Amazing home transformations

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3 great gardens from our readers

Our inventive readers show how to create the backyard of your dreams, even on a budget

  • Miniature pylons and clumps of blue oat grass surround windmill palms.

    Johnsons' beach

    Jon Jensen

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  • Pam and John's Beachside Cabana

    Pam and John's Beachside Cabana 

  • Dahlias

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Pam and John Johnson • Keizer, OR • "Never done!"

Our Inspiration: "Our fondest childhood memories: mine of the beautiful Oregon coast, and my husband John’s of sunny California."

Challenge: No beach! We live 70 miles from the coast. So we turned our backyard into the scene we love most.

Highlight: Finding great stuff for our "beach" during our morning walks along the coast: netting, shells, rocks, and pieces of driftwood.

Advice: Leave room for plants to grow to their full height and spread. Read those tags on nursery plants.

Now ... Our garden makes us feel we’re at the most important place in the world ― the beach. But it’s our own backyard. Cost? Priceless!


How'd you start? We dug up a small patch of sod, deeply, to get the roots, then brought in a few boxes of beach sand we’d found in parking lots near the coast ― blown there from the dunes. We spread it around where the grass used to be, then gave away some of the discarded sod and sent the rest out for composting.

Then you planted? Yes. We fell in love with Chinese windmill palms; they grow well in Oregon as long as they’re planted high, out of frost pockets. We added native grasses, blue oat grass, fountain grass, and Carex flagellifera 'Toffee Twist'. All look like beach grasses.

Where'd you get the beachy decor? Mostly from Greenanchors Nautical Shop in South Beach, Oregon (541/867-2977).They sell authentic nautical stuff, including netting, signs, floats, pylons. Our thatched umbrellas are from the Home Depot.

Next: A room on her own



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