my man is making a yardscape

I want to start with a note to express my deepest concern for everyone affected by the events yesterday at the Boston Marathon.  Many of you know I am originally a New Englander and part of my heart will always reside there.  I had a dear friend run in the marathon who, thankfully, finished before the explosions happened. And I’m incredibly grateful that two of my cousins who were at the event are safe and sound … and proud to say one was able to stay and provide help to the injured.  That sports medicine degree is already coming in handy, Taylor.

Seriously, my first post title thought was ‘my yard is manscaped’.  As in, my yard was put in order by my man … but we all know that’s not really what that collection of words says, now don’t we.  :)
yardscape ideas for small spaces

But, to refocus here, I really need to brag on my man for just a minute.  Usually I’m more about mocking him, that’s no secret.  But for anyone who knows us in real life there are a few things that are for sure.

He is the calm to my crazy.

He is the reason to my insanity.  That’s not the reason for.

He has the ability to take random thoughts I spew out in a matter-of-fact way and decipher reality from illusion.

I can’t even do that … and it’s my own illusion.

He really is, just down right, no holds barred, the coolest kid I know.

And I don’t mean cool in a Justin Beiber, shaggy hair and baggy jeans sort of way.

I mean cool as in everyone who knows him loves him.

Cool as in he doesn’t even know he’s cool.

Like he’s just going about life like it’s his job and being irresistibly charming, incredibly level-headed and laid back to a fault is just an innocent by-product.

He’s not just the sh!t.  He’s my shi!t.

And he works harder than anyone I know.  Or have ever known.  Or could ever imagine to know.

He’s the bomb diggity.  The kit and caboodle.  The whole fandango.

And after a long week of his real job, he comes home to me, and creates a little yardscape.

Out of my obscure ramblings about wanting green and the look of grass with no grass and lush and tropical and low maintenance.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

Now, if you would rather read a little more of the usual mocking you can check out how he tells me to just blog about it and learn why it’s a good thing he’s cute.

But if you want to know the real deal … it’s him.

It’s as simple as that.  And he made what I said wasn’t even really a yard, into the beginnings of a real, legitimate yardscape.

This is what he started with.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

He actually pulled out palms and plants and things I would call weeds that were already in our yard and reorganized, rearranged and replanted them in a way that made sense, and looks awesome, and makes me swoon at him.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

And he let me buy a fruit tree that has 5 different fruits on it!

Seriously!?!?  And it’s called a Fruit Cocktail tree.

We like fruit.

We like cocktails.

Perfect.  :)

Other than the $250 price tag.  But it was the one splurge.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

The total we’ve spent on everything breaks down like this:
*fruit cocktail tree – $250
*alexander palm tree – $50
*dwarf fan palm tree – $35
*lilies – 4 x $4
*cuban oregano plant – $2
*orchids – 3 x $3.50
*small, filler flowers – $3.50
*1 yard organic mulch – $70
Total = $428 (plus tax)

And the total amount of times I swooned at my man making a yardscape while he worked hard to give me what I want … I’ll never tell.  :)

And here are a few things we learned along the way:
1. We saved a bunch of money by using what we already had.  From one palm tree that, with a trimming, ended up working in it’s spot to two transplanted trees we were able to replant to fill a few key spots without spending any money.  And random rocks that we’ve cleared up from throughout the yard look right at home surrounding a couple of the trees.  (And planting orchids and other short greenery and flowers (cuban oregano also smells awesome!) in and around the rocks give it all an organic look.)
yardscape ideas for your small garden2. Moving boxes make a great ground cover / weed preventor under the mulch.  I just laid them all through the yard after we had all the plantings in and I had the dirt raked essentially level and then wet them down so soften them a bit and then layered the mulch directly over them.
yardscape ideas for your small garden3. We really ended up liking the look of layered textures.  The whole space is only about 10 feet by 15 feet and we needed to keep a good chunk of it open as a beautified dog potty.  But having the entire front space empty looked bare, but any sort of tree just broke up the view and made the yard seem even smaller.  We ended up with a large piece of driftwood in front, with a stack of rocks nearby, keeping the view open to the flowing palms and more stacked rocks behind.  Add in a unique concrete piece we have and a bucket with a few pretty flowers and we have a short view that draws the eye in without being too full for the small space.
yardscape ideas for small spaces4. Planting trees and plants at a variety of heights creates an appealing view to the eye and adds dimension vertically when you’re lacking the horizontal space to work with.
5. Lining a wall or other hardscape with row of plants or flowers, like a lily, really soften the area and help the hardscape to disappear into the background of your yard.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

Now, we’re not considering this space done.  Here’s what we’ll be looking to accomplish down the line:
*update the picket fencing around the whole yard
*change out the lattice gate to the back of the shed
*add a bird feeder, maybe on a tall pole
*paint the shed … did you see a couple of the greys we’re considering?
*hang a large, rectangular mirror on the shed wall – I am in LOVE with this idea, it’s another one of Joel’s and we have just the right mirror, just need to get it hung
*create a more refined outdoor kitchen area in the back corner.  We’re thinking new grill, built-in banquette seating around a table, counter with cabinets underneath and building up the concrete wall to the counter height.
*update the deck
*create some sort of water feature

Here’s what that corner and part of the deck look like now.
yardscape ideas for your small gardenWe definitely weren’t thinking we would be starting on the outside of the house.  But this little electric upgrade going on inside is taking for. ev. er.  And we’ve really enjoyed creating a little outdoor retreat that we know we will use a lot as the house gets taken all out-of-order.
yardscape ideas for your small garden

And to Joel, if you are to ever stumble upon this post … thanks man … if you ask, you know my answer … “I think you’re OK”.

Update:  We have started the whole house renovation inside.  You can see how to remove a drop ceiling, how to paint over cracked paint, the DIY lesson we learned the hard way and our first finished wall (board and batten baby!).

And what about you guys?  Updated any small garden spaces lately?  Do you work in layers of textures and heights?  Do you prefer a nice grassy yard?  I would really love a little grassy yard, it’s just not practical here.  Oh well.  :)


  1. Nancy Carr says

    Karah, I know you must be so happy to have your own roof over your head and your own piece of the planet under your feet and the doggies feet, too. I have never heard of a fruit cocktail tree. Please keep us posted on what it produces. Thank you for sharing so much. Blessings

    • says

      Thank you so much Nancy. We’ve lamented more than a few times just how easily this place immediately feels like home. As you know, that’s a nice feeling. :) And we have high hopes for the fruit cocktail tree, it has lemons, limes, tangerine, red grapefruit and navel oranges … but it might be a few years before it produces edible fruit!

    • says

      I am so excited about it, I just hope it survives … it has lemons, limes, tangerine, red grapefruit and navel oranges … there are some small fruits on there now but I’ve heard it takes a couple of years before it produces edible fruit. Fingers crossed!

  2. says

    Oh Karah…he is the “bomb diggitty” The back yard looks fantastic…and have never heard of a “fruit cocktail tree” in all my years of living in Florida…such a great tree to have!…and I love that huge piece of driftwood!!…perfect for your “Florida garden”….

  3. Debbie says

    What a sweetheart! He’s done a wonderful job creating a lovely oasis in your backyard. Great vision, Karah! I have a mirror in our yard, but I moved it to the chicken’s run since I heard they like looking at themselves…haven’t seen it yet so it will probably go back into the gardens. Can’t wait to see the shed completed!
    I started a new garden near the courtyard last summer and hope to get it finished, or at least ‘more done’ since it’s a large space this spring. Just have to give the word to my ex and he’ll bring out a truckload of mulch we need! So excited to get working on it…now if only Mother Nature would cooperate.
    Debbie :)

  4. says

    what nice hubs you have! Looks like you guys are off to a great start..can’t wait to hear how your cocktail tree does, sounds amazing. And I love that you kept the driftwood…it wouldn’t work in most yards but it belongs in yours. and kudos on using the cardboard boxes for ground cover.. super smart. ps. I laughed out loud when I read your previous title consideration.

  5. says

    Um… SO here’s what I got from this post:

    – “man-scaping” snicker, snicker, I’m totally an immature middle school girl
    – fruit cocktail is yummy
    – cardboard boxes in lieu of weed-plastic-preventer-stuff
    – also, maybe less wine at 3pm for more coherent commenting:)


    • says

      LOL, I’m glad you got a chuckle from the manscaping, I’ve been snickering to myself about it so I’m glad I’m not alone. And there is never a good reason for less wine :)

  6. says

    Great job. My suggestion is about painting the lattice work to blend in with the house paint color, darker or lighter. I think the white fence is just the primer color for you to change out, to either blend in with the foliage, or the house color. Maybe find a good buy on a stone garden bench or water feature, too. I love watching the variety of birds that visit.

    • says

      Thank you! I love the suggestion to paint the lattice to camoflage it a bit better and the idea for a water feature is perfect, I love the sound of water. Thank you so much for visiting.


Let me know what you think!