Bailey won the UpSkill contest sponsored by Lowe’s that gave her $2000 to install a paver patio!!! She was excited for the opportunity because in addition to the $2000 came me…a landscape designer!

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This was perfect timing too! Bailey was closing on her brand new house and needed a plan of attack for her bare yard. Her neighborhood HOA rules encourage xeriscaping and prohibit some of the “normal” designs like foundation shrubs. I was very excited about an opportunity to do something different!

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Bailey had a vision of what she ultimately wanted from her backyard. She wanted a space that she could cook, eat, relax, and entertain both smaller and larger groups.

The challenges: She had at least 5 neighbors in close proximity and she didn’t want to feel like she and her guests were “on display.” As well, the HOAs rarely want to see privacy fences and rows of natural screenings along property lines. I had my work cut out for finding creative solutions.

The opportunity:  The good thing, a couple of her neighbors had already installed some screening type trees in their yards that we could use to our advantage! I kept their landscaping in mind while I designed Bailey’s and was able to strategically place other screening trees and shrubs in adjacent positions to her neighbors, thereby giving everyone more of the privacy they were hoping for.

Putting together the components: Over the next several weeks Bailey and I worked together over the phone and via FaceTime fine tuning her vision to include:

  • A grilling station
  • A fire pit zone
  • A huge patio space for relaxing under the gazebo (she had to wait an entire year before it came back in stock to order it – well worth it though!!!)
  • Irrigation – very important!
  • Landscape Lighting – you want to enjoy this space at night as well!!!
  • All sorts of hardscaping – this is where the xeriscaping comes in
  • Of course, the plants – looking for a Colorado feel and water wise but definitely wanting a Redbud in the mix!
  • and Fencing – gotta keep that pup in!

We got the plans submitted to the HOA and approved very quickly as well – now for the hard part…installing!

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Bailey had quite a grade to work with.

Getting down to the yard level was the first step…no pun intended.

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I sent Bailey with images in hand to go shopping for stone steps…I was jealous  – I love going to the stone yard to look at rock…rock geek – maybe I should have been a geologist?!?

Shopping day brought pictures via text to confirm she was choosing some good looking stones then had the stone yard come and install them for her.



Next came the UpSkill team to teach Bailey how to install her paver patio Michelle 1a.JPGand retaining walls. The retaining walls were short, less than 2’ high but they did extend a good amount across the back of her house.

Getting the first row of the walls level is one of the most important steps.

After the walls went in, then the team jumped on the initial patio space. They would ultimately assist Bailey in correcting the grade and prepping for the remaining patio spaces that she would add on her own later. Learning how to use a wet saw was a great skill Bailey picked up. It’s a loud and intimidating tool but very feasible to use. She can transfer her newfound skill to indoor tile projects too…and the confidence knowing how to use an aggressive tool doesn’t hurt anyone either!

Once the install team completed their portion of the project, Bailey and her boys were empowered to complete the remainder of this Ultimate Entertaining Backyard project. Along the way, Bailey has sent updates and I’ve been able to provide encouragement as well! Completing a project of this scale on your own definitely requires it to be done in phases. 

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Bailey was bound & determined to get the ever expansive paver patios completed but it felt like a never ending task.

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I suggested she bounce back and forth among the other parts of the project to break it up a bit.

Doing this gave Bailey quicker “wins” in completing smaller sections and was able to get a lot of the landscaping in before winter set in! 



At one point, part of her landscaping and hardscaping were in and then the rains came! She saw the below from her upstairs window – water everywhere!!! Thank goodness, it did just what the grading was set up to do and the water flowed down hill as directed…all was good!

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The highly desired Redbud!!! 


Bailey sees Redbuds on her way in to work and their captivating spring blooms stole her heart – she was telling about this tree and how she just had to have one!!


Well, it survived its first winter and had beautiful blooms for her to enjoy.



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Because we were going for more of the xeriscaping look, we had a lot of beds “mulched” with rock and the patios covering the bulk of the backyard.

But…the pooch still needed a place to go…you know, to hang out in the grass.

Bailey did a great job preparing the ground for the sod…with such a small amount, an instant lawn was financially feasible! 





Here’s a shot of the main patio and the newly installed gazebo. It’s looking great! The grilling patio will go to the left of the steps coming out of the house. The fire pit zone will come off the main patio to the right.

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I will update this blog as Bailey continues to progress through her design. I’m so excited for her and proud of the work she is doing to have the Ultimate Entertaining Backyard she was envisioning!!!

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