Field of Weeds to Field of Dreams

Is your backyard looking barren? Turn it into a field of dreams with some simple design ideas.
Is your backyard looking barren? Turn it into a field of dreams with some simple design ideas.

A field of weeds is converted to a field of dreams. With a large crew of family, friends and neighbors, the once barren yard's focal point becomes a fountain ensconced with Mexican skip stones. As the flagstone patio is being laid in, the old lawn is removed with a roto-tiller. By the end of the weekend, lush sod surrounds the stone patio, a trellis is strategically placed around the AC unit, and new plants and shade trees take root in the new lawn.

Step 1: Installing a Water Fountain

The water fountain is the focal point of the yard. To begin, dig a 4x4 basin and lay a framework around the area. Next, install a 45mm thick rubber liner in the basin. This liner will collect the water, which will flow from the urn. Once the liner is in place, set the metal grid on top. Then, place the urn on top of the grid, and arrange Mexican skip stones around it to cover up the metal grid work. To run electricity to the fountain, dig a trench and run a wire from an exterior outlet through a PVC conduit pipe. Remember, it's important to bury the wire at least 1 foot below the surface to ensure safety and protection from the elements. 

Step 2: Building a Flagstone Patio

To incorporate the flagstone patio, mark the lay out with brightly colored spray paint. Next, remove 6 inches of dirt below the level of the grass, this will leave plenty of room for the materials necessary to secure the stones. Level the dirt and add about a base of sand. Compact the sand down to about 3 inches below the surrounding surface. Make sure to use a hand compactor to settle the sand firmly into place. Next, lay the dry pack cement mix and set the stones on top making sure they are level with the surrounding area. When picking stones, remember to use a variety of shapes and sizes for a natural look. After the stones are laid down, tap them down to prevent air pockets that may cause them to come loose later down the road. Finally, apply grout to the joints in between the stones. 

Step 3: Clearing the Area

To remove the old walkway in preparation for new sod and landscaping, mow weeds with a lawn tractor, being careful to remove any large objects such as rocks and sticks that may damage the mower blade. When clearing a large area, it's useful to rent a large dumpster for convenient disposal. Before using the rototiller, it's important to mark all of the sprinkler heads so as to not damage your watering system. Next, till the lawn at least twice to remove all the old grass and to loosen the soil. 

Step 4: Landscaping

When planting a shade tree such as the Jacoranda, make sure the hole is deep enough so that the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Using organic soil, fill in the gaps and water lightly. To give your flower beds a sharp look add bender boards around the perimeter. Bender board is the perfect material to create a clean separation between the plants and lawn, especially if the garden curves. Dig a small trench and place the bender board into the ground so that only half of it is exposed. Then fill the trench with organic soil. To hide an eyesore such as a boxy AC unit, construct a box from lattice wood and finish off with potato vines for a natural look. 

Step 5: Laying Sod

Finally, before adding sod to the newly tilled ground make sure you have leveled the yard and laid in a layer of rich, organic soil. Then lay in the sod making sure you stagger the joints and tighten the seams. A carpet knife is ideal for cutting the sod. It's also best to lightly water the sod behind you as you go and water thereafter for next three weeks.