From an Ugly Dirt Yard to a Beautiful Oasis


When we moved into our house 2 years ago it had been abandoned for 3 years. The front yard was nothing but dirt with an ugly cypress within sight line of the front door. Two trees on the side of the lot was the only bit of color the lot had. We now have a beautiful front yard..
When we first moved here there wasn't anything in the front yard except dirt. There was a big elm tree and a weeping fig on the side of the lot but that was all. Near the end of the sidewalk was one huge ugly cypress that was in direct line with the front door. That was the first to go. then, since we live at the edge of the Mohave desert we didn't want to plant grass. Instead we just covered the main portion with gravel. It stayed that way for another year. And then we did this.
We had an old wrought iron table that didn't have a top. We found 2 old boards on the side of the road (score!) that fit perfectly on top. Hubby had made the birdhouse several years ago and it looks perfect along with a clay chicken pot and gorgeous sweet potato plant. Rusty the dog agrees!
After we placed the rock and mulch we decided to make a small patio using Sedona flagstones. We took plastic planters and spray painted them, then turned 2 upside down and the smallest one right side up and filled that one with bird seed
Drought tolerant plants need watering once a week. Here we have a rose, a native grass and a rosemary plant.
We needed a bit of color so we hung bike rims and tires from the trees after spray painting them. It took us 4 days to lay the rock, mulch and flagstones. Pretty good improvement we think.I love how our yard blends in with the neighbors. The folks living on the street say it reminds them of a park.

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Donna Olson
    on Jan 5, 2019

    Did you do the planning yourself? I have a horrible back yard that I am looking for ideas for, but I have little to no vision. I was thinking of going with no grass due to a small slope in the back near the fenceline, but it needs to be able to drain as there is a retention pond behind my house.

    • Kathie Elia
      on Jan 5, 2019

      It was a collaboration with my hubby.The house has a small concrete border that runs around the top part of the "patio" then along the back in front of the tree to the street. The sandstone slabs were placed on leveled out dirt and sand poured (by bucketfuls) over it to keep the edges of the stones covered. The yard has a small slope to it to facilitate drainage. We live in the high desert with little rain.


  • Aileen
    on Jan 12, 2019

    Did you need any other material other than the stones? It looks like there’s grout/cement between the stones. Basically, how do you prep before laying the stones for the patio and what materials would I need? The project looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathie Elia
      on Jan 12, 2019

      we used sand Aileen. The ground was pretty level. Our dirt has a lot of clay to it. There will be some settling depending on the type of dirt you have.. and the sand also settles some. 4 years later some of the stones have their edges exposed. We could either go back and add more sand or pull them up and lay them deeper. The stones and the sand were used for the patio ad the edging was the red flat bricks.

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