Finally after a solid 7 years of dreaming, researching and planning out just how I wanted my side yard garden to looks, the Hardscape is complete. I’ll put an asterisk on complete because there are a few more things I have in mind but the major parts of my DIY garden hardscape are done and I couldn’t be happier.
When I broke ground on the side yard garden, my vision was clear. It had to be a place where I could come and sit, relax and invite friends over. And all of that has to compliment the star of the garden which is the food! Flower gardens are all the rage right now but a garden for food will always be my first love. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. A tribute to my ancestors and a legacy for my children who I hope to inspire to take on their own gardening journey as the grow up. So let’s talk about the garden hardscape but first a look back.
DIY Garden Hardscape Build
I can’t possibly share all about the hardscape build without showing you were it all started. I took a walk down memory lane in my Instagram stories sharing exactly where I started. The photos are not pretty but even that lends to this transformation story.
I broke ground in 2018, built the center bed and started planting in it plus continued working in the backyard garden bed.
And here was my vision in 2019. I’m not a designer. I can’t draw out fancy design plans but this was good enough and my vision stayed pretty true.
You can see the beds, the seating area and what I thought for the walking paths.
And here we are September 2020.
I found and dug up over almost 100 bricks around our yard. Crazy, right? Some of these bricks were clearly a part of the original build when this house went up in the 70’s. I’d say others were from the first owners and I’m sure the hubby purchased a few too. I lined the original in ground bed with the bricks I found and that was the start of all things hardscape for the summer.
The Bed Along The House
I knew I wanted another in-ground planting area in this spot. I had it covered with tarp and then cardboard for a whole year! This spring I finally broke ground and it was a doozy. I had no idea there were literal boulders (well not actually boulders but you get the point) under this hard red clay. Let me pause and say red clay gets such a bad rap for planting but that rant is for another day.
I dug and I dug and I dug some more but this thing would not budge. Finally I had to call in “the muscle” and the tiny “firewoman” for some some help. And at last, this behometh of a rock was out along with 3 more that were not as large but still large enough. There was also a buried tarp, plastic bottles and other disgusting and Earth damaging junk under here. Insert heavy sigh because WHY?!?
But then this hard area of clay and huge rocks turned into this… the tomato “jungle” of my dreams with a side of eggplants and peppers. Our 2020 Summer Garden recap shows more of all the yummy and beautiful things we grew.
Hardscape wise, I added more of the bricks I found in our yard to form the border and the hubby bought me a few for Mother’s Day. Garden gifts will always be my favorite gifts bricks included. All the bricks are staggered and have held up well so I’m not sure if I’ll use any cement to finish of the look.
This is where we started with the seating area.
That’s it. Nothing but a table and a red chair that didn’t match at all. But I had big plans for a paved patio but first a random “pergola” idea was born.
I realized I didn’t want an umbrella in the garden for aesthetic reasons. Nothing wrong with umbrellas but that’s not the look I wanted so one day while relaxing in my incomplete seating area, I decided I wanted a pergola.
But what kind of pergola could fit in this small space? And the cost of such prefab things was just not what I wanted to spend. In researching and then looking at the space, an idea came to me. Add some 2 by 4’s to form the top and then some skinnier wood pieces in between. The fence posts in this area were in the perfect spot for this to happen easily and most importantly inexpensively. My neighbor had a whole stack of 2 by 4’s just wasting away in his yard. With his permission, I picked out the best pieces, cleaned them up and then cut them using the circular saw for the first time. And then I picked up the 1 by 2’s from Home Depot. In a few days, this DIY “Pergola” was complete with the help of the hubs on the ladder, outdoor nails and my creative direction.
Pea gravel was high on my list but there were two other things I really wanted. First it was grass paths but the care and keeping sod needs in the beginning wasn’t something I was up for. And let’s not forget the endless weeds our whole yard is plagued with including these garden paths. Next on my wish list was a brick walkway. I envisioned old brick paths getting better with weathering and time but again, I wasn’t up for the work. Honestly, I’m intimidated by what it takes.
Enter pea gravel. I had my heart set on salt and pepper pea gravel but that’s not a thing readily available and I wasn’t willing to pay the hefty cost or increased carbon footprint for that look. So the regular not so pea sized pea gravel found locally won. It’s pretty, not terrible under foot and the sound it makes when you walk under it is it’s own soundtrack of joy.
Since the hubby decided to surprise me by laying the pea gravel, it was time for me to face the music and get to work on the seating area.
Seating Area Paver Patio
I let fear hold me back from building out this area for 2 years. I had the vision but I was clueless on execution and every YouTube video left me with more questions. But my birthday gift of pavers was sitting there getting covered in dirt from endless rain and this area was still just ugly. Another pause: I used it anyway and that’s a lesson worth sharing. Use your space as it is while you work on it becoming what you dreamed of.
July 8, 2020
So with much of the pea gravel in, it was time to work. First I tackled the open area on the opposite side. The muscle came in with the heavy machinery because more unmovable rock and then I laid the landscape fabric and poured the pea gravel in the area. Yep another procrastination pause on the actually seating area.
I have to shoutout Shavonda here because watching her share how she built her paver patio was the ah ha moment and confidence builder I needed to make the paver patio happen.
In a nutshell:
Tamp and watch out for your toes
August 30, 2020
Now if you scroll through my Paver Patio Highlight on Instagram, you will see how it all came together, the lessons I learned along the way and yes I got my toes a few times with the tamper. But here we are and I love it.
Now to furnish this baby. I got some chairs I love from Ikea but they both don’t fit and I really want this space to be inviting to guest whenever it’s safe for that to happen so I’m waiting on some other Ikea chairs to come back in stock. They will probably be next spring but for now it’s comfortable for one and the kids enjoy the other seat on “their side” of the garden.
So that’s it. The hardscape is done-ish, I’m happy and just like that it’s time replace the original bed and the back bed. Hashtag #Nevernotworkingonthegarden.
Until then, grow everything with love.