The backyard renovation project (link takes you to before pictures) has been completed!
As you can see when we left on our vacation the backyard was almost finished. Just a few finishing touches were needed and the gardener took care of these before we got home.
What we encountered is pictured on the bottom right, a very nice job indeed! A week later the electrician came over to wire the lighting into a remote controlled switch in the garage. I can sit anywhere in my house and turn on the backyard lighting at the push of a button. The lighting consists of 4 LED lights in the big stepping stones and 5 spots arranged in the border plants around the yard. I spent the evening in a patio chair, drinking some rose wine, and switched my new backyard lights on and off with a big silly grin on my face...
The watering system is also built into the backyard, two sprinkler heads that pop up when water pressure is in the system. They cover the entire yard, excluding the back left corner so that we don't have to spray the back patio.
We are very happy with the results and as you can see, the kids are already playing on the slide and with their soccer ball. They have even been running through the sprinklers once already! ;-)