Build a Back Yard Oasis with Fire Pit and Pergola

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You want to build a back yard oasis but are currently lacking the inspiration?  Enter my mother-in-law’s fiancé, a really fantastic guy.  He is an incredibly hard worker and it shows through the oasis that he created in their back yard.  He built a patio, fire pit, pergola, and arbor to make his vision a reality.  This project took him about a year to complete because it was all done in the evenings after work and 100% by hand.

It all started when he asked my mother-in-law, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a firepit in the back yard?”  Of course it would.  She pictured a simple stone circle with chairs all around where she could enjoy the company of her family and friends.  She never could have anticipated, though, the masterpiece that he had envisioned.

Prior to starting this project, their backyard was rather plain.  This made it easy, though, because it was a blank canvas.  John started working in June of 2016.  He went ahead and broke out my favorite gardening tool to lift the sod of a 16’x16′ square.  After talking to him, he said that this was the most difficult part of the entire project and I believe him whole heartedly because I know what a pain in the butt lifting sod can be.


He dug down, framed it in, and laid the liner, all of the stone, and sand for the patio.  This step was incredibly tedious and labor intensive because of the fenced in yard.  There was no easy way to get any kind of machinery back there so that man took wheel barrow after wheel barrow full of material from the driveway back to the patio and filled it all in.



With all of the stone laid and everything level, it was time to lay the pavers.  They picked an absolutely gorgeous paver that created a unique design that made the overall look just a little nicer.



Next came installing the actual fire pit.  The simple stone circle that my mother-in-law had thought about in the first place.  Even with this aspect of the job, John went above and beyond.  He picked a stone that matched the pavers almost perfectly and built it up so that when everyone was sitting around the fire, it would be at eye level.  I’m telling you, he literally thought of everything to make this absolutely perfect.



At this point, someone said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to bring a radio down here to listen to some music?”  Of course it would!  Enter brother-in-law #1.  He is an incredibly skilled electrician and only a phone call away.  They dug the trench, ran the line, and voila!  We have power!



It was at this point that they realized that Home Depot had accidentally delivered just a few too many pavers.  Just enough that they could install a small patio at the bottom of their deck.  So begins more sod removal, wheel barrows of stone and sand, and laying the pavers.  When it was all said and done, it was a perfect little spot to sit and enjoy the sun setting.  After they finished the small patio, they planted new grass and brought in some mulch to put all around the new, large patio.



Part one of the project was complete.  Then, the whole crew moved onto step two.  John was inspired by another pergola he had seen on Pinterest and I would love to give credit where credit is due but the link is no longer active.  🙁  Now a man after my own heart, John is a man who can appreciate the value of doing front work.  He purchased all of the lumber for the main pergola and primed and painted them.  These are 6″x6″ boards, all 10′ long.  Now I’m sure you can imagine just how significant this pergola is going to be!



With all of the lumber ready to go, it was time to call in the men.  My father-in-law, husband, and both brother-in-laws went to work hoisting and securing the massive boards.  My mother-in-law said it best, “It was like an old fashioned barn raising, without the actual barn, horses, goats, etc., but you get the idea . . . “.  They all worked incredibly hard on this and I can honestly say that everyone is proud of them for their work and how it turned out.



After an incredibly long, hot day, they called it quits but that sucker was built.  They added the support beams the following weekend and thank goodness they did.  The pergola’s strength and durability was immediately tested by an insane wind storm.  It didn’t move an inch!




John put a two hooks on each beam where he could hang ferns.  He’s quite the botanist and loves all of the greenery that he brings to life, sometimes from seed.  They also added two of the gliders that they had purchased previously to get a little bit of an idea of what the finished product would look like.  They weren’t done, though.  Not by a long shot.  John had even grander ideas in mind and he wasn’t going to stop until it was just right.




Next up was the mini pergola, or arbor if you will, that would serve as an entrance.  It was of the same design, just on a smaller scale.  This one only required John and Clayton but it still took two days.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, ya know.  You can see on Clayton’s face how pleased he is with his work.




Finally, with all of the major construction complete, my mother-in-law and her fiancé took the time add all of the finishing touches.  They hung outdoor lighting that are controlled with a remote, additional tables that double as storage units, and John’s Christmas gift, a hammock, perfectly placed along the back of the pergola.  To create and even more beautiful and grand entrance, they planted wisteria, clematis, and honeysuckle that will climb the chicken wire attached to the arbor.  Now you may have noticed as the pictures progress that there is also a plethora of sunflowers around the perimeter of their yard.  It creates a natural 10′ privacy fence that they both just absolutely love.  And I have to admit, it really is gorgeous and brings an extra level of relaxation to the experience.



Wisteria, Clematis, HoneysuckleCompleted Oasis


After this project was completed, I went ahead and asked John a few questions.  I asked him if, looking back, he would have changed anything design wise or the process of construction.  His answer was simple, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”  Overall, though, he was satisfied with the finished product and wouldn’t have done anything differently.

I dared to ask him approximately how much this project cost them.  Now I want to say that in the position I am in, and I would imagine the same situation that many of my readers are in, there’s not a chance in H-E-Double Hockey Stick that I could afford to do this.  The price tag?  $6,500+  Obviously that’s steep but it looks soo nice!

My last question for him was, “What are you going to be adding to this masterpiece?”  Because obviously, he will never be 100% done.  He replied that next summer, they will be adding a stone walkway to connect the small and large patios and a “mister” in the arbor.  The mister he is referencing is a water line that will mist you as you walk through the arbor.


I hope that this inspires you to go out and create your own back yard oasis because it sure has inspired me!  Let me know what you think!