Transforming my Backyard into a Secret Garden- Part 1

Love my backyard, but I got tired of keeping up with the grass; and, after a rainstorm it turned into a lake! I decided to completely get rid of the grass and transform it into a beautiful, peaceful flower garden retreat. I would not only be adding soil to the low spots which will help redirect and absorb the water, but I would create a beautiful space where I would much rather spend my time with the flowers and plants than cutting the grass :) Huge undertaking, but I was psyched up for it!
I used a technique known as "lasagna gardening"- I did not pull up the grass! I covered all of the grass (and weeds!) with newspaper, cardboard or paper yard refuse bags- that was the first layer. Second layer, I topped that with a garden soil mix (topsoil, organic compost and peat). The third layer was the mulch. I was able to start planting my flowers and vines when there were no more frost advisories. While waiting for the weather to warm up, I started collecting the seedlings I wanted to plant. I also started growing some flowers from seeds. (I had an ENTIRE back yard to fill with flowers!!!) I planned my secret garden layout and I couldn't wait until I could actually start planting my flowers! At the end of May of that first year, I dug in.
For a more detailed description of the process, please visit my post
(To see more here at Hometalk, please view "Transforming my Backyard into a Secret Garden- Part 2 and "Scenes from my Secret Garden"). Abracadabra, let the magic begin!
  • April- This is what my backyard looked like after a rainstorm.
  • First step was "lasagna gardening"- laying down newspaper on all of the grass
  • covered tthe newspaper with cardboard
covering with newspaper and cardboard was too cumbersome (plus I ran out!) I began using the brown paper yard waste bags. This was much easier!
  • After running out of newpaper and boxes had brilliant idea to use paper lawn refuse bags to complete the rest of the yard. Still ended up with blisters and sore hands from cutting 55 bags! :(
  • Thought that 5 yards of garden soil would be enough to cover the yard- NOPE- only covered half- Had to order 5 more yards. Mulch is on order for after the planting!
  • 5 yards of soil only covered half my yard! Had to order 5 more yards!!!
  • Finally done applying all of the soil (10 yards worth)! Placed birdbath in center-this wil be one focal point in my dream garden! Watered the soil.
  • Mulch added today- My blank garden slate is ready and I am ready to begin transforming my yard into my secret garden! Let the garden games begin :) SOOO excited!
I also began growing some flowers from seeds since I would not be doing any planting until the threat of freezing would pass. In Michigan, that's not usually until late May :0
  • In the meantime, while waiting for "planting time", I bought and installed a cool OUTDOOR sink!!!
All the work was definitely worth it! This photo and the following were taken this past season (2014) -which was the next full season after I had begun this project! It has provided so much beauty and joy!
You can see more pictures of my garden and the plants and flowers I have in my garden in my other posts here on Hometalk. Thanks for viewing!
This is my secret garden today (June 2015)
June 2015
  • Karen Ambrose
    Karen Ambrose Hermiston, OR
    I've use news paper in my rock garden ,keep's the weeds down, but when i use newspaper i would soak the paper then lay it down.
  • Judith F
    Judith F Wills Point, TX
    Cannot wait to see your hard work and beautiful plans come to fruition.
  • Maria Zwack
    Maria Zwack North Tonawanda, NY
    Yes! Please show us some photos when you have it done! LOVELY! I admire your energy!
  • Bonnie Coomes
    Bonnie Coomes Fairfield, OH
    Great idea! I would like to see pics after you get done and a big rain comes in........just to c if that cured the problem. Have fun with your new garden.
  • Winnie
    Winnie Columbus, NC
    How deep are you making the soil layer ?
  • Sandy Maher-Smith
    Sandy Maher-Smith Richardson, TX
    Good luck and keep us posted !!!
  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    Yeah for less lawn. Sounds like you're going about this the right way. Don't be afraid to plant out some of the perennials while it is still cool, although you'll want to protect those hostas from frost.
  • Nancy Q
    Nancy Q Powhatan, VA
    Great idea! Looking forward to seeing your progress.
  • Lori J
    Lori J Broken Bow, NE
    We moved into a house with a wasteland backyard and have just a bit of yard now that the major overhaul is done. Good luck--it is a rewarding job.
  • Ivylore
    Ivylore Trenton, MI
    Thanks for the suggestion, Larose, That may work! I'll let you all know what I end up doing!
  • Larose LoganOakes
    Larose LoganOakes Annandale, VA
    Hi Irma! Have you heard of growing plants in a pot in a pot? Did I say that right? That way when the plant needs a larger area all you have to do is change it's current pot size to a larger pot already placed into the ground.It saves on having to dig
  • Ivylore
    Ivylore Trenton, MI
    thanks! You too!
  • Linda B
    Linda B Trumbull, CT
    Very cool idea! Can't wait to see the 'after'. Have a great weekend. Linda
  • Vicki
    Vicki Smyrna, GA
    I did lasagna garden years ago for veggie garden years ago and it worked wonderful. I rather do flowers instead of to mow the grass, too. look forward to see ur pixies before and after.
  • Ivylore
    Ivylore Trenton, MI
    WOW!, thanks so much for all of the encouraging comments!!! They really help me to not feel like I've taken on more than I can chew (or plant :))... One thing that worries me is if the soil on top of the bags will be deep enough to plant in... but I

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