At Home: Outdoor Landscape & Hardscape Projects – The Garden

Mar 9

Although lately you haven’t heard me chat about home improvement projects of my own, they are happening. I’ve been organizing one space at a time inside, while outside we’ve had a few large scale projects that began in the Fall. Yesterday I realized I hadn’t shared these on the blog…mainly with the IG community because it’s easy to share over there in real time. So today you’re getting a big outdoor update with LOTS of photos. However because there is so much that’s happened over the last few months, the progress will be shared over a few posts.

Today, I’m sharing the details behind our new right side yard / garden!

As I gathered photos from the beginning of this project last October, it’s hard to believe how much changed and how incredible it looks! We’re looking forward to Spring and Summer temps rolling in to totally enjoy the fruits of our labor. Especially around the updated fire pit.


Both side yards had stones set in sand and pebble. This type of set-up isn’t sustainable and over time / seasons the wear and tear was beginning to show. And causing a tripping hazard with buckling stones…not to mention we couldn’t walk on either side of the house without shoes on because of the small pebbles.

The right side of the house, the now garden, has a fire pit which we weren’t using because chairs couldn’t sit level. This is also the area of the yard we see from the master bedroom windows.

The flowers and trees weren’t maintained well. They needed serious love – correct pruning, relocation to where they could thrive, in some cases, and we also wanted to add more. It was looking pretty sad and bleak. We were dreaming of a beautiful garden to see from the bedroom windows. Since there were already 2 existing planter boxes, we wanted to add more to continue growing vegetables and fruits…and loved the idea of adding fruit trees to provide evergreen color all year. We loved the idea of having a dedicated space outside for an edible garden.

On the left side of the house, yet another sad pathway, plants, flowers and trees…

I already knew who could help us with the hardscape. One of my favorite home contractors, Carlos, helped me with all of the hardscape at the old house. He laid that long beautiful driveway I still miss today. But since there is a lot of exterior gardening spaces with sun that hits certain areas harder and longer than others, we needed an expert for the landscaping portion. Nothing worse than going to the expense of purchasing and adding new landscaping only to have everything die. We really wanted to help this house shine and be more beautiful than it already is. And we both wanted a garden that bloomed differently throughout the year / seasons.

While working at a client’s home last Spring, I met a woman who was designing and landscaping at their home. As I worked there over the course of a few days, I saw how careful she was with planting and placement. Before I left the project I ended up talking to her about what she does – it was evident how knowledgeable she is with landscaping AND irrigation! She really cares about plants, what is appropriate where AND is very in tune with how to prune properly (not just hacking and cutting back) and she has an incredible eye for the unique. She came to meet with us for what we thought would only be a consult. At the time she wasn’t taking on big projects and we were fine to have her just help identify what we could plant, where based on sun, how to source everything…and then help us understand how much water each would need.

Well, it turned into much more as you can probably guess. She’s been our gardening angel and are grateful to know her!

She helped us come up with a long list of plants, flowers and trees that would work in the yard – and she made sure to include items we cared about / have meaning. Then after ordering she was here to help with placement. Then she stuck around to help with them getting into the ground. Then she came back to help with pruning. And this weekend she was here to help with the mulch going down. She is invested and has become a 3rd heart in this project…when I see certain flowers I think about her and her gentle guidance. She’s awesome!


Anyway…all that said…first step before planting anything was getting the hardscape completed. So last October we repurposed the existing stone by having Carlos set it in concrete. Over the course of 2 weekends we watched the transformation take place. Get comfy for this photo documentary…

Is there anything more satisfying than watching concrete being poured and leveled?…


I don’t know, it makes me very happy!


Here’s the decking after it cured…

Night and day you guys!

With the hardscape completed, it was a mad dash to get the plants, trees and flowers into the ground before the winter rains came through. We knew we’d wait until just before spring hit to lay the mulch. And that all happened this weekend. We can not be more thrilled with this after!


We added several fruit trees including a mandarin orange and a grapefruit. There was existing lime and lemon trees as well. We’ll add a couple more over the next few months once the 4th garden bed is in place.

We added olive trees and hydrangeas that I can not wait to watch bloom! They have just started adding new growth and we’re anxious to see the flowers in full bloom…

I love this before and after. This is the archway from the backyard to the garden…

In a few days I’ll share the hedge we chose. Our landscape angel, Annie, had the great idea of continuing the hedge from the fence line over into this area to create a wall…making the garden it’s own “room”, if you will. Such a huge difference in those 2 images!

We now LOVE coming out here to pick lettuce or walk around. Looking forward to adding chairs around the fire pit…I can picture us being out here quite a bit…coffee in the morning?!

The mulch we chose is called forest floor…hard to believe this massive pile was spread out yesterday and is now totally gone…

Before closing out this part of the outdoor update series, I wanted to share some images of our tulip tree in full bloom. I wish these stuck around longer than a couple weeks. It stopped us in our tracks daily…stunning!

Have missed sharing improvement updates like this. It’s still a passion, just took a long break until finding myself / my way here at the new house. Definitely more to come – including a BIG project Billy and I are going to attempt together. I’ll share more about that soon or you can see it mentioned sooner in IG stories.

Did you do any improvement projects this weekend or having anything planned for Spring? I’d love to hear about it!

Back soon guys!



comments +

  1. The only thing to be done lately at our home is our lemon tree pruned way back to just a couple short limbs. We are hoping that helps the tree gain strength & more manageable.

    We were able to juice 2 5-gallon buckets worth of lemons to throw into the freezer…about 8 bags worth.

    Enjoy your new fire pit!

    • Samantha says:

      Wow!!! We are having the same thing with our lemon tree. So many lemons all at once. We’ve been meaning to prune it back and pick all the ripe lemons to do the very thing you did as well. Great idea to put in bags and freeze, thank you!


  2. Maggie says:

    It looks so great now! I love how it’s laid out and your trees look so happy.
    I’m not going to list in detail what I’m planning to do… I’ve got a giant lot to play with, mostly bare or covered with thornbushes, and so many plans and ideas.
    We’ve already been working landscaping the part directly in front of the house, we’re halfway done now. Gravel and grass mostly, for a clean look and because it’s easy to maintain, and some palm trees to add to the feeling of “tropical paradise” (we’re on Curacao).
    My part of the garden will be full of edible and medicinal plants and trees. On the other half of the lot we want to build apartments to rent out and that’s where I’m going indulge my love for colors and flowers.
    It will be a five year plan though 😉

    • Samantha says:

      WOW – all sounds so great, Maggie!! Good idea to spread it out over a few years given the costs involved…and the mess that ensues during projects like this.

      And thank you – our landscaping and trees are much happier. Everything we planted in the fall is blooming and budding right now. So great to see!!


  3. suzanne says:

    Wow – how beautiful! That new fire pit area is perfect! ~ Luckily for you and your kids, it looks like you went from one fantastic yard to another. Would love to hear a post on finances of a home organizer!

    • Samantha says:

      Hi Suzanne!

      Thank you! We are loving the newly updated fire pit area – going to be so great this Spring and Summer!

      Finances of a home organizer??? Let me know more details on that topic…


  4. Maryann Horner says:

    So beautiful! I envy you living in CA. I’m in PA and can’t grow the wonderful produce you can. Would ❤️ to be able to go out in my own yard & pick it fresh!! We here are just enjoying our bulbs – crocus, daffodils & tulips. Still getting some chilly days in the 50’s. Can’t wait for it to warm up so I can play in the dirt!

    • Samantha says:

      Tulip season is MY FAV time of year!!! YOU are so lucky!

      We had about a week of stunning weather in the 70s but suddenly dipped back down to the 50s and rain…and now we are all stuck at home with the “shelter in place” orders. Hope your weather warms up soon so you can get outside in that dirt!!!

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