Prayer Garden

Cherie Aldridge Vickers
by Cherie Aldridge Vickers
28 Materials
6 Weeks
I was given a small check and asked to 'plant' a tree in memory of my mother in law when she passed away. It turned into our beautiful sanctuary. I hope you enjoy. First, I spent DAYS looking through Pinterest for inspiration. Given that I really didn't think a tree could do justice to her memory, I thought we could do a small, fenced garden. I had a spot of land at the end of my driveway and against the house where it would fit nicely. It is approximately 21' x 24'. First and foremost, I hit Craig's list and picked up any and all free stuff I could find that 'might' fit with my vision. I purchased old doors for $15 and found as many free bricks that I could haul. I found a concrete table and pedestal (free) as the owner simply wanted it hauled away. 3 guys later, it was in the truck.

You can see 2017 Spring pics of this garden here:

Cheap and Free Craig's List finds
I also hit garage and estate sales. I found this cool birdcage for $25 and shutters for $4 each. Look at all this glorious stuff! I am sure the neighbors were cringing! I searched the city for wood and fencing and seating, going to everywhere I could find on Craig's list for free lumber. Nothing was going to work as I had envisioned and probably wouldn't hold up. So, I decided to spend the money about $1000 for fencing materials - primarily pressure treated wood - 4"x10' posts, 2"x 4"x 8' boards, and deck wood. I also purchased quick-crete to secure the posts into the ground. To keep my maintenance to a minimum (and because I thought the wood lattice looked flimsy and cheap), I did purchase trex like lattice in 4'x 8' sections. Framing out the lattice, we created sections of fence that we then secured together and ran a piece of deck board on top to finish the look.
First fence section
Anchoring in the posts to the house and in the ground with Sak crete. We than attached the rest of the sections together and left spaces for the doors.
I added in a small pergola to provide a bit of cover for my sun/seating area. While the evening shade protects it, the morning sun is brutal here. After a $700 trip to the landscape store, we purchased 3 trees, 3 climbing hydrangeas, climging wood vamp, clematis, Brunneras, Jack Frost and more. I then started laying out the plants, bricks and pieces of decor to get an idea of the best layout. I used red spray paint to lay out my design for the seating area. It is important to note that this garden is on the north west side of my house. I have mostly shade in 3/4 of the garden, most of the time and it is rather moist on this side of the house. So, I had to pick plants that would do well in that climate. I choose the climbing hydrangea, even though it is slow growing, because ultimately, I would like this garden to be 'mostly' hidden from outside view and the lovely flowers will make the look all that more enchanting - in a few years. I hope the hydrangea will cover 3/4 of the shade part of the garden. For my sun corner, I choose clematis in two colors.
Doors- my favorite feature
update: if you use old doors, remember that generally, one side is an indoor side with indoor paint and one side is an outdoor side.. I didn't have the time or energy to sand down, prep and paint this fall. MISTAKE! I have loads of paint chips from the white inside of the door all over my yard. Given the age of the doors, you can bet it is loaded with lead.
Planning the layout
I then spent several days making sure my layout was just right. It is one thing to do it on paper, which I highly suggest, but it also is important to physically lay it out before you dig.. that will save some payoff in the end.
We then installed a brick border, using landscape fabric underneath to minimize weeds. I cleaned the bricks, let them dry thoroughly and used paver sand to set them into place. *I was really excited to find super old brick (without the holes) that looked old. This gave the garden a sense of age, even with the brand new plantings! From there, planted and mulched.
Bench start
Next, I created a bench set up that was 8'long on each side to perfectly sit the corner of the garden. Of course, you really cannot buy 8' cushions so I had to have seat cushions custom made by a local shop. I might suggest going with a standard size to save some money. The custom cushions cost about $800. The bonus was choosing ANY fabric I wanted... Another trip to the landscape store and I purchased several hundred pounds of flagstone to create a floor. I first dug the square and laid out landscape fabric. I then added a layer of sand. Then I set and leveled the flagstone. I used Paver sand as the final filler between the stones to help keep them in place.
Installed seating area
We then finished up the seats with deck planking (oh, I really wish I had made them into storage benches as I now have an 8' long cushion (plus many more) that I have to store in the winter and limited storage space in the garage). The benches were HEAVY and we put landscape fabric and additional sand underneath to help keep any weeds to a minimum.
Painting the decor
I then painted.. and painted and painted. I bought 3 colors choosing a lime, yellow and a complementary blue. All the items that were to be painted were put into 3 piles and the painting began!
We purchased a fountain at the end of the summer for less than $300.
We put the decor in place and then added in lighting.. and bulbs.. lots of bulbs and more plants.. I cannot wait until spring.
Scrap wood
We then turned a lot of the scrap wood (tops from posts, etc) into art creations! We also made sure to include electric running out here for lights, the fountain and electrical outlets. I plan to spend lots of time here and it will be great to sit and be able to use my computer!
Custom Seating Area
View from Outside
We finished with the garden for the winter and had to wrap up the fountain and other more delicate items last fall. I'm writing this post because I hope to reveal how things are now looking in the new spring. Here's a look at the final costs to date (best estimate): Home Depot Purchases - lumber, trellis, hinges, paint, brushes, nails $1300 Home Depot - paver sand, electrical supplies, cup hooks $100 Earth Best - sand, mulch $80 Adamson - Landscape and plants $700 Written in Stone - fountain and bells $400 Amazon - lighting $150 Furniture Make Over - custom cushions - $800 Walmart - curtains and rod, cuphooks $60 Craig's list - doors $55 Hobby Lobby - 2 smaller bird cages, 3 crosses $70 Craig's list - large bird cage $25 Garage sales - statues, cups, shutters, stands, mirrors, etc - $80 Craig's list - bricks, concrete table and stand, patio sculptures, dresser mirror frame, pic frames - free Total costs (not counting labor!) = $3820 Also, I was limited to 15 pics here so I made a pinterest page that has a lot more pics.. including pics of when my husband brought in our Chimenea one night (I thought he was going to burn down my lovely garden). Here:
Suggested materials:
  • Pressure Treated Lumber   (Home Depot)
  • 3 gallons paint, spray paint, brushes   (Home Depot)
  • Trex 'like' trellis   (Home Depot)
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 6 questions
  • Lee McAlister Lee McAlister on Aug 26, 2016
    I think the word you want is 'chimenea'. ('Chiminea' is also acceptable.). I really hope you didn't have a chimera in your prayer garden!

  • Ruth Ruth on Jul 31, 2017
    At first, didn't know what a prayer garden was. Is it something more indicative in the south? )

  • Kathleen Church Kathleen Church on Feb 04, 2019

    How much $ was the Trex Lattice from Home Depot?

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2 of 111 comments
  • Joanie Joanie on Feb 07, 2020

    Nice area for church gatherings. Bible studies and Prayer groups. Very nice.

  • Anna Anna on Jan 27, 2021

    It is so inspiring! For the work you did and especially for the spiritual connection!