Parking pad in the front yard
Grant Ezell
March 12, 2012 in Design Dilemma
I recently bought my first home, an 1883 brick bungalow in St. Louis. The house has been rehabbed and has everything I could ever want on the inside. It sits on a long narrow lot which borders a brick alley. At one point a large concrete 2 car parking pad had been poured in the front yard. There is a long bowling ally of a sidewalk that runs from the front gate to a small semi enclosed courtyard in front of the house. I'm wondering what to do with the space which to me has a French Quarter vibe to it..I don't really use the parking and I can't really dig it up so I'm not sure what to use it for. I do like the idea of somehow using it for entertaining. Suggestions would be welcomed.
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Shannon Ggem ASID
You could stencil and paint it like a carpet, and then build planter boxes around it for softening, defining and screening the space. Add your bbq on one side of the path, a table and chairs on the other and viola!

By the time you do all that, though between the plants, lumber, labor and paint you will have spent much more than it would cost to jackhammer it out each side (Leaving your front door path) and have it hauled away, offering you limitless options!

Removing it isn't an option at all?
1 Like   March 13, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Grant Ezell
Thank you Shannon, I like those ideas, especially the planter boxes. I've only lived in the house about two weeks and had eventually thought I might do some type of pergola with a brick chimney on one side, but since it is in the front yard I'm not sure how that would look, also it is in a historical area, and there are most likely restrictions. What do you think of stenciling the concrete to look like brick to better blend in or would that be tacky? I've also thought of moving the cemetary fence to the otherside of the pad closer to the house which would make the yard smaller but make the parking area more defined and user friendly (there is currently a gate that has to be manually opened in order to park there.) I dunno...maybe your idea of removing it sidewalk included is the best solution.
Anyway thanks again for your ideas.
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Do you have a backyard for entertaining? If Not, this is perfect. If you have only been there 2 weeks, I wouldn't tear any concrete up. Is this a forever home? For resale, that pad may be very useful for the next owner. So with all of that said, I love Shannon's idea. I would recommend a concrete stain for All the concrete, and then with the planter boxs, flowers, and furniture, I think will be quiet qaint. I would also spuce up your bushes and maybe plant something along the sidewalk from gate in, to soften that area. Heck, If you don't need the grass, I would dig it all up and have some kind of garden there instead. Summer is coming on and you even incorparate some veggies in there. AND I love the color on your doors!
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Your long pathway would be great lined with gardens, either annual flowers or low maintenance shrubs/ hedges. Definitly put in some lighting there and think of the path as a beautiful hallway leading and tempting people to enter your outdoor space.
I like the privacy that the shrubs are offering at the end of the path but I would trim them to be even ( both sides). I think the path should have symmetry.
As for the paved area, I'd keep it for now as-is. Make this a beautiful sitting and dining space with nice outdoor furniture and use bold vibrant colors as accents ( use the same accent color in your flowers along the path ?) You can put down some outdoor rugs to create different spaces and layer them to add interest and color. This would be such a great little nook for enjoying the outdoors.

This is, of course, that the concrete is in good condition (no cracks and sinks).
You can explore whether you can tile (outdoor tiles), or lay stone & mortar on top of the concrete. Honestly, I think your money would be better spent if you can re-use the concrete here as a base for something better. Ripping it out and having to lay soemthing new, might just cost more in the end.
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Grant Ezell
melibd and mmonika, thank you for your ideas. The first picture with the long view of the sidewalk is before I bought the house. The second picture shows the repainted front. There are no back or side yards and the seller cleaned up the yard and had all of the shrubs trimmed (boxy style.) A good friend is a master gardener and is going to help get me started with clippings and seeds from her amazing cottage style garden. I definatly dont live in the tropics but I would like to mimic as much as possible the garden district in New Orleans or Key West with window boxes and hanging ferns etc.
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Shannon Ggem ASID
It is true that if you get rid of it you'll still have to put something down if you want a patio, brick, flagstone with grass joints, DG, etc, etc.

I think in keeping with your New Orleans feeling painting it to look like an Oriental Rug would be fun. Underpaint the whole thing in your color choice, Just cut out a flour de lis stencil, and a smaller stencil for a design within the flour de lis. Then paint your flour de lis in the pattern of your choice, then the detail. Then hand paint fringe and the like.

If that feels too fussy, a stripe would be cool, too. Maybe 3 color to work in a Key West palette. It'll wear with time, but it's part of the charm and if you want to do something else at that time, all you've spent on it is paint!

Or I also like the outdoor rug idea.

Maybe move the hedge not the fence. If you landscape near the fence, you gain all that nice front yard, making it natural for some of it to be paved for entertaining. You haven't given up the pad, but you've changed the yards focus to the natural landscaped area beyond.

That way you can have the privacy up near the fence, then just a lacy suggestion of division of space near the pad. So exciting about your gardener friend, that input will be invaluable.

Make sure you consider privacy needs inside (plant something outside a bathroom window, etc and what you want to look at from each window. Good luck with your project!
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Grant Ezell
Thank you all for your ideas...I love this site!
0 Likes   March 13, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Check out concrete stamping. It's an affordable way to get a brick courtyard look. Possibly an even more cost efficient and reasonable DIY solution is stenciled concrete. Check out this website for inspiration and then google for local suppliers: Once your courtyard is complete then over time you can add lighting, a fountain, seating, etc. Suggestion for planting: Banana trees. They are so easy to grow and easy to winter in a garage or basement. Great choice for instant tropical ambiance.
Have fun and best wishes in your beautiful new home!
0 Likes   March 14, 2012 at 1:56AM
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If you have the money, couldn't you build a wooden or composite deck over it, one that goes up only one or two steps, perhaps with planters and/or raised edges for seating? I like the idea of the warmth of the woodgrain instead of concrete and if you stain or paint part of it to match the stairs it would feel cohesive.
0 Likes   March 14, 2012 at 9:19AM
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Have you made any changes yet? Would love to see some pictures.
0 Likes   April 16, 2012 at 3:47AM
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