Small Backyard Landscape Update

It has been a while since I mentioned anything about our backyard so today is a Small Backyard Landscape Update. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, here’s a recap.

We built a new house and it has a small backyard. Instead of putting in grass that must be fertilized, watered, and mowed, we have opted for less maintenance. We started with here with a plan. Then, we s.l.o.w.l.y began executing the plan. Along the way there have been mishaps, weather, and holidays that have made the project move along at a snail’s pace.

The backyard has a definite slope so things like drainage had to be addressed. It’s pretty hard to write a compelling post about channeling water. And, the stone walls around the beds were pretty unexciting. It was tedious, back breaking labor that took weeks and weeks to complete – mostly due to rainy weather that made working on the project impossible.

Bit by bit, one stone at a time, it has finally reached a place that is picture and post worthy.

We started with what I have called the runway. To avoid erosion and still be able to walk around we covered the yard in weed prevention cloth. Not too exciting, eh!

Creating a Small LandscapeThis is the vision we came up with for the yard. Some large beds, a fire pit area, and a deck.

LandscapingWe bought a few stones and Mr. Seasoned Homemaker began setting low retaining walls so we would have large beds where we could integrate a few veggies every now and again.

Designing a landscapeIt didn’t happen overnight, but things began to take shape. This is from a couple of weeks ago. Notice that the stone walls are in, there is now soil and mulch in the beds, and it is starting to look like a backyard. In the area around the {future} fire pit it is easy to see the slope of the lot.

LandscapingOnce the stone was in place and we had beds. You would think I could start planting a few things. Well, not so fast. We had 3 tons of river rock delivered for the dry river bed. The dry river bed is where water drains from the lots behind us. One day there will be houses with grass so this could change, but the natural slope of the land will still drain water towards the fence.

1 copy

When we were living in the temporary apartment there was a neighbor who had this adorable metal-art cactus. I saw it…I loved it…I found it…at HEB early one morning. It has been looking for its permanent home and how it has one.

Landscape Design

At this point it in the project it is now January and time to plant a few onions and maybe some greens. By the time these are harvested some of my spring plants will be coming out. FIY ~ I have a whole tutorial on planting onions.

Landscape DesignAnd FINALLY we started on the paths. First, we ordered up 5 yards of decomposed granite.

Using Decomposed Granite

This is going to be spread on all of the walking areas. Decomposed granite can also be a growing medium because it is so rich in soil nutrients and minerals. However, we are using it for pathways in the yard. It then had to be shoveled into a wheelbarrow and brought into the backyard. #ohmyachingback

First we had to separate out a few spots where we plan to put in beds. We needed an edging. Earlier we had purchased some metal edging, but it is impossible to get that stuff into the rocky soil around here. Then, we discovered what I call cookie edging because if I sliced it up it would look like a cookie. This stuff is perfect for our application because we could set it down and then fill in with the decomposed granite.

Landscape Edging

Notice how it is perfect for separating the grassy area (in the background) from where the decomposed granite path will be. And it was perfect for separating out a small bed that will have a small ornamental tree next to the {future} deck. Each 4′ piece costs about $8 at Home Depot.

Simple Landscaping

Here’s a pulled back view of the walking path. You can see where the deck will be and the small bed next to it.

using decomposed graniteWe know that decomposed granite can be a little problematic in a backyard. It is better than dirt and hopefully will buy us some time. When you put it down, it’s really like a layer of dirt. The footprints tell it all.

landscaping with decomposed graniteThere is a way to make this better. I don’t know what you call this machine ~ I called it Poundy McPounderson. It is a rental from Home Depot; you move it across the decomposed granite and it pounds it down hard.

how to landscape

Once it has really settled we will come back in and dust the surface with cement. Then it will be firm and sturdy. The border you see separates the fire pit area. Because of the yard’s slope we had to add something to keep the decomposed granite from washing out. We hope to add flagstone here first.

small yard landscaping

While far from finished, I did manage to get a few plants in the ground. There will be border plants, as well. Perhaps in a year flagstones on the paths. But for now it will be decomposed granite.

Xeriscape LandscapingSlowly it is coming along. Over the next 6 weeks I will start adding plants. Then it will really look like something. Below I’ve also created a pinnable image if you like that sort of thing.

Landscape Evolution

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  1. That is going to be a beautiful yard that you will enjoy for years to come…even more so because you did it yourselves!!!

  2. Love it….the layout is very nice. The black weed barrier is very tough to dig thru in the future for different planting needs. Read where someone on Pinterest used 5-6 layers of newspaper for beds with successive plantings. Very eco-green and keeps weeds from sprouting. You may want to use around your plants after setting them in black plastic (will need to cut opening with scissors or knife blade…pack some newspaper around as weed block. As a NURSE, newsprint also does not support germ growth…often used by public health nurses to create barrier for medical bag and supplies in homes where hygiene may be questionable. Good luck…do more pictures.

  3. Great job! I am going to look for that edging material at Home Depot. I have the same problem here in SA. I hope the plants you have put in survived the ice. We are very drippy over here. My gulf muhly grasses are completely beige. I hope they come back.

    p.s. I bought some new clothes that fit!

  4. It’s reassuring to see this. Here in Minnesota, we’re suffering through something called a “polar vortex” and everybody is SICK of it!
    Keep up the good work on your landscaping … so we have something positive to look forward too! :)

  5. A beautiful work in progress. You have such good ideas for your back yard and the finished yard is going to be beautiful. I love the metal cactus. Is HEB a web site? I’ve been thinking of planting some onions this year. Yours look great. Your greens are so pretty. I love growing a lot of different lettuces in a large pot. I am very fond of succulents and am thinking about making a succulent garden in the ground. The cactus would look look great. I’m going to watch your tutorial about growing onions now and i’m sure your information will be very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing your back yard.

  6. Few projects are as labor intensive as yard projects, but they’re extremely rewarding and totally worth it. I didn’t know granite could be used as mulch. Very cool!

    I can tell you really thought this project through, and it’s going to be awesome! I’m so on board with the fire pit. Definitely is on my honey do list.

  7. Leslie, Your yard is looking very nice. It’s obvious lots of planning and hard work has gone into this project. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from Best of Weekend.

  8. Landscaping is such hard work, but it is going to be beautiful once your done. Thank you so much for linking this up at the Shine a Spotlight Saturday Link Party on Angels Homestead this week!


  9. That looks like so much fun. Up here in Maryland we are covered in snow and I am dying to get my hands dirty in the garden. Pinning, Stumbling, and following you on G+

  10. What a great job – thanks for sharing and linking up with us at the #WWDParty. Enjoy the week ahead.

  11. It’s looking amazing already !!! Loving that cactus art :)

  12. oh my gosh, amazing makeover!

  13. This is a fabulous tutorial on how to make over a not-that-small of a yard. Beautifully done and beautifully photographed. Nice work. Linda

  14. Looks great! I have a small backyard and love these ideas. Pinning!

    Put A Bird On It

  15. your blog gets better and better the more i read your posts, what an amzing DIY Great job, I love It

    Thanks MAria

  16. This post is so inspiring! The previous owners did some landscaping but I find myself wanting to redo it and not knowing where to start. Will definitely be referring back to this post when the time comes. Pinning for now!

  17. What a transformation! Thanks for sharing!

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