We salvaged many flat rocks from our friend's backyard in his excavation process. At first, I used them to create a path between the patio and garden. We thought that might work, but trimming the grass between was difficult, so we went with pea gravel. We dug out the area, which was a lot of manual work - yes - but we're not ones to shy from that. Our biggest obstacle was the June rain, which was seemingly every day.
While we were digging, Zach took the opportunity to install a legitimate fire pit. We picked up a kit at Lowe's, which included the bricks and the ring, along with some larger gravel for the base and lava rock for the interior. It was quite the process, but the key is for everything to be level throughout the build - the ground, the rock, the brick. We found this tutorial to be very helpful.
These pictures look crazy, but evening light is my only option.
Another addition were these string lights. We picked up two packs of string lights at Costco. At first, we strung them with hooks between the house and hammock trees. They last two days before a mild wind took them down. We were at a loss as to how to fix until we stopped at one our favorite bars and saw that they had the same exact lights, strung on a wire. We picked up about 100 feet of 1/8 gauge wire, strung it through the loops above each socket, then wired between the house and trees with the carabiners, hooks, and fasteners we grabbed at Lowe's.
I'm happy to report the wire has kept the lights holding strong for weeks. We've had a couple of significant storms and all's been well. Beyond the rock path and in between the garden and house, we filled in the area with mulch. I want that to be an overgrown oasis with a little path to the neighbors. Clearly we're in the very beginning phases and I might have killed on of my favorite plants accidentally with weed spray.
This is my favorite view, from the hammock. We're working on encouraging the moss to pick up and coat the path in a lush carpet. It's been struggling through the summer, underwater through much of June. Our outdoor space has become one of our favorite areas, especially when the mosquitoes are away. If you have any tricks, please share!
I'll work on getting pictures in better lighting - these shadows are crazy. A tour might be in order, too, before it's all covered in snow again.