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10 Before and After Backyard Makeovers

April 8, 2019
  • If your backyard is a jungle or simply bland and boring, you might be dreaming of finally doing something about it. Now is the time. Backyard makeovers are creative and fun to do, and they transform more of your property into usable space. Entertain guests, let your pets roam, or enjoy your private outdoor space in solitude. Keep it basic with new grass and a firepit or scale it up with elaborate hardscaping, decks, and water features. Whatever you desire, you can accomplish with a backyard makeover.  Jenni Radosevich of the design blog I Spy DIY and briefly hostess of HGTV’s “My Flippin’ Friends” needed a flat, dry, and attractive space to host her Milwaukee friends for get-togethers. Her lifestyle was active, but her backyard could barely keep up. This dirt patch hardly fit the bill for hosting.  
  • 02of 20   After: Decked Out    I Spy DIY A spacious deck and fencing were added by a friend, but Jenni took on the rest. After hauling two tons of dirt to raise the ground, she and friends rolled out sod for three days straight. White planters are filled with Philodendron Selloum and ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). Backyard Makeover and Deck from I Spy DIY  
  • 03of 20   Before: Stark Concrete    Richard Laughlin It’s a common enough sight among homes built in the early to mid 20th century: the long driveway. The end point of those long, paved driveways, a one-car garage, is rarely a good match for today’s larger vehicles and instead usually becomes a workshop or storage area. But the owners of this Salt Lake City home had a better idea. They wanted to transform the unused driveway into a lovely yard with plants and grass.  
  • 04of 20   After: Functional Beauty    Richard Laughlin With assistance from landscape architect Richard Laughlin, the homeowners turned the ignored concrete driveway into a cool, green space for their dogs to play. They built a pergola to provide shade while relaxing during hot Utah days. Not only does a pergola act as a base for trailing vines, but it also helps to visually delineate an area. Before-and-After Bungalow Makeover from Richard Laughlin  
  • 05of 20   Before: Swampy    Carol Heffernan Chicago landscape designer Carol Heffernan seized a unique opportunity when the adjacent cottage came up for sale. Since the cottage was set back so far, its front yard could become Carol’s backyard. But this transformation would not come without significant work. The backyard-to-be was low and prone to flooding, a condition exacerbated by the removal of a massive catalpa tree. The space would need to be seriously landscaped.   
  • 06of 20   After: High and Dry and Gorgeous    Carol Heffernan One foot of topsoil was added to the entire area, raising it to match Carol’s adjoining property. To further promote drainage, hardscaping was the order of the day. Evergreen yews form a low hedge to separate the newly made-over backyard from the street. Before-and-After Chicago Backyard Expansion Makeover  
  • 07of 20   Before: Dark and Dreary    Chris Loves Julia The backyard had everything going against it. Dark and gloomy, the yard hardly felt inviting. Weeds dominated. With rain, the ground turned muddy. There was a tree stump located front and center. Home bloggers Chris and Julia wanted to make over their backyard, but they could only devote one weekend to the project.

Few flowers can boast the diversity and distribution of the Iris genus. This hardy perennial truly deserves its moniker that comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, for irises come in every color of the rainbow and then some, offering quirky black and brown hues for those who long for something different in their garden designs. Irises also tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, adapting to habitats on every continent except for Antarctica. Explore this genus of over 300 species, and you will find a perennial for steamy, swampy spots as well as dry alpine gardens.

Why is the iris such a multifaceted and versatile flower? Perhaps it’s because the iris evolved around 82 million years ago, giving the plant ample time to diversify, making it possible to deliver so many colors and forms to our landscapes. With the help of modern hybridizing, even more exciting new cultivars are made available each year.

  • Botanical Name:Iris genus
  • Common Name: Bearded iris, Siberian iris, Japanese iris, Dutch iris
  • Plant Type: Hardy perennial
  • Mature Size: Eight to 38 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to dappled shade
  • Soil Type: Average with good drainage
  • Soil pH: Neutral to slightly acidic, 6.8-7.0
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer
  • Flower Color: Red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, brown, white, black, pink
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-9
  • Native Area: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean

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