Monday, September 30, 2013

Safety Palms

Remember this ledge?

A little closer...

We had to do something about that drop-off to the yard below. A person making their way around that side of the pool and spa could easily step off the edge and twist an ankle or worse.  The new patio was looking a little bare anyway, so mom and I ran out to Home Depot and picked up a few Pygmy Date Palms.  

We already had four large terracotta pots scattered about the yard looking messy and dejected:

Actually, that guy in the middle had one lonely elephant ear plant that suddenly came back to life after all the rain we've had recently.  My mom transplanted it to a smaller pot so we could use the big one for one of the palms.  After discovering, freaking out over, and destroying a giant fire ant colony in that pot on the far right, we ended up with a really great solution to the safety issue:

I didn't have them yet for these pictures, but I also picked up three solar path lights for about $2 each at Target and stuck one in each pot. They add a bit of ambiance and more warning that the edge is near when it's dark outside. 

It turned out that the fourth pot was a bit small than the other three, and it just so happened that one of the palms we chose was also smaller than the other three.  We placed that combo next to a storage bench on the other side of the pool, along with that transplanted elephant ear plant.

For now, this project is just about done. We have a few more candle holders and such to hang around the place, but until we round up some more budget, the pool resurfacing, concrete wall extension, and additional landscaping are on hold.  I'll take some final pics of the patio with our furniture, lights, curtains, etc this weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, this guy?

No biggie, except that he just happened to turn FIVE today!

After last year's party was cancelled due to Piper's early arrival, he was just a little excited for this year's party:

He parked himself in the "king chair" and didn't move for the rest of the party:

Happy Birthday to my first pride and joy, the smartest smartie I know!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

She's One!

September 23, 2012
3 lbs 9 oz
September 23, 2013
15 lbs 6 oz

We gave her on of the cupcakes left over from Amery's birthday party last Saturday to make sure we'd have a successful cake smash for her birthday party coming up this Saturday. I think we're good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Backyard Renovation: Day...No Clue

It's not my fault! We've had a whole lotta rain over the past week or so, and it caused some delays in the concrete finishing.  The patio is pretty much done at this point. I'll come back with some "final" photos, but these will give you an idea for now.

The blue tape has been removed, but this generally shows the final contrast between the stained/stamped portion and the older portion that we had stained a color called French Gray.  

And the other side. We're thinking of adding another concrete bench just past the point where the pool steps are located and having it wrap around to the left (far side of the pool). This is a great area to set up our portable fire pit because it is far away from the house but still close to the action.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Backyard Renovation: Day 2

Not a lot to share today.  We (finally) got some rain last night. Great for Austin, not so great for curing concrete.  Since the new patio had to be covered in plastic I wasn't able to get any photos after work.  Jon snapped a couple during the day, but he was trying to stay out of the crew's way so they don't show the whole area.

Freshly poured concrete where the wood deck used to be. The deck was also built a step higher than the covered patio so it will be nice to be able to just walk right across it now.
Stain and stamping have been added to the concrete.  The stamping isn't very pronounced, but when I can I'll take a closer photo of it.  The stamping basically gives it some interest and makes it less slippery when wet.

Another view of the stained concrete around the spa.
A few things we still need to work out:

- Steps from the patio down to the yard (off to the far left in the middle photo above).
- How to manage the slight drop-off to the yard from the patio area beyond the spa. Right now there is about a 2-foot drop. Not a huge fall, but enough to twist an ankle or ruin a kid's day. We may add a poured concrete bench that will also act as a little wall. A step down to the yard there is not ideal because the strip of grass between the patio and the fence is already pretty narrow. I also have four huge terra cotta pots just sitting unused around the yard. If steps or a bench or whatnot are not in the budget, I may plant some nice palms in those pots and line them up along that portion of the wall.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Backyard Renovation: Day 1

The crew installed the piping for the French drain and constructed the concrete forms yesterday. Sorry for the crappy photos.  I forgot to take some when I got home last night, so I snapped them with a flash while it was still dark this morning before the crew arrived.

Future concrete patio.

Future concrete patio.

French drain. Those bars you see sticking up will be a poured concrete bench to hide the drain and provide additional seating along that side of the pool.

Backyard Renovation: "Before" Pics

I'm going to attempt to keep up with our backyard renovation on the blog to share with our family and others who are planning similar projects. Sorry in advance, I don't have a lot of free time these days, so these posts will likely be some drive-by posts with lots of pics and few words!

Here is the backyard when before we tore out the deck and the lattice privacy walls on either side of the pool:

And here are a bunch taken post-deck and wall removal:

No more lattice wall! Everywhere that used to be covered by wood deck will be stamped and stained concrete patio.

No more lattice wall on this side either. This is where a French drain will be installed to re-drect run-off from the neighbors' yard which is situated at a slightly higher elevation than ours.  Any time we get a heavy rain storm, buckets of silt run into our pool from under the fence.


The textured concrete under the covered patio and around the pool will be stained a darker color to freshen it up, modernize the look, and hopefully prevent stains from showing as easily in the future.
The knockdown-textured concrete around most of the pool and under the covered patio will be this French Gray color:

And the stamped/stained concrete will look similar to this to hopefully tie in our red brick coping around the pool:

Source: Cedar Park Concrete