Backyard on a budget

When I bought my house 8 years ago the backyard was dust and weeds, fitting of the high desert I live in, but not very livable. Last year I started on one half of the yard and this year I am completing the second half. The yard has the full spectrum from full-sun to complete shade.

Back Yard Before & After Firepit Garden Medium (1,000 - 5,000 sq ft.)

1 of 20: Before Spring 2010. My house was built in 1957 and I have over 50 years of old landscape, weeds and who knows what else to destruct before I can reconstruct the yard.

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3 of 20: Nothing but dirt and weeds and a few perennials I planted in 2004.

4 of 20: Another shot of the weeds and dirt that make up the east side of the yard

5 of 20: Back part of the yard that will become the woodland shade garden.

6 of 20: Borders up for the pea gravel walkway through the perennial garden.

7 of 20: This is the west side of the yard that will become the grilling and dining patio area. This is the 2011 project.

8 of 20: Instead of grinding out the stump of a long removed maple tree I decided to use it as an anchor in the corner of the main planting bed.

9 of 20: Fire Pit project 2010. I will estimate that I spent under $200 for the materials for the pit, fire bowl and benches. I am a DIY'er so the labor of course was free.

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11 of 20: Here is the completed fire pit. It's DG that has been lined out with large rocks. The benches I made out of 2x4 douglas fir, they cost about $20 per bench. I wanted benches that were low to the ground and had a casual feel.

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14 of 20: The original patio that came with the house was made up of hexagonal pavers. We have taken up most of the patio and I am using some of the pavers as stepping stones through the garden bed.

15 of 20: I've been making up the design of my yard as I go and I found that a great strategy for anyone doing the landscaping themselves is simply to divide and conquer. I saw a dry creek bed installed in a DIY show and decided to put one running the width of my yard to be a division from the sunny area and shaded area.

16 of 20: Of course not having any money to spend on the yard I got the large rocks from an obliging pile in the hills near where I live and installed them myself. The creek bed is 3/4- river rock. At $40/ sq yd it only cost $20 for the entire project. There are two bridges at each end and I got the lumber for those from a rotting play structure in my parents yard.

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Comments / Questions

meganram 3 weeks ago

Love the end product!!!!!Also appreciate how each step was documented.
YARDSHARE... site not user friendly!!!! Drove me crazy was not being able to read description before the next photo. Would be nice if pause option was added.

Sam(Sandy) 2 years ago

Wonderful job!

sobeng 3 years ago

SO many great ideas, hope you don't mind if I copy you, we are in the process of redoing our backyard in preparation for a graduation open house next summer. My goal is to not have to mow back there, ever again. Great job, great creativity, thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

Meadowlark 4 years ago

I like the fact that someone else started with nothing and is slowly but surely bringing it together. I sometimes think doing it in pieces is soooo much more difficult than all at once. Good job!

Coastal Gardener 4 years ago

Wow -- you had a vision and made it happen! Not only did you do a fabulous job, you did it all at minimal cost. What a wonderful transformation -- nice work indeed!

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