A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Hello friends! It’s Cassie here again! Thank you all so much for your sweet words and welcoming comments on my first post last month. It was a delight to introduce myself and my home to you. I will also have to do a post in the future on all of the paint colors in our home, as so many of you had questions about them!

This month I am so excited to share with you our backyard renovation that we finished up these past few weeks. This is the time of year when we are all thinking about spring, especially here in Seattle where we have had an odd abundance of sunny days! Thinking about spring leads us to thinking about our yards, flower beds, gardens, and getting those all prepped and ready for summer. This year, my husband and I finally took the leap and redid our yard into something we love, that functions well for our family and lifestyle, and that fixes many of our past issues.

In the past, our yard has been a headache of sorts. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved into our home almost exactly two years ago. It was a new construction home, which has some amazing positives, but also some big negatives. One of those negatives was our yard. Our yard itself wasn’t terrible, but the soil was about the worst I have ever seen. The grass was a constant battle to keep alive between the soil and our doggy friend, and it was near impossible to plant anything due to all the left over construction concrete “rocks” we found. I grew up on a farm and actually enjoy working outside, but this was more of an uphill battle than I had bargained for.

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Our very sad yard and not-so-nice aggregate patio

So we sat down and mapped out what we might want to see in our yard. How could we fix the problems we were running into? What would be something we would enjoy maintaining? Would we use the space for for entertaining and/or for our children to play in? Here is a list of what we decided we wanted:

  • low maintenance, but with the possibility of some small container gardens
  • would resist flooding (with the bad soil and drainage, this happened a lot)
  • dog friendly
  • family friendly
  • a space to entertain
  • some way to help hide the house next door
  • more trees and shrubs
  • cost effective long term

We ended up deciding to reduce the size of our actual yard, add more plants, add a pea gravel area for the pup and possible container gardens, and build a deck. The deck was the big item we decided we wanted. We knew it would cost more upfront, but we found that decks (especially composite like we went with) keep their value and can add to your resale value much more than a simple yard renovation.  We also decided to reduce the yard size because we have a huge park with sports fields, two playgrounds, and walking trails directly across the street and knew that we would mostly be playing with our children there in the future.

After getting a few bids for the project, we found a great father-son landscaping company (Helmke’s Landscaping Co. for those in the Seattle/Eastside area!) to do the job. Here is the plan they came up with for us:

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

 Plans designed by Helmke’s Landscaping Co.

They finished the whole project in under three weeks and did a fantastic job. As I mentioned above, we did composite decking. We won’t have to worry about staining it or tiny feet getting slivers. We went with Trex decking in the “Beach Dune” color. This is one of their least expensive options and it looks amazing, especially with the hidden fasteners we used.

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Trex “Beach Dune”

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

They selected all of the plants from local nurseries. I gave them a few ideas of plants I liked, but left it up to them to select and place everything. The pea gravel you see above is where we can take our pup out and it super easy to clean. We also are planning to add some container gardens along the side of our house on the pea gravel using these galvanized metal tanks or something similar.

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Sources: Adirondack Chairs (cushions are from World Market, but no longer available), Fire Pit

The pergola they built helps distract from the house next door. Hopefully in the future we will add planters along that side as well. My husband ran out and grabbed this propane fire pit the day the deck was finished. Although we entertain pretty often, it will also be a nice place for the two of us to sit and relax in the evening. 

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Our teeny view of the Cascade mountains in the background. Sources: Table and Chairs, Umbrella

Our landscapers re-soded our lawn and also added soil to the areas where the grass and plants are now. I am hopeful that we can keep things alive!

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

We are so pleased with how this project turned out. I know we will use it daily throughout the upcoming spring and summer, and for many many years to come. I hope this inspires you all as you plan and dream up any outdoor plans of your own!

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Related post by The Inspired Room:

How to Add Personality to a Small Outdoor Space


  1. Ms Maggie says

    Way to go! You will never regret the time and effort (and money) spent on making your outside home so nice. We love what we did when we first got to our homes to make these areas welcoming! And we just put in new lights on the island home that have a kind of lamplight glow from their stone lanterns. Have a great summer as I know you will now…bring on the fun for us all in the PNW!

  2. What a delightful outdoor space you created! Love your view of the mountains! Nicely planned. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love that you added more plants and added such a large entertaining area! Once your plants grow in a little more you will have a wonderful private oasis to enjoy with your family and friends:) I can’t wait till the rest of the snow melts here in PA so we can start enjoying the decks and stone patios at our house!

  4. Cassie,

    Well done, it looks great and I’m sure you will really enjoy it throughout the years.

  5. Hi Cassie,

    I love what you’ve done with your yard. I was just curious how your neighbors felt about what you did. I noticed that your deck runs almost to their house and over the mulch on their side of the house. I guess I’m asking because where I live we wouldn’t be able to do that because of the zoning laws and we would be infringing on their property…..we would have to stop any fence, etc so many feet from their property line. Looks great!!

    • Cassie Kulp says

      Hi Patti! That’s a great question! Many of the houses in our neighborhood have yards that all run along one side of their house, like we do. This is essentially the only private, outdoor space we all have. Because of this, we all sign easements that allow our neighbors to one side to use that property as they please. That still allows us to access the house from that side for painting or to clean our windows, but essentially that piece of land is now the other person’s. I know that the terms of easements can change and are very specific for each area. Pretty much everyone here has plants or a patio that is placed right next to the neighboring house. Hope that answers your question!

  6. The partial pergola is such a great idea! I can see lots of options for hanging and climbing plants, string of lights for a party, even a curtain to soften the look! Love that!

    • Cassie Kulp says

      Thank you Donna! We are indeed planning to put up some lights and plants around it! I also love that curtain idea! I will have to keep it in mind.

  7. I love what you’ve done with your yard and know you will enjoy relaxing and entertaining there for many years.
    Patti brought up the matter of your yard and the neighbor’s home sharing the property line….how does that work for you planting and the neighbors doing maintenance on their home?
    Your view of the Cascades is so pretty…enjoy every moment you can in your lovely back yard!♥

    • Cassie Kulp says

      Thank you Pat! I left a reply on Patti’s comment about the property line. Essentially, every neighbor signs an easement of their property over to their neighbor for one side of their home. That allows everyone to have an outdoor space that they can do with as they please, while still allowing everyone to have access to that side of the house if need be (like for painting or window washing).

    • Thanks!☺

  8. What a transformation! This summer you will want to spend more time outside. You’ll love the Coral Bark maple. The bright branches really stand out once the leaves drop. Did you think about planting a wisteria on your pergola? We did that in our backyard and it gives us lots of shade, privacy, all that green and pretty flowers in the spring. They are aggressive growers but every couple of years I cut mine back. In this way, the thicker trunk and branches are not on the pergola, just the new growth.

    • Cassie Kulp says

      Thank you Joanne! We actually have a Coral Bark maple in our front yard and love it! I haven’t thought about planting wisteria, but that is a fabulous suggestion! We are still in the process of figuring out what all we want to do with the pergola, but I really like that idea!

  9. This looks fantastic!!! We live in the Seattle area, too. I bet you have been enjoying that outdoor space a lot these last few weeks. Hasn’t the weather been amazing?!?

  10. Karen on Bainbridge Island says

    This looks really well thought out. I am positive you will get hours and hours and hours of enjoyment out of this new area in your yard. Every single time you sit out there you will appreciate and be glad of all the hard word and $$$ that went into it. Congratulations!

  11. this is absolutley cool and unique. such an amazing and cool use of space and exterior design. people always complain about there spaces but if you dont try and put a spin on it of your own design and creativity. thanks so much for sharing

  12. Looks great and will continue to look better and better when things grow! Really love trex decking. I’m curious too about the neighbor lot line. I live in Canada (southwestern Ontario) and houses aren’t directly on lot lines here either.

    • Cassie Kulp says

      Thank you Kate! We already love the decking so much. I responded in a reply to a few other comments about our property lines. We have access to that property through an easement that our neighbor signs, and in turn we also sign ours over to our neighbor on the other side.

  13. Really gorgeous! The deck was an awesome idea that you will love for many years!

  14. I love, love, love your new backyard! Good job! you worked really hard. The deck is so cute too!

  15. Looks so good! I wouldn’t have even thought of adding a pergola, it really does complete the space :)

    We live in the Seattle/Eastside area and are looking into landscape architects or planners to build a deck (our backyard has 30 year old pavers that are all crooked and uneven that we just want to cover up) and do something about our “lawn” (its 98% moss. The house has been rented out for the past 13 years and the yard is a total mess). Would you be able to give a ballpark amount for how much your yard was with Helmke? Thank you!

  16. Oh my gosh, I love how it turned out! The deck is so beautiful and made such a big change. Now, if only I could do this to my own yard, haha.

  17. The pergola looks great!! We are moving soon to a house with a backyard and I’m so excited to have a fire pit!

  18. Great backyard redo! Looks amazing!

  19. Absolutely gorgeous!!! Good job!

  20. What a great transformation! I love the deck — I am sure it adds living space to your home. It is easy to visualize bar-be-ques and outdoor parties. Enjoy!

  21. Oh WOW! Wouldn’t it be such a dream to just be able to sit on that beautiful wooden platform, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the view! Fantastic Work!

  22. The transformation is fabulous! I think the pergola is the crowning glory. It will be so nice to spend time out there enjoying your view and the fire pit. Your plant choices are wonderful and they will just look better and better. Enjoy!

  23. I live just down the street from you. We have the same yard issues. Thanks for the landscaper recommendation! Yours turned out beautifully.

  24. Now that’s a beautiful backyard makeover!!

  25. Hallo there Cassie, I realize that his is somewhat an old post but Google still brought me here while I was looking for some tips and ideas to use on our backyard. I really like the layout of your home with respect to the backyard, and how you pulled out that design made it more beautiful. Thanks for sharing the inspiration and keep up the good work here.


Join the Conversation