By working with their contractor, an Ile Bizard couple transforms their backyard from a neglected patch of overgrown grass into a magical oasis for relaxation.

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Everything about the Ile Bizard townhouse was just what Marcia and Robert were looking for. They’d jumped into the West Island real estate market in late 2019, just months before the pandemic lockdown. “We wanted a three-bedroom house because we both work at home,” Marcia says. “We fell in love with the place right away. We knew it needed renovation, but we loved the bamboo floors and the great energy of the house.”

The only downside? “The backyard was a disaster,” Robert says. “It was just uncut grass and a unistone patio, covered by an outdoor rug.” The upside was that the backyard—measuring about 40 feet deep and 18 feet wide—was enclosed by a wood fence that created privacy, and it had a storage shed.

“We knew right away that we wanted a deck,” says Marcia, a jewelry designer. “During the summer of 2020, we started by planting a few cedars down the side, along the fence. And we painted the shed a muted grey. It had been brown.” River rocks act as a mulch under the cedars.

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Once the indoors was renovated, the couple turned their attention to the backyard. It was June, 2021, and the worst of the pandemic had passed. But wood prices had escalated, and finding a contractor proved challenging. “We priced wood at a few places and then found some at the right price,” says Robert, a musician.

Meanwhile, Marcia had been researching ideas on the Internet and had created a vision board of photos.

They approached a friend who is a contractor. “He’s a jack-of-all-trades, and he was super busy,” Robert says. “So I offered to work with him.”

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With the deck installed, Marcia and Robert created a garden, a linear border flanking the fence on the south side of their property. Among the plants that soften the lines of the fence are lavender, pelargoniums, petunias, mint, perovskia and hydrangeas. A vine of concord grapes reaches upward. “The grape vine grew so well that I had to clip it back,” Marcia says. About half of the backyard’s square footage boasts a lawn.

Robert put his wood-working skills to work during the pandemic by transforming shipping pallets into garden furniture. The pieces were eventually replaced with outdoor seating that Marcia sourced online. The couple also invested in a gazebo that shelters the barbecue.

Once the deck, which measures 16 feet square, was completed, they installed the firepit they had brought from their previous home in Kirkland. It’s a cozy invitation to warm up on cool nights.

The ambience that infuses the outdoor space is as magical as the energy of the house that the couple sensed the first time they visited it. A string of lights on the gazebo confers a festive effect. An outdoor dining table and patio furnishings are encouragements to slow down and relax. “I meditate and do yoga on the deck,” says Marcia. “I also put my bare feet on the grass to connect with the earth.”

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Robert says he and Marcia enjoy spending time together in their new backyard. “I love watering the grass and plants,” he says. “And we both love being out here after dark.”

Adds Marcia: “This was done on a budget. I think the plants cost more than everything else.”

The effect, though, is rich and beautiful. Investing sweat equity and spirit into a garden makeover has paid off in this space, which lures these homeowners in with the promise of lovely repose.