April 9, 2008


Gina's Blank Canvas
( Viewed from the House )
Click on to enlarge

A conceptual drawing of my plan for Gina's Back 40
Click to enlarge

Gina at Myskinnygarden is seeking design advice for her backyard. She indicates that she likes a cottage-style garden. She says that she won't move her raised veggie garden containers unless I go there and do it myself. SO, I've left them in place and worked around them.

I've sketched the blank canvas of her yard from photos so obviously it is not to scale but it gives an idea of what the configuration is.

Details of my plan : A pergola stretches across the walkway to the other side of the patio. Some roses may need to be moved since the posts for the structure are to be dug in that bed. An alternative is to have the shade structure attached to the house.

There's an A/C unit next to the patio. In my experience it doesn't cost much to have this moved to a new location, an ideal spot which I've indicated on the drawing. A decorative open trellis enclosure for the a/c will conceal it without obstructing air flow.

Moving the A/C allows room for a BBQ area next to the patio. An easy DIY project : 1 Sq. ft. wood patio blocks ( Home Depot or Lowe's ) can be laid on a bed of pea gravel and sand and surrounded by 2 x 4 's to stablize. A built-in bench ( or an option is a free standing one ) will provide extra seating.

A natural compressed granite path allows traffic to all areas of the garden and a shortcut to the garage. Two ornamental shrubs near the patio provide a sense of mystery as it prevents the eye from seeing all the garden at once.

A large concrete pad adjacent to the garage is used for storage of compost bins and garbage cans. To screen the area, tall shrubs or trees can be used, or another option would be a free standing trellis or screen.

The existing raised veggie garden containers can be enhanced with large containers of flowers nearby.

I've added one ornamental tree since they seem to be sorely missing in the yard. One fairly good sized tree would make a big impact.

For added interest, a bird bath or water feature in the cottage style garden bed is attractive. All existing plants are to be incorporated into the plan, along with evergreen shrubs for year-round interest and cottage garden plants of Gina's choosing.

The narrow walkway and concrete pad could be stained brown with a concrete stain which would soften it and make it look more natural.

This plan can be implemented in stages as time and budget allow.

SO, Gina, hope you like it. I haven't copyrighted it : ) and you can use it as you see fit. Any questions ?


  1. Very nicely done! I especially like the ornamental tree (because yum) and the ornamental shrubs "adding mystery" - v nice.

  2. carolyn - once again you've left me speechless! (not easy to do) I am so envious of your ability to just visualize then sketch this out.

    I can't believe I never thought of moving the AC unit but I'm so calling tomorrow to get a price on that! I love that it would give me a place for the BBQ grill and I feel like I could do that DIY project with the wood blocks.

    I'm curious what was your inspiration for extending the pergola over the walkway? I am not opposed to moving the roses, im just curious how you came with that idea?

    The area where you have as the compost/trash is where my guy's basketball court is and unless I plan to try to evict him, it's gotta stay. BUT, maybe I could place the compost/trash beyond the garage with a low fence type structure to hide it? You know, over there by the big black rain barrel lol.

    I wish there was some way I could repay you. Is there?? If not, please know that I really appreciate you, Carolyn. I feel special - AGAIN!

  3. You, speechless ? That would be amazing :)

    Appreciation is pay enough, Gina. Glad you liked some of the ideas. Oops, didn't know about the basketball thing.

    I thought that placing the pergola over the walk was easier than attaching it to the house, but either way would work. I forgot to mention that planting a beautiful flowering vine to run over the top of the pergola would be awesome ( I have a Sweet Autumn Clematis that smells divine ). You also have a lot of wood fence that could be softened with more flowering vines ( in keeping with your love of cottage gardens ).

    It would definitely work to put the compost/trash in the area you suggested. I can't tell you how many times I've run into the A/C unit in an awkward space and had to have it moved.

    So how much do you think you will do this year ? I know that you're working on the front. Take one step at a time or you'll become overwhelmed !

  4. how much will I do this year? oh my gosh I don't know my head is still spinning from all this! This TOTALLY changes everything! For one, I'd need to dig up and move the peach tree that is currently sitting in the future home of the AC unit. Plus, all the plantings I have over by the garage would need to be moved to make room for the compost/trash, but I I think that's really important.

    regarding the pergola over the walkway, I get it. I had planned to make the pergola a free standing one and I know I'd need to remove some of the bricks to do this. otherwise, the posts would need to be almost 20 feet apart.

    I also love the idea of staining the walkway brown which you had suggested that I do in the front and I actually priced the stain this weekend.

    im so excited!

  5. And you just can't hide it... " I know. My advice is don't chew off more than you can chew, baby girl : )

    Can't wait to see the progress this year.

  6. I love it! Great way to break up the box with the diagonal.

  7. Love the idea but what about a dwarf fruit tree instead of simply an ornamental one?

  8. That would work , too, n. & j. As a matter of fact she has a peach tree if she chooses to use it there.

  9. Wow - that was so nice of you! Gina, you are one lucky lady!! But I think this plan just encompasses all the elements that should be thought of when designing and is great for all of us. So cool!

  10. Thanks, Rosemarie. I'm glad you like it.

  11. Heather's GardenApril 24, 2008 at 10:26 PM

    Okay, ever since you created this incredible plan for Gina, I've been wanting to ask your advice on my former wildflower patch. I'm not happy with it (year 2) and I want to replace it with a perennial flower garden (I'm not adverse to mixing in some annuals). I'm so overwhelmed with possibilities, I'm looking for a jumping off point. You are so creative and so experienced, I thought you might be able to offer some good advice. Can you help me? My current post ends with some details on the bed if you think you can give it some thought.

  12. Thanks, heather. I'd be happy to.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...