beer. :O)