A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Garden Spaces

As you’ve probably read or heard, when planning outdoor spaces it’s nice to incorporate different “rooms” depending on how you want to use them. While the bulk of our outdoor entertaining will be centered around the patio, it’s also out in the open for everyone to see (until our shrubs grow big enough) and it receives a lot of sun.

Building a pergola over the patio has been mentioned several times, but “someone” (and I’m not naming names) has been questioning its necessity as well as its shade-providing capabilities, so maybe we’ll address that again when the temps reach the 90s this summer.

Another space in the master plan is to build a small deck off the house to enjoy the morning sun with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper. A deck like this would also be perfect for grilling. But first we’d like to enclose the current porch and make it into a mudroom, so the deck would be built off the mudroom/back door and extend a little into the backyard space between our house and garage.

That backyard space is where we planted the Arborvitae and Dogwood, both of which are doing splendidly. Currently, it’s shaded from afternoon sun, and once the shrubs grow in a little more it will give us complete privacy from the neighbor’s deck (which they already have covered with grapevines, so it’s already somewhat secluded). I think this spot will be perfect for relaxing and reading, and if/when the deck is built to its south, it will create an even cozier “room” here.


The nice neighbors who bought our previous house gave us back the trellises that we designed and built (in addition to all the flagstone). We had the trellises mounted in front of the garage at the old place, but in this house we planted the American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) to eventually cover the garage wall. There wasn’t really optimal wall space for them elsewhere, so we decided to frame them around the air conditioner unit, while still allowing plenty of space for air circulation and access for servicing. Hopefully it will also muffle the sound a little.


We planted two different Clematis varieties to grow on the trellises: Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn Virginsbower) and Clematis pitcheri (Leather Flower), both native to Illinois and other states.

By the way, if you’re interested in finding plants that are native to your region, the USDA has a comprehensive database (which includes Canada as well). Many of the species that we have been planting are native to many other states besides Illinois.

Right now we placed the concrete bench next to the clematis, but that won’t necessarily be its final destination. I’m thinking there’s nothing that says “rest and relaxation” better than a couple of Adirondack chairs, don’t you?

I haven’t yet decided what to do about the “grass” in this area (I use that term loosely, as it’s mostly covered with clover and grass-like weeds). Perhaps we’ll have a small patch of lawn here to accommodate the chairs, surround it with some native grasses like Little Bluestem and Side-Oats Grama, and call it a day.

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