Diary of a DIY backyard makeover

See how this dream garden became a reality in one year 

June: The Driveway Goes

June: The driveway goes

Jordan begins to demolish the paving. "After a few stabs of the pick into asphalt, he demolished a disc in his back instead," Leanne says. "What followed was a trip to the emergency room, spinal cord surgery, and finally a call to a guy with a backhoe." 

Full story:  Build your dream backyard

October: The shed rises

October: The shed rises

Four months of physical therapy later, Jordan and a friend embark on the construction of a cedar garden shed, which takes three months to build. "Before the shed, we had to bring the mower up out of the basement every time we cut the grass," Leanne says.

Early May: A fence goes up

Early May: A fence goes up

To separate the garden from the busy street, Jordan designs and builds a cedar fence. The lintels on the saloon-style garden gate match the shed's extended rafters.

May: Planting the pavers

Norm Plate

May: Planting the pavers

The courtyard's flagstones sit on an 8-inch base (2 inches of sand atop 6 inches of gravel). To soften the spaces between the flagstones, Leanne plants woolly thyme, Irish moss, blue star creeper, and fragrant Corsican mint. 

June: Patio plants are chosen

Norm Plate

June: Patio plants are chosen

After building up the beds with compost and topsoil, Leanne plants a weeping katsura tree ("for its scale and beautiful leaves") and clematis ("for the lovely blooms it brings to fences and walls"). Perennials like Crocosmia, daylilies, and blanket flowers fill in around them. 

July: Finished!

July: Finished!

"Our new garden is most beautiful and magical at night, when the light coming through the shed's stained-glass window casts a warm glow over the entire space," Leanne says. "We can enjoy serenity and calm after more than a year of backbreaking work." 

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