Backyard Makeover

It took six years, but we are finally underway in our backyard makeover.  While there are some not-yet-renovated spaces that need to be done in our fixer upper (namely the master suite and "shed" conversion), attention has already shifted to the exterior.  If we continued to hold off and prioritize the interior renovations, our kids may be off to college and not get to really enjoy the backyard. 😅


Here are photos of the backyard right before it was gutted last month.  You can see the in-process work on my Instagram stories.

CAD Interiors backyard makeover renovation California ranch house

The only survivors of the demolition were the lemon and apricot trees!

CAD Interiors backyard makeover renovation California ranch house

The backyard has been neglected and under-utilized all these years.  The kids do run around and play soccer/football/baseball out there at times, but we definitely don't utilize the space to its potential... which is unfortunate since we have nice year-round outdoor weather in Southern California.

Following are more before photos of the backyard when it had seen "greener" days.  Don't be fooled though.  It's a combination of crab grass and moss that result after it happens to rain in Southern California.

CAD Interiors backyard makeover renovation California ranch house


When we initially started talking about the backyard renovation, we included everything that would be nice to have - outdoor kitchen, fireplace/fire-pit, basketball half-court, trampoline, etc.  The boys and hubby also wanted a swimming pool. #dreaming

Once we started collecting bids and getting a feel for labor and material costs (we live in an area where contractors tend to "hike" prices), it became clear that we had to scale way back to fit our modest budget.  Our property sadly didn't come with a money tree, so we are streamlining the backyard plan to the "essential priorities" at this point.

Tip: Don't be afraid to approach any project with a "dream" list.  It's good to get your ideas down on paper.  You can always prioritize and pare down, as necessary, to suit the budget.


You can call this "Phase One", but it will likely be the most expensive part of the backyard makeover due to the labor-intensive demolition, grading, and prep work required to get the backyard to a "clean slate".

Here's what we're doing:

  • SECURE THE PROPERTY:  We are planting OVER 60 TREES (15-gallon hedges) around our property line! 💰💰💰  Once grown, the hedges are intended to provide a natural privacy and security barrier between the neighboring houses and the horse trail that our property abuts.  This is one of the most expensive, yet highest priority, components of the makeover.

privacy security exterior outdoor backyard inspiration ideas

  • GATE/RAILINGS:  The ranch railing where our property borders the horse trail will be fixed.  We will also add an access gate alongside the north hedge border.
  • HARDSCAPE:  A paved pathway is planned around the border of the house.  This will create a casual walkway, as well as prevent any water from intruding on the structure.  We are also going to "extend" the existing patio entertaining space by adding a hardscaped area for a fire-pit and casual seating.
  • LANDSCAPING:  Landscaping will include new sod, shrubs, plants (which we'll add to over time), and mulch.  We are still figuring out how much grass to install since we have a gopher problem around here!  (Note: We plan to integrate the stones and boulders that we kept from the demolition.)
  • INSTALL WATER SYSTEM:  A new sprinkler system will be installed throughout the yard to automatically irrigate the landscape and grass.
  • ELECTRICAL:  Electrical will be run so we can add lighting to illuminate the trees and hang twinkle lights!
  • GAS:  A gas line will be run so we have the option to do a natural gas fire pit (and built-in barbecue grill).
  • OPTIONAL:  Despite my brown thumb, I am contemplating having raised beds to grow vegetables and/or a cutting garden!

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The two big ticket items that we eliminated are the outdoor kitchen and basketball half-court (especially cost-prohibitive because of the rebar required for a concrete surface).  The half-court, which was the boys' request, is definitely more of a "want" since they already have a designated area where they shoot hoops.  However, a built-in barbecue grill isn't out of the question since we are running a gas line.


The backyard is now fully gutted and ready for the contractor to install everything.  We are just waiting for it to be done... which will hopefully happen before summer's end!

You can keep up with the backyard makeover here.

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