Garden progress!

Remember when we built a deck? Yeah, way back when—just over a year ago. I had all of these big ideas and even drew up a plan, but since last April, we pretty much haven’t done anything in the garden. At all. Shameful!

Well, we finally got down to business over the weekend, and we laid eighteen 16″ square concrete pavers (about $3.50 each) on top of a hand-tamped, crushed stone base. We left a 4″ gap between the pavers and “grouted” the space with dirt. When the frost warnings pass in a couple of weeks, we’ll plant some sort of ground cover in the gap.

As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have side or rear access to our garden, so everything must be carried through the basement—by hand—piece by piece. This becomes rather grueling after a while, especially when you’re talking about such heavy materials. Wielding the hand-tamper is quite an effort as well! Needless to say, I’m still feeling the effects in my limbs two days later. (Yesterday morning, I wondered what was “wrong” with the nail clippers as I was having trouble squeezing them!)

I love projects like this, though. Less than $100! Can’t beat it.

And yes, we’ve deviated from the plan, but we’re still moving ahead in the same vein. Eventually, I hope to look out of my second-story window and feel as excited as I am about what I see in my garden as I do about this garden:

Garden of Jenna Lyons (of course), as seen in LivingEtc.

45 comments
  1. verhextMay 11, 201010:47 pm

    You’re well on your way to that photo!! I can see it if I just squint a leeeetle bit.

    Also, we just planted elfin thyme as a ground creeper & it’s super sweet and grows quickly.

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  2. pennyroundsMay 11, 201010:48 pm

    It looks like it’s coming together beautifully!

    Random question – did you install your fence or was it there when you bought the house? I’m always curious as to what the “right” way the fence should be facing? With the beautiful part of the fence facing towards or away from your yard. What do you think?

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  3. AdamMay 11, 201011:05 pm

    It looks beautiful! I love the pavers!

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  4. StephanieMay 11, 201011:17 pm

    Wow, that inspiration picture sure is beautiful! (That herringbone brick?! Drool!) I know you’ll get there!

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  5. SageandStyleMay 11, 201011:18 pm

    Gorgeous space! The placement and design is so spot on. I live in Chicago and all we have is a lousy balcony (half taken up by our grill!). I am so envious!

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  6. LeahMay 11, 201011:35 pm

    It’s coming along, Anna! Step by Step! I’ve sort of reached a stalemate with progress in decorating my new apartment. Sometimes you just don’t have it in you.

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  7. AimeeMay 11, 201011:43 pm

    I bet it is going to be so lovely! I am terribly jealous as we are stuck with just a crap concrete walkway in the few feet between our (rented) duplex and the fence.

    I had some friends do wide set pavers with all sorts of tiny lettuces in between. It looked great and was tasty as well. :)

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  8. julieMay 11, 201011:52 pm

    Looking good! I hope you have your dream garden one day soon. We laid turf in our side and front yard yesterday (almost 200m3 of it – sorry don’t know what that is in feet but it is a lot!). I’m afraid I am feeling every muscle in my body today, so I can sympathise with you. But the result is so rewarding, no more dirt – instead we have green grass, Green Grass, GREEN GRASS! We had hand-over of our new home a year ago today so it was about time. Good luck with your garden plans Anna :)

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  9. kay*May 12, 201012:25 am

    i think it’s coming along really nicely – the addition of some sort of ground cover will really make it look great.

    & i live in an apartment, with no yard obviously, and totally just saved the image of jenna lyons garden to my inspiration folder. for future reference!

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  10. Vicki @ Piccolo Takes AllMay 12, 20101:59 am

    Looks really great. I was wondering how things were progressing back there. Have you decided to forgo the idea of a vegetable garden, or just switching around the layout?

    Our backyard plan has morphed over time as well, but we are hacking away at it, in attempts to finally get it “done” this year.

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  11. MartheMay 12, 20103:18 am

    Yay! Your garden already looks nice! Look forward to reading a book and drinking lemonade! :)

    And that garden in the magazine looks awesome too. All your garden needs is a little sunlight, and you’re already there! :D

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  12. ElisabetMay 12, 20104:11 am

    Looks great already! I’m jealous, we had originally decided to do our front yard this year, but after having done (almost, this weekend we will finally finish what we started in february I hope) our hallway with one baby and two cats “helping” we decided against that, next spring however…

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  13. BKLYNcontessaMay 12, 20108:42 am

    I feel your pain! My “garden” is on our fire escape and we are on the 4th floor of a walk up … so any plant we buy has to be carried upstairs & transplanted in our kitchen! It’s worth it to see a bit of green in the city. LOVE what you’re doing with your little yard – have you heard of night or midnight gardens … I am obsessed with them – all white, normally heavily scented flowers w/ variegated greens + a water feature usually. Perfect for small spaces!

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  14. dewiMay 12, 20109:37 am

    Looking very good.

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  15. CherryMay 12, 20109:46 am

    as soon as you get some grass in between the checkered squares it’s going to look instantly cool like the one pictured below. You’ll see. But dragging everything through the basement? Ughhh. Not fun.

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  16. LisaMay 12, 201010:11 am

    Love the pavers! What kind of crushed stone did you use and how deep did you lay it? Thanks!

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  17. craftingahomeMay 12, 201010:38 am

    Sigh. Can I just live in Jenna Lyons world? Gorgeous clothes, gorgeous home and now gorgeous garden too? Jeez that woman has impeccable taste. (As do you, I’m sure your garden will be just as lovely!)

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  18. Jacquelin SeybertMay 12, 201011:04 am

    Looking good! Your garden is the perfect size. Can’t wait to see the finale.

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  19. JorgeMay 12, 201011:28 am

    It looks great Anna! Keep it going, you will not regret it!

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  20. SherryMay 12, 201011:35 am

    Looks great. I think Garden progress is the slowest, but that is natural, it takes a year or more for some plants to really come into there own, but it’s worth it.

    Speaking of plants, I bought a black lace elderberry last year based on your post and I couldn’t be happier. It’s doing so well this year, even after I pruned it down to nothing, little buds all over. I couldn’t be happier, so thanks!

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  21. Avant-GardenistMay 12, 20101:18 pm

    i agree with the thyme – you can walk on it and it releases a lovely fragrance.

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  22. theresaMay 12, 20101:44 pm

    Thanks for the update – it’s always inspiring to see someone else getting work done on their yard – even if it takes awhile! I’m also curious to know how many inches of crushed stone you put under the pavers. And what/where did you get that little red table? Have you thought about staining the fence at all? We have a 60′x70′ backyard full of nothing, and intend to put in a large gravel area, a paver patio, sod, and a deck…all has to be brought from the front to the back via a narrow concrete uphill path…I think we will be done in 10 years. But one of our goals this summer is to stain the new fence the cabot semi-solid slate color. Hope to see an update at the end of summer!

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  23. donnaMay 12, 20104:28 pm

    Oh if only I could trade lives with Jenna Lyons. She’s got it all it seems. Your yard definitely has potential.

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  24. peggyMay 13, 201012:47 am

    Why is Jenna Lyons so perfect? Sigh. Your garden looks great.

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  25. ryanjamesMay 13, 20101:15 am

    way to TOTALLY inspire me about my own yard!

    I have a big packed-in dirt (and remnants of one tennant maybe putting down gravel) that’s totally uneven but I think once some warmer weather hits down here in Australia, I’m gonna get out there with the shovel, even stuff out and put down some wood decking and make a proper garden.

    good work. it’s looking awesome.

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  26. monikaMay 13, 20103:20 am

    I love city gardens. Yours look amazing, you did a really great job!

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  27. nicoleMay 13, 20109:43 am

    I’m so envious of all that space you have! The concrete pavers will look incredible once you get some ground cover in.

    Thanks for the tweet about the woolly pockets planters. I may look into getting some of those for the back wall of our building. We’ve made the most of what little ground space we have for our garden, but those will enable us to grow up and up and up.

    [Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up when i was in the city last week. Did you get my e-mail?]

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  28. Avant-GardenistMay 13, 201010:49 am

    there’s this too
    take away the magazine graphic and the spring flowers and that pink magic in Jenna’s yard is gone. i think i like your’s better. the only thing she’s got that you haven’t got is access. would it be unthinkable to build a deck onto the first level of your house with similar stairs? it’s a shame you always have to go through the cellar.

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  29. Lindsey Lou!May 13, 201011:13 am

    Wow…it looks good so far.

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  30. JulesMay 13, 20101:15 pm

    I love it. Both your garden and the inspiration photo.

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  31. BrigidanneMay 13, 20101:45 pm

    Spied you folks at Loews on Saturday. Back Garden looks like a lovely retreat. Enjoy.

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  32. elsieMay 13, 20105:50 pm

    looks beautiful already. I still have the deck plan url bookmarked from when you talked about it last. plan to use it too! but we’ve been busy with another part of the yard: http://elauinc.blogspot.com/2010/05/landscaping-patio-plants.html
    as you see, i also have a japanese maple (that we promply almost killed the day after the hubby brought it home. sigh.) thanks as always, for the inspiration.

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  33. MeghanMay 14, 201012:49 am

    I use little sedums/hens and chicks between my pavers. They can take a little foot traffic. It looks fab though Anna!

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  34. CajetaMay 14, 20103:28 am

    R u going to plant any tomatoes or other summer veggies? Succulents? If you ever make it out to the Santa Barbara CA area make sure to check out Lotus Land! It’s my ultimate garden inspiration and it has an interesting history.

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  35. BODIE and FOUMay 14, 20107:42 am

    Well it’s true that jenna’s garden looks fab and inviting but you always end up doing a fabulous job on DIY anyway that I have no doubt yours is going to be amazing!

    I’ve just finished Mila’s bedroom…just in time for Edition Paumes photoshoot and now I’m struggling to pick up a brush paint again :-)

    http://bodieandfou.blogspot.com/2010/05/milas-bedroomfinally-finished.html

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  36. jackie lnxMay 14, 20103:11 pm

    ahhh…i feel your pain. we too have to transport everything through our house to get to the yard. last year it was huge bluestone patio slabs and bags of gravel. the year before it was a flowering cherry tree. it aint easy!
    looks lovely though! worth the pain!

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  37. Anna at D16May 14, 20103:53 pm

    @pennyrounds: If you could see what’s on the other sides of the fence, you wouldn’t worry about it. :)

    @Vicki: We will probably still have a veg garden, but it will need to be elevated to protect it from groundhogs!

    @Lisa: We just used the 2-part crushed stone/paver base bags that they sell at the big home stores.

    @theresa: The red table came from DWR, and no, we most likely won’t be staining the fence…but we may stain the deck.

    @nicole: I have no email from you!! I had no idea you were here! :( I’ll be in touch asap…

    @Avant-Gardenist: We do have access from the house — there’s a porch off of our kitchen, you just can’t see it in this photo. You can see it here. When it comes to carrying materials from the curb, though, I’d much rather go through the basement than through the house!!

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  38. Avant-GardenistMay 15, 201011:16 am

    whew. i thought that was a mite too inconvenient, but you never know. oh yeah, come to think of it, i do recall a photo of your kitchen door.

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  39. jjaMay 16, 20107:20 am

    Dear Anna thank you so much for taking care of this amazing cat!
    My two cats are sending hugs.

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  40. Holyoke HomeMay 16, 20108:29 am

    lovely. Just lovely.

    Why can I not get a subscription to Living Etc? Must be giant Barnes and Noble conspiracy to keep me coming back.

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  41. RJMay 17, 20105:12 pm

    Your backyard is coming along, I’m really liking the pavers! If you’re stuck on what ground cover to use, my mom has creeping thyme and it’s so pretty {and pretty hardy}.

    I’m crossing my fingers we get to build a patio this year, but not holding my breath too much! *lol*

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  42. shashiMay 18, 201012:41 pm

    Anna it looks great! Question for you, can you recommend some shade plants? I see you have a lot of shade, so I imagine you’ve done a bit of research.
    SHashi

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  43. JonahlizaMay 21, 201011:32 pm

    it is looking soo awesome <3

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  44. clarissaMay 22, 201012:37 pm

    nice garden! another ground cover that I have used with much success is irish moss (sagina subulata). it’s easy to care for and has a lush, velvety look that is very soothing and soft on the feet. in the spring it is speckled with delicate, white flowers.

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  45. elsieMay 24, 20101:49 pm

    hey anna – i just got some woolly pockets for my patio. not big enough for veg garden but i think it would be perfect for fresh herbs. unless the groundhogs pull a spiderman, i don’t think they would be able to munch from these. http://elauinc.blogspot.com/2010/05/woolly-pockets.html

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