We’ve been in our home a little over a year now, and, with some minor exceptions, we just now finished up our backyard, and I am happy to finally share it on the blog!
From the get-go, many people were interested in what our backyard looked like, but I kept it hidden for the most part (unless you followed the yard saga on my Instastories) because, well, it looked like this…
Photos from the listing, as we didn’t take any before photos! Oops!
Yeah, not too glamorous, right? With the exception of several large Orange Cape Honeysuckle bushes, a red bottle brush tree, a cluster of mature agaves, and a guava tree, we pretty much had a dirt lot with a shaded patio.
Here in California we recently emerged from one of the worst draughts, and, sadly, we are kind of still in one. Fake grass and drought tolerant plants became all the rage. People were ripping up their yards and laying down rolls of astroturf or “dryscaping” with rocks, cacti, and succulents. Now, while I love a good cactus, as most of you know, I also love a green yard, one perfect for playing croquet, so Patrick and I sat down and did research on what our options were.
There are a lot of fake grass options out there, but all of which are plastic, only some of which can be recycled at the end of their life. Not all fake grass looks natural, and since we had well established plants, we wanted our lawn to blend naturally with those plants. Additionally, like all plastics, it takes a lot of energy and carbon to produce fake grass, and it acts similar to concrete in that it retains heat, and therefore contributes to higher temperatures. Furthermore, natural debris from bushes, trees, etc. does not break down as it would in a real yard, so most manufacturers of fake grass recommend cleaning it with dish soap, therefore introducing more chemicals to the environment.
So, at the end of the day, we opted for real grass, but went through measures to make sure we were going to be as water and eco-friendly as possible. We installed our own sprinkler system, and used catch cups to make sure we watered where we needed, and with the minimal amount of water necessary. We also opted for a push lawnmower, because one hour’s worth of mowing produces the same smog emissions as driving a gasoline powered car 93 miles (source). Pretty outrageous, huh?
But the biggest reason for the delay from home buying to a finished backyard is that after buying our home, we learned that October is the best time to plant grass here in sunny Southern California. Oops. We had missed that boat as we had bought in October, and therefore had to wait an entire year to get the grass going. But that gave us plenty of time to do other things, like landscape with rocks around the agaves and guava tree, and fix some of the broken brick with the built-in planter boxes and fill them in with plants.
As mentioned, I love cacti, and we already had several cacti, aloes, and other drought tolerant plants in vintage ceramic pots and fiberglass bullet planters, so we relocated some to the built-in planters, but we still needed more! So this meant many trips to various nurseries, you can peek at one such adventure here.
As for our front yard (which the previous owners had laid down sod that quickly died) we decided we will landscape it in drought tolerant plants, as we do not plan on using our front yard for anything recreational, unlike our backyard, which can now be used for entertaining, lounging about, and soon, a game of croquet! Personally, if you live in an area that tends to have droughts, and you do not use your yard, you have no business having grass. We learned of many drought tolerant ground covering that looks similar to grass from a distance, and is a nice alternative if you just want a nice expanse of green, and we plan on using some of that in the front yard.
Oh, and I guess I haven’t formally introduced you to our cat! Yes, we got a cat about six months ago when a friend of mine mentioned that her neighbor moved out nearly three months prior and just left their cat behind. Yes, they flat out abandoned him. So we took him in, and he has since been dubbed Colonel Whiskers.
As for those “minor exceptions” mentioned earlier. We left a large part of the built in planters empty, with plans for that to be the location of our central air unit that we hope to install this spring. We also are contemplating building an upright herb garden.
I honestly love just sitting outside and reading. We get a good number of hummingbirds flitting about visiting the abundance of those orange honeysuckles. With the backyard pretty much wrapped up I am thrilled that it can now be used for entertaining, oh and outfit photos!