Yards and Exteriors

The Yard – Advice, Please?

I hate showing in-the-rough before pictures without having some pretty after (or at least during!) shots for you, so I’ve been hesitant to share any photos of the brownstone. Those bachelors have not been so tidy! I could really use your help though. (and to make it clear – this is not our stuff. We haven’t moved…

I hate showing in-the-rough before pictures without having some pretty after (or at least during!) shots for you, so I’ve been hesitant to share any photos of the brownstone. Those bachelors have not been so tidy! I could really use your help though. (and to make it clear – this is not our stuff. We haven’t moved in yet)

I would love to be a really good gardener, but honestly, I have no idea where to even start. When we were first married, we lived in Arizona and our yard was mostly gravel and just a small lawn – totally minimal. Since then we’ve lived in places with no outdoor space. I haven’t had the chance to learn about plants and yard care/design. I’m SO excited to finally start now.

We have an upper and a lower deck, both are about 5′ deep and 20′ wide – not super huge, but just big enough for a small grill, a table and four chairs on the upper deck (which connects to the living room). I’ll probably put a small seating area on the bottom deck too (which connects to my office), but I think mostly that area will be for outdoor toy storage. I haven’t figured that all out yet.

As I look through Pinterest and my inspiration folders at brownstone yards, it seems like a lot of them have stone or brick pavers. When we first walked through the house, I thought those flagstone pavers should go out immediately in favor for just grass (right after that astroturf gets pulled up off the deck! yeesh!)

But now I’m worrying about mud. Maybe putting down (prettier) pavers is the best idea?

Okay, all you yard experts – help! What would you do with this space? Ideas I’m bouncing around – a tallish hedge along the back wall for added privacy, some flowers and/or vegetables planted along the sides (I want to take out all those low bushy trees to the left).  Raised garden beds? Maybe a teeny tiny playhouse or a covered sandbox? The yard itself is 20′ wide x 40′ deep (this is a shot from the upstairs landing).

Any thoughts?

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116 thoughts on “The Yard – Advice, Please?

  1. After having a yard for four years in Texas, I will say my kids spent the most time on our little cement patio. They spent tons of time drawing with chalk or riding their scooters around in a little circle or painting outside. I always wished we had more concrete area. Oh and a playhouse would be so fun. We had a swingset and my kids' favorite part was the teeny tiny picnic table fort it had.

    Can't wait to see how you transform the space!

  2. i would leave the rocky pavers they have and add a ton of those mossy plants in the dirt between them for a more rustic look. they will grow more and more each year, covering the space between each rock, and also covering imperfections. not only do they look beautiful, but they are low maintenance and don't require mowing like lawns! good luck!

  3. My cousins in CA did the square pavers in diamond formation and used astroturf in between. I know–awful–but they got astroturf that looks and feels so real, you actually have NO IDEA it's not grass. Saves a ton of time/energy on watering, weeding, etc. I am usually extremely anti on these things but look into it, might make your life easy AND garden beautiful!

  4. A good resource for basic gardening info in NY: http://blogs.cornell.edu/horticulture/

    I'd be a tad wary of doing lawn unless you have a plan for how to keep it trimmed. Seems like a really small space to be bringing in a mower or string trimmer. Could you do moss or a groundcover intended to hold up to foot traffic?

    Unless you have time to really dig into a new hobby, I'd look for relatively high imact/low-maintenance ideas. There's a few ideas here: http://pinterest.com/demille/maximizing-small-gardens/

    The good news is you could probably get away with doing containers or raised beds without having to install a drip or watering system. Lucky you and your rain.

    Also, depending on the variety, most hedges grown for privacy (like boxwood) can take a number of years to get to the point where they are actually providing said privacy. If that's a priority, you might want to look for something that climbs quickly and provide it a good surface for said climbing. Good luck!

  5. I have been trying to rehab our grandmothers garden here in chelsea for the last two years so I feel your pain (or excitement?) – the garden went to seed (literally) when two of our adjoining neighbors had large scale construction projects for 3 years straight – and now we are struggling on bringing it back to life /pruning like crazy.

    The worst thing about townhouse gardens is the shade, drainage and humidity all contribute to and how sensitive (and slow growing) the plants are – for that reasons grass can be really tough to deal with – I am on the second year of a lawn experiment and it is still not too happy -(That's also why pavers are great for walked on areas) – The plants need sun to rebound after being walked on – and if your new garden is like ours – each spot gets about 4 hours of direct sunlight until it is shaded by a wall/building – so the lawn always looks a bit abused.

    In our garden we have two main paved seating areas – a huge seating area next to the house (that has a large wisteria arbor) and a paver area in the back that is surrounded on 3 sides by raised beds and framed by two young trees (chestnut and peach) with a curving walk between that connects the two.

    The Arbor area is a favorite for dinner parties – it makes the outdoor space completely private from the neighbors. We created the raised beds in the back area last year – using 10" wide (untreated) boards with metal stakes holding them in place – even though they are less than a foot tall they really frame the back area and make it seem more 'room like' . As for pavers style – our front area pavers are fixed in concrete and we use gravel in between the loose pavers in the back( I just weed and sweep when needed).

    I recommend roses (for sunny spots), ferns & hostas (for the shade) roses have done really well for us – something about how hardy the new variates are and how acidic the soil is. Containers are great (but you have to have room for them inside in the winter). Also get a lot of just a few types of plants – so that they read like a mass – it looks far more grand to have a mass of ferns -rather than busy one-of-each plantings (which I am guilty of).

    Also thinking of blooming times are good too – our garden blooms like so – early spring in order: peach tree, quince bush, tulips and bulbs, late spring: roses, wisteria vine, snowbells, summer into fall: later roses, Rose of Sharon etc. It really is lovely to stagger the blooms so the garden always feels alive and never boring!

    This is our garden from last year:

    This is it about 1 1/2 months ago (you can see we had just rehabbed the lawn -after our 3 dogs made a mess of it over the winter)

    also just a note – birdbaths are illegal in NYC (West Nile worries)

    also ditto on lead and contaminants in the soil (glass too for that matter) – if you are going to grow to eat get fresh clean soil and make a raised bed with a barrier in between. the ground and the new soil.

    good luck – can't wait to see!

  6. You strike me as the kind of person that likes symmetry and order. I think that square/ rectangular pavers (a mix of both would produce some interest too) with a nice table for outdoor entertaining would be great.

    Our garden here in CO is about the size of yours, and we have a nice sized patio rimmed by cutting flowers AND vegetables mixed in. Don't forget- you can also put planters on your raised patios and in pots on the lower patio, which really adds dimension and boosts efficiency of space. A smaller fruiting tree adds vertical dimension and some shade and frames the garden nicely. Don't know what kind of tree you have back there now, but perhaps you could trim it up and reign it in a bit so it's not such a space hog.

  7. As long as you have some sun, so your grass actually grows, there is little to no mud. It seems like your decks take care of the need for "paved" or flat space, and while a mix is nice if you have the square footage, pavers are A TON of money, and you do not want to do it yourself (very labor intensive and time consuming, and need to know about water drainage). While I like grass for looks and cheapness, don't let the kids weigh too heavily in favor of grass–maybe its just b/c that is what we have, but my kids complain about not being able to ride their bikes on grass, and all they do outside is play in the sandbox, little tykes slide, and a playhouse, and run–you can do all that on pavers.

  8. First, you have to define the use of the space. I think that's what other's are saying. The pavers that are there are not really that bad, but the grass between them and the poor fitting together of the slabs is the reason it looks so terrible. I might take them all out and reuse them. Perhaps fitting them together more closely on top of a properly prepared base in one part of the yard and planting grass for the rest. If you plan on storing toys in the lower porch section some nice and easy drapes made out of outdoor fabric and grommets might look nice, and, depending on the fabric you chose, solid or pattern, could really define the color direction of the space. I'm a landscape designer. Feel free to email me privately if you need any additional direction Love your blog….good luck in your new home!

  9. That's soon to be a great backyard!

    I really like the perimeter of your second inspiration photo. If you did something like that, but with more grass/ground cover and less brick in the middle, it would look great! I like the idea of raised flower beds because they allow you to use bushes/flowers for privacy instead of trees, and also add dimension to the yard.

    For the downstairs patio, I think it would look great in the summer if you hung large, breezy outdoor drapes from the upstairs deck. Even though it will only be used as storage, it will make the area look so cozy as you look back at the house from the yard.

  10. What about a striped awning for the second floor balcony – or a pergola? I would agree that some grass is ideal for little people and you can get seed that grows in any number of environments and light.

    As for plantings – do you want mostly formal greenscape? Flowers? Flowering plants throughout the summer? I love laurel hedges or arborvitae for a privacy screen or to block ugly walls and fences. Perhaps too you could consider hydrangea for color and cut flowers, lilac bushes or trees, even boxwood are all lovely and mostly evergreens (save for the hydrangea.)

    Good luck! Planning a garden is one of the true joys in life!

  11. Oh, are you ever going to have FUN! Try planting little bunches of Mother of Thyme between the rocks. You may want to wait until the fall so the hot weather won't be a problem letting things get a good start.

    Get a pretty birdbath and hang a bird feeder with some black oil sunflower seeds.

    Wait until at least fall, if not next spring to do anything big. You need to see where the sun and shade fall, where water pools when it rains, where the best views of the sunrise or sunset can be seen from … until you can answer those questions, buy some pretty and comfy seating and a few hanging baskets for the lower deck, add the birdbath and feeder, and begin to enjoy. It's going to be beautiful.

  12. I like the paver idea. You can re-use what you have just lay them down differently, but I kind of like their pattern. Also what is nice is to plant creeping thyme amongst the pavers, it smells heavenly and grows beautifully among pavers. I would go for raised beds, along the edge,you'd be surprised how much you can grow in little space. As for a playhouse/sandbox, go for it! It would be fun!! Can that tree handle a tire swing? A bench tucked in and a bistro set would add to the ambience on the lower yard

    I would also create a sort of trellis with awning on the top deck, to create a sense of an outdoor room with lights strung across.

    Hostas, black eyed susans, etc are great perennials, cheap, easy to care for and come back every year.
    I am renting my home and have had fun vamping the yard that had nothing in it, to lush flower beds that I get complements on. The trick is a variety of perennials with a few annuals, such a petunias or impatiens tucked in!

    Have soooo much fun. Knowing you, you will turn it into a fabulous space!

  13. I like the idea of keeping the pavers but pulling them up and relaying them. I would skip the toy storage outside your office and go with a water feature so you can open the doors and hear it while working. Toy storage – rubbermaid makes these great storage sheds you can you to put the toys away when not in use and keep the yard tidy and uncluttered. I would change your second floor and stair railing; if not a big budget I would cap with a mahogany top vs. replacing all spindles..it just needs more weight..then you can add railing flower boxes…the rest..take your time..the best spaces as you know evolve with you as you settle into the space. Good Luck

  14. I have had backyards in the two Brooklyn brownstones I've lived in, and I recommend having less vegetation. In our previous apartment which had a lot of grass, we couldn't even use the backyard (it was a rental) because I got DEVOURED by mosquitoes in minutes.

    In our current brownstone, most of the backyard is concrete with a garden along the edges. The difference is night and day! I still get bit (even with repellent), but now it's just one or two (I'm delicious to mosquitoes).

    We've tried almost every zapper/torch/mosquito killer out there too. The thing that worked best was just having less greenery. Or you can plant greenery that mosquitoes hate like rosemary, peppermint, catnip (although that encourages cats to pee/poop in your yard and we've had that problem too).

    Good luck!

  15. As a horticulturist…I like the idea of pavers but installing them properly is a must. Gravel and sand allow for better water infiltration. Also, there are some plant varieties that can take some wear and tear and can be planted in between pavers. They should not need mowing or anything like that. Ask your local nursery. Keep in mind the light requirement for plants. In shady areas consider hostas and lenten roses or other species that can take low light levels. Most of all, enjoy the outdoor space!

  16. You have a great space to work with. I think less is more, so my advice..is to keep it as simple as possible. Think of the style of your home. Clean lines, no curves, gray pavers, (b/c gray pops against green), a few eyestopping plants or dwarf trees. Create a 'central haven' in your yard and work your way out. Good luck, can't wait to see the outcome.

  17. I think you have a great space to work with. Keep it simple and clean. Gray pavers, clean edges, no curves, a lawn space for some green and only a few eyestopping plants/dwarf trees. Look at your porch as a median between your home and yard. It's your fun space to combine the outdoors and in. Focus on your favorite colors & scents when it comes to flowers & plants. Good Luck! Can't wait to see the outcome:)

  18. Jenny,

    I work as the head gardener of a property in Park City (ut) so this is my cup of tea! I see you have many helpful suggestions so I'll just pass on a few thoughts, most of which I am sure you already know.

    1 – One key to making a small outdoor space larger is to create several gathering places. The pictures you have gravitated towards offer this. It can still feel united, and have good flow, but you want to provide 2-3 spaces for the group to filter into naturally as well.
    2 – Those pavers in the back yard have amazing potential, but considering you have kids it is probably a priority to clear up some more space for grass. (Since you have kids I would recommend buying sod rather then trying to grow anything from seed. Once you lay down some great sod you won't have to worry to much about mud.) Keeping some of that hardscape (rearranging for sure) would be really nice! Those pavers need to tell part of the story…they need to either introduce you to a space or lead you through a space. Will they take you beyond the grass to a bench in the back? Will they focus you on the middle area? Will they take you to a small grouping of chairs to the left? No limit(: Some of my favorite ground cover fillers around hardscape? Elven Thyme, Scotch Moss, Irish Moss, Green Carpet, Creeping Veronica. Combining three of these at a time is really beautiful. All of these can be walked on, and some flower! I have some great pics of these ground covers in action. Put a little lemon thyme (it grows taller) around the edges and it will smell so good as you brush past it, or as the girls play around.

    3- The red brick in the back is fantastic! The questions with that seems to be whether that becomes the feature in a gathering space in the back, or if it will have presence in the entire yard. That question alone is worth considering before beginning your design.

    Just some thoughts. (If you have any questions about plants, pictures, or anything else feel free to e-mail. redclovercreations@gmail.com)

    Your blog is so wonderful! Thanks for the work you put into it.


  19. I didn't read all the comments so someone might have mentioned this, but one thing to try is to paint both the brick and the wood fence (and whatever's on the left side) all the same color, if you can. Maybe stick a nice small fountain in a corner to provide white noise (just make sure there's no standing water or mosquitoes will use it for a breeding ground). Some mirrors on that brick wall would be lovely too.

  20. I didn't read all the comments so someone might have mentioned this, but one thing to try is to paint both the brick and the wood fence (and whatever's on the left side) all the same color, if you can. Maybe stick a nice small fountain in a corner to provide white noise (just make sure there's no standing water or mosquitoes will use it for a breeding ground). Some mirrors on that brick wall would be lovely too.

  21. Hi, loved the space! I think I would take all the pavement out and "divide" the space in two – near the office put pavement and then grass till the end. Then tall trees at the end, to give you more privacy.
    Good luck!

  22. I like the pavers. I think it just needs to be cleaned up a little bit. If you edged around the the border and added a few perenials it would be a huge improvement. You could also re-seed the grass and add some interesting containers. It would be a lot less money than adding new pavers. Landscaping can get costly.

  23. Mud is a real-life issue! Sounds like you have a great plan in mind already! Neighbors are great when looking for ideas/plants, too. Often you can get great advice and free cuttings of plants that work in the area.

  24. It is a fantastic space! It just depends how much grass you want, but it is a beautiful yard and I love the doors on the upper deck..Lovely area for boxwoods in urns and a seating area. How about a water feature down below and just planting beds beautifully arranged?

  25. Congratulations on the beautiful backyard!

    #1 Think drainage.

    After that, I'd find a stone yard, chose remnants,have them cut to my pattern,and then hire somebody to install the small stone patio area.

    Find a sail maker with remnant canvas for shade sail and/or buy a waterproof awning.

    Herb garden in containers

  26. Hi Jenny, From personal experience…I suggest you spend lots of time talking to neighbors & local gardeners. Local advice re: what works and what problems to expect is priceless! Take time to learn your space before doing. If this were my space, I'd limit my investment in the "will stay here when we leave". I would work on a simple plan for the overall yard–using it as a backdrop to pots, freestanding planters–"portables"–things that could go when I went! I loved having potted herbs on a balcony. Also, consider "window boxes" mounted on the porch rails with trailing plants & tall plants: That would "expand" the space, soften lines and provide some privacy et al. The space under the steps could be enclosed with trellis/climbing plants to provide out of sight storage. If you put in a "sandbox" for children, Young House Love suggests pea gravel, not sand. I look forward to seeing you work your magic on this space!

  27. oh my gosh that space is going to be amazing! Once all that junk is gone and you can really see the bare bones I am sure your creative juices will create something spectacular! We are currently landscaping our property and there is no better way to get the most out of your money than to use what you already have! I honestly would leave those pavers; they have character! I think that the first inspiration picture you shared could potentially be an after picture of your space! It is so elegant and girly; perfect for your sweet little ones to explore and imagine outside! Wouldn't it be fun to tuck a sweet little wooden play house in the back corner for those cute girls to play house!

  28. OK, goal is to fool the eye and intro curves into the rectangle and contrast in heights and color in such a small space.

    Pavers should be lifted, cut into better rectangles and then relaid in a bed of very dark gravel for ocntrast. The paved area should be reduced and kept near the house. The garden or lawn edge of paved area should bow out gently to give an expensive curve, and the illusion of space.

    Check that stockade fence to see if it is on your property. If so, ditch it and put in a plank fence with some space between each wide slat for light and air. Stain it a dark color or make it of cedar, which will weather to a silvery grey naturally. Make the fence taller at house and back brick wall ends, and shorter in middle, with the transitions in height effected by curved cuts in the fence. The tall ends will give the illusion that there are different "rooms" at each end of the garden. Dress the fence with a flowering vine – like a clematis; try Henryii, which has large white flowers and dark green foliage.

    Put in grass from side to side. Don't try introducing flower beds, except at edge of paving and at back area as noted below or the yard will look even narrower.

    Back wall – put in an outdoor/waterproof mirror in the form of a wide arch on the wall in the center to fool the eye into believing there is more space and light. Hang a wall fountain, like a lion mask, on it and lay a small half ellipse pool on the ground in front of it, perhaps with a raised stone or brick wall edge, 16-18 inches high with a cap of slate to sit on so kids can enjoy while being safe. Water sounds give life to a garden and a wall fountain takes little space or engineering. Plant a small tree to each side of mirrored arch – a Stellata or Saucer Magnolia is perfect, as are almost any species of Japanese maples- especially since they introduce color and/or flowers and are in scale with the yard. Grow Virginia Creeper on the back wall to cover much of brick – it turns scarlet in fall, but is very vigorous, so be prepared to cut it back severely each year. Ivy with white edges to leaves will work too. Plant a few low shrubs or a short hedge just in front of trees, perhaps in a two "arms" mimicking the curve of the flagging at the other end of the garden.

    Finally, add a short brick column with an iron urn atop at foot of stairs and plant with bright red geraniums and chartreuse potato vines for a jolt of color.

    There, now you have a space which, when viewed from above, has two gently curved areas at each end, with a lawn in the middle – stone near house and greenery at back, with height and color interest and a definite view to interest people yet without losing play space for the kids.

  29. Jenny,

    I was hoping that you were going to show a few befores, even with the bachelor's things in there.

    I think that with your little ones, a little grass would be great. As for the pavers, reuse what you can in a beaitiful pattern.

    Also, any botanical garden or arboretum, or a website like P.Allen Smith's is very helpful with plants, especially if you are looking for low maintenance.

    Have a great day, looking forward to seeing more.


  30. Having an urban backyard with limestone, I wanted need to add something. I'm all for re-use but if I could cheaply/easily pull up my limestone and replace it with flat pavers I would do it in a heartbeat. Why? I love their organic shape, but being in a city we have shade from surrounding buildings and with the natural dips in the stones, there are areas that collect puddles of water that rarely see light…so it takes FOREVER to dry up. Which ends up meaning you get gross standing water and slimy stuff growing, which isn't ideal with kids and pets. In addition, since we have kids and pets and non-raised beds, the dirt and mulch get everywhere when they're out there playing and the limestone texture makes it harder to keep clean – you notice more dirt b/c of the lighter color and it gets in all the nooks and crannies of the stones. Yes, it's outside and I'm not an anal person, but we have friends who have raised beds and pavers like in your inspiration pic with the dog/grass and despite their kids/animals playing outside all the time, their yard "floor" always looks so much more clean.

    Not to say I think you should absolutely get rid of them, but it's an aspect I never would have considered and it drives me nuts. Mine are giant pieces of limestone and yours look a lot smaller and flatter, so maybe if you're doing smaller pieces you have more options for ones that don't have as much variation with dips and whatnot. And if you get a lot of sun and maybe do raised beds (or something where it would be harder for the soil to travel), these things would be less of an issue, but still something to consider!

  31. Just remember: whatever you do, you're going to have to maintain. Do you own a mower? Edger? Weedeater? Do you want to buy and use those things, possibly at the expense of some other activity you'd rather be doing?

    I'd fill the pavers in with pea gravel to clean them up some and do some landscaping on the perimeter, maybe a nice organic curved edge with ground cover, space for annuals, some shrubs and small trees for shade.

  32. This is going to sound absolutely crazy, but have you considered fake grass. I don't have any experience with it, but know a few people who have used it in areas like yours. If you use the good stuff (I think SynLawn is supposed to be good) feels just like grass, but no cutting, no mud, no mess. Just a thought.

  33. The best thing I ever had in my yard when kids were little was a water/sand table. It was easy to keep fresh by changing things up-fill it with dolls and soapy water one day, sand and dinosaurs another. I also think container gardens are a great way to spruce things up quickly, while adding visual interest with a variety of pots.

  34. For kids: I'm hoping you go with a child's garden. They can learn gardening with you! Getting your hands dirty is really therapeutic. You can let them pick their own plants/seeds (some of both is best) and learn about the pace and patience of growing things. Don't forget birds love low bushy trees

  35. There is great potential there, I do think it all needs some rearranging though to look neater. There is a fantastic article in this month's issue of MS Living (the one with the berry cake on the cover) about using groundcover around paving stones. It has several suggestions of types to use in different traffic areas, including pictures of everything. I hope that is useful to you!

    Love your blog and I'm excited to see how your new space progresses!

  36. The possibilities are endless, but it sounds like your girls have never lived in a home with a yard. How about the majority of it being grass for them to just … play? Sometimes, the best design solution is to just NOT design it to the hilt. In this case, I'd go for grass with plantings around the perimeter. You have two decks for seating. You and hubs can sit and watch them play.

  37. Hi Jenny,

    I've been reading your blog since I moved to NYC a couple years ago! As soon as I have a real apartment I can't wait to employ some of your ideas :)

    I'm currently finishing up an MS at Columbia for Landscape Design and am working on a backyard project in Park Slope and a terrace garden in Lincoln Center. You have a lovely backyard space with so much opportunity! If you would feature my work on your blog, I'd be happy to provide a design consultation and plant suggestions for the space and could put you in touch with landscape contractors who can implement the design, as well as reliable nurseries for plants.

    If you're interested, please feel free to email me: amber.knee@gmail.com. You can also check out my pinterest for ideas: http://pinterest.com/amber_knee

    Thanks and best wishes!

  38. Only plant evergreens. They will look pretty all year and you won't have to do so much gardening. I would do some pots in the summer with some pretty annuals.

    You may also want to try planters off the rail on the top porch. I think it might be really pretty.

    Good luck! Love Brooklyn Heights!

  39. As someone who lived in NYC for many years and had a backyard too, I say go for grass. NYC is all pavement, so having your own patch of grass in a sea of concrete is the ultimate luxury. As a mother, I know how much children love playing in the grass so give them their "suburb" yard in the city. You are one lucky gal as that is going to be a dream rental! Looking forward to seeing your transformations.

  40. Hey! So nice that you'll be having a garden…

    The current issue of Martha Stewart Living has a whole article on which plants to use to fill in pavers.

    Good Luck!

  41. Ripping out those pavers would be a big project, and I kind of like them. You should mow the backyard so the grass is low and level, and then seed the areas that have gone to mud. I think the results will be better than you anticipate. Along the fence to the right in your pictures, there's that long space; create a raised bed there so that it curves around and joins the bed in the back of the yard. Plant it with low-maintenance, low-light plants, like hostas that will return every year. You can place pots of bright flowers in between the hostas, which will give you the pop of color you're probably craving. You can try painting pots in a variety of colors OR doing them in a single, unifying color. The girls would probably love to help! Thanks, Carolyn (experienced gardener)

  42. I'm in the midst of doing an outdoor patio myself. very expensive! and if not done correctly it will heave in winter and become uneven AND muddy in spring. i say go grass, as this is a rental. new beds, a cheap, beaten up statue (budda, perhaps?) for a focal point deep in the back…and you're done. but you'll have fun doing this, because you're smart cookie and have great ideas. keep posting and good luck! my focal point is a DIY fountain and it's done well for three years now–for a total cost of $45.

  43. Ooooh – Can I come over and help you? I love gardening and am moving back to NY. Seriously though I think you could probably repurpose the pavers you have. Plant some creeping thyme between them. Then maybe raised planters as you mentioned. There are some hostas in the back that also look to be in good shape. Tons of potential back there!

  44. I don't think you need to get rid of the stones you have, just get rid of the weeds growing between them and plant some low-profile ground cover to grown between the stones. That will give you a look like some of the pictures you pinned. As for vegetables, just remember that you need LOTS of sun, especially for tomatoes, so put those in the sunniest spot. If you want something more low maintenance than actual vegetables, just grow a bunch of herbs (which you can even do in pots on your upper deck). You still get the satisfaction of fresh things growing in your garden but without having to prep the beds and weed and rotate the crops each year. Plus you can bring the herb pots inside during the winter so you have fresh herbs all year long. You're so lucky to have a garden – it has the potential to be AMAZING!

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