To the backyard! For awhile now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to divert attention away from the eyesore that was this corner of the patio:Yeah, we know… it’s not a pretty sight. And seeing how the rest of the patio is really taking shape, we knew that this eyesore would just keep getting under our skin every time our eyes drifted to that corner. Which happens often, as it’s kind of hard to miss a pile ‘o junk. In our defense, because our house is so small (no attic or basement, let alone a shed!), there are not a lot of places to hide the not-so-pretty items that every house has. Let’s face it- the junk has to go somewhere! But, it doesn’t have to look this bad…so we decided to do something about it.My mom was actually the first to come up with the idea of some sort of wall to box in the area a bit and detract from the fact that this is clearly where all of the tools are kept. The only issue is that whatever we put up needed to allow for the air conditioning unit to maintain proper ventilation. Whatever remedy we settled on had to accomplish the following goals:
- Hide the junk/ provide a space for us to store some of our outdoor tools
- Look nice! We didn’t want to substitute one not-so-pretty thing for another.
- Maintain good ventilation for the AC.
- Not leave too much of a “footprint” on the space. Our backyard is a modest size as is, so we didn’t want anything that was going to be too heavy or make the space feel even smaller.
- This one’s a bonus: Have an easily accessible way to get in and out.
The plan was simple, really- we wanted to use some sort of trellis configuration to create the shape of a shed, which would then enclose all of the tools that need a home out of sight. To fill in the walls, we’d find a few climbing plants, let them do their thing, and eventually we’d have a natural (but breathable) wall to hide things behind.
Before we could do any of that, though, we had to tame the
beast pile of junk. First we pulled it all out to evaluate what we had, what we could throw away, and what we were keeping.The other beast we had to wrangle was the hose- up until this point, it had been tangled in a pile in the corner. I just grabbed a plastic bin, coiled up the hose, and stuck it inside. Not the most elaborate solution, but it’ll have to do for now.
After the big purge, we turned our energy to our “closet space”. The dirt floor and impeding plants made for a pretty grungy corner, so we did some makeshift remedying.
First, we dug up all of the rocks that made for an uneven floor, packed the dirt down, and laid large square pavers (one we picked up from HD when we did this project and the other two were the old stepping stones we replaced here). This gave us a flat, clean-ish, and dry surface to store things on top of. We used a few plastic crates from Target to organize pots and other tools and packed everything neatly away in our new “closet”.
Now, onto those walls! The trellises we ended up using came from Home Depot and clocked in at about $15 a piece. I liked that they had a simple design and large holes to allow for plenty of breathing room for the AC unit.
Our plan called for four trellises because essentially, we were going to build a corner around the AC and each side would be two trellises wide. Unfortunately, by the time we got our act together and I went to track them down, there were only three left at our Home Depot. And one had a broken leg.
I brought them all home anyway, figuring we could probably find a way to stabilize the broken one against the others and I could always try another store for the fourth. The basic installation process was holding the trellis where I wanted it, making a mark where each leg went, and digging a hole for each leg. After that, I just stuck the trellises in the holes and packed dirt around each leg. While installing the first, I realized that there was a way to use the broken- legged guy to my advantage and accomplish one of our goals of having easy access to the inside of the new room… I would just make him into a door! After digging the unbroken side in, the broken leg just happened to graze the surface of the ground. Check it out…
This meant that while one leg stayed firm in the dirt, the other was free to hover and if pulled, the whole trellis could swivel on the buried leg. Bam, instant door. Let me show you what I mean:
What a happy accident that was! From there on out, it was the same process. It wasn’t hard, but it did take a good amount of time to make sure that each trellis was level and aligned with the others. Oh, and here’s that corner action I was talking about:
I made sure to leave as much space between the trellises and the AC unit as possible for maximum ventilation. And a word on those holes- they were bitty, but still took a lot of muscle and sweat to dig! I sincerely hope we don’t run into a project that requires real post holes anytime soon. In the end, though, all the effort was totally worth it.
To further stabilize the entire unit, I used zip ties every few rungs to bind everything together.It was pretty strong before, but with the zip ties… let’s just say it’s going to take quite the storm to budge our new contraption.
After all of the trellises were in place, it was time to plant a few climbers to help us fill in the wall, because- let’s be honest- you can still see the mess in there. I picked out a few light pink Clematises to compliment our bright fushia peonies and got right to work planting them.
Because our soil is so rocky and the space where I planted them is so small, I was not able to get a very deep hole, so we’ll see how well they actually grow. I’m hoping that they can tough it out and give us a nice lush and natural wall someday, but for now, they’re still babies. 🙂
So besides waiting for our wall fillers to grown in, the only thing left to do is install the fourth side (I was able to grab another trellis in a recent visit to another HD) and our addition will be complete! Total cost breakdown was about $15 per trellis x 4= $60 and about $12 per plant x 2= $24. We had the zip ties on hand, but we’ll just round the final cost to an even $85! And hopefully, we’ll have a fully closed in, but completely accessible closet/shed next season.
I’ll keep you posted on how our Clematises do and show some final pictures when we get that last wall up. For now, go and enjoy your weekend! Anyone building any “extras” onto their house? Do tell…