Monday, March 11, 2013

A Work In Progress...Making an Eco-Friendly Backyard - Part 3

Almost four months later and we finally started our garden! Our backyard has been a work in progress since last summer (see Part 1 and Part 2). And slowly but surely the transformation of a more eco-friendly backyard is near completion.

After a couple of trips to our local Home Depot and the City Farmers Nursery, we came home with quite the selection of fruits, vegetables, and several California native plants.  Our fruits and vegetables include: japanese eggplant, bok choy, beets, crookneck squash, broccoli, cabbage, a variety of lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro. Our natives include: Louis Edmunds Manzanita, San Diego Willowy Mint, and Beach 'Lipstick' Strawberry. 

For our native plants, we made sure to pick plants which had flowers that were particularly attractive to butterflies. My boys love watching butterflies! Moreover, my oldest son, Paco, requested at least one plant that bloomed purple flowers because it attracts the California Dogface Butterfly. The Dogface Butterfly is California's official state insect. We chose the San Diego Willowy Mint, a highly aromatic flowering shrub, which has lavender mint-like flowers present almost year-round and is a great attractant for butterflies. In addition, a pleasant tea can be brewed from its leaves and stems.

California Dogface Butterfly (Source:

Kerry McFall's drawing of the Dogface Butterfly and how its name came about.

Our first batch of locally grown fruits and vegetables.

San Diego Willowy Mint, a native plant.

We installed chicken wire with PVC pipes around our raised garden planters to keep out any unwanted visitors particularly cats. For some reason, our backyard is a hot social spot for stray cats and in the past when we had another raised garden they would use it as their special kitty litter. Not pleasant! 

Our raised garden planters with chicken wire and PVC pipes before planting.

We had the boys help us dig holes, place each fruit or vegetable plants in the soil, and afterwards they also help water them. Watering the garden is now a new chore for the boys and everyday after school they take turns watering the plants.

Paco and Tomás digging holes.

Tomás making a hole for japanese eggplant #1.

Paco digging his hole for japanese eggplant #2.

Our tomato plants in their pots.

View of our fruit and vegetable garden.

Another view of our garden.

In addition, we finally placed the remaining rocks around the unfinished portion of our backyard. We planted our native plants throughout this back area with our Louis Edmunds manzanita located in the far back corner and the willowy mint and beach strawberry planted along the perimeter of the back fence. Our IKEA SKARPO armchairs and homemade outdoor coffee table (made from leftover kitchen counter butcher block and cinder blocks) sit in this back area also. Eventually we'll add an outdoor umbrella with the armchairs and maybe more fun seating options like the new IKEA VARMDO indoor/outdoor rocking chairs...I love rocking chairs!

 Our white IKEA SKARPO armchairs and homemade outdoor coffee table.

Chair I Love: IKEA's VARMDO Rocking Chair available in black and red.

Meet 'Louis' our baby manzanita. Hopefully he thrives in our backyard and eventually grows to be a small, pretty tree like the one pictured above. (Source:

Next up: Cleaning up the backyard and removing any left-over trash piles (i.e. old termite eaten wood fence panels). Also, we have a handful of cinder blocks remaining from our old garden that we plan to repurpose. We hope to reuse them as planters for our future herb garden. We also didn't get a chance to buy our rain barrel yet as well as hanging our rain chain. We plan to purchase a rain barrel before next winter to take advantage of hopefully another wet winter season. Of course, there is still the finer details like adding bits of decoration throughout the backyard like maybe a small water feature powered by a solar water fountain pump. 

Stay tune for Part 4 and a more detail look at our nearly complete, eco-friendlier backyard! Cheers to a healthy garden and good eating!


  1. I hear you on keeping out pests! I have a deer and rabbit issue at my house, and a chicken wire fenced garden is a wonderful thing! This year, my hubby and I want to upgrade the garden with a hand built frame and a hinged door chicken wire fence. Good luck on your eco-friendly backyard!

    1. Thanks! I love the idea of a hinged door chicken wire fence! Do share when you do your upgrade...I'd love to see it :)

  2. Looks fantastic! I love raised beds! Wish I had more sun in my back yard to make some worthwhile. Good luck to Louis and thanks for the info on the "dog faced" butterfly. Who knew!

    1. Thank you! And yes, I hope Louis has a long life :)

  3. I want some of your beets when they come through - goes great with my salads! Looking good.

    1. Hopefully we get a good yield of beets or else you'll be fighting over them with Carlos...he loves beets too!

  4. Newest follower here! I found you through the blog hop :) You have a super cute blog, I can't wait to read more!


    1. Hi Melanie! Thanks for stopping by and for following me :) I'll be sure to stop your blog as well :)

  5. love it jess. Will there be plastic pink flamingos later on?

    1. Maybe someday again!!! I miss my plastic pink flamingos!