Professional garden designers deserve to have a nice yard at home but usually don't get around to treating themselves to their own design work!
I waited 13 years to create a dream yard for my family.
So, don't feel too badly if you haven't tackled your landscape project yet.
Where's the Garden Police When You Need One?
Shirley Bovshow, designer co-host of garden makeover show, Garden Police.
On Garden Police, my design partner, Michael Glassman and I "patrolled" the streets of Los Angeles looking for the ugliest front yard on the block and then "busted" the homeowners for design infringements.
After the homeowners agreed to invest some "sweat equity" in their yards, Michael and I would design a new yard for them.
FYI- Do you recognize the copycat show, "Desperate Landscapes" on DIY?
Our show was first and I just made up a rhyme!
My yard looked worse to me than the properties we made over for the show!
I kept my disaster yard a secret from my co-host and producers.
Whenever a script or prop for the show had to be delivered, I always volunteered to pick it up from the studio.
There was NO way I was going to let anyone related to my show know that this Garden Police had neglected her own yard!
I feared I would be "exposed" and ridiculed!
The reality was, I was investing all my time making other peoples yards look beautiful and I had no time for my own.
Need I mention, "The cobbler's children have no shoes?
Shirley handpicking the tumbled stone for her new dry stack retaining wall.
The garden makeover projects we completed for Garden Police were "real landscape" jobs- complete with proper drainage, irrigation and construction.
Garden television makeovers are exhausting to do and as real-life landscape designers, Michael and I insisted that the yards we made over be done to professional standards, not just for "TV."
After the cameras stopped rolling, Michael and I would stay late into the evening at the projects to make sure everything was installed correctly.
When we weren't taping consecutive garden makeovers each week, I was working on landscape projects for my Los Angeles area clients.
With this over-taxed schedule, can you blame me for ignoring my own yard!!
The only time I had to work in my backyard was on weekends.
Typical Tract Lot Yard
My typical suburban tract backyard- a rectangular yard with a weed infested lawn and a boring concrete patio that offered no shade!
The Fantasy Yard
I longed for a "destination backyard" that reminded me of the places I visited during my honeymoon in Italy.
My list of "design must-haves" included a dynamic multi-level entertainer's yard with outdoor kitchen, dining room, living room, a new "master bedroom" outdoor spa retreat, waterfall and pond, ornamental and edible gardens, a firepit, fireplace and some shade structures!
The plan was to implement double duty landscape features to get the most use of our limited space.
- Patio walls function as built in seating at a comfortable 18" high
- Built in fireplace seating functions as a screen for the master bedroom above ground spa.
- Built in fire pit curved bench is also a retaining wall for the new raised gardens.
- A carefully positioned fireplace to screen an ugly view of neighbors yard.
- A landscape full of edible plants that functioned as shade plants, privacy screens and more.
Considering my yard functions as design studio and lab the challenge was integrating all these structures with style.
Prior to the landscape redesign, our yard was practically abandoned by the family and rarely used for five years.
With no shade structure for the patio and an unattractive garden, only our dog, Whiggy found the yard useful.
Our trash was his treasure.
This is what my yard used to look like.
This is the outdoor area that I transformed into a "master bedroom spa retreat" instead of expanding my bedroom.
My husband enjoys the spa every morning and sometimes at night too.
Finally, the yard is being used daily!
When a spa is located near the master bedroom it is more likely to be used than if you have to wander the length of your yard to get to it!
Susan Harris of Garden Rant blog visited me and took the following video of my yard.
I'm not embarrassed of my yard anymore!