We have our great big garden-sanctuary-accomplishment to share with you today. Big progressions, and also some little confessions! But in order to appreciate it in all of it’s glory, you have to learn a bit about what we started from. If you’ve been following us for years, this post will refresh your memory. And if you are new here, you’ll be able to appreciate it just as much.
We all love a good ‘Before and After’, don’t we?
So we encourage you to read along!
A Look Back at a Bunch of Nothin’.
For as many years as we have been blogging, we have talked about this project. Plans to transform our hideous (oh, we have proof!) front yard of simple garden beds, into a beautiful garden sanctuary. And in these conversations with you and talking about our little garden dreams over the years, these changes were always imminent! Definitely about to happen.
Except that it really never did get very far.
First, we confess, that although every time we were all hyped up and ready to get going, every time too, for one reason or another, our grand plans always got sidelined. The seasons to get it done would end before we really accomplished much, and so we never really made any progress! Whether it was lack of time, lack of money, or how things are just easier done in your head than in reality – well, most times it was probably all of those things! Weekends are short, and our family is busy. All of that. Every time, we only got as far as maybe building some garden beds, which we have just done for the 3rd time at this point, since we originally told you of any real front yard transformation gardening dreams. And some planting for the season.
But the aesthetics and bigger vision for our garden area, in our front yard mind you, never really came in to play, as we just kept talking about it. It was pathetic.
You can see where we generally started with our little blah-lot in here in 2009, and how we expanded what little space we had, by sacrificing some driveway.
And how we were still just getting another garden bed up or whatever here in 2010.
And since then, there has only been many seasons, where we have just shared lots of photos with you, of all of the beautiful and bountiful vegetables and flowers that we have grown in what garden beds we had. You can find countless blog posts on them in the garden archives here at the blog.
But the little garden sanctuary dreams just weren’t coming together. The space as a whole, where these garden beds resided, has been just so UGH.
ANOTHER CONFESSION. . . .
Yes, I have enjoyed working in these garden beds over the years, anyway. But I have loathed feeling like I am doing so, in such an on-display manner, in our front yard! I often wonder if I might be mistaken for one of those yard ornaments, of the bent-over woman’s bum, weeding her garden. You know the one? Ugh. Granted, we live on a short dead-end road, so the traffic is next to none. But there are also neighbors frequently walking by on their way to the beach and such, and to be honest….when I am out working in my gardens, I just want the peace and solitude to do my thing! By myself. Alone. (Or with my family) I don’t want to say hello to people, and make small talk as they walk by. Call me a witch. Of course I do say hello and chat anyway, if it so happens, because it’s only polite. But I don’t want to, in the least bit. Especially when I am hot and sweaty, with dirt sticking to me . . . . just . . . . no. Please, leave me be while I play in the dirt. Thanks.
During this season in the photo above (circa 2010?), though it is hard to see here, we actually had 4 garden beds at that point, and then the ground-level pumpkin patch which is closest to you in the photo.
In the gardening seasons 2013-2015, the kids kept a super cute square garden as well.
It was during that period we tore down the wooden beds and put up cinder blocks gardens, which I came to be a big non-fan of.
I was almost immediately like . . . . disassemble and build wooden beds again, please. (That didn’t get undone for 2 years I think. My knees and shins hated it, and I also especially hated the concrete jungle in our already-ugly front yard.)
– BEFORE –
Proof of Hideous . . . . .
But aside from the garden beds we built, growing beautiful, delicious and healthy produce and blooms over these many gardening years, the space itself has remained fairly ugly!!
Without the garden beds in season, it’s been actually hard to look at.
For me, anyway. In part probably, because all I see is the garden dreams in my head, missing. And a whole palette of blah-colors, that blend together like yuck. I felt bad for the neighbors passing by daily. Whether I’m out there bending over, or not.
(It’s coming, hold on . . . .)
Then last year, we took our first gardening season completely off, to, you know, really get something accomplished in our ultimate goals for the front yard. Or that was the plan, anyway. :/ I was SO MISERABLE, not having my gardens to work in, Y’all. It was rough.
But again, even still, we didn’t get much done, again! We did take down all of the cinder block gardens, and got building new beds. But we only got 4/8 done that we wanted, not to mention all else we were definitely going to get done. (Yeah, right.)
Busy family, flying time, the whole 9 yards . . . .
BUT THIS YEAR . . . .
. . . . come the first sign of spring, we hit it hard! Time was not going to get away again. Really, really, really.
We would make time, we had the money, and after some good collaborating brain storming, as usual, Michael had some loose garden-layout plans down on paper.
We have finally….really….seriously…..put a BIG dent, in the transformation of our front yard, into more of the garden sanctuary we have been envisioning for all of these years.
And we’re so excited to show you today!
*Just know first though….
>>>>> That it’s all not done yet! Consider this Phase 1! We’re just excited to show you what we’ve done already.
It’ll continue to be a work in progress, and grow in beauty, as there are still many exciting plans still left undone.
>>>>>> What is planted in the garden at the time of these photos, were still little seedlings, and the rest hadn’t been planted yet! So while it’s not the lush beautiful full gardens they will be this early in the season, it’s the structure and set-up of the new garden space layout we really want you to show you all at this point.
That said, we think it definitely qualifies as a transformation at this point. It looks completely different now.
Will you agree? We are about to see!!
Take a look for yourself!
– AFTER –
How’s that for a difference?
Let’s break it down a little . . . .
First, one of the best decisions we made, was getting a 6 foot fence! It’s funny too, because while our reasoning for the fence was for privacy whilst gardening in the front yard, at the same time, I was a bit afraid that it would close in the space and make it feel even smaller. But as it turns out….not so! Somehow, the space feels so much bigger! Which was a very pleasant surprise.
The Biggest Confession of This Whole Post? . . . .
The fence in that photo has been highly edited! Photo-shopped, if you will. It’s true. Reason being, we did something somewhat unique with the fence, and that will be coming right up! This post is long enough, don’t you think? We just wanted to keep you focused on the general garden space, first.
We will show you the fence as it really is, in the next post!
Adding the 5 yards of 3/4″ blue stone rock all around the beds, was another addition. Underneath we put landscaping mesh/fabric that keeps any weeds from growing, but is perforated, to allow rain and hose water to drain through into the ground. What a great decision that was! For years we have just had to deal with the sandy mud from the rain garden hose.
. . . . with a few more details, of what we did in the process of this transformation.
This was a family effort, over many many weeks.
The beds we built are narrower and longer than we have built them in the past, at 3 x 12 x 1′ now.
This makes it easier to be able to reach across, and seems to leave a lot less wasted space in the middle.
We had 6 yards yards of organic agricultural mix loam, and amended it with 1,000 pounds of manure.
These will definitely be organic gardens.
Here Comes One of Our Favorite Features . . . .
The garden gate. We are so in love with it, and hope it holds up in the weather for a long time!
Michael built the entry-way frame. Get this: The gate doors are actually interior home decorative wall panels, that we found at Tractor Supply. We used the kind of hinge hardware so that they swing both ways, going in or coming out. Similar to saloon doors.
We could have gotten two panels exactly the same, but what fun is that? We loved the idea of mismatching them. We’re eclectic like that.
They were a bit pricey each, and we won’t even talk about how they went on wicked sale not too long after (but too long after we bought them, of course), even though the store swore that wouldn’t be happening for a long time.
They were worth it, though. To help make them last outdoors as long as possible, I clear waxed the wood, to repel rain and moisture. Then Michael sprayed the iron with Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel, to keep it from rusting. We can already see the paint color fading and changing in the sun. But that’s ok, we can refinish them some years down the road, if we want to. But we generally like the old, faded, worn look of things, anyway.
So Come On In, Won’t You?
The garden beds get just the right amount of sun and shade throughout the day. It’s a dream out there, in the evening, just after the sun is off everything, although I love early morning as well. Both are a good time to deep water every bed, pluck any weeds that may pop up, and just check how everything is growing. We have found the weed control to be much more manageable, with the rocks down.
Our corner work station area.
Watering every bed, is a breeze now, with the drip-lines system Michael and my father installed! Just turn on the spicket, and it waters 4 beds at once! Switch over a lever, and it does the other 4. Then we hand water the Hydrangeas along the front of house, blueberry bushes, containers around the little homestead, etc. The bed you see in the photo above, is the strawberry plants, when the new seedlings first went in. The whole bed will fill in quickly. We are so excited to have a strawberry bed again. It has a cover now, to protect the berries from birds and little animals, which you will see at some point, much like our original one. But better. It works like a charm.
Everything in the gardens has grown so much since these photos!
And ask any gardener, watching everything grow, is one of the things that is so satisfying about gardening.
So IMAGINE THIS:
Using this photo again, just to direct your attention to the back fence area directly across from the gates. There is a good area of space there on the other end of the beds, and a stone patio will be going in there, for a nice sitting area. We will likely have a table and chairs for a place to just sit and rest in the gardens, as well as an umbrella for shade. I would also love for a tiny potting bench to eventually be over there somewhere as well, just to store gardening tools, and various other items that may need storing in the winter. All of this may not happen until next year or so – we will see.
But the back fence will also serve as support for many vertical vegetable plants.
So we won’t be limited to just growing in the garden beds. We just didn’t get the vertical things planted in time this year, with putting up the fence and whatnot.
We have plans to add all kinds of interesting pieces to this garden sanctuary, over time, to make it all the more decorative and enjoyable.
Who knows exactly what! Although I have some ideas. You’ll just have to follow along to see. (We love to share things like that on our InstaGram, so be sure to follow us there!) But you are really looking at bare bones right now. It sure feels like a sanctuary to us, already, though.
These iron keys, on the garden gate post, are a small example of the kinds of decorative details we’ll be having fun adding.
A view from the street.
The entrance to the garden is right along our wide rock driveway. The garden gates are quick and easy access right out the front door from the house, too, to harvest some fresh vegetables for a salad, or shut off the watering.
In a nutshell, we are as close to our little garden dreams, and the complete transformation of our front yard, as we’ve ever been.
And it brings me especially, as much simple joy as I ever thought it would! I just love to be out there working or just meandering around, checking things out. And without the feeling like the world is watching me do it. You know? LOL. It’s pretty sweet! Michael really loves it, too.