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Old 04-18-2016, 10:25 AM
 
445 posts, read 566,938 times
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I bought this house in S. NH last year. Very nice '60's era solid house, & the former owner did tons of tasteful updates & upgrades to the house itself. But the back yard that's about 1/2 bare dirt, the concrete slab "patio", & the weird old deteriorating shed are very unappealing. (I'll try to attach pics).

At first I thought, a deck (w/decking material that will hold up). Then I thought, a patio, maybe of pavers? Or slate? Am I right that patios are more popular than decks these days? I don't need a huge patio--the concrete slab that's there now is approx. 11' x 14.5'--but larger would be OK too.

The mostly bare dirt yard back there--a landscaping guy told me the soil is alkaline. Also, there are some fir trees--I don't think grass usually grows under or near them. I don't really need a lush lawn to take care of--I'm thinking maybe some type of Ground cover plants that will grow there. And/or--a couple of pathways--of the patio material--winding to the back property line, where there's an old stone wall, & then just forest.

There's also that tiny old deteriorating shed. I could just have it removed, but I do have a few things stored there. I briefly looked at home depot--looked like new sheds were $1500 to $2K or so.

My next-door neighbor has had a big back yard patio & lawn project going on recently. The crew they hired seemed awesome, & apparently do very professional work. Plus a new sprinkler system, lighting, all the ground leveled, new grass, & a very impressive new stone patio installation. It all looks kind of "formal" to me tho; I'd rather have somewhat of a more natural look I think. I'd love to know what it all cost, but I don't know them that well. I do plan to call their guy to get an estimate once I get more of a plan.

I also have an old steel (leaking) basement bulkhead door back there, & I attached a pic of the weird old shed. Turns out the patio guys that did the work next door also do basement work. Would it be realistic to think that I could get all of this done for.......$8-$10K? What would anyone else here do? Or I could get one or 2 things done at a time, like the rusty bulkhead doors, & just the basic patio. I have one estimate for just new bulkhead doors of $2700.

TIA for any advice, Woody
Attached Thumbnails
What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0007.jpg   What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0004.jpg   What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0012.jpg   What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0023.jpg   What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0030.jpg  

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Old 04-18-2016, 10:35 AM
 
Location: NC
6,081 posts, read 7,027,359 times
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Since you have no real plan of your own, ask the landscapers to give you suggestions based on the things you want to do in your yard. Fire pit? Grill? Lounge chair? Tons of flowers? Dog? They will give you the best ideas.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Columbia SC
7,961 posts, read 6,710,786 times
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Woody

With the step down from the house to the patio, why not install a "ground level" deck? Typically local ordinances will say a deck so far off the ground requires a railing but I think yours might be low enough not to require a railing.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:42 AM
 
445 posts, read 566,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv4horses View Post
Since you have no real plan of your own, ask the landscapers to give you suggestions based on the things you want to do in your yard. Fire pit? Grill? Lounge chair? Tons of flowers? Dog? They will give you the best ideas.
Well, I guess I didn't state this specifically, but of course I plan on asking any landscapers I call for estimates to give me suggestions/options/costs/etc. (??) Just wondering if anyone here had experience with a project like this, advice on deck vs. patio, diff. types of stone for a patio, plantings, etc. Meaning, suggestions from other homeowners........before I call any landscapers.....

Oh, & I don't need a Fire pit, or built-in grill, or Tons of flowers, just kind of a "natural" looking, basic, plan.....that's an improvement over the pics I attached......
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:51 AM
 
13,496 posts, read 13,971,597 times
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you really have a blank slate. I would see if the shed can be reinforced so it is safe and useable. if it is sand and paint it, bring it back to life. if not tear it down and be done with it. you might be able to find a tuff shed on craigs list for less than you are quoting. as far as the patio concrete area, I would start with getting it re-stained to bring it back to life. if you don't want a bunch of plants or grass to take care of make a wandering curvy type path with a few focal points, add a few bushes that don't need a bunch of care like a Pampas grass here and there where your eye goes. add a water fountain or even a wooden arch somewhere, these are fairly reasonable in the 300 dollar range.
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Texas
1,138 posts, read 1,810,566 times
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That patio slab looks like it's in good condition as far as no cracks and level. I'd extend that forward and to the side and have the outdoor porcelain tile (with good slip resistance) that looks like flagstone put on the extended patio and the walkways that you mentioned. I like low maintenance, and the tile can just be sprayed off with a water hose and never needs to be sealed, etc. The flagstone tile would look good with the old stone wall too. I'd try to get a similar color to the stone.

The shed looks like a tear down to me. You could have a small slab poured when you get the patio re-done for a new shed. I'd move it too. I wouldn't want it to be the view straight out from the patio/house. Maybe position it to the left of where it is now and have a pathway leading to it. I can't tell, but if the shed is already on a slab, I'd just re-build a new one on it to save money...penny-pincher here . Either way, I'd save that piece of decorative trim and re-use it if it's in good shape.

I know absolutely nothing about basements.
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:39 PM
 
Location: The Berk in Denver, CO USA
13,114 posts, read 18,715,776 times
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Nuke the shed.
Sand, prime, paint bulkhead door. A dark color.

I prefer decks over patios for the warmth. But, patios are much cheaper.
Can you even sit outside? My brother lives in Lyme and cannot go outside at all during clement weather as the bugs are fearsome predators.

Hire a landscape architect. They have the expertise you need.
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:19 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
10,860 posts, read 18,883,731 times
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In order of importance, the leaking doors have to come first. Get a few estimates. We don't have basements where I live but that sounds expensive. Anything involving leaks is a priority because leaks just lead to more damage when you let them go.

Next, the shed looks pretty ramshackle but it's also got a certain amount of charm, with the vines growing up over it. Maybe adding some wood trim around the bottom edge and replacing the door and giving the whole thing a fresh coat of paint would fix it up enough for you to want to keep it. A new shed is going to look old after a while too and you're right, new sheds are pretty expensive, even the plastic kind that don't seem to hold up very well.


What about having the concrete slab pressure-washed to see if the old paint will come off? It looks like it's in good shape and the only thing that's really odd about it is the paint. Start with a clean slate and then decide if you'd want to tile it or extend it or what you'd like to do.
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:08 PM
 
27,455 posts, read 44,947,050 times
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It is possible to pressure wash the patio, use a concrete cleaning product to etch the surface, and then use a concrete stain roll on or spray to change the color...
If you want to extend using hardscape, you probably want to try for same color in both...so you could price poured concrete vs slate or flagstone or smaller pavers (very labor intensive to lay)..

Look at the Houzz web site...lot of interior photos but also outside garden-patios...
Contractors and other trades will respond to queries depending on the topic...
Can get leads on local trades as well...

I think this is something that could be done in stages and some done with your labor vs hiring it all out once you have a plan you like...
How do you rank what you want done?
Do you want it all just cleaned up in general first of all or do you have specific want--like grill area or maybe a pergola to define part of the outdoor area?

If you don't have a specific need for the shed is it viable structure or needs to be torn down for safety?
Saw lovely old shed that was turned into very rustic summer house--one side torn down, part of roof taken off and just poles laid across for vine arbor--very Tuscan, rustic...
Bit it was southern location, warmer in winter and used even in winter at times...
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Old 04-18-2016, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Montana
387 posts, read 322,150 times
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I agree - go onto Houzz and look for ideas. In terms of the patio, I think you should either pressure wash it and paint it or rip it out and have the landscape architects put in flagstones (you can have them space them with some sand or grit in the middle and it is pretty low maintenance). With wood you really have to re-stain it and eventually it rots and can curl depending.

You can buy sod pretty cheap and put it down in the back yard and have a small lawn area, just be sure to water it well while it establishes, and then put down a spaced flagstone walk. Landscapers could widen your planted areas or create beds if you don't want to maintain as much lawn - especially all along the side of the house you could put some edging and mulch and trellis bushy plants like roses (if it gets enough light) or raspberries or something like that and you have less space to maintain. Really areas under pines should be acidic soil, and blueberries should grow well there, as should other berries that are ground cover like cranberries and lingonberries, which are also pretty cold weather plants (also wintergreen). They would all establish and be nice ground cover. You can also move out the beds and have larger bushes or plants in the beds, and line the last foot between the shrubs and rocks with herbs that spread and are often perennial.

I agree - fix the doors to the basement and paint them - you DON'T want a leaky basement. Also, make sure drainage if you do grow next to the house is sloped away to keep it dry.

I like the outbuilding. Repaint it and just put some new wood framing on the base of the door and it should look very charming.

Around trees, take about 3-5 feet and make a ring of stones or mulch with edging, and grow ground cover, and that means less lawn to maintain as well.

I think you can do a lot with this little yard.
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