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My Tiny Backyard: Before and Plans (ORC Week 1)

I’m not sure if this is a faux pas or not, but I’m doing my backyard for the spring One Room Challenge 🙂 I really wanted to participate as a guest participant again because I love the extra motivation and camaraderie, but I really just don’t have a space that needs works in the house AND that I want to work on right now. We’ve had a lot of plans for our backyard for a while now, though, so the timing is right.

(See my post One Room Challenge rooms here—work/dining space—and here—master bathroom!)

We’ve been here for about a year and a half now, so we’ve been through one summer. Unfortunately, though, last spring/summer I was trudging through a rough pregnancy and hugging a toilet most days, so we didn’t touch the backyard. In fact, everything I had planted or bought died. Quickly. I told Mike that I was only committed to keeping a fetus alive.

one room challenge guest participant logo

I’m not working with any sponsors this go-round because I didn’t want to be beholden to any deadlines or requirements. Basically I am setting the stage here for me to maybe miss a week because I am too overwhelmed or busy 🙂 Sorry in advance! This is the first major project I’m taking on since Ramona came, so I’m not sure how it’s gonna pan out!

Before Pics

So here’s what our backyard looks like. It’s small but has lots of potential.

small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts and grass

My dad put up the second-story deck, which is what those three pieces of wood are holding up. Most of these homes come with decks, but we bought a spec home without a deck, so that was one of the first orders of business right when we moved in in 2016. (He is a licensed contractor, and we are very lucky he was able to work on it for us between his real jobs!)

The space underneath the deck, however, leaves a lot to be desired. One of the grossest areas is the area around the air conditioning unit. It’s a mess of dirt and grass that never gets cut and wires and that random planter I threw there when I let everything in it die last year. And a piece of tile and the grill cover. OMG. So, of course this is exactly where the cats run to when we take them out back for a little play.

small backyard with deck posts and grass

It’s also right next to our neighbor, which might bother a lot of people, but it doesn’t bother us. Our neighbor is really cool and has a darling little girl that I just wish were a little closer in age to Ramona! But the cats also like to hide under her air conditioner, too.

small backyard with grass and an HVAC unit

The Fence

One of the first orders of business was putting up the fence. Mike wanted a fence from the beginning. I wasn’t sold on it. Then a lot of fences started popping up and I warmed up to the idea. It was also a lot more affordable than I’d expected it to be.

So I caved. And I am so glad I did! Here are all of the pictures of the yard with the fence in.

small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit

Some of you might be looking at this and thinking, wow, that is a tiny backyard. But we think the opposite 🙂 It’s the first yard we’ve ever had, and we actually think the fence makes it look bigger than it looked before. We actually gained several feet of space that we thought was common space, too, so that was a nice bonus. I think it will be good not only for us, but for resale.


Now that the fence is up, here’s what we want to do.

  • Build a platform deck (not DIY—having a licensed contractor do it to make sure it’s done right)
  • Add additional lighting—hanging? string? No idea.
  • Clean up area around the AC unit and the gas meter/gutter using rocks
  • Build table and benches for deck (already working on these)
  • Build screen for AC unit and all of those wires and boxes back there
  • Hang plants
  • Build veggie beds and lattice for climbing veggies
  • Hang bucket swing for Ramona
  • General landscaping around the fence perimeter (flowers, bushes, etc)
  • Maybe: Privacy screening for the deck area (depending on the cost, and I don’t think I want to DIY this)
  • Maybe: Add a rain barrel, DIY or store bought, we’ll see on budget and options
  • Major maybe: Let myself do a little shopping for some fun items like a large outdoor vase planter—budget depending

Next week—the deck! It’s a major anchor project, so we don’t really want to do much until that’s done. Until then.

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  1. Tash says:

    You’ve got a great blank canvas space to work with. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  2. This is our Bliss says:

    Small backyard space is better than NO backyard space! I love what you’ve got to start with and can’t wait to see this space transform. I know it will look fab and be an area you’ll love spending time in!!

  3. Ruthie says:

    I so wish I could do an outdoor space! It’s still snowing here in Minnesota! I can’t wait to follow along! I love what you do!

  4. Jenny says:

    Having that fence up will be so nice for your daughter! You’ve got an awesome blank canvas back there – I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  5. Kim says:

    So glad to see you back, Brittany – I always love your designs and can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  6. Joy says:

    Hoping you have consistent weather for your projects! I feel your pain on the weather – I am doing an outdoor space as well. Can’t wait to check in on your deck!

  7. Lisa says:

    I really dig the fence! It makes the space more private and I am with you, it feels bigger too! Can’t wait to see how it comes together! I am doing the backyard patio too!

  8. Vicki and Jenn says:

    The fence really was a great addition. It designated your space while providing a backdrop for your new design plan! We can’t wait to follow your progress!

  9. Emy says:

    When we had a townhouse, I was amazed that adding a fence made our yard feel bigger. I can’t wait to see what you do!

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      Yep! We also realized we have one of the biggest lots, and you couldn’t really tell that without the fence. Everyone’s space and the common space just blended together. Probably will be good for resale one day, too!

      • Jessica | Petal + Ply says:

        Ditto! When we put up a fence at our townhouse our yard actually seemed so much bigger! This is a great space. It has so much potential! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. 🙂

  10. Dannyelle says:

    That’s so exciting and so nice to start with a blank canvas. I wanted to my yard too, but it’s just too cold here still. Can’t wait to see your progress.

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      It’s usually pretty nice in Maryland at this time, but it’s unseasonably cold and making working on it pretty miserable. Really hoping the weather takes a turn soon.

  11. Michelle says:

    Can’t wait to see it all come together! I have been working on my yard for a couple years now and am almost done with my fence + gate! Staining it was the most tedious part!

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      I honestly want to cry thinking about staining a fence (unless I get a sprayer for the job ha)

  12. Tee Case says:

    So thrilled you are doing another challenge!!! You inspire me sweetie! Can’t wait to see the results.

  13. Leslie says:

    I think this is going to be so charming!! Backyard spaces are the best!

  14. Lindi says:

    I’m SO happy you’re joining in! I already know I’m going to love whatever you do! And an outdoor space is definitely not cheating! lol. Can’t wait to see it all 🙂

  15. Kate Smith says:

    Can’t wait to see the transformation! Spring is the perfect time!

  16. Vineta says:

    The fence really does make a difference! It looks much more private than before. Can’t wait to see what you do with the space!

  17. Tee at Beauteeful Living says:

    Backyard makeovers for the spring orc is definitely not a faux pas. I love them! I did one for last spring and am so happy I did. Can’t wait to see how this space gets updated!

  18. Jessica Devlin says:

    I love that you are doing a backyard! I’m excited to follow along

  19. Sarah says:

    I can’t wait to follow along! My husband and I tackled our backyard last summer and it was one of the best decisions. You don’t realize how much you’ll use and enjoy it, until it’s a beautiful space you love. Love the fence… smart investment!

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      Ahhh, I hope so! The weather is already slowing me down, though. It’s cold, windy, and they are calling for 2-3 inches of snow this weekend. This is not the April in Maryland we’re used to. It’s pretty miserable, just thinking about how much nicer it will be to be out there when it’s beautiful! (P.S., your Instagram feed is lovely!)

  20. Susanne says:

    I love your fence and how your yard is defined now. And I love the name Ramona <3 , I can't wait to follow your progress!

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      Me too 😉 and the name Ramona was a late-to-the-game suggestion, too. My husband hated it at first and then after she was born, he was actually the one who picked it.

  21. Lisa says:

    This is going to be such a fun little space for you to hang out with Ramona this summer! Looking forward to your makeover.

  22. Monica Benavidez says:

    Can’t wait to see what you do with this space! I know it’ll be fab.

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