Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Work in Progress...Making an Eco-Friendly Backyard - Part 1

A few months back, Carlos and I decided that we wanted an eco-friendlier backyard. So the first thing we did was kill our grass lawn. It wasn't too hard a task since our grass was mostly dead due from not watering it as often as it needed. But to make sure it was 100% killed we covered it entirely with large sheets of black plastic. After a couple of months of being covered, we had our trusted gardener, Roberto, dig up all the dead grass and take it away. 

 A view into our backyard after Roberto finished hauling away the dead grass & excess dirt.

Another view of our backyard. On bottom right, Carlos has started placing weed fabric down.

As of today, more weed fabric over the dirt with my handy collection of beach stones to hold it down. We ran out of weed fabric and need to buy more. 

Eventually, we'd like to do the same thing to our small grassy front lawn. But that will be another project down the road. To give you an idea of what we aspire for our "greener" backyard, take a look below:

We plan to have stone/pebble gravel next to our flagstone patio to replace our grass lawn.  A gravel patio lets excess water flow to the ground beneath. In addition, we would love to add native plants along the edges next to the fence. City Farmers Nursery in San Diego provides an excellent selection of native plants. High on our list of natives include butterfly bushes and lemon balm which attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. Although I am enormously afraid of bees, I can't deny the extreme importance of these creatures.

A nice example of a flagstone/stone gravel backyard.

The type of stone we choose will either be Black Mexican Beach Pebbles (left) or a Mix Color of Beach Pebbles (right).

We also plan to add a couple of raised garden beds right near our fence. We are starting with two beds but will definitely add one or two more in the future. Looking forward to eating freshly grown tomatoes, squash, lettuce, bok choy, japanese eggplants, and a fine selection of herbs. In addition, I can't wait to buy a bunch of ladybugs to help with pest control. They are one of the few insects that I actually find cute and I know my boys will love to watch them.

A raised garden bed with PVC hoops. We purchased a couple of composite raised beds instead of wood ones from Home Depot. Not only are they made from recycled materials but hopefully they will last longer than wood ones. Also, we will install PVC hoops with chicken wire to help prevent uninvited guests.

Another way to help make our backyard more eco-friendly is harvest rainwater. I guess living in coastal desert Southern California, I should say try to harvest rainwater as much as possible. I was fortunate to purchase a pretty copper rain chain from Target that was on clearance and hope to hang it under the eaves of our house sometime soon.  And once the rain chain is hung, I'll need to buy a rain barrel to funnel the rainwater into. Not only is the water free, but it will come in handy to help water our future garden.

Example of a rain chain above a rain barrel.

A 50-gallon whiskey rain barrel with brass spigot from Home Depot. I am definitely interested in this particular rain barrel with a flat side to sit against a wall and a screen on top to keep out debris & insects.

Lastly, I'd love to add reused or repurposed furniture or garden finds when decorating our backyard. I am a firm believer that recycled items can become new treasures for the right person. 

 My backyard art piece that I'm currently working on. I found an old window screen with black frame and attached some of my favorite beach/nature finds with craft wire. I plan to hang it somewhere in our backyard.

I am very excited about the new changes that are to come for our outdoor living space. I know trying to live more environmentally friendly will not only be rewarding to me and Carlos, but especially for our boys, Paco and Tomás. I think it's so important to teach the younger generation about respecting nature and learning to live and work with it rather than tailoring it to fit only human needs. I will keep you abreast on this work in progress and hopefully by this Fall we will have our garden up and running! 


  1. Jessica,
    You are inspiring me to get to work on our yard, so much to do, and I can see through you, it does not all have to be done at once. Your yard is already beautiful and I can tell it will just keep getting better.

  2. i can't wait to see you sun bathing in your eco-fabulous backyard, jess! Can i hire you to design my mom's decrepit backyard?