Our Backyard Remodel

5 Materials
1 Week
This was more of a project than I had anticipated. I knew it would involve more labor than money, but I didn't think it would be as exhausting as it was.

We live near Lake Michigan so we have sand instead of dirt. We are also in a heavily wooded area making growing grass even more difficult. After a few months of fighting with the yard it was time to work with what we were given. Hopefully some of these pictures can help you envision your backyard redo!

Here are a few before pictures. You can see all the sand and absolutely no grass is growing. You can also partly see where the previous owners had installed a ring around half of the tree. Why they only did half is beyond me, but it is what it is. Unfortunately due to the sand, our dogs and the kids, that sand wall is constantly sliding away so something needed to be done with that.
And this area, also sand, only gets maybe an hour or two of sun a day. It is also right below some very large pine trees so virtually no grass will grow. Since we wanted a dedicated area for our dog potty area we knew that spot would be perfect since it seemed they also had dogs in that area.
Here you can see where the brick wall stopped (as well as some of the huge roots we had to deal with). We wanted to continue on with some type of wall, but we did not have a spare $100+ for matching bricks - this house was already costing more than we had planned. We did though, have a ton of large river rocks randomly laying around the yard. Fortunately for me, these were free and would work perfectly!
We started by cutting down a TON of big branches. This gave us a lot more sunlight in the backyard as well as head room. Some of the branches were so low you would knock your head on them.
This is our new dog potty area. Since I didn't want the dogs hauling in sand/dirt every time they went outside we layed down some large mulch in that area. We also trimmed up some of the branches of those trees to help give more light. And since we can't get grass to grow here, this spot was perfect!
Here you can see a little bit more of a mulch area that we added because again, grass wouldn't grow in this area. We added some plants, shrubs and flowers to make it a nice little garden area.

We also planted a lot of fescue grass since it seems to be the only grass we can grow here. So far it keeps coming up pretty good so I'm very happy. We also added all those hostas along the side of the sidewalk and we added many of our plants up around the big cedar tree.
Here you can get a better look of the rock wall we built with the rocks from around the property. We added sedum around all the rocks and it has filled in perfectly. We trimmed up countless branches off of this cedar tree to give much more sunlight to this side of the backyard and then added in many plants and flowers up around the tree.

In the end in cost around $100 for pvc pipes and parts for underground downspouts, grass, mulch and plants and a few misc things. This is one project I sure am glad is done and we can enjoy our yard!
Here's a few more pictures of some of the flowers in bloom. We've also added some more perennials that's we've gotten from friends and neighbors who needed to get rid of theirs. Aren't perennials great?!

For more fun DIY's like this, follow along with us at http://www.CrazyDiyMom.com
Suggested materials:
  • Chainsaw and trimming shears
  • 4" pvc pipes, fittings and pvc glue
  • Wheelbarrow and shovel
See all materials
Jennifer | CrazyDiyMom
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Jessie Jessie on Jul 11, 2017
    Beautiful job! Can you show us how you made those steps ?

Join the conversation
4 of 6 comments
  • Melinda Melinda on Jul 14, 2017
    Why did you decide to put the patio area next to the dog potty area? Won't that start to smell even if you're quick to clean up? When you entertain company on your patio how do you get the dogs to NOT use the area during that time. My mother had that same idea when we were growing up to train the dogs to use just the one area instead of all over the yard and I thought it was an excellent plan!
    Great job and a lot of work you put in! Be proud of your accomplishment!

    • Jennifer | CrazyDiyMom Jennifer | CrazyDiyMom on Jul 14, 2017
      Thanks Melinda!

      Well, I didn't have many other options on where to put it because of the layout, trees, kids play area, etc so it went there. LOL. But mostly we decided on that spot because of less dirt in the house! Being so close to the lake, we have a very sandy soil plus lots of pine trees stuff that falls which means the dogs feet are always dirty. And the more they roam around the more junk they pick up. So I wanted it right off the patio so there was less walking through the sand making it much easier to clean up inside each time they come in.

      We dont have any smells at all. Maybe it's because of the sand, maybe the wood chips, maybe the dogs diet...I'm not sure, but I also do pick up after them soon after they go.

      My dogs are pretty regular poppers so we usually have them go before guests come or after they leave.

      It has worked out perfectly for us. I went from mopping floors 3-4 times a day to once! Lol. But I am very happy with that area and the rest of the yard - it works great for us.

  • Monica Monica on Jul 19, 2017
    Super cute! Great turn out!