Transforming my Backyard into a Secret Garden- Part 1

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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
  • Shelley Bizari
    Shelley Bizari Rochester, NY
    I was thinking the same thing as White Oak Studio. What was keeping the yard from filling up with water again? Where these plants enough vs. grass to change that?
    • Ivylore
      Ivylore Trenton, MI
      Shelley Bizari I think that the additional layers built up the level of the backyard and that has helped a lot in terms of the flooding. When it storms badly, of course, there
  • Elizabeth Sagarminaga
    Elizabeth Sagarminaga Mission Viejo, CA
    Nice article on backyard transformation. If you renovate your yard into secret lovely retreat ,in my opinion you should put a white picket fence around your yard as it not only enhance the looks and curb appeal but also can protect your yard from
    • Ivylore
      Ivylore Trenton, MI
      Elizabeth Sagarminaga And it really is a secret garden because it can't be seen at all from the front. So everyone that does come down the driveway to the back are
  • Samantha
    Samantha Sebewaing, MI
    Wow!! What a difference! I haven't been able to hunt down the other 2 posts yet, but the pictures you posted in the comments look fantastic!! I've never heard of "lasagna gardening", but it definitely saved you some work digging up all the grass. I hear
    • Ivylore
      Ivylore Trenton, MI
      Samantha Thanks, Samantha! Yes, and this year we haven't had much of a summer yet, but all of the rain hasn't seemed to hurt my plants. Right now the daisies have taken over and are "show-boating" again---
  • A1zwkc
    Ivylore Congratulations! You have done well. A really lovely garden. Should be proud of yourself. It will give you joy for years to come.
    • Ivylore
      Ivylore Trenton, MI
      A1zwkc Thank you! Looking at the garden and working in it really lift my spirits!
  • Sheila garza
    sheila garza Irving, TX
    It was well worth your time and hard work. It's beautiful.

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