Thursday, November 02, 2017

Transforming our Side Yard

Our house has no garden or area at the back, but two side yards. Both have carports, and for years we used them to park cars. One of the side yards has access to our boiler room, and a tool shed, and also has the washing line for our guest flat. But the other side yard is narrower, and our current car is too wide to fit under the carport. It was wasted space until the summer, when our grandchildren were here.

We cleared away the accumulated clutter, and swept it, and installed a paddling pool and sandpit, and - when it wasn't too hot - it became a useful space. But very unattractive. When the family departed at the end of August, we both started thinking that it would be nice to make it more usable year-round. Could we lay artificial grass, for instance...?  That's something we both rather despised twenty years ago when we first came to Cyprus. But real grass is very difficult to grow here, requiring constant weeding and watering, and even then it doesn't look great. And we didn't want to have to dig up all the concrete tiles.

Then I suggested I could buy Richard a barbecue for his 60th birthday in October. He quite liked that idea.  So he took a photo of the side yard and played around with it on his computer, and suggested we might do something like this:

I wasn't sure about the bougainvillea; they tend to leave pink bracts everywhere, and aren't too successful in pots anyway. But the basic idea was good. We decided to ask our friend Jacob (of Pallet Studio Cyprus) to build some planters for the far end. We both thought a stone barbecue would be much nicer than any other kind.  So we started looking...

Those are some that we quite liked... but they felt a bit too big, and somewhat pretentious for our little yard.  And they were also very expensive.  And when we enquired about them, they were all out of stock, or couldn't be delivered for another six weeks, or weren't being made any more.

We looked at artificial grass, too, but again there wasn't anything we particularly liked, and it all looked remarkably pricey, and the thought of the effort involved seemed immense. It wasn't just laying the grass, but repairing and re-painting the walls, which were very scruffy.

It was all rather discouraging.

Then, after working in Nicosia for a day, Richard popped into Leroy Merlin, a large DIY store on the outskirts, and saw a barbecue that he liked a lot better than any other we'd seen:

It was nearing the end of barbecue season, and I was concerned that this, too, would be unavailable. So on 25th September we drove to Nicosia. We needed one or two other things in the shop, and wandered around several parts we hadn't seen before. One of the first things we spotted was rolls - hundreds of them - of artificial grass.  Nicer (and much better value) than any we'd seen in any of the Larnaka shops:

We then saw square wooden tiles, exactly what we were looking for to make a path in the grass. They were on special offer, and there were only about thirty of them left. I said we should buy them and take them back with us.

So we chose the best ones, and piled them into a trolley.  We then went to talk to someone about the barbecue. There were only three left, we were told, and they were all damaged in some way. However, one of them was relatively easy to repair, and we were told we could have a hefty discount. We decided to buy it. It would have to be delivered, so we asked if rolls of artificial grass could also be delivered. Yes, they told us, but they charge per pallet for delivery. So it made more sense to buy the grass we liked and take it back with us.

We were told what glue and other things were needed to lay the grass on concrete, and then decided we should buy paint for the walls too. And a couple of plants that we liked too.... 

We spent considerably less on the supplies than we had expected to.  So we decided to ask Jacob if he and his colleague Mike would be willing to take on the whole project.

The barbecue was delivered a couple of days later. There was a slight hiatus when the delivery guys couldn't move it out of the street, as their only trolley was a pallet one, and the barbecue was too heavy. So Richard called Jacob, who came over with his stronger trolleys, and we moved it into the side yard.

Jacob looked at what we'd bought, and a plan that Richard had made, and agreed that it could work well. He gave us a reasonable quotation for doing the work, which he thought would take a few days, although they couldn't start immediately.

And so, we were all set for the transformation project. Here's how it looked before any work was started:

The first task was repairing and painting the wall, and also repainting the black paint under the car port. After a couple of days, it was already looking a great deal better:

They didn't come every day, but gradually the grass was cut and laid, the path laid out, the planters started...

Then finally, last Friday, it was all complete.  We moved our swing chair from the patio to the new 'garden'; we were surprised to find that it wasn't just good, the whole area felt peaceful and relaxing, a place we like to sit out in - at least until it gets too cold!

The one thing Richard and I did was to buy earth and plants locally, to fill the planters. Most plants aren't labelled in the shops, and the assistants didn't know their names, so we don't know what all of them are, or whether they're even suited to this kind of thing. But we love the planters, custom designed to fit the space, and we're very pleased with how they look:

On Sunday we had a few friends over to celebrate Richard's birthday a couple of weeks late, and the 20th anniversary of our arrival in Cyprus, and also to launch the barbecue and - as one friend put it - baptise the side yard. Rather literally, by immersion, as it turned out because there was rain off and on including one very heavy shower as we were all eating. But we gathered under the car port, and mostly stayed dry.

It was a longer and more complex project than we had envisaged, but we're very pleased indeed with the result. 


Cathleen said...

That is beautiful! I really like it and am not surprised that it is relaxing and peaceful.

alban said...

It certainly looks as though it was worth the hassle. May you be blessed with many lovely hours in your new space.