Before and After: This Backyard Used to Be Filled with Rats, But Is Now an Oasis

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

This backyard is a great size and appears to have excellent views, but it must be admitted: There’s a bit more rubble than one might hope. And a few more rats than is ideal, too, apparently.

That’s right, rats:

Our yard was a high-maintenance relic of an avid gardener. Looking for a way to hide an ugly garden shed, the previous owner thought it wise to build a six-foot concrete wall directly down the middle of the small yard. The area behind the wall had become a real-live rat’s nest! We also had a small, oddly shaped nook in our side yard with no real purpose.

Let’s be real—simply removing the rubble and the rats will be an enormous improvement, but let’s see what reader Lisa Corolla came up with.

(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

This is vacation-worthy splendor! I can’t believe this is Lisa’s new backyard, able to be enjoyed on a regular basis. The combination of the old fences and new pergola means that there are still great views of all the surrounding trees, but there’s also plenty of shade and a real feeling of privacy.

(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

After a big storm took out the fence between us and our neighbors, we decided to take the opportunity to make a yard that would work for two young surfers and working professionals who like to entertain and hang out with their dog and chickens.

(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

Seriously, this is fantastic. It’s not over-the-top fancy, just extremely high-quality, inviting, and appealing. The many potted plants add to the vacation feel, and the pops of orange, red, and blue add a feeling of warmth and fun to the sophisticated space. And those string lights are an instant party.

It’s everyone’s favorite place to hang out and it really does feel like we added a room to our house. All of the plants we added are in pots or large troughs, which gives us a lush look without frequent maintenance—and helps keep our chickens from destroying them all.

It totally is an outdoor living room, perfect for everything from quiet reading time to tropical parties.

(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

This is that odd nook that Lisa mentioned earlier, and that wheelbarrow is not just a prop:

We did most of the grunt work ourselves, including making over 300 wheelbarrow trips from the front yard to the backyard to distribute granite fines. We ended up bring in a contractor to help us with the gazebo once we ran into issues with retaining walls, but are now confident in the fact that it won’t be sliding into our neighbor’s yard anytime soon!

(Image credit: Lisa Carolla)

This seemingly pointless nook has now found its purpose—it looks like it was designed specifically for this ultra-cool surf shack. That lovely wood and the colorful surfboards look amazing against the black wall.

We’ve never had proper surfboard storage, so our surf shack and wetsuit washing station feels like such a luxury! Plus we got to use a cool hammer drill to attach it to our concrete exterior wall.

The backyard was the least complex project we took on in our house renovation. If you have the physical ability, highly recommend DIY outside! The stakes are low and there are generally fewer moving parts.

That is a good point: Indoor renovations usually dramatically affect your living space—hello, living without a bathroom for a month—whereas most outdoor projects wouldn’t, and they generally don’t involve intimidating, expensive aspects such as plumbing, electricity, and flooring.

Thank you, Lisa!