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Before and After: This Backyard “Mud Pit” Gets a Functional—and Beautiful—Redo

published Jul 25, 2020
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Before: empty backyard with dirt in place of grass and no seating

When you don’t have a ton of outdoor space, you need to make what you have work. For Jennifer Grammer of @jennifer_grammer_designs, the issue wasn’t necessarily that she had a small backyard—but since most of it is wooded, only a small space remained to create a hangout zone. And, she says, “right outside the back door you found this wasteland. It stayed a red mud pit the majority of the time and with dogs and a young son not a great combination. It was a constant battle and just stressful to even see.”

Jennifer wanted to make the “mud pit” a more usable space for her whole family. “I have wanted to do something since we bought the home two years ago, but there were places inside the home that needed the attention first,” she says. But this spring, she knew it was time for a change—something that would “give us much needed outdoor time and truly help lift our spirits.”

Once Jennifer decided to take the project on, it took about three weeks. She started by pulling out some overgrown plants, then leveled the area before contractors came in to install new patio pavers. After that, Jennifer installed posts at the edges of the patio and hung a shade sail, thinking that would be the end of the project. But after about a week, she noticed that the posts were twisting and the sail drooping—so she decided to upgrade to a pergola over the whole patio.

She hired out work on the pergola to a local company, who knocked out the project in two days. Once it was up, she painted it to match her home’s siding (Sherwin-Williams’ Iron Ore) to help it all blend together. “In hindsight, I would just have made the investment and gone with the pergola to begin with,” Jennifer says. “The shade sail was a great affordable option, but I look at this as in investment in family time and the final result just fits us so much better.”

To finish, Jennifer outfitted the patio with spare furniture she already owned, making plenty of room for the whole family to spend time together outdoors. “We love this outdoor room so much,” she says. “We spend most evenings out there just taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of nature. It evokes a really tranquil mood.” Not bad for a former “wasteland!”

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