Spring in Alaska is fickle. It’s been warmer than usual which has me thinking about planting, and then we had snow again yesterday! Apparently I’ll have to give it a bit more time, but I’m bound and determined that we are going to get the back yard set up this summer! Last year, we were still getting settled and the priority was getting the fence in so the dogs would have room to run. We did get the yard hydroseeded late last summer, although I’m not sure how well it will come back this year after the dogs have been abusing it all winter. Hopefully the additional seed we put down last week will help get things going this season.
In the meantime I’m fine tuning my vision for the entire space. It’s gone through a few revisions, as I talk things through with the hubs and watch exposure, but I think I’ve created a plan to get the basics established this summer so we can build on them each year.
First up is the deck, which I cleaned last weekend to get the juices flowing. We pretty much ignored this space all winter while we focused on indoor projects, so I cleared the space and gave it a good sweeping. I dug out the outdoor rug I bought on the buy/sell page at the end of last summer for $10 and placed the Adirondack chairs and garden stools to create a seating area. I added the lovely lanterns on the hooks and a couple of throw pillows for a little style. It still needs a good pressure wash, but it’s a nice place to sit for a few minutes for now. Here’s a quick before and after.
The plan starts with building a sectional seating unit like this with storage underneath where the cushions can be kept during the winter. I’m envisioning an L-shape along the wall and out from the corner made of a few pieces which could be rearranged for other set ups. I might also do a few ottoman pieces like this to store the propane bottles for the heater and fryer. A table like this would provide a spot to stash little things like candles and bug spray when not in use, but I might just leave the space open since I could also store such things inside the L shape during the season.
The hub’s green egg table will occupy the corner of the deck where the egg currently sits with our new oil-less fryer next to it. I’m excited to finally see the table all finished, set up and ready to use.
The displaced Adirondack chairs will move to the firepit area that will be created along the edge of a pea gravel patio next to the deck. The pit itself will be created by stacking landscape stones around the freebie washing machine bin we snagged during construction. I love the idea of creating a cover that would make it also function as a table, especially with a little game board for fun!
Behind that, underneath the family room windows we’ll install a raised garden bed made of cinderblock like this, but with removable tubs like this which can one day be transferred to and from the greenhouse I’ll have one day as the seasons shift. I’d like to try a hanging strawberry planter like this, so that might hang from the eave between the windows or over top of the raised bed or maybe I’ll try something like this on the back of the shed.
The massive hot tub we scored on Craigslist has yet to be used because it’s just so huge and costly to run, so we’re passing it on to the family cabin down on the Kenai, where it should be much more utilized and appreciated during fishing season. We’ve got our eye on a few 2-person tubs and might invest in that later this year or next season.
I’ve realized this alcove along the side of the house where I originally planned to do a full garden just doesn’t get enough sun to be productive, so instead we’ll put the chicken coop here. I’d like something similar to this which should have a small footprint next to the house. Locating them just off the deck will make taking care of the chickens easier and the house should provide extra radiant heat during the winter to keep them cozy.
Beyond the coop I’m considering installing a potting bench with a simple design like this. I’m not convinced that I’ll use it enough to warrant the construction, so I might hold off on this idea until next year when I see how much need there really is. My other idea for the space is to build a smoke house – which I’m sure would get lots of use or a small tool shed to house things like rakes, shovels, etc. so they don’t take up space in the garage or the hub’s storage shed. If we go that route I could always add the potting bench or smoke house along the back wall of the garage, where I could see it from the laundry room.
Although we bought a canvas gazebo canopy on the buy/sell page last year, I decided it wasn’t the right fit for the deck so we resold it. Eventually I want to add a pergola to the deck with some sort of shade cloth, but that might be a few years down the road still. In the interim I plan to create a simple shade like this by attaching poles to the sides of the deck with a few simple brackets. We may have to install an eye bolt on the back of the house to complete the set-up but it should be much easier to take down quickly if there are winds in the forecast.
And no deck is complete without some sort of pest deterrent, especially in Alaska. Ours will come from the wine bottle tiki torches we had in Kodiak, but this time around rather than hang from a railing or post they will sit in holders like this around the perimeter of the deck. The poles for the bottles can be attached just like the shade poles mentioned above and I plan to fill the bottles half full with pebbles so they don’t require as much tiki fuel.
Finally, I’ll add some landscape around deck in the form of flower beds filled with perennials similar to the ones out front and along the far side of the house. I also plan to add a clematis in front of the big wheel the hubs found me, which is now tied to the fence near the deck. I may disguise the low area around it with a bit of a retaining wall to create a small bed in front of the wheel as well. We’ll see how far I get this year.
If I get all of this accomplished by fall and still have some decent weather to work with I may attempt to create a walkway like this from the patio to the back gate. So that’s the master plan. Watch for posts as we attempt each portion!