Garden plans

Our yard is a bit of a mess. It has automatic sprinklers that were installed by some crazy person who apparently used up all his sprinklers on the left half of the yard and had none left for the right. That equals a lot of dead grass.

Around the patio is a strip of lovely, mostly empty but somewhat weedy potting soil that tracks into the house beautifully.

In one corner there is the Weed Patch of Doom, with a dead tree, a dead bush, and a half-dead bush, and also little prickers everywhere that spear into your skin and leave splinters behind when you pull them out.

The ground is not level and I think there are lots of giant rocks looming just below the surface of the yard.

Our yard needs some work, and I'd love some advice.

What do you wish was different about your yard and garden? If you could tear it all out and start over again, what would you do? What do you like about it? Or, if yours is still in the dream stage like mine is, what would you like to do?

What suggestions can you make to keep things manageable and efficient? What is easy to grow and what isn't worth it?

I'd like to know.

Graphic courtesy magazineart.org.


  1. I had heard on NPR about a guy who ripped out his lawn and replaced it with moss. It takes some time (and a somewhat shady yard) but when it fills in, you have a velvet carpet for a lawn that never needs mowing.

    The house we're in the process of getting has a tiny yard, and we'll change a good portion of it into a raised bed garden.

  2. We're in a fairly urban area, so I plan to do as much as I can to get seclusion. Fortunately, we have one of the very largest yards in the area and have lots of room to do things with We're planning on raised garden beds, two of them, and two or three fruit trees. Flowers will be out front, in colors that compliment the paint color- or at least, the color it will be when we paint. That's the dream anyway :)

    My parents' peas and beans have gone gangbusters in half-wine barrels with the bamboo teepees. Lettuce is pretty easy if you start early, too.

  3. I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of inspiration. Our backyard is a dirt lot. bleh. I'd love to have a little patio, it'll probably end up being concrete whenever we get around to it, but I also like the idea of pavers or flagstone. I'd also like some grass and some flower patches, maybe a rock garden and perhaps a raised bed garden.

  4. One word: mulch. Whatever you plant mulch it to within an inch of its life. Saves on both watering & weeding.

  5. If I could do mine all over again, I'd rip up the backyard and turn it into a vegetable garden :) But one thing I can tell you is that if your environment allows it, cactus is a great selection. They're SO difficult to kill, and they look really unique!

  6. I think you may have just described most of my yard!
    well, OK, except for the sprinkler part! LOL
    I would plant cement!!!
    No. kidding.
    Well, OK,
    I would have lush green lawns, but all around the house where there was any door or anything that resembles a door, I would pour cement. We have some friends that have a yard that is huge, but they have a lot of cement all around the house it self. THERE IS NO NAKED EARTH ANYWHERE NEAR THE HOUSE! That is my wish for a yard. Grass, Flower beds (that grow real flowers)and cement. Oh, and I would keep my sand box and swings and tramp and all of that...
    I love Chris's yard...here is a peek if you want
    Good luck, and be sure to post pics!

  7. Replace the "Weed Patch of Doom" with a water feature :)

  8. We had one of those crazy sprinkler designers also. About 2 years ago, we completely retrenched and re did the system with the help of a friend.

    As for easy to grow: I love lillies. Day lillies are beautiful and don't require a lot of water. Asiatic and Oriental lillies are just as beautiful, and may require some staking, but otherwise are another carefree plant that grow great in our high desert environment. The initial investment may seem overly expensive, but lillies provide a return in that they come back year after year, and they multiply on their own!

    We also have a lot of rocks in the ground and everything is just lightly covered with soil. The small ones aren't helpful, but you can use large rocks as part of your landscaping. They take up space, and then you can plant chicks and hens in the crevices. I think I have a few pics on my blog of one of our rock groupings where lillies are planted in the middle and around the edge as is a miniature pine.

    Last for weed control, install a drip system for your plants. Mass watering leads to more weeds, but a drip system will help cut those back. While not organic I like to mix Preen in with peat moss to cover around the areas that aren't planted.

  9. I have a large part of our yard that is the Weed Patch of Doom!! No stickery plants thank goodness, but lots of tall thick weeds.

  10. From my yard wrangling experience, I would strongly suggest first mapping out your yard and coming up with a master plan. That way you can get a good feel for where sprinklers or other features might be best placed, and where flower beds or gardens might best expand to. That way you know what your ultimate goal is and can work on the bones bit by bit.

    I also favor low-water and native plant alternatives since I live in an area in perma-drought. This makes it easier to deal with otherwise though, since you water once per week instead of daily or every other day.