Back yard help

nachinApril 21, 2014

Hi guys,

I created a new posting so I don't have front and back in the same post. The backyard is a disaster and it's in need of some work. What do you think should do? Should I paint the back wall? I don't really want to put grass because it gets too hot here in summer and it's a waist of water.
I have more pictures from different angles but I can only upload 1, let me know if you want to see more or how to upload more

Any ideas will be appreciated!


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I figured how to add more pics. That's the garage and the beginning of the back yard

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:02PM
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last one

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:03PM
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Go over to the garden section and search for xeriscape plants. There's not much you can do outside if you don't want to water anything.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Hi Jenny, thanks for your input. I'm trying to get ideas not only. For example, I was thinking to paint the wall on the back (don't know color yet) and build a deck next to the wall and with the rest of the ground, make a garden with cactus and other low irrigation plants. It's not that I don't want a single drop of water

Any suggestions?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:32PM
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I don't know where you live, nor what your water restrictions are but did you know that vegetation makes it cooler, not hotter and that without vegetation, including grass, we create serious problems, including erosion and starvation. Vegetation is God's way of feeding us, the animals and preventing erosion, the ravages of flooding. Concrete jungles are the hottest thing I can imagine anyone growing and add to that, black paint will make it hotter. Dear, dear. I feel we are losing the war.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:32PM
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Check out native plants; those are plants that evolved in your area, arriving there without human intervention. They will be acclimated to the weather and water, although they may need to be helped along initially. You can't necessarily depend on your local nursery to have them although interest in natives is growing because of their many advantages, but usually you can research through the internet. In our area there are a few nurseries that have sprung up that only sell native plants indigenous to our area. I wish they had been there when I first started landscaping our yard. Many of them are very beautiful.

I can tell by the background plants in your picture that you are in a very different zone than I am , so no use suggesting plants. If you want to paint the wall, I personally would paint it a green so it would fade into the background of whatever plantings I put in front of it. But once you paint something, you are in for maintainance.

Looks like you have a blank slate. If you are not very knowlegeable about plants you might want to employ the services of a landscaper. Tell him/her you want native plants and ask him/her for a plan.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:41PM
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@Barb5, I did go to the nursery and they carry lots of plants native to my area (North Hollywood, Ca) My problem is not the plants, my problem is what to do with the space to make it looks clean and nice. That's why I was thinking about the deck with a pergola and painting the wall and a desert garden by the garage

@ patricia43, I have half my property covered with grass plus the side walk with grass and a tree, plus a 30ft avocado tree, 30 ft lemon tree and 20 ft orange tree plus 2 50ft trees in my front yard. I'm just asking for ideas on that part of the house, not to kill all trees but thank you for reading my post and giving me your thoughts

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:53PM
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I think stucco that matches your garage would look the best on your walls. I'm going to check out your other post.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:16PM
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Over on the Garden forums there is a landscaping section. You will get better info if you ask over there. There is also a California section. The folks who linger at the California section know all about natives for low water use. No matter what you plant it will need water in it's first year. Do you like a jungle look? A cottage garden type? You must have some input to your landscape. To me that garden needs a tree.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:53PM
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I would cover up the concrete wall with horizontal wood slats to make it look more like fencing. Then you could plant some vines and bushes up against it. I think you should try to cover that concrete as best you can.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:58PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Well, the potential is awesome. That wall and enclosure, you have a space that could be wildly fantastic.
First, forget about plants, those come last, the cherry on top of the sundae.
Decide what to do with the wall. Stucco? Rock? many options, so explore that first.
Next, how will the space be used? Do you want to look at it from inside or be out in it?
Do you want a fire pit or fountain?
How many people will typically use the space daily/weekly?
How much maintenance do you want?
What color schemes do you like?
Built ins like seating or grills?

All things to think about.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:03PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

This is not bad, this is fabulous! You have a BIG blank slate to work with!

There's a great book called "Yards" by Billy Goodnick that can help you through the process of making your yard really beautiful. Check it out.

(disclaimer: no relation to book or author. I just found it really helpful)

Here is a link that might be useful: yards book

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:04PM
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@ louislinus: yeah, that's a good idea. Thanks!

@ emmarene: I do have the idea of a desert like garden but my question is what should I do with the space in term of ideas, not what to plant. I'll check the California forum. Thanks!

@chickadee2: I thought about stucco in the back wall but it might get super bright. there;s no shade there. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:10PM
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I'm S. Calif and I'd give anything to have your back yard!

What a wonderful space; blank canvas as was said earlier.

I would divide the space up into several areas.

One area - shade, seating...for relaxing during the day with a beverage of choice.

Another area for a Grill, with some seating for visitors who want to watch the chef in action.

Another area for a low-maintenance water relaxing!

Depending if you have kids or visitors with kids....a play area for both kids and adults. Maybe a small patch of grass separated from the rest of the yard by an inexpensive edging such as bender board.
Lawn bowling, Badminton, Croquet....endless possibilities for a 'play area'.

Don't forget little tables for drinks/plates/board games.
And the biggest impact to this yard (besides the plantings that will come later) is the lighting, the ambiance. Light each area for it's specific purpose.

Oh how I'd love live close and brain-storm with you! :)

Keep us updated with your decisions and progress....would love to hear how it's going!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:41PM
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It is time to destroy my master gardener certificate, turn in my landscape permit and sit back and watch the fireworks and the California wildfires being put out with concrete and paint but once you have finished all Amity's projects, you could put a football field back there and some bleachers, sell tickets. Make it a rose bowl with roses that do not require water. Speaking of California dreaming, I think that post takes the cake and ices it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Here's a pin board of inspirational photos and ideas for your backyard .... might be some projects there!

But yes -- start with checking for good drainage patterns -- consider adding gutters along your roofline with downspouts to water barrels -- map out the whole yard on paper .... and start with adding a pergola for shade -- and then add a cooking area with a table and chairs .... add lots of large container gardens (for example: buy a few of those corrugated water troughs from the feed store -- drill in some drainage holes and turn those into gardens!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Pin board with LOTS of ideas!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Here's another great pin board full of inspirational photos and ideas for pergolas and patios .....

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Pergola and patio ideas

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:27PM
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I have to go with Patricia, who knows her stuff. If I'm correct, you live in an area that can grow just about anything.

I know you have grass in other parts of your yard, but grass in the backyard is a must. I don't understand when you say it's a waste to water grass? It's not a big area, with a good sprinkler you can do it pretty fast in the mornings.

Because of all the concrete I wouldn't do cactus either.

Here's the thing. If you plan to spend time outdoors in your backyard, then you want to plant and paint things that will give off a "cool" feeling. Certain colors trick the brain. Red flowers gives off a hot feeling, blue gives off a cool feeling. No different than decorating inside a home.

Sitting in a yard with all concrete and cactus would make me want to go inside. That is the waste, not the grass.

Maybe Patricia can explain this further. I'm only on my first cup of coffee, but I learned the hard way. :)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:36AM
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Hi guys, thank you for all the suggestions. The reason why I'm not really interested in grass for the area is because to the other side of the garage I have a patio with my BBQ and grass, etc. I hardly go to the back. That's why I was thinking to do something different with the area.
Thank you for the links on pinterest!! I'll check them out later on to get more ideas
Thank you all for the input. I really appreciate it!!!
I'll keep you posted of the outcome

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 3:17PM
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Have you seen the California Gardening forum? I highly recommend visiting it b/c California is like it's own very weird place with a lot of microclimates and special considerations. Being from California, I have spent a good share of time at that forum and learned a LOT. There are some wonderful folks who can help you with plant selection and who will APPLAUD your choice to avoid turf grass. However, native grasses and other grassy-like plants that are low water might work for you. Succulent gardens can be very beautiful as well. Cactus gardens...sound prickly and uninviting.

Before you do anything though, it's really important to figure out how you want to use the space AND set up a budget. I think I read that you just moved in recently, so my advice is to take it in stages. Figure out how you might want to use the space. Like if you want a pergola/gazebo with a deck to have a table/seating area, figure out where you would like that to go. If you need to make a path for access, where do you want to place the path? It might be worth hiring a landscape designer to help you draw up a plan.

I love the suggestion to stucco the wall (but I like the look of stucco). Stucco can be painted a color that won't be super bright, so don't rule it out. Just looking at your picture, not knowing the layout of your home or anything, I think if you do want a gazebo a good place to put it would be in the corner to block out your view of the large power pole.

I agree, it's a great blank slate. Not too much to rip out, really. There are beautiful water-wise landscape ideas in Sunset magazine, so maybe you can find inspiration there as well. I wouldn't really worry so much about the wall right now, it's pretty neutral and you can fit it in, later, once you come up with a plan.

This post was edited by melle_sacto on Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 16:51

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 4:45PM
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Elraes Miller

With our drought for 3 years (Rockies) and my age, I gave up trying to keep a lawn and manage the sprinkler system. My front yard is a xeriscape cottage garden with a dry creek and small bridge and paths. Naturals to your area will love you and can be a beautiful landscape. They will need water to start out well, but after a year growing well. You have a great "slate" as mentioned to go in so many directions.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:40AM
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Since you just moved you might want to just clean it up and multch it for now. If you have a view of the space from inside the home I would consider keeping that view in mind when landscaping it. As was already mentioned how you entend to use it really matters as well. If you plan on having kids in the near future is that going to be thier primary play area? A dog? If yes to either of these guestions it really changes how you will need to plan the area.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:30PM
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@ Technicolor: Yeah, My idea is a xeriscape garden. I'd love to see some pictures of your garden!

@Madeyna: From inside the house I don't have a view to that yard. The building you see is the garage. I already have a play area with BBQ and grass. It just sits ugly on the back of the property and I just want to make it nicer

Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:11PM
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