After a solid two days of work, I do humbly declare that our deck/patio area has been transformed!
We've talked about this for such a long time and I'm really excited that it's actually done. Now I'm just paranoid that the plants that we put in are going to die and we'll be back at square one. It is a bit more of a gamble than building with inanimate materials or slapping on some paint.
One of the nice things about this project is that we bought a few plants, but a lot of them were just transplants from the front. We had one ridiculously large hosta (the green leaves edged in white) that I've been meaning to split for years. So we finally did, and every hosta plant in the pictures above with white-edged leaves is from that ONE original plant. We turned it into 9 separate plants, total, including two still in the front of the house. Then we split another blue/green hosta into three plants, and completely took out a second blue/green hosta, split it, and used that, too. So every hosta now in the back came from the front garden.
My parents helped immensely; my dad drove the mulch-transportation truck and helped shovel, and my mom kept Eleanor busy so that we could finish everything up. We owe them some hard labor! There's no way we could have finished any of these projects without help from my family. It's a good thing to live near family.
Now we'll just have to have a fabulous backyard cookout to say "thanks!" And of course, there's the rest of the yard ....
...to worry about next year.