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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

Taking an Overgrown Mess & Creating Our Dream Backyard

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Fun fact: when Matt and I purchased our home, we did so at the end of winter 2016. Which means, that nothing was grown outside at the time. In the spring of that year, we were going on a backpacking adventure through Southeast Asia, and had timed to close and get the keys to this house when we returned back home. While we were away, spring had sprung, and we came back to find that we had purchased the largest overgrown mess that we had ever seen.

The day we got the keys to the house, we had a dumpster delivered to the driveway. We immediately began filling it with carpets, cabinets, layers and layers of various flooring, built in wall units, etc etc etc. After about a week, projects were happening inside that I couldn't help much with, and the backyard became my project.

Where do you even begin? I didn't know either. I brought shovels, and various garden tools from our home and got to work. I began just cutting back what I could with an electric hedge trimmer, and spent weeks pulling the weeds. They were taller than I was, and stung when they cut me. By the end of that summer, we had cleared the space enough to see the blank slate we wanted to start out with.

My dream was to fill the backyard with a pool and create a summer oasis. Matt had planned on selling this house in five years and said that wasn't in the budget. As you probably know if you've been following my account on Instagram, I was able to convince Matt to not sell the house and to instead create our dream backyard, but that took some time. As projects began getting completed inside, and we took advantage of the neighbourhood and trails close by, it became apparent that this was home.

Summer 2017 while working on our basement, we had our utilities (air conditioner, gas metre, etc) moved from the back of the house to the side, continued to pull weeds (they just kept reappearing), and began meeting with pool companies to get quotes. When people ask me how to choose a pool company, I always suggest getting five quotes before choosing one. Price is important to compare- we had some companies quote us questionably low, and others that were well above the average with only a portion of the work. With five quotes, we also learned which questions to ask the next company based on something the last company pointed out. In the end, we hired New Wave Pools to take on our backyard dream.

Summer 2018 I watched with heart eyes as machines drove into our backyard and tore up the remnants of the yard before. The "grass" was trampled, the old patio stones were hauled away, and our vision was coming to life. The pool didn't take too long to install, but that summer was hot, and there was a high chance of rain almost daily. With the amount of concrete we needed poured, they couldn't risk pouring it. So, while we were hoping for a pool in the spring to enjoy for the summer, we didn't actually get to jump in until mid August. My advice for anyone getting a pool: try to have yours scheduled for the fall, that way you *should* have it ready for the following summer to enjoy.

For the last two years, this pool has been such a joy to have, and has brought some life to our backyard. We host parties (pre covid), relax, and even just love sitting beside it on warm summer nights. Zero regrets.

Summer 2019 was the year we planted our gardens, and had our overhang built. The sun is relentless in our back yard (great for a pool!) and we needed a covered area where we could relax in the shade, and have cover while it rains. This area has proven to be such a godsend. I absolutely love reading while the rain pours down, and it's covered enough that you can work on a computer outside without the relentless glare. Having a covered area increased our living space immensely, and I cannot picture the backyard without it now.

Which brings me to Summer 2020! I was busy with Harper this summer, and in all honesty, Matt has done most of the work himself this year. He focused on installing the soffits & lighting under the overhang, and has been recently focusing on finishing the exterior of the pool house. This is a very exciting project for us. Matt and his dad built the pool house while the pool was being installed (New Wave poured the concrete pad underneath it), and since that summer, it has sat bare. He designed the entire structure himself, but I *pushed* for thick white siding. So, I think I deserve some major design credit as well, because otherwise it would be a dark box. It is airy, welcoming, and modern. I absolutely love it!

When we purchased this house, friends and family thought we were insane. I remember saying "isn't it great?!" and the looks I would receive were hysterical. What I loved most (and still do) is the neighbourhood. Even now, when we think about the profit we could make if we sold this house and did it all again somewhere else, I remind Matt that we can't recreate the things that we really love about being where we are. We took this house that was overgrown, dated, and unloved for a few years, and made it our home. The backyard has taken years to get it to where it is, and there are still some items we need to tackle, but we feel very lucky to be able to call it ours.


Product Info


Dining table & benches | Wayfair (2018)

Loveseats & coffee table | Canadian Tire Canvas Collection (2018)

Rug | Wayfair

Navy poofs |Target

Chairs | Homesense



We purchased all of our plants and flowers from Rice Road Greenhouses in Fonthill.

Tall grasses | Avalanche Feather Reed Grass

Short grasses | Beyond Blue Fescue

Evergreens | Spartan Juniper

Flowers | Black-eyed Susan, Salvia, and Coral Beauty Cotoneaster (flowering shrub)

Trees | Pyramidal Oaks (we have 5 on the left fence, and are planning on adding two more at the back of the pool next spring)

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