I’m sharing a garden tour of my 1 year old backyard, as of summer 2019. The garden is not huge, but a pretty decent size comparing to our 1000 square feet house. I’m located in Northern California zone 10a, but these landscaping ideas can easily be applied to any garden!
A rookie gardener was born
Since we moved in our house in early 2017, I quickly developed a passion for gardening. It was a complete surprise for me, as growing up I never thought I would be into plants.
It all started as wanting to have a cut flower garden so I can harvest fresh bouquet year-round from my very own backyard. Slowly, my passion expands into landscape design, optimizing irrigation, growing edibles, etc. Soon after, I found myself walking around nurseries buying tons of plants, as well as working with my husband on the garden almost every weekend.
What could a one-year-old garden look like?
What can a one-year-old garden look like? Probably not very lush, still looking immature. At the beginning I wasn’t feeling confident to post this garden tour. Then I thought: the beauty of a garden is in the process. Plants are growing overtime, and that is the nature of plants. Some plants looks beautiful when they are well-established. On the other hand, seeing plants grow from small and weak to well-established is the joy of gardening! I enjoy so much of the progress of how my garden grow over time and how my hard work has made a difference.
The “before” – why we removed almost every plant
Before officially starting this garden tour, I would like to share a “before” garden tour.
The before is really not pretty, rather, it is too bland and simple: a patchy grass area in a weird pack-man shape; The remainder is filled with pea gravels. There were raised garden beds around the parameter of the backyard, with some border made of wood planks that are already rotten. In terms of plants, there’s not much going on, just tons and tons of privets as the hedge.
We felt bad about removing well established plants, but with our tropical fruit orchard dream, we knew we needed space, and those privets are not doing us any favor nor providing any value.
So we removed those privets, old planks, and some bricks, in order to reconfigured the layout. Because the old concrete patio is expensive to remove and replace, I decided to work with it.
Backyard garden landscaping plan
So here’s the backyard landscaping plan drawings. We kept the concrete patio as is, but adding a new paved patio area for lounging. Between these two patio areas, I added water fountain, and some flower beds add more division and privacy between these two patio areas.
On the right part, I redefined the lawn shape to make it into a circular shape, serving as a play or camping area. Another reason is that we might expand our house in the future, so not having any hardscaping or important garden structure will eliminate some pain when the expansion really happens(if it happens at all).
The slightly darker grey area on the top right is filled with pea gravel – reusing what’s already in this garden. But I added a whimsical stone path to connect several zones of the backyard.
Every garden needs a lounge area
What’s the job of a garden if you cannot sit there and submerge yourself in this beautiful enchanted space? The garden “before” really didn’t have much lounging space. There’s a giant slab of concrete, with a few concrete outdoor “furnitures”: a bench, planter, and a table. The concrete patio area is very uneven over the years, and looked not sophisticated at all, but I knew that to redo the patio it would be very expensive. So I got a very affordable outdoor rug from Target to cover the majority of the concrete area, and used it as an outdoor dining space. I also added pergola and string lights to define the space more.
I have planted spring-flowering clematis and summer-flowering roses next to the pergola with the hope that they will climb around the top part of pergola to filter the hot sun in the summer. Additional who doesn’t want to enjoy a nice meal under beautiful flowers from spring to fall? Of course It will take a few years for them to establish themselves on the pergola, meanwhile we’ll just enjoy seeing them grow 🙂
Outdoor dining is a nice-to-have, while outdoor lounge is a must! Having a space that we can sitting outside to read or to work is something we truly want for a garden. What’s great about this place is the nice afternoon shade. Our garden doesn’t have any mature trees, so have some nice shady area to place outdoor sofa and chair can be a challenge. Luckily, our neighbor has a giant privet by the fence which provide a lot of shade in the afternoon.
We hired out a local landscaping crew to create this lounging patio for outdoor sofa with flagstones and pea gravel(recycled from this backyard). I got a lounge sofa from a local hardware store, and planning to add a hanging chair. Before the sofa, I scored this black metal lounge set from Facebook marketplace for $100, and replaced the dirty cushion with these IKEA outdoor cushions.
Cut flower garden
Cut flower garden is the original reason why I got into gardening, so of course I planted tons of beautiful flowers that can easily transfer indoors. I have a dedicated post sharing some of my cutting garden flowers, you can read it here:
Here’s some of my favorite flowers blooming in the summer time:
Rose Earth Angel
Growing fruits and vegetables is such a rewarding activity. My husband loves berries, so we have planted many different berries with each type of berry in several varieties. The goal is to taste each variety of a certain berry and find the most delicious and productive variety for my region. We have 5 blueberry bushes, 4 raspberry bushes, and 2 blackberry bushes, and a DIY’ed strawberry planter in three different strawberry species.
Lapins cherry blossom
Lapins cherry blossom
Growing decor: animal statue, fountain, birdbath, etc.
I love whimsical garden decors. They add another dimension to the garden and are so fun to look at. For outdoor decor, I like to buy them second hand as they will deteriorate anyway just from sitting outside. I have found some really affordable garden animal statues and have updated some of them to give them a fresh look. You can read my garden statue makeover tutorial here.
One thing I did buy first hand is this tiered water fountain. The reason is finding a beautiful water fountain in the right size and price is pretty challenging. I found this beautiful fountain in a local garden decor store at a decent price, and had them deliver and installed it for us.
The next big effort – water-wise lawn
Our next big effort is growing a water-wise lawn. We removed the old patchy grass, and replaced with small patches of Kurapia. Kurapia use 60% less water compare to the traditional lawn, and requires no mowing. In the photo below we have just planted those small blocks of cut up sod. Eventually they will grow into each other and form a very even lawn.
I hope you enjoy this 2019 summer garden tour and feel inspired to take some ideas to your own garden 🙂
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