Backyard — Before and After The Lawn

by Katy on June 6, 2011 · 22 comments

Long term Non-Consumer Advocate readers will recall the great backyard project of 2008. How my sister, Sara Wolk, built a stone retaining wall and brick patio, completely from scavenged stone and bricks. (We did have to buy cement, sand, gravel, tacos and beer.)

I have since been trying to grow a lawn in the deeply shady adjacent area with varying degrees of success. (We start out with a bang, but then fizzle out as our monstrous maple tree dumps its leaf tonnage in the fall.) But I am determined this year to keep my lawn alive, and even got it reseeded nice and early, which means we’ve only had to water it two or three times so far. And we’ve switched from a sun/shade mix to a pure shade mix. 

Backyard, without lawn.


Backyard, with a lawn. And moss.

And now, some completely gratuitous additional photos, as I am currently in deep and utter love with my backyard.

Mwah, I love you, backyard patio!


The moss on the bricks doesn't really bother me, as it adds a special texture and dimension to the patio.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan June 6, 2011 at 4:27 am

What a nice area to have.


Eileen June 6, 2011 at 6:04 am

It looks so peaceful, cool and inviting. I love the moss on the bricks-it makes it look like it’s been there forever.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 6, 2011 at 6:07 am

Lookin’ good, Katy! I seriously want a patio in my backyard, but alas, we had to have a dead tree taken down and that emptied out the home maintenance/improvement category of our budget.

And a dead tree is just NOT as fun as a patio. Sigh.


Katy June 6, 2011 at 6:10 am

Dead trees are definitely less fun than a patio. No way around that.



Anne Cross June 6, 2011 at 6:07 am

If this grass doesn’t take, you might look into shade plants that are native to or non-invasive in your location. Things like hostas, lily of the valley, bleeding hearts, etc. which would also be very attractive and require less work (no mowing, just a little pruning) and less water than grass.


Katy June 6, 2011 at 6:09 am

Do you know how much it would cost to put in a 200 square foot shade garden? Plus, it would actually need more watering than a shady Oregon lawn!



Anne Cross June 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

I have no idea how much it would cost. Is the lawn area larger than what is shown in the photo near the circular step? If not, it shouldn’t cost more than $20 to put plants there, so if grass keeps failing to thrive, it might be an alternate plan. Good luck!


kayleigh June 6, 2011 at 6:57 am

I’m so jealous of the shade and moss. I live in Arkansas and have to buy drought resistant full sun plants and prickly bermuda grass that needs 3 million gallons of water a day just to modestly survive!


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary June 6, 2011 at 7:22 am

It looks so great, Katy! I want to know when we are all invited for a BBQ (pot luck, of course!).


Katy June 6, 2011 at 7:23 am


You are welcome for a BBQ any day, any time.



Barb @ 1SentenceDiary June 7, 2011 at 5:27 am



Green Bean June 6, 2011 at 9:37 am

I adore mossy bricks like yours!! They give true depth. Your yard looks fabulous.


Stephanie June 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

Love it!


Kris June 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

Wow, how gorgeous! I must say I am green with envy. I have about given up on any kind of peaceful landscaping. It is a forever battle with native badlands ground cover vs what we want to have and we keep


Margie mccarthy June 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I am with Anne. Grow shade plants. I have a very shaded yard and have some grass and lots of shade (read hosta) plants. I have never bought a one! Ask on freecycle or ask your neighbors for bits of their host as. Gardeners are great to share. Change 10 square feet a year. You will be able to supply your own host as to split after the first year. It takes no more water than shade grass. Looks lovely!
I love your mossy bricks and I love your writing!
Just say’n.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 7, 2011 at 2:53 am

In my area, hostas are quickly snapped up by hungry voles. I posted about that today, actually!

A shade garden is really not as practical as grass for me either. My children want to run around and play, and hostas and lilies of the valley are just no good for that. 🙂


Kimberly June 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Looks like the perfect little patio! It’s stylish and inviting.

And Amen! to needing to spend money on tacos and beer to get it done. At least they’re consumable, right?


Lisa June 7, 2011 at 4:46 am

I like the lawn, there’s something about going barefoot in grass, that just can’t top stepping on hosta plants! It looks fab! I’m jealous!


Megg June 7, 2011 at 6:20 am

If you don’t like the moss in the grass (I have no idea if that bothers you or not) they do sell moss killer for pretty cheap (about $8 for a bag that, especially with the size of your lawn, would last several years). If you don’t mind, then ignore this comment! 🙂
Love how green your lawn looks!


Katy June 7, 2011 at 6:27 am

So far, we have no moss in the grass. I’m sure it’ll come, but we’re good so far.



Van June 7, 2011 at 6:24 am

You have the exact kind of back yard I want! I love cozy quiet ones with a eclectic mix of bits and moss covered bricks. Le sigh…


Tracy Balazy June 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

Beautiful backyard, Katy! I love the moss.

And your comment made me laugh: “We did have to buy cement, sand, gravel, tacos and beer.”


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