January 28, 2013

Backyard Blues

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Mine was full of rain. Sigh :( Me and rain have developed a love/hate relationship over the past 8 months. I love it because it breaks up the 300+ sunny days we have here but I hate it because it turns my yard into a mud pit. You probably need to see my yards for this to make more sense...

The front courtyard has some decomposed granite for ground cover but it stops right where the front our of house begins.

Please ignore the unruly hose and the pipes we wrapped with towels so they don't freeze when it drops to 30 degrees at night...

I didn't know this until I had my final walkthrough before closing on our house. I asked our construction supervisor where the rest of our landscaping was and he pointed at the courtyard and said "this is it." That means the rest of our yard is dirt. Dirt that grows algae when water sits on it too long:

So. Gross. That's part of our weird side alley that runs into our backyard:

Those rock piles are supposed to help keep the water that rushes out of our roof's scuppers from pooling in place but, as you can see, they don't help much.

Here's the same side alley looking towards the front courtyard from the backyard:

I have no idea what to do with the space. It definitely needs some ground cover and maybe a few plants? Something like this would be cool:

[ Image via Houzz ]

Anyway, our backyard is a little less muddy but still very bare:

I'd love to plant a few plants underneath the window to the left:

See that agave?

I bought it a last weekend for $25 and had initially planned on planting it underneath the window. My plans changed when I did a little Googling and learned that the kind of agave I got can grow to be 8-10 feet wide and 6-8 feet high. Let that sink in for a minute. I've got a monster plant on my hands and I don't know what to do with it!

Ignore the fire pit, it's going on Craigslist. I bought it about a month after I moved out here and I think it's only been used 3 times in almost 5 years.

Also ignore the patio furniture. It was the dining set in our old condo but we put it on the patio when we moved into our house because it was too small for our new dining room and we didn't know what to do with it. We're hoping to get some new furniture this year but we'll see what happens. Ground cover is more important right now since monsoon season is coming up.

Anyway, when I bought the agave, I found out that the guy that runs the greenhouse at the place I bought it from does landscaping on the side. He's been doing it for 25 years and gets a lot of the plants for his greenhouse at a nursery that's right down the road from my house. He said he'd be willing to give me a consultation and I think I'm going to take him up on his offer because I'm lost when it comes to what to do with our yard.

I've pinned a few ideas that I think could be cool:

But it'd be nice to get a professional's opinion!

Is your yard landscaped? Did you do it yourself or hire the pro's?


  1. You have a blank slate. To me that's so exciting. I love landscaping and we did it ourself. Thank God my husband likes doing it unlike the indoor projects. Your inspiration is awesome. My favorite is the top right one with all the different textured plants.

  2. I think getting a professional's opinion is a great idea! At least to get you started. I love all your inspiration pictures with the green and slabs of concrete mixed in. Can you grow grass there easily?

    A couple of years I ago I won $2500 worth of free landscaping on a radio contest (I submitted pictures of our front yard and won). They dug up a bunch of really old, ugly and overgrown bushes and planted a bunch of new ones in front of the porch. We did pick out the new plants ourselves but I would definitely change up some now that I've lived with them.

  3. I'm all for DIY, but I would totally pay someone to help plan out landscaping - and I NEED to! It just seems like something you really need to "get right" since it's expensive and hard. I'm excited to see what you end up doing!

    Kelly @ View Along the Way

  4. Julia - My mom loves landscaping so I'm hoping she can help us plant some things since my boyfriend and I are new to it. Lots of different plants would be nice, just hoping they're affordable!

    Crystal - Wow, that's awesome! Grass can grow here but you have to water it like crazy. It'd be nice to have but the sun will likely kill it and our water bill would sky rocket trying to keep it alive so I don't think it's an option, unfortunately.

    Kelly - Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too. I'd rather pay someone who knows what they're doing than try to wing it and have it look awful!

  5. I absolutely hate landscaping. We hired ours done before we listed the house. I figured after 4 years of trying to clean out and replant unsuccessfully I might as well just pay someone who knows what the heck they are doing. It will probably save you money in the long run. Do you have to scoop the yard with the dogs now? I know weird question but just curious.

  6. Yeah, that's very true. Scoop the yard like with a pooper scooper? If so then, yeah, we do. Our yard is pretty much solid dirt with tons of pebbles and some medium sized rocks so it feels like we're cleaning a giant kitty litter box haha

  7. You certainly have unique options. We were just down in your neck of the woods last week...my first time down there. I really liked it, but the fact that everything is some shade of dirt, PLUS most landscaping does NOT give you a green lawn to break up that "dirt" theme, would be most challenging. I do like the pictures of artistically using pavers. Most of the landscaping we've had is what previous owners have done. I kill everything, so its a good thing to have everything already there and established for me. Maybe the succulents you would have would be a good thing for maintaining. Flowering succulents.

  8. Now that I've read other comments I have one suggestion for buying AFFORDABLE plants. Farmer's markets!! They are MUCH cheaper at farmer's markets.

  9. Haha, yes! Everything is brown here. It was a huge adjustment when I first moved down here from the midwest but I don't even notice it anymore.

    The Farmer's Market suggestion is great! I too have a black thumb but if the plants are cheap enough, it'd give me the option of trying to keep a few alive before shelling out the big bucks for some!

  10. I would hold onto that plant since it might be perfect to break up that back corner. Love the choices you found on Houzz and am anxious to see what your landscaper says since I am in the same phase of our remodel...good luck


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