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Backyard Renovation Project The BIG Reveal

By popular demand… our backyard renovation project is live on the blog today! My hubby and I are so very proud of the transformation. Watching our vision for this space come to life has been so very rewarding. Before I went on maternity leave, you may have caught my On Air with Allie episode where I did a walk-through of what our backyard used to look like (you can watch it here). As I mentioned on the episode, this Summer it will be 6-years since we moved into our home. Over the years, we haven’t had to do too much to renovate. There are many reasons why we settled on the house we’re in… one being that we are in a cul-de-sac and our backyard backs up to wooded wetlands which offers lots of privacy. In the spring/summer months, the woods are filled with luscious green leaves and when you’re on our back porch it feels like you’re in a tranquil tree fort.

Over the years, we’ve invested in our patio space because we love to entertain but we haven’t done much with our backyard area aside from a firepit and a hand-me-down Little Tykes playset. In the past, it’s really only been a play and bathroom area for when we had a dog… so, late-February we knew that with a rambunctious toddler and a soon-t0-be newborn in tow it was time to make some changes so we could get the most out of our backyard space.

Michael loves to spend time outdoors so what better place to explore and make memories than in our very own backyard?!

So, Thomas was born on March 9th… we started this reno project on February 28th. HA! Like we didn’t have anything else going on with a BABY on the way… why not throw in a renovation project?! LOL! Probably not the best overlap timing… but, we dove right in and it was so fun! Now it’s all done and we can enjoy it! I absolutely love the “before and after” photos of everything coming together. Michael would come out and “help” DaDa put the playset together. Ryan and I freaked out when we saw the first sprouts of our new grass coming. It was awesome seeing all the hard work come to fruition!

We’ve already had several play dates, neighborhood gatherings, happy hours, birthday celebrations, etc. out in our backyard (and many, many more to come!). We couldn’t love this renovated space more! Every morning we go outside to play after breakfast and after Michael’s afternoon nap we head outside to play some more! We’ll still venture to the nearby parks to play and explore… but there’s something to be said for being able to walk right out my back door in the morning, still in my PJ’s with a cup of coffee in hand (bed head and all!), watching Michael run around. I cannot wait for this time next year when Thomas will be running alongside his big brother. For years and years down the road… watching our boys grow up together in this backyard (and playing with their cousins and friends!)… endless laughs and memories made… makes the investment of our backyard reno project worth every penny!

Here are a few key highlights behind the vision of our backyard reno project:

  • We live at the bottom of a steep street in a cul-de-sac… So! In the past, whenever we had lots of rain in the forecast, the water would always rush down our driveway, around to the backyard, and our lawn would be a soggy mess! Our contractor installed 2 french drains in our backyard which has helped tremendously in routing the water to the wetlands behind our fence. It’s made a world of a difference! No more soggy, muddy backyard! We had to get this problem squared away before we could move forward with anything else.
  • We cut down 3 trees and removed a flowerbed to let more sunlight into our backyard and turned that space into the kids play area
  • Because of all the drainage issues, we never really had luscious green grass… it was more like crab grass, weeds, and dirt… It was perfect timing with the spring weather approaching to create an entirely new lawn. Our contractor sprayed a chemical on our grass to kill it, put down new topsoil/grass seed, and covered it all with hay. We already had the irrigation system installed (that we rarely used in the past hence the crappy grass situation)… so, we scheduled the sprinklers to run for 10-minutes each morning and in just a few short weeks we had beautiful green grass!
  • We knew we wanted a designated kid play area… but we also wanted a designated adult area for entertaining! Having our contractors install our backyard paver patio was such an awesome idea! Now with the trees in full bloom and the large flowerbed in front of it… it feels like a secret garden back there! The cozy circular seating is great for a large group. You still have a good vantage point to keep an eye on the kiddos on the playset. I may or may not know for a fact that it’s great for dance parties too, LOL! We got a small firepit for the fall/winter months to enjoy back there too.
  • It’s amazing what fresh mulch will do to the look of our flowerbeds. That and the trees and bushes in full bloom. So pretty!
  • We lucked out where the contractor we used was able to do everything on our list! If you can get away with it, we highly recommend working with one team because it makes it so much easier with project management. We worked with Escobar Lawn Services and we were very pleased with their work! Hector and his team are reliable, affordable, quick, and efficient! They did our tree cutting/root removal, new grass, french drain installation, playset border, mulch, and paver patio installation in just under 2-weeks time! Now, that’s impressive! If you reach out to them — tell them the Shumates sent you! 🙂

Because many have asked, I wanted to include details (and links!) on where we got certain items in our backyard. We did lots of research prior to purchasing certain things so hope this helps inspire you to transform your backyard too!

  • Liberty II All Cedar Playset – It was stressful finding the perfect playset to match what we were looking for! SO many to choose from ranging in size, color, activities offered, price, etc., etc. I had my eye on this playset for several weeks and when they had a sale on it we pulled the trigger! We waited until the playset mulch border was installed in our backyard first so we knew exactly what size playset we could settle on. I definitely wanted a playset that had more of a “treehouse” feel to it (I always wanted one as a kid!) versus having a more open design. I love that this playset has a built-in picnic table/bench — will be so cute to one day have Michael and Thomas eating lunch together there. It also has a built-in sandbox but I decided to forego the sand (for obvious reasons!) and instead keep the mulch bottom where kiddos can play with their toys. It comes with two regular “big kid” swings that we’ll have on sometimes but I also have the baby swings (you can get yours here) that stay up the majority of the time. The rock wall is awesome and adds a pop of color! The ladder in the back Michael has already mastered so he can go down the slide. The green 2-person glider is fun too! We didn’t pay for installation… Ryan was determined to install it himself. The installation manual was pretty intense considering the first 25 pages was just a diagram list of all the parts… it was definitely tedious (especially getting the playset leveled on the mulch) but kudos to my hubby because aside from a little help by me and my Dad — he did it all himself! We went through Pete Rose Inc. for their certified playground mulch — very affordable and they deliver!


  • Stepping Stones – I just love these! It provides a nice walkway to our paver patio and playset area. It gives the backyard some added charm too. We liked that instead of them all being exactly the same they each have their own unique color/design. We got roughly 30 of the Rustic Canyon Natural Sandstones from Home Depot and installed these ourselves. It only took a few weeks for them to settle nicely into the ground.


  • Circular sectional seating set – I’ll admit… I have  bit of an obsession with sectional seating sets… I now have 4 in my home… but! They are so comfortable! I could’ve settled with a Craigslist find to go on our paver patio but it just wouldn’t have that “WOW!” factor nor would it be as comfortable long term! This sectional set was definitely an investment but I kept my eye on it and when it went on sale I pulled the trigger! The coffee table in the playset area came with the seating set. I ended up swapping out the 16 back cushions for some cushions I found at At Home to give it a pop of color, more comfort, and overall less cushions to deal with! Lastly, I got a cover to put over the set so when we’re not using it stays clean and dry (and doesn’t fade!). *** It’s important to note!! Wayfair, Joss & Main, and Birch Lane are all essentially the same site — If you make an “idea board” on one site it will save to the other sites. SO! If you’re going to purchase something on one of those sites be sure to check the other affiliates mentioned above because you’ll likely find the same thing for cheaper. That’s how I saved almost $500 on this set!


  • White string lights (above paver patio) – Something about white lights year-round make me happy! It adds such charm to an entertaining space. Do yourself a favor and go to Costco and get yourself a set of these lights! I also purchased an outdoor smart plug off Amazon (you can get yours here) so I can control the lights in my backyard and screened porch with my phone. Amazingly convenient and a fun party trick!


  • Bench – I got this several years ago off Craigslist. We never used to sit in it until now!


  • Picnic table — This table was actually here when we moved in. It’s a good size and very sturdy. I gave it a fresh coat of paint and voilà! Perfect for meals, snacks, and a bar when we’re entertaining! I got the umbrella at Walmart which is great for providing some shade.


  • Bird house – My parents gifted this to us from Plow & Hearth. SO cute! We love that it’s yellow so it looks like a mini version of our house 🙂



  • Little Tykes Slide – Purchased off Amazon so we had a smaller slide for the little kiddos what come to play. You can get yours here.


  • Wagon flowerbed – This was a DIY of mine! A neighbor gave me her wagon and I transformed it! The struggle is real to keep Michael away from destroying it! You can follow me on Instagram where I’ll typically post weekly DIY projects on my Insta-stories.


  • Storage benches – We keep a small storage bench back by the pavor patio to store the cover for our sectional seating set and a few random things like trash bags, a wine opener, etc. I also got a larger storage bench (on Amazon) for the playset area to hold extra kid items like the spare swings, chalk, wipes, toys, etc. It’s great because once we’re done playing I can just toss everything back in there.


  • Red adirondack chairs – We got 6 of these several years ago at Home Depot. We love that they are stackable so we can easily hide them behind the playset and bring them out when we have a gathering in the backyard.

Demo day! Bye, bye trees!

New topsoil, grass seed, and hay! A new lawn in the works!

The playset arrived! A zillion parts to put together… Michael was a big help!

My Dad and I helped some 🙂

Check out this side-by-side before versus AFTER!

The play area!

Backyard adult entertaining area!

Want to see another renovation project?! Check out our master bedroom 🙂

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