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Introducing Bowser’s Never Before Seen Backhouse Backyard (+ Her Plans To Make This Awkward Space Great)

I’m coming to you all prettttttty raw. My most precious cat child, the queen of my heart and the reason I wake up in the morning (mostly), Daffy, has fallen very ill (not the cat pictured above). It’s too long of a story to go into here and truthfully, I’m exhausted. On Instagram, I have a highlight dedicated to it if you must know, but she’s flirted with death and seems like she may be able to recover into some form of her former self (TBD). I mention this because this blog took me about a week to write and I hope it makes sense, also a lot of the readers have gotten to know Daffy and it feels weird not to say something about it when it is literally the only thing I can think about. Send all the good vibes our way. OK, just needed everyone to know my brain space (as always)…

We’ve been on a journey of slowly revealing our outdoor transformation, each space is unfinished, some closer than others, but I have yet to introduce you to the back of the lot…The Back House Backyard, BHBY if you will. I like to think of it as pronounced, “BEH-BEE”. When purchasing our two-on-a-lot fixer, one of the biggest pluses was that the units were separate. Not only did the units not share any walls, but the units also had their own outdoor spaces. After renting for so long, and having way too many stories of knowing way too much about our neighbors, we were so so happy to find a setup like this. That said, when everything is split up like so, you end up with pretty small spaces. This space in particular is very tricky and chopped up so we have a lot of work to do! 

Our lot is on a slight incline, with the back house sitting a bit higher than the front. I recently learned through our neighbor Ben, who has lived in the house next door since he was 5 (I would guess around 60 years), that the back houses were built first (his houses mirror ours). The man who built our houses used to live in mine and Ben knew him. There were gravel driveways with big front yards. It’s unclear to me when those houses were built because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen plans of our front house that were submitted to the county in 1930. All that to say, what is now the BHBY, wasn’t really meant to be a space to be enjoyed as much as the (former) front yard. There’s an awkward amount of space that wraps around, made even more awkward when someone added a bedroom to the back house at some point in the mid-century – very illegally and cost me a lot to fix, if I may add 🙂

Let’s take a look at when we bought the property:

a before of the backhouse as seen from our back yard, gate leads to backhouse entry
walking up through the gate, front door on the side of the house
around the corner, the part of the house you can see here is the added-on bedroom

As you can see, no one in LA even tries to sell homes. In fact, I believe we are all collectively being pranked and/or are actually all inside a simulation, a la “The Truman Show” but, like, on opposite day, and I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of my hedges. AND this was 2016, which is as we know, when the world split in half and we all ended up on the wrong side of space and time. It’s only gotten worse since then. Check out this listing that was recently emailed to me:

I KID YOU NOT. THAT WAS THE PIC. It’s not even for the house on the right. Asking price? EIGHT HUNDRED AND NINETY THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Anyway, I digress.

It is always funny looking back at photos of when we bought the house and realizing I saw that and was like “$600,000? I’ll take it!” Constantly living in the blessing/curse of seeing the glass half full I guess. 

These photos show the space a little better:

door to backhouse on right, looking from the top of the property, through the gate and into my backyard.
very, very back area. added on bedroom on left, very unfortunate view straight ahead, and why we are here today.

OK, so the photos are not very helpful because the space is very segmented. You know what would be WAY more helpful? For me to draw you a probably very inaccurate sketch and I’ll put it here. Oh, and take note of the numbered areas as I will be referencing them going forward.

So as you can see, it’s an odd shape. Especially this corner (4):

Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. 1. I have no idea why my lot is shaped like this, who decides these things? 2. Why is there a curb? When we moved in there was a water feature here that did not work, but honestly, I think that’s a creative use of space and we may come back to that. For the time being it is the only dirt in the “yard” and therefore where all the dogs who have lived here have relieved themselves. It’s a toilet. This space is a toilet.

Every renter we have had has had a dog. Say that 3 times fast. It makes sense. It’s a fenced-in space, which is a highly abnormal renting situation so we have to take that into consideration when thinking about this space. Because we ALL are thinking about it, RIGHT?? Seriously, halp.

Which brings me to why we are talking about this space. Actually, there’s no good reason. I really don’t need another thing on my plate right now. I simply just can’t not, you know?? The space has so much potential, but it’s hard to figure out (believe me, still working on it) and even though I don’t spend a ton of time out here, it bothers me that it technically belongs to me and it hasn’t fulfilled its calling in this life. I’ve loved every person who has lived in my back house and I’ve always wanted better for them, I’m finally in a place where I’m not *completely* in financial ruin and I’m already working on every other space outside, so now is the time.

Let’s talk positives first. Even though this space is small, it is mighty. I like to think of it as having 6 distinct spaces (marked on my highly accurate map). 1. Entrance.

This is the space closest to the fence that looks into our yard. It’s where Nora (the dog) likes to hang out and imagine eating all my cats. It’s about 8’x9’ (not including the walkway) and includes a half wall and steps up to the front door. This space is different from the rest because it is on a slant, making furniture a little tough.

There are 3 trees in this space, a lemon, a guava, and another lemon tree. Let’s call this space between the first two trees their “Front Patio” (2).

It’s a 6ish’x9ish’ space right off the front door. This picture is taken from me standing at the front door. Seems like an obvious space to have somewhere to sit right when you walk out. A place to sit and drink your coffee in the shade in the morning. Side note: Can you BELIEVE these trees come out of such tiny holes in the concrete?? It’s how the whole lot was before.

Between the second and third tree, we have the hammock area (3) that’s 6’x14’ish and is next to the weird corner, or toilet, (4) that we’ve talked about.

If you do a 180, space 5 – The Dining Area, is nestled into the corner where the interior dining nook and the added-on 2nd bedroom meet.

The furthest wall is the bedroom and is 9’ long, the wall on the left is 11’ long. 

This space works for me as a dining space because it’s close to the door to the house, so bringing food out isn’t too much of a hassle and the 2 walls make a perfect place to hang lights over the table.

Next to the dining space, there’s a walkway that’s big enough for something, but not much because it leads to the weirdest space of all that has a small-ish opening that you wouldn’t want to block. The space between the fence and the corner of the house is only about 6 feet but then opens up to 15’ into an area I’m calling the living space (6)…

She’s a weird shape and has an awful view. In addition to what you see here are about 2093832847 power lines above going in every direction. Understandably, this has been the most underutilized space for any tenant. But it is space. Yeah, that’s the only positive I can think of here.

Now that you’ve been introduced, let’s talk plans. These were the most important boxes to tick for me:

  1. Do something about that view of the neighbor’s roof. The fence is 6’ As you can see the neighbor on the right just extended their fence up to block both of our houses, and I can’t blame them. Unfortunately, now I have to look at all of this visual mess. I’d LOVE to replace our fence but it’s not happening any time soon.
  2. Create an outdoor living room. This space has lacked a cozy place for a group of people to hang out. Hope and Daniel (the current tenants) are lovely hosts and great cooks, so hanging out around the dining room table is great, but there is totally the space to be able to retire to something more comfortable 🙂
  3. Speaking of what good cooks and hosts they are, they deserve a larger dining space. Maybe even with a bar/console to help with surface area when hosting larger groups.
  4. The sun is pretty intense during certain parts of the day so we would love to come up with some DIY sun protection in the living space.
  5. Bring in greenery. The concrete is killing me. We need pots, we need plants. Something needs to be done about the weird corner. 
  6. I hate to say this because then it means I probably have to do it, but the color of the concrete is annoying me. It’s not bad, per se, I just hate it 🙂 Honestly, I just want it to be warmer, maybe taupe? I think that will also hide dirt better.

Now, I obviously am not funding this backyard makeover 100% by myself. I wish I could. I needed some amazing companies to collaborate with me in order to rationalize taking on another project. When I started thinking about this project, I had just gone to Article’s collaboration with Rooftop Cinema Club and got to sit in a bunch of their outdoor furniture, I was very impressed with the design and comfort (two of my favorite things!). Article was also an obvious first choice because I just love the people who work there. I can also say with conviction that the customer service is awesome as well. My friend Lauren had a cat that peed on her leather couch from Article and they worked with her to help remedy the problem without her having to buy an entirely new couch.

I also found this company called Veradek when I was being an amazing friend and helping Orlando source a pretty option for an outdoor kitchen in his own backyard. This company has very chic outdoor kitchens, privacy screens, firepits, and planters. Orlando’s use of the privacy screens immediately made me think about that unsightly roof line. Their biggest screens are 100” tall, that’s over 2 feet taller than the fence. This was really the jumping-off point for this project. I reached out and they sent through 5 of the Quadra Privacy Screen in corten steel, which looks like this:

My other plan for drawing attention away from the fence that needs to be replaced and the backside of my neighbor’s fence is to bring in greenery. Veradek’s planters are high quality, tested in Canadian extreme weather, and come in big sizes. We got 5 large Corten Span Planters as well as a few others from Veradek that you will be seeing in all the other outdoor reveals. My original plan was to put one planter each in front of each privacy screen but now I think they would be better used throughout the space as an anchoring piece, something every area will have to keep a sense of cohesiveness and as a way to get a good amount of greenery throughout the whole area, these things are huge (42″ L x 16″ W x 32″ H), especially for a space this small, so I think each one will pack a punch of green. They also can come with insert shelves that go 12inches down from the top, making it so you can use less dirt, or to help bring your plants up higher. We just built them all this past week, they were easy to assemble and I am excited to get them all planted. I met with my landscaper about trying to figure out if we can bring our irrigation from the back yard down the side of the back house to these planters. He thinks it will work out without having to get a whole separate system back here. 

Side note: If we haven’t talked about it – I am very pro irrigation. Once plants are established they don’t need much water, at least the plants that grow well here in LA, but it is very easy to kill plants if you miss watering when you need to. I don’t know if I’ve had even one plant die since everything was planted in my backyard in 2018, and obviously, as we all know, I have the best hedge in town. Right now my plants get watered twice a week for five minutes. I have one sprinkler for my tiny amount of grass and drip irrigation for the rest of my plants. We can talk about this more later, but the short story is: I like irrigation, especially for the back house because I don’t necessarily have access to it and I don’t want to waste money or kill plants constantly. That said, I am VERY excited to get my Goodland tub hooked up and rain barrels going before our rainy season. Both will be excellent for supplementing irrigation with grey water. 

Back to the design ideas, jumping off with the Article furniture and the Veridek planters and privacy screen, I went to work making some simple boards (I use Canva)

Some standout things from Article are this amazing sectional with a matching coffee table, it’s the perfect size for the living room space. I got some (very) comfortable lounge chairs as well. I sat in these while watching Dirty Dancing on a rooftop downtown and knew I had to have them. They are weirdly comfortable and more oversized than you think. Unsure if these will end up here or stay on my front porch where I have been enjoying them while we finish this space 🙂 I got a teak dining table (similar acacia table), but they were out of the benches so I ended up with 6 of these comfortable dining chairs. I love an arm on a dining chair and a thin pad that’s easy to stow when there is weather. I absolutely love these outdoor floor lamps. They are battery-powered (love my IKEA rechargeable batteries) and put off the prettiest light shapes from the shade.

There’s a lot of black back there because of the house, so I’m really going to have to work on softening it up with plants and textiles. I’ve had the best luck with black outdoor cushions as far as wear and tear. The space doesn’t get direct sun all day but we are looking into some kind of sun shade. Unsure if we are going to DIY or just get a large umbrella. The acacia and teak wood of the furniture will grey with weather, so the orange-y wood won’t always be so matchy-matchy with the corten steel. Also, the corten steel starts in its unrusted state. I could put a solution on it to speed up that process but I’m leaning towards letting it age naturally. Maybe the planters and furniture will meet in the middle :). Here’s a sneak peek that shows the steel raw and slightly weathered:

raw the steel is dark grey with an…iridescent vibe?
here you can see where it is starting to rust from being in my yard when the sprinkler went on overnight

Completely raw it is too black for the space but we’ll see what it looks like in a few weeks. I’m also going to try to get a mixture of jasmine and bougainvillea to climb on the privacy screens. Obviously, I’m concerned about the steel conducting too much heat but I’ve done a little research and have read it’s possible to do this if the plants are more established. I will also need to pay attention to how hot they get, not 100% sure how long that wall is in direct sun. If that doesn’t work I will definitely be planting climbers in the planters next to the privacy screen in the corner, hopefully covering up that fence situation asap. Because we hope to replace the fence in the next year or two, I will probably have to get a trellis so it doesn’t have to attach to the fence itself. However, the picture of the (in process) aging planter is on our neighbor’s fence. The same fence that we are trying to cover up in the front yard. Remember how we put in passion fruit to cover it up? Well, let’s just say that it understood the assignment.

It’s doing great and that space is VERY close to its reveal. We had a major heat wave so we have been unable to plant everything (thus the empty planters in this photo) but hopefully all that is coming in the next couple of weeks. Despite the heat, this vine has taken off and it had me thinking… ”how much passion fruit is too much passion fruit?” I mean, maybe I should just embrace it and have a passion fruit side hustle? I’m going to ask my landscaper what his opinion is, and if you have any other ideas for extremely fast-growing vines, let me know in the comments below.

On my to-do: 

  • Paint the concrete (blahhhhh – especially since all that furniture is on it now)
  • Talk to the landscaper and get the planters planted
  • Find a couple of things at the flea market: a bar/console for the walkway near the dining area, some vintage pots, an old ladder to help bring visual interest vertically onto the walls near the dining area, and some kind of large vessel to make a water feature out of for that weird corner (I’ve had some luck with solar water pumps)
  • Troubleshoot weird corner, can it be planted in? Is the dirt deep enough?
  • Buy cedar chips either way for the weird corner. I hear they are good for dogs to poop on 🙂
  • DIY sunshade?
  • DIY patio light pole pots, I’ve done it before, NBD. This may be a good way to have a connection for DIY sunshade
  • Rehang bistro lights

I’m tired just thinking about it. Let me know your thoughts below and I will be giving a video tour/sneak peek of the furniture placement etc on Instagram today!

Opening Image Credits: Design by Emily Bowser | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: A Home Office Makeover With Threshold Removable Wallpaper by Target

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Erica
2 months ago

But I’m dying to know about he cedar hot tub!?

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Erica

The guys come this week to pour the concrete surface for it. Coming soon!

Tarynkay
2 months ago

I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. I hope she recovers quickly.

Is busting up and removing all of that concrete not and option? That certainly sounds like a daunting task, but I think that would be my long term goal personally. So I wouldn’t want to make any changes that made that harder to do, if that makes sense. Painting ALL that concrete would definitely increase the emotional difficulty for me when it came to (hopefully!) removing it.

If all of your tenants have had dogs and all the dogs use that corner as a toilet, then the dogs will probably just use whatever you put there as a toilet. Maybe you could add some vines in that corner. But I’d be inclined to just put some native ground cover in that tiny patch and let the dogs keep being dogs over there.

Other than that, sunshades of some sort make a lot of sense so that the area is more usable.

Kimberly
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

I agree that removing at least some of that concrete is a great idea. It would also help define spaces better if they weren’t all concrete. A pea gravel sitting area would be cozy, for example.

kiki
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

or if removing isn’t possible…is it in good enough condition to tile on top of? maybe a saltillo or moroccan tile?

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  kiki

Unfortunately the concrete is not in good enough condition to tile on top of, the surface has to be really clean and level for that and removing concrete is DEF not in the budget. Because we are on a hill that is a lot trickier than I’d like it to be and would mean $$ to make it work. Maybe one day – a girl can dream 🙂

T.
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Yeah… If you’re on a hill, you may want to keep that concrete. It is entirely possible that that is all that is stabilizing the hill. There is a reason why mudslide season follows rainy season in California…

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Yeah I definitely would love to rip it up in the long run, but there are so many things on the list before that. For now we have to just make it as good looking as we can.

Yeah I think the corner needs to have enough space for the dog toilet to remain there. I’m hoping a vine and maybe a round vintage cauldron (made into a DIY fountain) of some sort pushed all the way into the corner would be ok. Good idea about a ground cover. I know dog pee kills grass, I wonder if that’s basically true for all green plants?

Michelle
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

So actually not all dog pee kills plants. Some dog pee is naturall higher acid (or maybe lower ph?). Anyway, they say you can alter it with a food additive. However I think the bigger challenge here is concentration. Even correcting the PH balance it’s a lot to take. Long winded way of agreeing that this corner needs to cater to the doggos. Feels like a design challenge for a unique parter business?

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

I agree the concrete is depressing. I wouldn’t invest in anything but removing it and then planting some trees.

Hadilly
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Yes, consider getting rid of all the concrete!

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Hadilly

Ha, maybe it’s not clear. This is about making what we have work 🙂 no funds for ripping up concrete

Veronica
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I’m excited to see what you do with the concrete! I’m in LA too and have to make it work with a similar situation.

M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Oooh, what about painting a tiled pattern onto the concrete?

Erin Dae
2 months ago

Love the mood boards and the overall direction this is heading. I do have a question on the planters – I’ve been looking at them since seeing them on Orlando’s post. When they rust, do they create rust marks underneath/around them on the concrete? That would drive me crazy (know thyself, ha.) So sorry to hear about Daffy – make sure you get some rest. Being a caregiver is hard work physically and emotionally – it isn’t selfish to care for yourself; it is a necessary piece of ensuring you can be a strong caregiver.

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

Yes, I think they will leak rust a bit. We’re all going to find out together how annoying that is 🙂

Dena
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Is it Corten steel? My friend has giant corten steel planters and there is supposed to be little to no rust leakage on the ground. The rust is a protective layer for the steel and is why it is more expensive.

Stacy
2 months ago

Looks like this yard is going to be a huge improvement for your tenants. I love the tall screens and planters – they look great! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out =)

Angela
2 months ago

Look into purple hyacinth vines! Super easy, vigorous, and striking!

Liz
2 months ago

I’ve actually had multiple children pee on my article leather sofa and I swear you can’t even tell. I wonder if cat pee is more likely to stain?

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Liz

There’s nothing like cat pee. Nothing.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago

Dear, dear Bowser,
I’ve raken to adding Daffy to my candle-lighting ritual each evening. I lost my scruffy-dog Rosie a few months ago and pets are family. I’m sending positive healing energy for Daffy to be strong snd mighty and get through this. 💗

Love the privacy screens.! Orlando’s made-over yard looks so great too.

I’m kinda in shock that those trees are even alive…they must have some very long roots to get water from beyond the concrete! 🌱 (How’s the drainage situation with all that concrete?)
Any chance of making the circle-holes bigger for some under-planting around the trees?? (shallow rooted for under citrus, like flowers)??

Ypur tenants are lucky to have such great landlords. I’m sure the spaces will be great.
Looking forward to all the reveals, (but especially that Daffy is doing much better). 🙏

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Oh, I forgot to say that I’ve had Jasmine end up with frazzled, brown leaves from reflected heat from metal.
Bouganvillea, however, is like cast iron, and should take that hot metal a bit better.

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

good to know!

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I think the trees are so old that their root systems must be going far and wide. The concrete has been there for at least 30 years so I guess they have figured it out. The drainage situation is that everything goes down the side of the houses into my garage 🙂 Sike, hopefully that’s figured out – we’ll see when the rainy season comes! I’m getting rain barrels for each house which we hopefully help.

Thanks for the good thoughts for Daffy. She is much improved, even if my bank account is not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

💗

Elle
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Oh dear. So Very Sorry, Very sorry, to hear about scruffy-dog Rosie. Joining you in sending healing vibes to Daffy.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Elle

Thank you Elle. 💞
It truly gutted me, I could hardly function coz it gappened so fast ( bladder cancer tgat was undetectable and had metastasized). .. mostly because I hoped to give her a few years of calm, fun and love after we were finally free from fear and control…but it wasn’t meant to be.
At least she had 7 months of happiness and being lathered in love and freedom.
It’s because of Rosie that I found the courage to rise up against him in the first place.
She’ll be forever in my heart. 😔

Jamieson
2 months ago

As someone in Southern California who removed all the paint from a large, hardscaped backyard… I’d recommend trying to stain what you have; paint is slippery (when we get that occasional rain) and is almost impossible to keep from flaking up in an exposed yard. Or if you don’t want to stain, maybe consider stenciling a pattern? We did this for a portion of the concrete to define a dining area, and it breaks up the grey without making everything too slippery when wet – and it as it weathers, it still looks good.

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Jamieson

Unfortunately it’s already painted, so I’m just talking about repainting. I’ve considered stenciling, it’s a large awkward space so that felt overwhelming to me but maybe I could figure out how to do it in some spaces and not others

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Maybe find a biggish stencil pattern shape and do it in irregular places???

Deb
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I painted my concrete front steps in HB with deck paint that has a grit in the paint, making it non-slip when it rains. I also used it to repaint used TREX a friend donated that I used to replace my backyard deck. It can get hot since it is a dark gray color, but the texture really helps with So. Cal deluge season.

Jamie
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

You can take paint up without chemicals – it’s loud and messy, but hardware stores rent grinders that will take the paint off a space that size in a few hours

Dawn Neditch
2 months ago

If you are not married to the trees, I would take them out and put shade cloth at the entry and add planters with large trees on the fence line to hide the neighbors and create a nice hedge and provide much needed shade. That way you have a blank slate to create a lovely sitting area/dining area without being limited by the tree trunks poking out from the concrete. I would put rugs down to hide the ugly concrete to define your areas. Lots of potted plants with succulents and color. I would also paint the fence until it can be replaced. Good luck!

Anne
2 months ago
Reply to  Dawn Neditch

My thoughts too re: remove the trees…although a painful choice given their age. We painted our fence and it transformed the entire vista. It was a huge improvement. I had color help from Dunn Edwards rep. Outdoor area rugs will cover a multitude of unattractive and uneven concrete!

Dana
2 months ago

Just coming here to comment that I love your writing voice! Always look forward to reading your posts.

Diana S.
2 months ago

I’m sorry about Daffy, good healing vibes your way… regarding tiles have you heard of the pedestal system that works for uneven surfaces and the 1/2” tile sits on top? The water drains through the gaps in the tile. It’s something we use a lot (architect) on uneven concrete or even old outdoor tiled surfaces. It lifts the level of the whole area at least an inch but can look so tidy. Something like “tiletechpavers” (just googled USA options as I’m in nz).

Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Diana S.

ohh, interesting. Probably outside of our budget – which is basically $0 :), but I’ll def look into it!

Sarah
2 months ago

Turf the corner for the doggies. It’ll be nice and green. Any type of mulch for dogs to poop on, is a no go.

Heidi
2 months ago

I really enjoy following along in the planning process of your projects! Outdoor living is a nice luxury to have, but I think as a renter I would also really value some outdoor storage. I am assuming your tenants don’t have a garage. My first instinct would be to put a small storage unit in the back corner with the not so great view. Something large enough to hold a bike, paddle board, etc. Then I would utilize the other spaces for dining and seating.

Tara Lynch
2 months ago

Thinking that a nice size umbrella would block your neighbor’s roof and the 2093832847 power lines above and of course provide shade (especially if you get one that tilts). Everything you’ve planted looks good and it’s awesome that you have some mature trees!

amy
2 months ago

Re; the passion fruit vines…we have one too in a similar application( in inland San Diego). I’ve found the fruit is not especially prolific, and of course the flowers only last a day, but its easy peasy to care for and stays green. I’m trying a bit of fertilizer to see if we can get more fruit. They are so delicious!

Deb
2 months ago

Perhaps some type of shade sail would work in that space. I know you can get just about any size you want
and they normally last 6-8 years but I know a couple people who have had theirs for 10 years but they do take theirs down in the winter for about three months. However I don’t think you would have to do that in California. They are reasonably priced and add some color to the space. I do not know where you get you
cup is half full attitude on all your projects but it is very admirable. Prayers for Daffy.

Saima
2 months ago

I think the answer to your question is – there’s no such thing as too much passion fruit! But if you feel overwhelmed, I’ll take as many as you’ve got 😀 I’ve got a phenomenal passionfruit cheesecake recipe that I haven’t made this year because I moved away from my neighbor in Inglewood that had their own prolific passionfruit vine. I’d plant my own, but I think the constant 100-degree days in Van Nuys would kill it. God knows they’re practically killing me…

Anne
2 months ago

Have you looked into Kurapia? It is a drought resistant ground cover. We installed an area of it in our back yard instead of grass. Our dog uses that area as a toilet everyday without forming any bleached spots.

Irene
2 months ago

Working only with what you have you can make this space beautiful and cozy. A beautiful yard doesn’t always require grass and trees (think NYC patios and rooftops!). Paint, plants, vines, fabrics, rugs, decor will make a huge difference to add color and texture and soften all the concrete. If it were me, I would consider painting the fence the same color as the panels and centering your planters behind the long section of the sofa. A trellis in the planters will work as you mentioned but an alternative I would consider would be to create an espalar (diamond or lateral trailing) pattern on your fence using just some aluminum garden wire and eye hooks – it could be quite lovely. And if you have to start the vine over down the road when you replace the fence, well so be it:) I agree w others that some shaded areas either by sun sail or umbrellas will add comfort and functionality. My vine “vote” is Bougainvillea, a stunning vine and you are def in the right climate for it (ie easy)! Whatever you do will be lovely I am sure:)

Sally
2 months ago

Sorry about Daffy. Highly respected psychologist Guy Winch recognised the important role pets have in our lives in really lovely book called How to Fix a Broken Heart.
Backyard looks full of possibilities and agree that in future with more funds getting rid of concrete would be priority because it would be heating house and whole area.
Meanwhile, your ideas look awesome and can’t wait to see it once done. I love what you did with your own yard.
As a person also from a hot dry Mediterranean style climate with boiling summers, agree 100% with the irrigation. We have similar water restrictions here and a little bit of water well managed with the right water wise plants makes all the difference to a more comfortable, liveable garden.
Beware the Bougainvillaea. It’s beautiful but it will take over and try to swallow the house very quickly. And a bugger to prune.

Shana
2 months ago

Gorgeous plan (+ outdoor sofa envy… hard to justify in rainy PNW). Love your style and voice. Respect the made-do approach. Thank you for sharing and warm, healthy vibes to Daffy!

Ella
2 months ago

Hey Emily, this looks like a fun challenge. If you haven’t already done so, check with your city or county to see if you can get a rebate for reducing runoff by replacing your concrete with a permeable surface like xeriscaping or drought tolerant grasses. You mentioned that removing the concrete isn’t in your budget (understandable – it’s so expensive!) but lots of localities offer incentives for that now. LA already gives homeowners $$ to replace their grass lawns so maybe they do concrete too? Good luck!

Karyn Meadows
2 months ago

Bowser, for the side with the awful view, what about getting some pretty pots and planting trees or very tall bushes to act as a hedge there? It would be the perfect place and you can then add more planters around it that work with your color scheme and provide some texture and interest.

Brigitte
2 months ago

I’m not sure if your irrigation sytem would qualify but when you havemore bandwith this rebate program may be worth checking out. Depending how much you qualify maybe it can help provide funding for another part of the renovation…or help with your cats vet bills. Wishing kitty a speedy recovery!

ON-SITE RETROFIT PROGRAM
The On-site Retrofit Program will provide financial incentives to property owners who convert potable water irrigation or industrial water systems to recycled water use. This program provides incentives of $195 per acre-foot for five years of estimated water use, up to actual retrofit costs. https://socalwatersmart.com/en/commercial/rebates/available-rebates/available-rebates-overview/

Good luck!

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Brigitte

This sounds great!

2 months ago

Lots of hugs to you and sending Daffy major get well soon wishes. My cat fell seriously ill last year and ended up spending 10 days in the hospital. Now she is well and just came off all her meds last month. I know where you’re at, It is tough, but have faith and give Daffy lots of love.
Love the passion fruit. Beans can also grow well on a fence and are not too heavy as to pull the fence down.
I also agree that you have to do something about the concrete – not a relaxing colour at all!
Keep well!

Roberta Davis
2 months ago

I hope Daffy recovers! Are you buying nice furniture to put into a rental space? Will the rent be going higher to cover the cost of maintaining furniture and plants? I’m sure it will be beautiful!

Tyan
2 months ago

I really hope that your kitty is doing better today. I thought of this project when I read your post: http://www.mosaic-gardens.com/project-washington. It may also be out of your budget to lay pebbles over the concrete, but thought it might be worth a look.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Tyan

Whoa, that transformation is amazing! Pam Penick has a few California gardens on her site that might be good for ideas: https://www.penick.net/digging/?cat=50

Tyan
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Thanks for sharing her site! I noticed that she features the personal garden of the Mosaic duo, Buell and Rebecca https://www.penick.net/digging/?p=44833. Every one of their projects is incredible.

Beth
2 months ago

Sending strong healing vibes! ✨✨❤️✨✨

Deborah
1 month ago

Hi Emily,
So sorry for everything you’ve been through with Daffy.
Love everything you’re planning so far. Also wonder if it’s worth pulling up those trees and planting some along the fence echoing a few other readers. We did that in our LA backyard and it really opened it up as painful as it was to remove established fruit trees.
For that funky corner, what about a water feature? Could be both relaxing and help with all the helicopter noise I remember getting there. The doggos would probably love it too!

Tyan
1 month ago

Here’s another bit of inspiration. It also includes pebbles, but I think the use of vines and mirrors is so, so lovely, and does an amazing job of visually expanding the space! https://www.tinycanalcottage.com/blog/2020/4/27/before-after-creating-an-overhead-canopy-of-vines

Michelle
1 month ago

Clearly a lot to chew on here but for reasons unclear I’m obsessing over WHERE to dog will go potty. So anyway, made me think of the urban dog potty solutions I’ve seen, like these. http://www.urbandogproducts.com/portable-potty/

Jennifer
1 month ago

You could try honeysuckle (native ones to Southern CA seems to be Lonicera hispidula or L. subspicata) We have an eastern native honeysuckle on our DC house. It’s vines covered my trellis from 3′ feet off the ground to 12′ off the ground in one year, and that’s with being trained back and forth horizontally to get more flowers. And it’s supposed to attract hummingbirds. (Our vine in the shade they seem less interested in, but we do get some on the same vine in the sun.)

Fingers crossed for Daffy’s continued recovery.

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