The Art of Beautiful Living

A Beach in the Back Yard? Why Not?

Today is my husband’s parents 60th wedding anniversary.  In honor of this pretty amazing accomplishment, I wanted to take a second and look back at the celebration we had a decade ago.  We decided that life was a beach (literally) and we turned our subdivision, useless back yard into a white sand beach and threw a luau for their 50th anniversary.

The Problem with the Yard

The problem with our back yard was that it was nonexistent.  It was tiny and damp.  Mosquitoes ruled the land.  There was a small creek that went through the thick, dense trees.  Weeds were knee high, but grass wouldn’t have grown there due to the shade.  And don’t think you can cut down a few trees… the HOA would have stroked and then run us out of town.  So we were faced with unusable space and we were forced to sit on the rather smallish deck (second story) if we wanted to be outside.  We obviously didn’t purchase the house for the yard.  Looking back, I don’t remember exactly why we bought it beyond it was the best of what was on the market when we were house hunting.

An Auspicious Occasion Was Upon Us

50 years of marriage is pretty amazing.  My mother-in-love and father-in-love have been together since they were teenagers.  They have raised four children and done countless things together over the years.  I thought that a golden wedding anniversary was the perfect opportunity to throw a party (and my friends in Virginia know that I didn’t need much of an excuse).  My mother-in-love may be worse than I am when it comes to loving a party.  We make a pretty fantastic pair (LOL…read “we make our husbands tired”).

A 50th anniversary would be an occasion to go all out, but it was also a great excuse to do an “over the top” back yard fix.  And so we committed to it.  We ordered 15 tons of white sand and 3 tons of rock.  The rock were football sized and smaller and were used to create a boundary along the creek so that the sand wouldn’t wash away and we also created beds around the trees.  We had to dry stack them (thanks HOA), but we only wanted a short little edging.  In these beds we planted shade loving plants (most with white flowers) and mulched them.

The sand.  This party was a decade ago and Jerry still says that the sand is what completely did his shoulders in.  He may be right.  He still has problems with both shoulders.  You haul 15 tons of sand and whatta get?  Another day older and bad shoulders.  Maybe we should change the lyrics.

The problem with the sand is that it was delivered to the front of the house.  It was a subdivision and the houses were too close together to drive a truck between them and even if we had tried to do this, we would have trashed the irrigation system.  That left us with a very low tech, high manpower solution.  A shovel, a wheelbarrow, and two relatively young shoulders on the outset.

While this isn’t exactly a small project, it was a simple one and one that follows my thoughts on how to gain DIY experience.  Our yard at the 1846 Texas Homestead is an absolute wreck, but I have confidence we can pull it off, in large part to projects like this one.  The when is my only concern.

But I Digress…

The beach was a great solution to a horrendous backyard.  The sand helped with drainage and the overall moisture issue.  The sand also helped with all the weeds.  We did a stacked stone fire pit and threw some white lights in the trees.  The tiki torches (along with the sand) helped with the mosquitoes.  It was party time!

My mother-in-love’s favorite color is purple.  I am so lucky!  Hawaii is known for orchids and the most common color is the beautiful purple orchid.  I ordered bags of orchids from Hawaii and they arrived in great condition.  We used them in arrangements, sprinkled them on the tables, used them to decorate the cake, and floated them in water with candles.  You can order them from the Hawaiian Lei Company.  We also purchased leis for the bride and groom.

This was a DIY back yard celebration.  We did the food ourselves and no, it wasn’t perfect.  It also wasn’t for this blog so what you see is really what was done.  I don’t think they had a big wedding and wedding cake, and I wanted to make sure they did this go around.  I saved a fortune by ordering a large and small cake and stacking them myself, covering the gap with fresh orchids.  Easy.

The Bottom Line

Were we pleased?  Absolutely.  Both with the celebration and with the back yard make over.  We would go on to have oyster roasts and cookouts in that white sand beach that was our backyard.  It was finally usable space and that was a bonus when we put the house on the market.  Were we tired?  Absolutely, but isn’t it a fun idea to turn your yard into a beach?  I mean, not many folks can claim white sand in suburbia, right?



  • Lucille Burch

    Such a wonderful celebration ! So many friends helped make this night so perfect for us and it was truly a labor of love. Everything was perfect from the slide show of old photos, old 50’s music, food, beverages, weather, location and certainly the company of loved ones that we celebrated with ! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful memory !

    • Jana Burch

      I am so glad that this is a happy memory for you guys. It was so much fun doing something out of the ordinary so we could celebrate people who are extraordinary! Congratulations on celebrating 60 years! You guys are such a wonderful example for us. Love you, MeMe!

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