Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FUTURE OUTDOOR DINING AREA

As many of you who have followed the blog know, we have this awesome, old, Mesquite tree, that we've called the "party tree".  2nd Family has a similar tree and it becomes the gathering place at parties, you know, just like the kitchen in your house becomes the gathering place.  So they started calling it the party tree and now we do the same (even though we haven't had a party yet).

Recently, we got the area around it all cleared out so we could see what we have to work with later this Spring...


Here is the area looking from the front porch.  You can see the spot back under there where we would like to make a dining area.  There is also room for a lot more to happen "around" the tree, now that we have it cleared, my mind races at the thought of possibilities.  Maybe we should call it the dining tree?


Here, I am standing in the spot where we'd like to put an outdoor dining table (as indicated in red by my lifelike graphics skills).  This is looking toward the back area behind the tree and the property behind ours.  As you can see, we I still have more stuff to clear out back there, including small trees and vines and other things popping up.  You can also see that grass doesn't grow, because it's pretty much shaded all the time.  Does anyone have an idea for a good ground cover that would work like a "carpet" under the table?  Something to walk on, that would hold up to foot traffic but not get too tall?


Here is the view in the same spot, looking back toward the house.(see, the table is still there, beautiful huh?)   I wish I could have a picture of how nice it is underneath there.  It's shaded, and cool, and tall, and very peaceful underneath the branches.  There are none that are too low, it's just perfect for walking around.  There are even a couple of branches that would be perfect for holding a light fixture of some sort.  Candles?  Lanterns?  Electric lights?

Planning is half the fun!

So any suggestions for plants?  Table/chair ideas?  Other things?
 

26 comments:

Sue said...

You'll have a tough time finding something for dry shade that can stand up to foot traffic. Do yourself a favor and plan on laying pavers or stone there......and surround the area with groundcovers. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. I love your "party" tree.

Sue said...

Ha---I'm back. Get a copy of Bluestone Perennials Spring 2012 catalog-page 37-Groundcovers. Ajuga--It says-can be walked on, mowed over and generally abused. Sounds pretty good. And there are some others.
(but I still would put "hard" surface under a table!)
:)

Shannan Deshazer said...

We sure don't have gorgeous trees like that up here in the northwest! Our outdoor dining has to be under a pine tree lol. Anyway, I don't think a planting under the tree at all - instead, put 1/4" crushed gravel (think English garden paths) and surround with lovely containers with plantinga or lanterns with candles inside. Then put electric lights up in the tree - ooh how lovely and romantic. I'm positively jealous! On a side note, when you show your house I noticed it is up on blocks. Is that stable? Will it always be like that?

John Gray said...

that tree is something else... it looks like it could be from the set of Pans Labrynth

1st Man said...

I was afraid of that! I do have a cobblestone path mold that I am going to use for paths around the house, and I could make a concrete pad out of that. Now I'm thinking that maybe just putting in some crushed stone, on top of weed block cloth, would work great too, and look just as nice. of course I need to check the water issue under the tree after a rain.

1st Man said...

GOSH! You're awesome! I don't get that catalog (but I will now, never pass up a chance for a new plant/seed catalog!) and I'll check this stuff out.

1st Man said...

John, you noticed that huh? I love that description. It always reminded me of something that should have a face on it, or its branches should move around like arms, ha. I think it needs a name too...we'll work on that.

1st Man said...

Shannan, first of all, yep, it's like that and it's always been like that. We had them redone last summer. It's called a pier and beam house. The house sits up on piers (the concrete) and those piers are supporting beams that run the length of the house. I think if you look back on the blog maybe june/july, there are some pics of when they were done. We will, when the house gets ready to be painted, put latttice around the bottom to keep animals out and then of course landscape around it. But yes, it's safe and very stable.

I'm liking the lanterns and electric lights idea. Good idea. And yeah the crushed gravel is probably a good route in the long run. It would be clean looking too. Thanks for the ideas!!

1st Man said...

You probably don't have those trees there. This is called a "Mesquite" tree. They are very common in the SW part of the states. Very drought tolerant, they do have thorns, but they also produce seed pods that can be made into a type of flour (haven't tried that). The leaves are feathery and their branches do grow all crazy like this. A tree guy told us this one is about 100 yrs old.

Dani said...

To me it's the Picnic Tree :)

Yup, reckon that gravel will have to suffice under that tree. With a focal point urn or two or three? Or you could put down bark? Or Mondo grass? Suggest you speak to your local nursery and get their advice..

But normal grass - the tree is showing you that grass is not going to grow under there.

But a very, very nice picnic spot indeed :)

1st Man said...

Picnic tree, I like that!! I don't know why I didn't think of bark chips/mulch, that's a good idea as well. The tree is definitely showing us that we're not going to be get much growing under there, ha. Check back and watch it evolve!

The Happy Hippy said...

Oh my, I'm so excited for you - I can see it all in my head - very French country would be chic (or Desert Sheikh chic would be fun : )).
But I see a canopy hung from that branch for sure; creating a sun shade as well as keeping off the wind and sudden showers. Underfoot, there are herbs such as small-leaved thymes and low growing camomile that knit together to make a squiggy natural carpet that, when walked on, releases it's intoxicating aroma as you pass - an aromatherapy-party-tree-room....oh the possibilities are endless - I can't wait to see it unfold!

L.M.Tea said...

Beautiful spot for a picnic table!! Thanks for sharing.

Tonya @ My Cozy Little Farmhouse said...

I think the crushed stone would be the most practical. What if you did a checkerboard path leading up to this area? Then you tie in all the materials and it is visually appealing.

http://www.keppelcroft.com/xeriscape.html (3rd picture down)

I can't wait to see what you do!

Annie's Granny said...

Every time you start dreaming, I start remembering a place I visited in 2007. It was a quaint little restaurant in Wendon, AZ. I put some photos up for you....especially take note of the tree in the 6th and 7th photos. I wish I had a better picture of them, they don't show well in these, but they were quite lovely. They could be made to light up, I'd think. You'd have to figure out how to weather proof them.

http://s530.photobucket.com/albums/dd345/anniebloom1/Wendon%20Trip%202007/?albumview=slideshow

I once grew Sweet Woodruff in my shady corner, and loved it. I don't know how well it holds up to walking on though.

1st Man said...

Wow, those are beautiful hanging in the tree. I need to let that gestate in my head, I think I can come up with a DIY of something like that. Very pretty!! Thank you (as ALWAYS) for sharing! And I'm looking up Sweet Woodruff on google now!

1st Man said...

Wow, so many awesome ideas. I love this too. How to narrow down to just one, ha. That's always been the purpose of this blog, document what we do and share it with the world. As soon as the weather stays consistent (poured rain last two weekend, we won't complain though), we'll start doing much more outside. Stay tuned!

1st Man said...

You know, a simple picnic table may be just the ticket. It's easy, classic and best of all, inexpensive!! thank YOU!!

1st Man said...

Your excitement is contagious!! Awesome ideas. A canopy never crossed my mind but it does now. And French Country or Desert Sheikh (love that title) is definitely on the list. Aromatherapy? That's BRILLIANT! Dang, are you busy this Spring? Ha. I'll post it all here when it happens. first step was clearing out underneath it and pruning some branches. Now I need to remove some more stuff and then just figure out what to plant/lay/put down/dig/pour underneath it all, LOL! Thanks for the suggestions!!!

SciFiChick said...

I just love your "party tree". We had an old oak tree once that had a wonderful "outreaching" branch like that. I picked up some of those "rope" lights in a garage sale and wrapped the branch and up a ways towards the top of the tree. It created a really beautiful effect and gave off plenty of light to "dine" by. We just had an old picnic table under it but spent many many wonderful evenings out there. Good Luck figuring out what you want to do! It sounds like a lot of fun.

Kelly said...

I have been collecting all kinds of magazine decorating things that I think would look awesome in your house, and there are some outdoor dining things in there. I should get that in the mail to you one of these days!!

Do you ever watch The Barefoot Contessa? She does some neat outdoor entertaining kind of things.

Tonya @ My Cozy Little Farmhouse said...

What a cute and quirky little place! LOVE the lanterns

sb158 said...

No ideas on decorating, but I do have a suggestion for plants. Try looking at the Central Texas Gardener site here: http://www.klru.org/ctg/ . They may have some ideas; it's a very useful site.

1st Man said...

Hi! That's a great idea, using rop lights. Dang, I bet I could have found some on clearance after Christmas. I'll have to keep my eyes out. And yeah, I'm leaning toward just a simple picnic table. I hope for many wonderful evenings (eventually) out there as well. i'll post progress as it happens!

1st Man said...

Now don't send off things you might want for yourself!! Thanks for thinking of me of course.

Yes, we love the Barefoot Contessa...she's always doing some nice outdoor things. I'll need to pay more attention now, ha.

1st Man said...

Wow, awesome website, thank you for the link! Lots of great info (especially for Texas gardeners). Thanks again!!