Help badly needed for my yard!

I had a cement flooring which was intended to be continued with an awning, etc. Project never finished. Now I'm by myself and could really use some inexpensive, creative ideas as to how to finish this job. Thank you so much. Was thinking of maybe starting by doing something to the fence to prevent lookie-lous from peering in to try to steal when I'm not home. So, a vertical garden (?), don't know because that would require some fancy watering arrangement, no? Whatever I do out there as to be bolted down for the same reason. I also saw once that there are floors that could be brushed on top of cement to look like wood flooring. anyway, I'm open to creativity from all you experts out there. It's a decent size yard but it tends to get EXTREMELY hot and COLD in Bakersfield, CA. so delicate little plants don't have a shot. Thank you for helping me to finish this project.
q help badly needed for my yard
q help badly needed for my yard
  19 answers
  • Deanna Nassar Deanna Nassar on Nov 27, 2016
    I looked at the vids on youtube on how to paint it like wood. It's a lot of work. You could paint it though. Give it a good cleaning and use a pan and roller. Add a stick to the roller handle so you don't have to bend a lot. 2 coats of paint meant for cement. Beware, when wet it's slick as ice. Might help to scatter some sand while paint is wet. You might be able to put in some trees along the fence to keep out prying eyes. Best to just keep the blinds closed. There are several DIY alarms you could install. Not too hard. Dogs are a good deterrent but get some obedience training. Can't do much for the awning. I only have a vague idea of what would be needed and how to put it up.
    • Elsa Elsa on Nov 28, 2016
      Thank you for the response and looking into it and everything.
  • Helen Mays Helen Mays on Nov 28, 2016
    Looks like you have the brackets already installed for some posts. It's not a big job to get them fitted in, then you could look at shade sails. I bought three x 3 metre posts of tanalised wood for $55.00 . Last summer I made my own shade sail out of a big piece of calico because i have a nosey neighbour. A drop cloth would also work. I had it draping low and the neighbour couldn't see in. It was a bit loose and cheap but it made a big difference to me being able to relax without feeling exposed.
  • Jennifer Jennifer on Nov 28, 2016
    I don't know what native plants are for your area/zone. I would first look that up as that will help ensure they thrive year after year. You mentioned something like a living privacy fence--something that grows fast and is self-maintained. How about red tips/photinias? They grow fast and are full evergreen shrubs. Or perhaps build a simple pergola on one side of the patio (closest to fence) and allow something like a jasmine vine or passion vine or morning glories to cover it?
    I would landscape around the patio border, adding roses, a few euonymous shrubs, and bulb plants (e.g., day lilies, crinims, irises). They're all pretty low maintenance plants where I live. Again, you'd have to check to see if they do well in your area. OR you could go with xeriscaping instead around your patio. Things like mexican feathergrass, tall/short liriope variaties, yuccas, purple fountaingrass, etc. don't need any watering and you would just need to install something like decomposed granite or river rock or sand around the plants.
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    • Mary Brien Mary Brien on Dec 01, 2016
      As someone else mentioned... I notice you have brackets that are already fitted. You might consider buying a free standing pergola. Many aren't terribly expensive and would give you shade and privacy at least around your back door. A small table and some chairs would make it a nice outdoor room. You could then look at some screening plants for around the patio and the fencing. I would opt for painting the patio slab. Ask for the correct paint for the job. Rolling it on with a roller attached to a broom handle works well. I've done it in the past. Make sure you seal it well. You can easily make outdoor curtains from painters drop cloths... they aren't expensive and you don't even need to sew... they come with finished edges.
  • Teresa Teresa on Nov 28, 2016
    I did faux 2ft x 2 ft ceramic tile on concrete – outside any painting you do on concrete should be sealed with a 2 part epoxy ( think garage floor sealer)
    Here is the directions:
  • Virginia Virginia on Nov 29, 2016
    If you enjoy swimming and live in an area with long hot summers, put in a swim pool.
    Otherwise, I would suggest a garden and maybe a Croquet game, or similar, or even
    a mini golf game area. For the cement area, perhaps some brick tiles in a pretty pattern.
    and a patio set with an umbrella or add an overhead shade feature and a BBQ center.
    If you have kids, perhaps a play set for them. Lots of ideas, so search the internet, magazines and look in yards and see what you like to perhaps do it in your style.
    • See 2 previous
    • Dee Lowe Dee Lowe on Dec 21, 2016
      I hear ya loud and clear on being alone & are in calif so you have lots of choices for plants. as far as shade are some great ideas.... down to # 4
  • Willowsverge Willowsverge on Nov 29, 2016
    what if you surround your cement with wooden boxes (with no bottoms, they sit on top of the soil) that can be planted with whatever strikes your fancy. On the side of the boxes nearest the house, put in posts as high as you want and cover with lattice panels. If climbing flowers or even garden veggies that can go vertical are planted against the lattice, you will get a nice natural screen to keep prying eyes out. Overhead lattice would also break up the direct sun and create a more comfy area underneath. if you choose roses as the climbers, its amazing how they can creep over the top! The smell is just wonderful! Just fit out your patio with some seating (maybe benches across the areas that are curved and the flower boxes dont cover) and a grill. Sounds like a blissful space that makes you want to get home quicker. Hope you find your solution! I know this worked for our family : )
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    • Willowsverge Willowsverge on Dec 02, 2016
      Sad to say, i dont. we built it for my grandfather. He got to use it for one summer. We had started building it as soon as we werent freezing in the early spring lol. By the end of summer those roses covered his lattice on every side and the roof! We were blown away! Unfortunately, his house had to be sold to pay for a full care facility due to several heart attacks. No one thought to get pictures. Wish we had, he was so happy out there! The breeze went right thru and was scented by all those roses! When anyone says to picture your happy place, mine is paps porch on a breezy, hot summer day! I hope my description can help you out. In the end i always feel like it was kind of like a grotto. Perfect place for an iced tea break from mowing his huge lawn! Man i miss that place!
  • Ann E. Ruthsdottir Ann E. Ruthsdottir on Nov 30, 2016
    I ditto the PAINT IT! Look at floor cloths for some GREAT examples.
  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Dec 01, 2016
    If wanting to plant try some cactus, easy to care for and don't need much water since your in such a dry area. But I liked the idea of posts and wind sales. Painters cloth is inexpensive and would look great, you could probably paint a design on it to liven it up a bit... I knew someone who used a couple of them to reupholster her furniture. I find You Tube helpful if I need directions on how to do something. It's amazing what is out there. Good Luck and please share what you decide to do.
  • Violeta Skobic Violeta Skobic on Dec 01, 2016
    Hi Elsa
    There are many great ideas about recycling pallets. I guess you could get them for free and use for flooring, furniture, fencing,planters, etc. A bottom line is you might need a box of nails, some paint and a good will. Also, you could look around and collect/ask/buy some succulents cuttings and plant them around as they are easy to grow.
  • Cwh6899259 Cwh6899259 on Dec 01, 2016
    If you Google - Stenciling a concrete floor - there are pictures of fabulous ideas for cement. You would then just have to Google for the instructions.

    Seeing as the bases for your posts are there, you should have the posts installed. You would have to have this done to hold up any vertical garden or lattice ideas anyway. A sail suspended from the eaves to the poles (this would NOT have to be square or rectangular) would make an attractive sun/privacy shade. You could install Ikea drapery tension wires between the poles and hang sheer curtains for additional privacy.

    Due to the water crisis in California, I would keep plantings to a minimum, being careful to research plants that do not need much water. I think a border along the cement pad would be attractive, but not necessary.
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    • Dee Lowe Dee Lowe on Dec 21, 2016
      Elsa, stay in touch & let us see what you decide to do...Happy Holidays
  • Adele DuranGO Adele DuranGO on Dec 12, 2016
    Yes the brackets will help you tremendously. I added a homemade pergola onto my backyard deck project.
  • Adele DuranGO Adele DuranGO on Dec 12, 2016
    It is the LEVELS that add the interest, varying of heights. A pergola is a great place to start. Then it is continuing the CURVES that you already started. I'd probably cut the grass and continue the curve TOWARD the fence & plant that out this spring.
  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Dec 24, 2016
    Since it appears that bolted wood holes are out there have them installed and get fabric fir outdoors it looks hot out there. Then change the back door so you can rest about criminals. Add lights around post on timers as well. You have a beautiful lawn, do you have a spike system? Maybe you could some spray on plants? Otherwise add a rock garden with a few succulents.
  • Dfm Dfm on Jan 22, 2017
    there are instructables that will help you build a shade pavilion/ awning of pvc pipe, and a tarp. personally, if you are in a low rain area go with shade cloth. it's the stuff you see in the early spring when the gardening season begins- it covers the hoop structure that houses shade plants. you can order it from a comercial growers supply outfit. you can get the clips that hold to the pipe. it will let the hot air flow up and hopefully bring cooler air in, is light wt and easy to store.
  • LDodd LDodd on Feb 12, 2017
    A flat roofed pergola is something you might consider. Perhaps a separate wall on the side with the most nosy neighbors.

    You may want to check local zoning rules and see if there are any restrictions as to what you can or cannot do before investing anything in the project.

    Take some time to check out You Tube videos or Reddit r/DIY or similar sites for more information a nd inspiration, too.

    If you add a pergola adjacent to your home, you could choose the size and shape based both short term use but also future intentions -- get the width you need initially and you can always add more to extend the length farther away from the house later.

    You could add fabric w/hooks or rods rather than rafters.

    If you choose to add rafters -- initially or later-- either transparent or semi transparent panels can be added atop the pergola at above the door area for some protection against rain and/or too much sun or all across the pergola -- effectively creating a porch.

    A pergola with rafters can be used later as the framing for a traditional porch roof or a sun room roof.

    If you're more interested in privacy from a specific direction, you could build a pergola that's only a few feet deep and add a bench -- perhaps something like this with a half wall of boards or lattice:

    Lifting and holding in place posts and/or boards alone can be difficult -- know your own limits or you'll end up with pain and medical bills and much frustration. You might want to draft family/friends to help or get several estimates from local builders -- have a picture of what you want the finished product to be -- preferably to be initialed by you and any builder.

  • Elsa Elsa on Feb 13, 2017
    Thank you so much for all of this information. I checked it all out and saw so many ideas I really liked for my home. Thank you again for all your tie in pulling this together for me. . ..
  • JEWEL C JEWEL C on Feb 13, 2017
    Being ex-navy after looking at the post , I thought aout using rope to tie the posts together. Paint the cement to look like water and go with a nautical theme for furnishing. Deck chairs etc.
  • Elsa Elsa on Feb 13, 2017
    Very appreciated, thanks!
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