Before and After: Front walk

When we first bought our place, there were just some very overgrown stepping stones leading from the side of the porch to the driveway. Not a very inviting welcome to our home.

One of the first things we did in the fall was to start a small bed next to the house and plant some bulbs. But that was really just a temporary measure and we really wanted something much more in that space. Our landscape design was able to flesh out some additional ideas and we ended up with a walkway going between two flower beds. The intention is to eventually have a full season flowering area of mostly perennials, with some annuals mixed in. This year it is mostly annuals still, but we are starting to get some perennials and also self-seeding flowers into the space.

So basically we were starting from here. The bed against the house was already there, but this is before anything is really showing up yet, like the tulips or daffodils. Here is the space cleared of grass and ready to begin.


Here I’ve laid out some stones just to get some ideas and started digging the trench for the walkway.


When we were having the excavation done, I got some help ripping up the sod at the end of the walkway next to the driveway. We used some larger stone as a base, then a bit of geotextile fabric and then some crushed rock. Here is the walkway taking shape.


And mostly finished, looking from off the porch. You can see some tulips are now making an appearance. This part was finished around May 22nd.


Since then we have loaded up the beds with mulch and planted a bunch of stuff. So here is what it looks like today. Quite a transformation.


Before and After: From Back Deck

I thought it would be fun to start a short little series of before and after shots of various parts of our property. Unfortunately, I don’t have good before shots for everything. But I have some cool ones to compare.

Here is the first one, a shot from our back deck looking back over the northwest corner of our property. Not the most interesting one, but some cool things happening never the less.


The before shot does have a cool rainbow going for it.

Here is the after shot, taken yesterday.


Biggest impact change is the solar panels of course. You can also see some hop poles along the edge of the yard. The t-posts in the back corner are where the raspberries are planted. We moved our raised beds over to this side of the garden and added a few. Btw, the gas grill is relatively new too. After many years of being a charcoal only purist, I finally gave in to the convenience that is a gas grill. Don’t worry, still using charcoal to grill and smoke stuff some of the time.

Red, green and blue

After a very nice May for the most part, June has been nothing but rain. Sometimes terrible torrential downpours, sometimes just annoying bursts here and there to ruin the day. I hate to complain about water when other parts of the country are dry, but my plants are drowning over here. It’s a good thing we put in the swales in May or it would be even worse.

In spite of all that, we are somehow getting our first crop of the sweetest strawberries we could hope for.


Don’t blink, you’ll miss them.


At least the cooler weather plants like it. The greens are going nuts.



Onions seem much happier in a raised bed than in the garden, to no one’s great surprise.


The hops have already made it nearly to the first wooden support.


The fifteen raspberry plants all made it and are getting plenty of leaves now. Here are 10 of them, they are even bigger today.


And finally a view of the orchard, where all of the trees seem to be relatively happy so far and surviving the onslaught of water.


Fixing some drainage issues

Our property has the opposite problem that California is facing right now, particularly in the spring. We get way too much water flowing over our property from snow melt and other run-off further up the slopes on the south and west sides of the property. At times in the spring we probably have 5-6 distinct streams running across various parts of the property, including right into the driveway. So we are constantly struggling with erosion and washout in our drive and the gardens stay wet for a long time. If we could even get them dried out a week or two earlier, we could get our cool season planting like peas, potatoes and brassicas done much sooner.


So part of our landscape design is to build in some swales to help direct the water better. It’s not an insignificant expense and there are other things that would be more fun to spend the money on, but we’re hoping this work will pay dividends for years to come. Today our excavator is starting the work, so excited to see what kind of difference it makes. The main difference won’t be apparent until next spring, but even during big rain storms we sometimes have a limited version of the issues. So it should help with the drainage in general.