Once the kitchen renovation was complete, the next big thing on our list to fix was the garden. Our terrace is long and skinny and it’s the last unit on the block, so we’ve got a fair bit of outdoor space. There’s a bit in front, a loooooooong bit down the side, and a secluded bit out the back. Here’s how it looked when we actually moved in.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

Over the first five years or so, we did some minor improvements. We planted some vegetables along the side of the house and fixed up the path. The veggies did well at first, but ultimately we didn’t get much harvest. We tried “Square Foot” gardening, building raised beds and planting seedlings. But we just don’t get enough sun to really amount to much. I got discouraged and pretty much let everything get overgrown. In the back courtyard, the saplings started to become full-grown trees and block out the sun from the clothesline. We got an arborist out who recommended we have them removed, as well as the palm tree in the corner that was in danger of falling. That was pretty much the deciding factor that it was time to act.


So in August 2012 we hired a landscaper to come cut down the trees and grind down the stumps. Then the Snook and I got to work clearing out all the old grass and leaves and weeds. We knew we were going to repave the area, so we pulled up all of the old terracotta pavers and stacked them to one side. Hilariously, we found a separate layer of pavers UNDERNEATH the top layer. It was backbreaking work. This is what it looked like once we finished clearing the back garden.


Here’s a glimpse of the many, many pavers that we pulled up. While most were square, we also had quite a few rectangles. There were spiders underneath too, so we had to wear gloves and be careful.


We knew there was a random bit of pinkish-greenish marble out there buried in the ground, but once we dug it up we found several big chunks of what appeared to be an old marble countertop. Here it is stacked against the side of the house. I think we finally got Reverse Garbage to come collect it.


Here’s what the back garden looked like on September 22, 2012. A lot more sunlight without those trees!

Back Garden

This is the view from the side garden stepping down to the back. You can see the horrible “pebblecrete” stairs at the back door. The grass really started to go nuts over the course of the spring and summer.

Back Steps

And here’s a shot of the side garden, where you can see how overgrown and shaded it had become.

Side Garden

Our New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to finally get this project started properly…