Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June: Getting the Backyard Ready for Action!

I just am shocked it's June already.
How the holy heck did that happen so fast?

Today I drove down the street to find a mess of tree trimmer's trucks and a giant wood chipper in my front.. The neighbors decided to remove most of the trees in their yard, or what is left of them after building a huge home that takes up most of their lot!

Those chipper machines always give me anxiety. I hate the horrible noise, the extreme dust in the air and every animal in my house was cowering under something..Poor guys. Also some pretty trees that we can see and give some shade are now gone. Hmmm. I have no say in this, but trees are one of those things I really love and hate seeing removed...

A view from my garden gate... 

 This house is about 45 years old and the yard was landscaped about 20+ years ago.

We have a funky pool that has a lap pool attached that wraps around the yard. 
It was originally built for a family that also had two boys and they played water polo and swam.

When we bought this home 5 years ago the  right half of the backyard was all shaded by a huge Monterey Pine. The tree was the neighbor's behind us and 2 years ago it too was taken out because it was dying.

 That changed up the whole yard environment as there were many shade loving ferns and others who went into shock... Many have come back, but some still haven't.

It's been challenge to find the right plants! I am my own landscaper for now as we are on the start-up budget, so I have been using the hit and miss method, coupled with child labor.

Try it friends! It's good for them too. :D

Teenage boys can be pretty competent diggers if you pay them.. 

You may need to micro-manage a bit.

This back area behind the pool was allowed to die when the past owners moved up to their newly remodeled home Los Altos and put this on the market. They didn't know the drip was off. To fix it up to sell, I believe they replaced the back area with agapanthus. 

To me that is a business park flower. It's pretty generic. The flowers come up once a year for a couple weeks. That's it. Taking them out is like removing a huge underground octopus- not easy. 

Slowly I've been replacing them with French and English lavender, rosemary, and California perennials that looks pretty and tolerate hot and dry, like sage and yarrow.

I would eventually love to have the whole pool have lavender hanging over it with a combination of some trailing vines and creeping fig along the fence. 

There are some lovely old roses that still survive along the back too.

Want to see a backyard to die for? Check out my friend Elizabeth's roses and yard in Orinda on her blog the Vintage Henhouse. She recreated her yard into an Italian villa's garden!

I love this very old Cecil Brunner that covers our garden gate.

My dad kindly came by to help get my garden beds turned over and he planted tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans for me..

There is nothing better than green beans from the garden or a home grown tomato!

 Already they are doing well thanks to the warm weather and good soil he added.

The time spent tending the backyard is so relaxing. Here 's my neighborhood buddy, Luke the cat who hangs with me. 

I love how he shimmies under the garden gate like a little rabbit to come in..

This is him grabbing some rays while I water. The guy can nap anywhere. 
He especially digs the pool lounge chairs! He knows a good thing.

I'm excited for all the lovely tomatoes and the caprese we will make.
 Last year I got tomatoes until November. Crazy!

Currently the garden is covered in dust. Grr those blowers. The tree people have blown it all neatly about to other corners of the world..i.e. my place.  Our town is about to possibly enact an ordinance against blowers and I hope it passes. It seems there is no day morning or night that they are not going around here. The air pollution is also terrible from them and they blow heavy metals from the ground  into the air as well. Okay sorry done ranting.

I got a new table and chairs for alfresco dinners.
 I am hoping this will motivate me to entertain more often.

 I love these chairs from Pier 1. 

So comfy. light, stackable and I can use inside as well if I need to.

Here it is set for Mother's Day Dinner.

My eldest found a way to string the cute battery operated twinkle lights I bought at Restoration Hardware at Christmas around the umbrella pole and along the top. 

I love it and the lights have timers.

I just wanted to make it a little more fun and funky out here.
 The table was a great steal as well for a $179 dollars.
Looks like neither is on the website anymore, but stores may still have the table and chairs.

I am so inspired by my friend the sweet Tamera Beardsley, and all of her gorgeous home, but especially so this post with her succulents and outdoor areas. 

I tried to step it up a bit this season and make my outdoor area as pretty.

I like these dark urns I found at Home Depot. I wanted stone, but they are quite pricey..

These looked better than the light colored faux stone.

 A little more dramatic I thought for a mix of succulents.

I think they came out pretty cute. 

Trader Joes has good prices on these little guys and so does Home Depot.

 I snatch up a few each time I'm out.

Gosh I am loving succulents more and more.

They are beautiful for inside as well and so easy to keep alive!! 

 I was thrilled when this former strawberry pot flourished as a succulent apartment.

Some of these cuttings I just snipped off and stuck in the soil here.

They are super to tuck into pots in the corners as well, like I did here with some begonias.

This olive tree from my friend Jen is at least 6 years old!  Love it so much.

My other favorites that grow well here are hydrangeas.

Jasmine I adore and also star jasmine we have on another fence. 

My husband hates the smell of these.

I would love to add some of those outdoor striped curtains around these French doors. I think  they would be so cute and cabana like.

With a pool, the one thing I am loving is this row of hooks from Pottery Barn that my friend Wendy gave me last summer. They have been brilliant for out here and we hang a ton of wet towels, goggles and swimsuits on it.

It's still looking great after a year of sun and salt water.

The little blue bucket was a find from a little antique shop in Soquel. 
They had bought a mass of these old blue enamel milk pails found in Belgium.
For $20 it's cute for the rest of the pool toys, flip-flops and diving toys.

It could be useful filled with ice to hold wine, champagne, or soda pops for outdoor parties too.

Please share with me your yard loves/ideas for summer!

I'm trying to get mine more inviting, so I can use it as another room during the summer.

I leave you with this last pic from the yard. 
We held my grandmas's 96th birthday party here last weekend and it was a lot of fun.

Love this goofy little pic with my dad and the boys. 
 My grandma's face is the best.
She's such a cutie.

Enjoy June everyone!

x Kim


  1. Good Morning Kim, Your outdoor space is so pretty! Those urns filled with succulents look great and they are so practical for a warmer, dry climate. I like you analogy of pulling out plants and their feeling like an underground octopus;) too funny! Your pool .. love it and I so miss ours. We had one for years when we lived in southern CA. Seattle pools are generally indoors. I hope your week is off to a great start! xxleslie

    1. Leslie, Thank you. I know loving those succulents right now. Maybe I'll bring them inside for winter too and they'll perk it up. So easy and inexpensive.. I never thought about Seattle pools being inside,but it makes sense. Too many Californians have pools that aren't even used. I told my husband if we were to move here I want the pool changed to salt-water and a new efficient heating system put in so we could actually use it. I think we do use it most days of Summer which makes me feel better about having one. xx

  2. You have a gorgeous garden Kim. Like you I am a novice when it comes to knowing what to plant where. But I think your garden looks lovely x

    1. Vanessa thank you.. I'm learning as I go.. xo

  3. WHAT A POST!!!Love your garden.........and I too am trying succulents for the first time THANKS to MADAME BEARDSLEY!The neighbors cat knows where to "HANG" thats for certain!ENJOY it and yes the outdoor curtains would be a SMASH!

    1. Contessa, your yard!! If only I could get my roses to be so ITALIAN!! Yes Mme. Beardsley is such a succulent savant! ;)
      Okay I'm going to see about those curtains.. xx

  4. I love your entire yard Kim and it looks so perfect for outdoor entertaining in the summer. I always wanted a pool growing up and lol about the comment of your kids helping with yard work. :) PS Great photo with your grandma! What a great family pic.


    1. Dale, thank you! I do love the pool for easy entertaining. You just chuck some food out there and some rafts and instant party!!
      Yes, trying to exploit my child labor force as much as possible this summer.. Lol!! xxoo

  5. Hi Kim, what a great post, I had so much fun reading. I love your pool, no really love it. I couldn't think of a better design, being a keen swimmer the designated lap lane is perfect. Sad as it is that the trees removal meant the loss of some of your favourite plants, it is the evolution of a garden that enhances your passion for plants. You green fingers are already and adapting a new style to work with the changing conditions. The hit and miss method is a great way to garden, no book can tell you exactly how plants will react to your specific environs and fit in with exactly what you like, trial and error is the best guide book out there. I think it looks superb. Have you tried prostrate Rosemary, I love the way it grows and tumbles over edges.
    Love your roses, a gorgeous splash of colour that really pops against the pool, lovely.You really can't have too many.
    Your tomatoes are doing great, what a treat to have them until November, nothing beats home grown.I having some real hit and misses in the veg patch this year, the courgettes and salad leaves have all been gobbled up by the snails who are multiplying no end. Being organic we rely on the birds who cant eat the snails quickly enough. I am growing Chinese Chrysanthemum leaves that are doing really well, the nails seem to be ignoring them so at least they are making it to the table:)
    Love your urns with the succulents, I may pinch your idea and start some off, as them look absolutely wonderful.
    Such a brilliant idea to put up some outdoor curtains, I love that look retro, cabana-glamour look. The house we stay in when were in Miami has them and I always feel like I'm on the set of a Hollywood movie set on the Côte d'Azur. Can't wait to see what colours you go with, I think they'll look fantastic.
    Better get back to work, have a great week, Paul.

    1. Paul, Thanks so much for all this! I hope I am adapting with the change in garden and seeing what works or doesn't. I guess you are right that's the evolution of a garden.. The older I get I have more time to devote to this! Time and patience seem to be the key! The rewards are so great though is you can wait it out. What is Chinese Chrysanthemum? Sounds exotic! Snails are a problem too here and I do everything organic....
      So why don't you come visit and use my lap pool? You have sold me on the cabana curtains! I'll be channeling the Riviera. ;)

  6. Your yard looks so beautiful and inviting! I love all the little details you put into things to make them just perfect. The smell of jasmine IS the smell of summer to me. My folks yard always smelled of jasmine. I love that strawberry pot with the succulents. Very cute. Wonderful post & gorgeous photos!

    1. Dawn, You are very kind.I love jasmine too!! Isn't it amazing how smell evokes time and places? My parents always had jasmine in the front yard too and I loved it. xx

  7. Love your yard Kim. Your Grandma is adorable!!


    1. Kelley thank you so much. Love my grandma! Hope all is well with you too. xo

  8. Oh wow, what a backyard, I'm coming to your house! I love the pictures with Luke, what a handsome kitty. And 96, your grandmother looks SO good for that age! My grandmother is turning 90 next month and there is going to be a party to celebrate. Thank you for joining Adrienne and me for "How I Wear My: Pastel." It was great to have you with us again! XO, Jill

  9. Your yard is so lovely! I'm a California girl at heart, and I do miss living there. I also have two boys (19 and 16) so we probably have a lot in common!

  10. What a gorgeous post, dear Kim; ah, for the joy of having a garden again .... xxxx

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  12. You have a lovely outdoor area and the shape of the pool is lovely and so unusual. It must be fabulous to have a climate where you can spend so much time outside. Your garden gate has really caught my eye and I haved not seen a strawberry pot used for succulents before. They look so attractive. We have herbs in ours. Great photo with your Grandma who looks amazing. for 96!