Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Beginnings

Since it's a new year and not much is happening in the garden (except for the return of the American Goldfinches at last and the first blooms of the Quince), I thought I'd do a little historical retrospective on how my garden came to be. In fact, what I want to show is the nitty gritty of landscape makeovers.

These pictures are the before pics. You'll have to come back to see the after pics later. :-) We moved into the house exactly four years ago. I spent a year watching the backyard and trying to determine how best to change it. The deck and brick walkway, seen below, were very old. I know for a fact that the deck had been put in in the 70's. It was dangerously falling apart. And the brick walkway was another danger where you could trip on bricks that were heaving up.

It also had a big drainage problem. Towards the end of the walkway near those pots, water and mud would collect every time it rained. There was a lot of "goo" down there.

Below is the wood retaining wall behind a very small planting bed. Not very special, is it? Plus, there was no way to go from the walkway to the lawn without having to cross the deck.

And this last picture shows half of the deck ripped off plus the only other planting bed in the backyard. As you can see, the bed was full of Aspidistra, weeds, and some daffodils (which I was thrilled with since I didn't grow them in my old yard). But underneath that old deck...... a concrete driveway! That was very unexpected and required some rethinking of the original plan.

So what was the plan? I worked with a landscape architect who is now a great friend. She spent some time just sitting in the backyard, observing the house and it's relationship to the backyard and the neighborhood. Because the house was part of a once grand neighborhood on the edge of a small rural downtown, she thought that it should evoke a little of the old grandeur but stay true to its country roots. So the plan was to create a rather simple backyard, with a bluestone walkway and patio, a smaller deck, a rock retaining wall, and some square beds for flowers, herbs, and veggies. She wanted to reveal the house instead of hiding it with foundation plantings. In a subsequent post, I'll show some more photos of the makeover process and discuss some of the frustrations (and necessities) of working with contractors.


  1. Oh, I love before-and-afters! I'm still in the before stage with a home just 1.5 years old. Happy New Year - VW

  2. I can't wait to see how it turns out. By the way, what is that plant in the photo on your header? That is a stunning picture.

  3. Phillip, the plant in the header is Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), the dried up blooms of Sotol, that is. I took that picture two years ago in the Davis Mountains after a snowfall. I changed my header to better reflect the season. :-)


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