Thursday, February 7, 2013

Urban landscaping: A History of my Yard

I love nature. I love watching birds, butterflies, and if I can get a hummingbird-- that makes my day! I love to watch flowers bloom and I love to watch food grow. For me, there is something peaceful about being outside. I really wanted to make my small yard a place where I could enjoy being. 

My goal was to make most things bird, butterfly and hummingbird attractors or at least incorporate some into every aspect of the garden. Another big goal is to build some vegetable and fruit plants into the landscape. I really like the way some people make their food gardens mix into a flower garden so it's prettier. I am definitely going to be experimenting with that! 


This is what the backyard looked like when we moved in. I really like the overgrown raised garden bed. So attractive, right?

The plan is to put two different paved "pads" on the side of the house. One will be for the trash cans and one will be for a cute hidden bistro/sitting area. I haven't quite made up my mind yet! All I know is that I want to make it a "hidden garden" of sorts and plant one or two fruit trees around it.

The mess of a raised bed is going to go. It was a huge pile of weeds when I moved in and it's just progressively gotten worse. I'm going to pull it up and hopefully plant something pretty there.

I'm debating on a pathway too. Flagstone pavers or a paved out pathway?

Ohhh... the choices!!

It doesn't really matter because the pathway will be a future dream. It was going to cost an extra $2k to build and I just don't have that kind of money laying around!

I really need to start playing the lotto...

So this is what the side yard looks like now.

The goal was to plant more plants around the little bistro area like rosemary and I was dreaming of hibiscus (I love hibiscus tea) and then putting in a few more berry plants.

There are two small dwarf citrus trees-- one is a Valencia Orange and the other is a Naval Orange--- that sit on opposite sides of the yard. The Valencia is a little hard to see in the picture. They will get to be about 5 ft tall and wide so they will grow towards each other creating a little coverage.

The tree that is closest in this picture is a peach tree... that doesn't give me fruit!

I planted lots of lavender and some boxwoods which are flanked between the naval orange tree and the peach tree. I put a little bird bath in the middle to help encourage wild life and to add a little structural interest.

By the patio I planted one more lavender and put strawberry plants into baskets. You can't see it in the picture, but there is also lantana and rosemary by the little bistro set.

Anyways, this is the side yard/back yard connection.. I tried to take it so you could see the gardenia, blue berry bush and the strawberry plant, but it's in the shadows. :(

You also get to see that I didn't actually get rid of the pile of dirt, but I simply moved it. I'm going to use it to help fill in my raised vegetable gardens when I build them in the fall.


All I initially did in the back yard was add some random lawn furniture and that puny little citrus tree which I think I'm going to tear up. I'm just shocked the dog hasn't destroyed it yet.

I've got some elaborate plans for backyard-- I can't wait to see how it turns out!

This is what my backyard looked like a week before the project started:

And this is what it looked like after they starting digging. The dog loved the pile of dirt! I'm pretty sure he wanted me to keep it just like this!

And this is what the hardscape looks like complete and in full bloom!

There are daisies, germaniums, blue lobelia, spider flowers, petunias, alyssums, blue and red salvia, angelonias, pentas, lantana, marigolds and a lemon tree in there! It's been great for the birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. I have been really surprised at how much the butterflies and hummingbirds have gravitated to the salvia.  I'd say it has been the most popular item!


Bye Bye Palm Tree ::muahahahaa::

I hate palm trees. They are annoying. They aren't pretty. They need grooming and this particular palm doesn't even perform well during hurricanes. Lose.

The palm tree is going to go and a beautiful crape myrtle is going to be put in. I decided on the Natchez Crape Myrtle which is a white flowering tree and can grow to be about 25 ft. It also as a cinnamon colored bark when it starts to grow and the bark peels back. I really wanted a true red crape myrtle, but I was too afraid I'd end up with something pinkish. I think I'll be really happy with the Natchez.

I'm also going to grow a vine in the backyard and it'll grow over and topple over the top of the fence. Planted. Boom.

I added a the following on the far side of the fence a few months ago:

Italian Cypress
princess plant
dusky miller


It's so different now! A completely different look.

We put a pathway in right where that stupid palm tree was. Did I mention I hate palm trees? When the pathway went in, they made a larger than anticipated garden bed near my garden hose. Of course, I had to take full advantage of that!

The crape myrtle is still dormant as it's freaking cold in Florida! I thought the coldest part of the year was done already, but I guess I was wrong! I can't wait to see what the crape myrtle looks like when it's in bloom this summer.

I got a few solar lights from home depot which were on sale and I really like them! They cast a pretty pattern onto the pathway at night.

I planted a dwarf lime tree in my front yard. I'm fairly certain that isn't within HOA regulation, but I'm hoping they won't say anything ::crosses fingers::.

It will only get to be about 5-6 ft tall and 5 ft wide so that would be perfect for that space! It's on the south corner of my lawn too so it'll get plenty of light.

I'm dreaming about key lime pie!! Mmmmmm!!

APRIL 2013:

We changed the flowers out in the garden bed after I decided that the cottage look was actually harder to maintain than a more structured look.

Go figure!

I narrowed it down to three flowers and the lime tree:

  •  Blue Daze
  • Germaniums
  • Blush Euphorbia. 

I really like this better. It's easier to maintain and it's simple.

This is the other side of the gate.

  • Cypress
  • Princess Plant
  • Dusty Miller


I also did a lot of planting around the front garden bed. In the first Home Tour blog the garden bed was pretty empty and now it's really full! I'm just waiting for everything to grow in like it should. My Gardenias are a little yellow, but I'm trying to change the pH and add more fertilizer to fix that problem!

This is the front walkway. A lot of the plants where here when I first moved in except I pulled up some Crotans and planted the Gardenias and a few other flowers. 

In main garden:
White virbinums
Red Jatropha
Golden Shrubs

Around the bird bath:
Red Begona
Dusky Miller 
Blue Salvia

In strip of garden by walkway:
Ixora (yellow)
Blue Daze

APRIL 2013:

Well, I was WRONG about the whole I need to fertilize more. The problem was water retention due to clay soil. I fixed it (glad that's over) and replanted

Big change, right? 

I planted mostly plants that are famous for being extremely hardy. I didn't want to take any chances! 

Plumbagos (snow white)
White Euphorbia
Blue Daze

And then I took a chance with a little bit of lavender around the bird bath and that little tree in the background. It's a Duranta-- a great butterfly, bee and humming bird plant. 

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