Transforming Our Vacant Property Into Our Landscaped Paradise

Janet Arceneaux
by Janet Arceneaux
1 Material
We bought our property and found that it was used by teenagers as a party spot. The first thing we did was to fence it in to prevent that while we started our landscaping. We lived in our travel trailer while we did this and built our home.
This is the travel trailer we lived in. Building of the fence and clearing the land.
Over the years we decided to put in some shady areas so we first put up a gazebo made from the metal post and canvas roof with screened sides. This was perfect until time and weather took it's toll so, we built a screened in room to replace it and then made a paver patio around it.
Behind our screened room, which we named the Crab Shack (it's a perfect place to have our crab and shrimp boils and avoid mosquitoes) I made what I call Orchid Alley. I love orchids and they love this place behind the "Crab Shack".
We love Koi and built a pond with a waterfall and what we call our pond deck and a bridge across the middle. Our granddaughters take great joy in feeding the fish and watching the water flow beneath their feet :-)
This is a view from the bridge looking at the waterfall. I have several different tropical plants around this area as well as Water Lillies
And a view from the bridge looking towards the pond deck
This is the bridge right after we built it
Our Granddaughter enjoying feeding the koi
A view from the house of the pond deck
A view from above of the bridge over the pond/waterfall
Shortly after building our house we moved my Mom in with us. She had Alzheimers and could no longer live alone so it was best to bring her to live with us. We built her a "gazebo" and put in gardens so that she could continue to enjoy her love of gardening. I also built "sidewalks" so she would have something to hold onto and help prevent any falls. Handicap friendly.
A garden next to the gazebo
A side walk to the underside of the house which we turned into an outdoor living area with a full kitchen. We found that it was safer to do most of our cooking outside and made it comfortable with a TV and we could bring Mom down, she could relax and be "watched" while I cooked. It was a win win - got us all out of being cooped up in the house and kept her safe.
This is the "living area" kitchen under the house - we built some cabinets and added a sink. There is a stove behind the left side and a fridge to the right. Directly across from this are some tables and chairs and the tv and music equipment. My husband plays music so every now and then it's fun to plug it all in and sing.
Our last landscape project was to build a double deck on our pool for easier access to go in and out of the pool and I landscaped around that as well. We have 2 projects left to complete our total design. I'm going to build a paver patio out to the burn area. You can almost see where it is on the other side of this deck. And we're going to cement under the house and put screening around the middle of the underside. My husband and I love to design and build. Our goal is to accomplish all we want to do before he retires. We have 1 1\2 yrs. to finish but I think we're on target to get there. We don't hire anyone to do our work....part of the fun is the enjoyment of "feeling it all come together".
Suggested materials:
  • We buy all our wood and building materials at big box home improvement stores
Janet Arceneaux
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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4 of 12 comments
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Aug 28, 2016
    It was amazing to see the before empty lot and the after. What a remendous job you have done. Kudos from another serious gardener who understands the time, energy and stamina a job this big takes! We did something similar withour land. We bought 5-acres in SW Michigan with nothing but grass and trees. Over the past 15 years I have totally landscaped our property and created butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens chicken coop and runs. You can see this on my Small House Big Sky blog at

    • See 1 previous
    • Ginger the farm gal Ginger the farm gal on Mar 19, 2017
      That's just it Janet, you're never done, and when you get it like you want it there's always repairs and facelifts...just remember to enjoy the journey. 75 and 65 here, we still make changes and additions, but we do it alot slower...LOL...Hey ...someone will enjoy it when we're gone...I hope.

  • Laura Coronella Laura Coronella on Aug 06, 2019

    Wow !! I love it! You completely transformed the space into a wonderful oasis.