We joke that we started the project by doing everything backwards, first landscaping and then construction. But we had a 20-year-old spruce and some other mature plants in the way that we wanted to save, so we hired landscape architect Jeanie Smith for a consultation on how to design the future yard. She turned us on to landscaper Jack Domoracki, who moved the plants for us. He also saved me a lot of backbreaking work by agreeing on the spur of the moment to use his backhoe to dig a 4-foot-deep trench for four of the porch's eight footings.
Lorraine and I tackled the rest of the pergola landscaping ourselves. We bought some bluestone that we laid in an octagonally shaped patio for an outside table and chairs and surrounded it with 40 boxwoods, which we planted till 2 a.m. while our kids slept. Then we added vines on the columns—clematis, wisteria, trumpet vine, morning glory—so in the summer it's a regular jungle up there.