Not everyone has the luxury of being able to take a vacation whenever they feel like they need to get away. This was the case for UK couple Chris and Sharon who live in Northamptonshire. Both individuals were business owners and the proud parents of an elderly dog with disabilities. Because of heir incredibly busy schedules, neither could ever find the time to go on vacation for some relaxation. So, Chris decided to bring the vacation to them and spent two years of his free time and $43,000 to make it happen.
Two Busy Schedules
Chris Lodge is a 44-year-old man from Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. He has an incredibly busy schedule, as does his wife, so the two never have the time to go on vacation together.
A construction worker by trade, he decided to put his skills to use and had the idea to build him and his wife their very own destination vacation right on their own property. He was doing this more for his wife than for himself.
Starting At Square One
Before beginning construction on his tiki garden, Chris didn’t have any experience with landscaping. He was in the construction business, so landscaping certainly wasn’t his forte.
Chris made the decision to transform his backyard in 2017 to make up for the fact that he and his wife couldn’t take the time off to go on vacation. They both worked long hours, and they had their disabled dog Dice to think about. Because of this, the two hadn’t gone on vacation in six years
They Loved To Vacation
In an interview with Ladbible, Chris explained that he and his wife Sharon used to love escaping their regular lives and going on vacation. However, Chris had recently started a new business which was taking up a lot of his time.
Working more than ever, he discovered that he and his wife didn’t have the time together like they used to. With no time to go on a typical vacation, Chris decided to bring the vacation to his own home.
Since Chris wasn’t going on vacation anytime soon, it meant that he had all the time in the world to work on his new project. For the next two years, he worked in his backyard whenever he had some free time after work.
Of course, working outdoors, he had to work through various different weather conditions in order to get the job done. The faster he worked, the sooner he would complete the project, and then he and his wife could finally relax.
Taking Out The Grass
Chris’ wife, Sharon, is also a business owner and works just as much as her husband does, leaving her little time for a vacation. Chris wanted them to have the opportunity to escape their day-to-day lives, and he had his heart set on constructing their own tiki garden.
This way, the could have the relaxation of a tropical island in their own backyard. The first thing that Chris needed to do was cut out the grass. Once that was all done, he could really get started.
Doing Everything Himself
On top of his hectic work schedule, Chris also made the decision to do all of the work by himself. This means he had to build the structures for the buildings as well as anything else that he might need for the tiki garden.
One of the biggest features of the garden is a rope bridge that runs through it made of timber and driftwood. One the bridge was built, he could then begin planting tropical plants to make their home feel like paradise.
The Finished Product
Although Chris admitted to knowing very little about landscaping or taking care of plants, he completed his tiki garden just a little over two years after he started the project. In total, it cost the couple around $43,000 and two years of hard labor.
The couple also included a bar that the couple used to entertain themselves as well as guests that they have over. Waiting for two years for it to be completed was well worth it and now they could vacation whenever they want.
A Whole New Backyard
The tiki garden that Chris built for him and his wife completely changed the entire backyard. It made the couple feel like they were in a different part of their world by just stepping out of their back door.
Chris’ goal was for him, Sharon, and their guests to feel like they aren’t in the United Kingdom when they entered the garden. By the time he had finished the project, it was safe to say that he accomplished what he set out to do.
A Personal Retreat
Not only was their backyard a place where Chris and Sharon could escape from their work and everyday lives, but it was also a place for family and friends to enjoy too.
Chris notes that it’s the perfect place for people to hang out “if they’re having a bad day or feeling down.” However, he alsos proclaims that the purpose of the project was to provide a place where people can “just get away” from all their troubles.
A Real Getaway
Before starting the project, Chris knew that he wanted to do something “that will make people happy.” One of his biggest joys in life is giving people happiness, and there’s nobody happier now than Sharon.
Chris did all of the work by himself so he could provide his wife with a place where she could feel like she’s on a vacation. It may not be an actual tropical island, but it’s the next best thing.
Worth The Time And Energy
Although it cost Chris $43,000 and around two years of his free time, he considers it all to be worth it. As long as his hard work puts a smile on Sharon’s face, there isn’t anything that can bring him down. Who needs to travel to a different country when you have a personal paradise in your backyard?
On top of saving money themselves and not stressing about taking time off of work, they also don’t have to worry about leaving their precious dog.
They Can’t Leave Dice Behind
As mentioned early, Chris and Sharon are the proud owners of a nine-year-old dog named Dice, who is a large part of the reason they don’t go on vacation. Unfortunately, Dice occasionally suffers from seizures, so the couple is always hesitant to leave town for long periods of time without him.
They knew they would find it hard for the two to of them to be off enjoying themselves leaving Dice behind wondering where his owners are.
Killing Two Birds With One Stone
Sharon and Chris first got the idea for the tiki garden after they decided to do some renovations on the home they had lived in for 15 years. They wanted to expand the interior of their house, so Chris figured that he would do something with the backyard at the same time.
It all started with a willow tree in their backyard which Chris thought gave the yard a tropical vibe. So, he decided to expand on that look and came up with the idea for the tiki garden.
Getting To Work
Once Chris decided to create the tiki garden, he didn’t take research on his project lightly. Considering that the UK isn’t necessarily known for being a tropical paradise year-round, Chris had to put extra thought into his project.
This meant that he would need to use plants that would thrive in his backyard that would also help to make it looks as tropical as possible. Seeing that he didn’t have any landscaping experience, he had to heavily rely on reviews and Internet tutorials.
He Knew About The Wrong Plants
According to Chris, he wasn’t sincere when he said he had no experience working with plants. Apparently, he had cared for a small group of cacti and succulents on his windowsill when he was a child.
Yet still, that wouldn’t be much help when trying to create a tropical paradise since cacti and tiki gardens don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Once they had started on the extension of their house, Chris knew he would have to think outside of the box to pull off his vision.
Deciding On The Proper Plants
Chris couldn’t get enough of how their willow tree’s branches hung down, giving the backyard a tiki look to begin with. So, in order to accentuate the willow, he knew that he’d need to be careful when selecting the foliage that he was going to plant.
They wanted to completely transform their backyard, but they also still wanted it to look tasteful. Not long after finally ordering the plants, they began to arrive in the backyard.
He Enjoyed The Work More Than He Thought
While he was excited to transform the backyard for him and his wife, little did he know how much he would actually enjoy it. Chris claims he “was hooked” on reading about the different plants and learning new things.
This was strange to him because he struggled in school since he suffered from dyslexia. Chris went on to add that when he finds something he likes, he puts “100 percent into it,” and that it doesn’t hurt that he as a “good eye for detail.” This greatly helped to tiki garden to come together.
Finding His Passion
Although the project took an extensive two whole years, Chris enjoyed himself the majority of the time he worked on it. Of course, considering that it’s manual labor, not every job is completely enjoyable, yet Chris managed to push through. Through the process, he even admits that he developed a “passion for gardening.”
He adds that maintaining his new tiki garden has become “addictive,” and that he loves how there’s always something to be done. He can make changes whenever he wants and things can always look better.
It Will Never Be Complete
One of the things that Chris and his wife like the most about their new and improved backyard is that it’s never actually done. Sure, they can call it quits whenever, but being a perfectionist, Chris will never be satisfied with the final product.
This way, he can always have something to work on which is great since he loves to do it. Not only does he find taking a load off in his garden to be relaxing, but working on it has the same effect on him.
They Have Inspired Others
Not only did Chris and Sharon feel the satisfaction of turning their backyard into their dream tiki garden, but they also helped to inspire others as well. Chris says that when family and friends come over, they want to go home and do some landscaping of their own. The couple is an example that anything is possible when you put your mind to it!
Today, Chris and Sharon couldn’t be happier with their ideal backyard. It’s helped them get through the stressful times in their lives without needing to pack their bags or leave their dog behind. Everything worked out perfectly!
A Before Shot
Another Redditor didn’t know what to do with this plot of land at the back of his house. The land wasn’t really even so it was hard to put a table and chairs on it. The homeowner wanted this space to be inviting and usable.
It took a lot of hard work, but this homeowner finally turned this space into something amazing. Keep reading to find out what this space looks like now.
The After Shot
Wow! What a transformation! This backyard space is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe that this was a DIY project. I don’t think I could ever pull something like this off with my own two hands.
I think my favorite part of this renovation is the fire pit. If your backyard doesn’t have a fire pit, you’re seriously missing out. Who doesn’t want to make s’mores in their own backyard?
Why Not Build A Waterfall?
Having a waterfall in your backyard is the kind of thing you think is only for rich people— but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re smart about how you get your materials and you have a little bit of engineering know-how, you could totally make a DIY waterfall in your very own backyard.
Just make sure you know what you’re doing first, because this project does involve digging up a lot of grass.
Making Use Of Unused Space
This whole area was pretty much just empty space before this DIY whiz got his hands on it. He build the fence in the background of this photo, as well as the deck and the tiled patio.
Now this previously unused space is totally usable, not to mention beautiful. I would love to spend summer nights in this backyard. All that’s missing is a fire pit. I’m sure this guy is building a fire pit as we speak.
A Little Help From A Friend
One Redditor learned how to re-do his backyard by reading a post by another Redditor. Redditor /u/stubborn_outlier did an AMA (or “ask me anything”) on a forum about landscaping. After this guy asked the expert a few questions, he realized that /u/stubborn_outlier lived just down the road from him.
The expert stopped by to give this guy some pointers about how to fix up his yard, and this is the result. This looks like the perfect place to grill up some burgers and hot dogs.
A Gorgeous Deck Reno
This homeowner constructed this gorgeous winding deck with his own two hands. This is not a simple square deck with regular corners and angles. A lot of preparation, craftsmanship, and expertise must have gone into this project.
The end result is totally worth it though. People would pay thousands of dollars for a deck like this. Kudos, DIY master, wherever you are. Please come build a deck in my backyard next.
Full Deck DIY Build
This DIY enthusiast built this entire deck from scratch. This photo was taken after the second coat of stain was applied. The deck measures 13′ by 24’, and the bench is 20″ wide and 15″ up from the deck surface.
The person who made this deck did a whole bunch of different tests and measured a lot of people’s legs to figure out the perfect dimensions for the built-in benches.
A Gorgeous Garden
This family added some flair to their backyard by building and installing a few garden beds. Now they can grow their own delicious vegetables and herbs all year long. They also made a sundial (not pictured here) and they put in all of that gravel themselves.
I would love to be able to grow my own vegetables in my backyard. Now I just need to find somebody to build me some planters.
A Colorful Backyard Paradise
This guy completely re-did his backyard, but I think the highlight of the whole project is these swinging Adirondack chairs. This DIY king found some old Adirondack chairs, put arms on them, painted them red, and attached chains to them.
He had to carefully position the chairs so that the chains wouldn’t damage them or cause them to be unsafe. He also built the awning above the chars and he installed the brick patio.
Fighting Cancer With Carpentry
When this father found out that he had skin cancer, he wanted to do something for his young daughters that they would never forget. He wanted to make something that would make them smile and he wanted to distract himself from upcoming cancer treatments.
He decided to completely overhaul his family’s backyard. He basically built a princess fortress complete with a trampoline and various bridges. The father ended up bonding even more with his children in the building process.
Outdoor Benches And A Fire Pit
Who knew that cinderblocks could be so stylish? This is a lovely outdoor seating area made entirely out of scrap materials. If you have some extra cinderblocks lying around your garage, why not put them to good use?
We’ve already discussed how amazing fire pits are, but I think that’s a fact that cannot be overstated. If you don’t have a fire pit in your backyard, you should definitely create one.
A Backyard Oasis
Look at this gorgeous backyard setup that was entirely constructed by an amateur builder. That means that if you work really hard at it, you could also build a deck, install a hot tub, assemble a pergola, and put together a fire table
I think this might just be my dream backyard. I mean, what more could you want? Yeah it could be bigger, but they did the best they could with the space that they had.
A DIY Koi Pond
This very handy father built an in-ground koi pond with his five-year-old son. For a while, this father and son duo were using a small water trough as a koi pond. They decided that their fish needed some more room, so the expanded this planter into a fish paradise.
They added a filtration system, some plants that koi fish love, and a few lily pads. They were even able to get a few more koi fish now that they had more room for them.
A Backyard Railroad
This grandfather built a train in his backyard from scratch for his granddaughter. Amazingly, he only used readily available materials. The train is powered by electric motors that are controlled by a custom-built computer circuit. The project includes 275 feet of track, an engine house, and a crossing signal with fully functioning lights and bells.
What’s with all of these amazing, handyman grandfathers? Where do they learn how to do this stuff?
This may look like a normal backyard alleyway to you, but just a few short weeks ago this space was completely full of mud. The homeowner decided that he wanted to try his hand at it and paved the space himself.
He finished the job just in time for winter, which is great because the weather didn’t hinder his progress, but now he has to wait until next summer to fully enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Woodshop Shed Build
This amateur builder wanted a space in his backyard to store his tools and work on projects. He decided that if he was really going to call himself a builder, he needed to build a shed himself. The thing is, he didn’t have a building shed in which to build his building shed.
That’s just the way the world works, though. Luckily he finished building the shed before winter so none of his tools or wood got too wet or covered in snow.
Improved Curb Appeal
Everything you see in this photo (other than the house) wasn’t here a month ago. This homeowner worked landscape maintenance with his dad when he was younger. He absolutely hated mowing lawns, so he decided to minimize his lawn and build a patio.
It looks like all that landscape maintenance work came in handy though, because he was able to fully design and create this space on his own.
A Grass Overhaul
I know this just looks like a plain old yard to you, but all of this gorgeous green grass is completely new and installed DIY style. When the new homeowners bought this house, the yard was full of big piles of trash. The trash stopped sunlight from getting to the grass, so the back lawn was full of bald spots.
The new homeowners decided to take out all of the grass and bring in new dirt and grass seed. This is the end result.
Help A Grandma Out
This grandson did his grandmother a favor by doing a little bit of landscaping in her backyard. This guy has never even tried landscaping before, so I think he did a pretty good job considering.
He lay down some tiles and some gravel, installed some solar lights, and repaved the entryway to her house. This is a lovely little walkway. I think this guy has a future in landscaping.
A Backyard Roller Coaster
This grandfather retired from a career in aerospace engineering a couple of years ago, and he decided to put his skills to use making backyard roller coasters for his grandkids. Why can’t this guy be my grandfather?
This grandpa is a big believer in both having fun and being safe, so he used his extensive engineering expertise to make sure that this roller coaster was safe for his grandkids to use. Definitely don’t try this at home unless you have an engineering degree.