The story of our garden

For years, so many of our conversations were about how excited we were to one day have a garden of our own. We took great advantage of the beautiful parks across the city—and each time as we walked around barefoot on the grass, it brought such happiness. And then Scout came along and the desire grew a bit stronger.

When we bought our home in 2020, the backyard was kind of a mess. Old stained concrete surrounded the house. Our courtyard was once a mix of dirt and a little area for trash bins. The pathway was all dirt, with old pebbled stone steps that led you to the back of the house. When you first arrived, to the right in a small cove was a very weathered sandbox—nails sticking out and all. The yard had a small oval shaped lawn—and surrounding it along the edges of the property all the way to the fence was red mulch. The fence was red and orange. As much as it seemed to be an eyesore—if you looked at it the right way, what it really was—was a blank canvas.

One of the big red flags on our disclosure was drainage around the house. This was super important to tackle as fast as possible—so within a few months of settling in, we went for it. Drainage and home updates of the sort aren’t as fun, however, with this upgrade came the opportunity to select tiling that we loved.

We took the courtyard from a garbage bin wasteland and created the most charming little courtyard full of potted blooms on lovely herringbone pavers. The pathway was brought to life with arles gray pea gravel between willow edging on both sides ready for all the flowers and greenery to be planted. We used a few iron archways for vines to climb up for added charm and whimsy. Every time I walk down that path now I feel so much gratitude. The little sandbox cove is now a seating area with the same arles gray pea gravel under foot. Potted citrus, olive trees, and roses surrounding. The fence close by is now bursting with vines and hydrangeas. It is such a romantic scene!

When you complete big updates like this, it can make the undone parts stick out like a sore thumb even more. Especially if you belong to my eyeballs. Truthfully, it was so daunting to figure out what directions to go for the rest of the space because it is quite big—an  endless sea of mulch! The first thing we decided to do, was expand the lawn into a big rectangle shape that stretched from the pathway fence to the other side where our check patio tiles end. In the back right corner, where we have our one and only beautiful mature tree, was a little hill. I decided to hire someone to build a raised bed around the hill so that space could look more intentional. We had little steps made in the center so that eventually we can utilize that area as well. We stained all of the back fence and bed a dark charcoal color. So many people mentioned how the red and orange would eventually fade, but I have no patience guys. Plus, I knew that if it were black, it would create almost a shadow effect and that all of the greenery would sing. My one goal! ALL THE GREEN! The beautiful hill behind our home, the lush trees, and everything we would eventually plant.

(side note: In that back raised corner bed, we’ve only added 3 little privets spaced out which I have trimmed into globes. We haven’t touched anything else as we’ve wanted to feel out what it could be. My most recent idea, which I think we will run with—is to create a play space up there for Grace! Fill the ground with a gray sand, get a little wooden picnic table—let her help us bring it to life over the next few years.)

Our next project that we tackled—RIP mulch. We ended up removing it and replacing it with the same arles gray pea gravel. We knew we wanted to take our time to feel out the direction of this outer garden space, but grew to love the foundation of having pea gravel as our walking pathway material.

I love so much how it feels like there are many rooms around our garden, each having such a different feel. They serve us in different ways and I find myself bouncing around with which is the current fave. The garden courtyard “Grace’s Garden”, the cove cocktail hour hang spot, the seating area and dining area on our check tiles. I wanted to keep running with making the most of every little nook and cranny.

Since we moved in, the house that shares our back fence was vacant. It was actually knocked down and rebuilt from scratch and then the owners sold it. In February, the new owners moved in. We had already been talking about investing in a handful of mature trees, but this was the big nudge! Our property sits a little lower than our neighbors, so everyone can see right in! We had 8 large oaks planted along the fence line, and a few mature olive trees planted near the garden and closer to our check tiles. It was the most massive update and upgrade! And I finally looked out my windows and saw nothing but green.

Next up came the other side of our house (opposite of the pathway and behind that trellis wall we had made). I originally wanted to build all our raised garden beds over here, but Matt made a really good point. We are about to embark on big renovations and this is the side that our contractor will need to access. So I did have those tall green standing ones to start over there, close to the trellis wall so that people can get by easily (video of this space here). But ultimately led us to bringing the veg beds across the lawn as a beautiful view from our future kitchen window. So happy about this!

The formatting of everything came together in our typical garden designing fashion—flying by the seat of our pants. I bought two beds where the current entrance to the little garden sits with the archway. I loved the way it looked, and ordered a few more beds. I originally had the idea of placing them all the same direction just a few feet apart, but since it didn’t quite look right, I placed them in a lovely sqaure format where you could walkthrough little pathways.

Once we got the beds stained and planted everything, I had this idea of bringing a table over as the scene began to be so idyllic. I almost sold the table we have over here now at a certain point because we bought a new one and I didn’t think we had a need for it… and I am so glad I didn’t! This is my current favorite seat in the house!

I am so so happy with how everything has come together. I have to be honest and tell you, I look at it daily and I am equal parts so proud and inspired by what we’ve created and then I also feel so confused how we managed to pull this vision together by ourselves. But then again—I am very aware that my eye is relentless when it has a vision. I just think that most of my life, these design urges have been put towards small bedrooms growing up or in SF. This, by far, is the biggest canvas of art I have ever touched! It has been such a labor of love. So much time, thought, care put into it. We wanted each area to make us feel something—and I am just so beyond proud of accomplishing this goal. Because it is magic, and I am just so happy that Grace gets to grow up in such a setting.

Truly, slow and intentional wins the race. And now the fun part—before / afters…

From the day we moved in.

Updated photos of this space here / here

triggered seeing all this mulch 😂 Also the columns were super tiny, so we added on to them to make them a little thicker/nicer looking! Oh my gosh, our palm tree has grown so much, I didn’t realize until now!

The view from our bedroom — and the rickety sandbox.

Not trying to be dramatic, but this hurts my eyes. A little video here and here of this space now (and the pathway).

The early days game plan.

This is the entryway to “Grace’s Garden” courtyard, the former trash bin hub. Updated video here.

The main area

And the pathway to get to the back. K now that we have a visual of what we were working with… excited to share images from the last couple of years and how it has shaped up!



The plan before we decided to move kitchen garden to center of garden rather than the side behind trellis… also—where the round picnic table is located on the right… we have decided to eventually add a rectangle Hampton style in-the-grass pool.

Fences stained black (Apache Tears by Storm)


Trellis wall built

Tree planting day!

Bless you oak trees. Will be so exciting next spring to remove the tree supports!

And shots from this week…

Our latest project! I have always dreamt of having my own garden. In my experience so far, I’ve learned that becoming a gardener is a bit similar to becoming a new mom. Hear me out!

Before giving birth, I felt so overwhelmed by the amount of details, logistics, things to know—a world so unfamiliar to me. However, when it came close to the day of meeting Grace, I realized that I just needed to trust that in this role—you learn from experience and trial and error. You read up on whatever is at hand that you are unsure of. You ask friends. You get the hang of it! Something that has really stuck with me too (forgetting where I heard this now)—is that it’s not all on you. It’s in a plant’s nature (😏) to want to survive. I’ve had lots of fails along the way, which has only helped me to cultivate a stronger sense of what works, what doesn’t, and I just keep learning and soaking it up because I want to. There will be lots more failures to come, I am sure, but that’s okay because I love gardening and it’s worth it.

Like my home, this space will always be evolving—will be sure to keep sharing as things unfold! Be sure to check out my Garden highlight on IG, I think there is 2 if you’d like to see more photos and little video tours from the years! x

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Comments Expand -
  1. This transformation is incredible! Congratulations, truly a work of art!

  2. So, so beautiful. Inspiring me to renovate our backyard!! What camera do you use to take your photos?

  3. This is so inspiring. You inspired me to create my own garden beds this year and your comparison on being a new mom could not be more accurate! I know NOTHING! My window boxes have already died so I’m already scheming up what to do for next year, but until reading your post about how it’s all trial and error for a while, I felt like a failure and now I’m excited to try again next year. Thanks for always inspiring me, Ashley!

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