Secret Garden Patio Phases


My newest work in progress at home is a secret garden patio. The site is located behind the house, more precisely behind the master bath, at the back of the house. When we moved in, it was nothing more than a shrub border leading to the side yard, leading to the front of the house next to the driveway, nothing but grass and Elyangnus and Abelia shrubs. Boring! It stayed that way for the first five years we were here while I redesigned the main beds in the front and back yards.

This year I finally decided on a plan and tore out the shrubs, killed the grass, and leveled the space. My overall vision is for a secluded space where my wife and I can sit in the shade and have our morning coffee or a late afternoon drink and watch the birds at the feeder or enjoy butterflies and dragonflies flying among the flowers. Now tThat we are retired, it will be a place we can go to relax.

Once the space was leveled and grass free, I took large cardboard boxes and tore them apart and laid them out on top of the dirt and covered it with 1 cubic yard of decomposed granite. This was going to be my base layer for the patio I was constructing. The cardboard is supposed to suppress the growth of weed seeds and encourage earthworms. The decomposed granite forms a semi permeable base for the flagstones I wanted to use for the patio. This would not change the water flow already in place around the house.

Next I bought 1.7 tons of flagstone. When you buy a pallet of flagstone, it comes with large, medium, and small stones. I bought inch thick flagstone that I could walk on as well as set chairs and potted plants without breaking the stones. That part was easy. Designing the pattern and color of the stones was challenging.

When I finally decided on the pattern, I had to level the stones by adding and subtracting granite under the stones and using two different levels to make sure each stone was level on its own and that it was level with the stones around it.

Finally, I bought a cubic yard of pea gravel to fill in around the flagstones.

I am now in the process of painting the house, so the rest of the secret garden is on hold. My plans include an archway entrance from the main part of the backyard and three planters under the pine tree to block part of the view of the main yard. I will also build a trellis to espalier my two olive trees on and then make a panel or trellis to hide the water barrel and grapevine. I’m considering a low fence of about two feet on top of the retaining wall for more privacy from the ally.

Once the painting is done I’ll be back with a final report on the project.

Until then,

Have fun playing in the dirt.

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