Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

Garden Designers Roundtable: Designers Home Landscapes May 22, 2012

At the Garden Designer’s Roundtable this month we will show you our own gardens. This is no small thing for us, because most of us designers are busy at YOUR house making it look beautiful. And then we get home and experiment in our own gardens so you don’t have to. Truly, I don’t have a plant hoarding issue. Am I selling that well? :-) Actually it is true. I buy plants and trial and error them at home fairly frequently, strictly for testing purposes. Still buyin it?

OK, actually we do try out design ideas and test some plants from Growers and Breeders. We try to figure out the million dollar Bunny and Deer deterrent fixes. We use our gardens for our own blogs to show our successes and sad seasonal distresses, but it’s really just our own place to play just like yours, the good the bad and the really really bad. We just don’t usually bare our collective souls like this to the general public.

So, ready or not here is a snap shot of where my back yard landscape has begun and where it is today thanks to my friends at May Creek Landscape.

We downsized from our giant, custom-built dream home in 2007  just before the crash in 2008 to what I lovingly refer to as our “Barbie Doll House”. We bought our current home in the middle of the block in an almost brand new neighborhood about 30 seconds from our former home so that our teenager would be able to finish school and stay near friends until she went off to college.

As a former Real Estate Agent who worked for one of the 5 builders in this planned community I knew the neighborhood well and the small, contemporary San Fransisco lot styles with the alley in the back were just the right amount of maintenance for me to handle. Our side yard property line is right up to the neighbors foundation.

When we bought the home it had already had two owners, most recently 5 Bachelors with a motorcycle hobby. Yup, they were beloved by ALL the neighbors for sure. Not to mention that yard maintenance was not exactly a priority. So, it was a typical example of a NEW fixer upper these days. But, also a VERY blank canvas from the stand point of the garden.

I failed to get shots in 2007 of the gardens, I was too busy cleaning and planting! This pic shows the back yard in 2008, one year after we moved in. This gravel path and the beds on either side as well as all of the plants you see here did not exist at that time.

Back Yard in June of 2009.

I’m pretty sure I spent the better part of the first year simply adding soil to even make it diggable. Yes, that is the most correct Hort-term I could think of for this awful, hard-pan clay soil. Also, as you can see across the back side, privacy is an issue, so my baby Leyland Cypress trees that I started as 1 Gallons are 3 ft. tall in this picture. I also started creating English Laurel Standards from 1 Gallon babies too- wait until you see those now!

The drainage here is abominable. The lawn is just a bog all winter and most of spring until it dries out in summer and then it’s impossible to keep watered. Even the dog didn’t want to walk out there. Luckily all of those big tree roots have been helping to suck some of it up.

Now skip ahead to early spring of this year before any of the color and fluff came on and this was where we were in 2012. My MASTER Plan is about to unfold before your very eyes!

LAWN be gone!! No more mowing and edging- YUCK!

Construction day one, 7 years in the making…. no, waiting, yes, that’s it!

The Gravel base my patio and edging are down.The guys are getting the forms ready for the 3 concrete pedestals for my containers and building my water feature. The pedestals will be covered with slate tiles. Check out the size of my very pruned Leyland Cypress trees and Laurel Standards now!

Ta da! There are still a few tweaks and of course more plants needed. But, for the most part, it’s exactly as I had envisioned it. My landscape crew thought my idea was totally nuts, but now they see the light!

I adore my new veggie bins!!

A cool respite in the shade on a hot day.

More updates on the new back yard to come this summer as I finish planting and getting it just the way I want it, this is only 2 weeks old now! I’ve now bared my garden soul to all of you. I hope you enjoyed what took me a long time to get here.

Please be sure to take a look at what the other brilliant Lords and Ladies of the Round Table have to share as well!

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

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27 Responses to “Garden Designers Roundtable: Designers Home Landscapes”

  1. sidraisch Says:

    Wonderful story of planning and transformation. Wow, what wisdom and a vision will do for patience!

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      Thank you Sid! I seem to be able to vision projects extremely clearly from early stages. It doesn’t make them happen any faster, but it does make it smoother. :-)

  2. [...] Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA [...]

  3. What a fantastic makeover – I love seeing the before, the in progress, and the after. So completely appropriate for a small space! The veggie bins are genius, and the water feature is stunning. Can’t wait to see more!

    • Alison Says:

      This is an amazing makeover, Christina! And so beautifully planted! I love the stock tanks.

      • personalgardencoach Says:

        Thank you Alison! Those stock tanks have been even more fun than I imagined. The not bending over mostly. :-)

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      Thank you! I can’t wait to share more pics with you too. There is so much to be done this summer and when the Hydrangeas bloom, that really could be somethin!

  4. [...] Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA [...]

  5. [...] Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA [...]

  6. Christina – what a gorgeous garden you’ve created!! I absolutely love your new patio area – SO much better than the lawn! Yours is truly a jewel-box garden and a feast for the eyes. Thanks for the tour!

  7. Andrew Keys Says:

    Super excellent–and I envy that Euphorbia. (I think it’s one that isn’t hardy here? I may be wrong, in which case I’ve got shopping to do.)

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      Thanks Andrew! That Euphorbia has really been a superior performer for me ‘Silver Swan’, she’s awesome. Did you ever see her in the ice storm last winter?- amazing!!

  8. Desert Dweller Says:

    Simply amazing…I must say the pre-Christina was not that bad, but what you did in place of the lawn just shows how so many lawns are really about “I didn’t know what else to put there”. The cobble edging is a great idea I have not seen pulled off so well, actually.

  9. [...] Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA [...]

  10. Debbie Says:

    Christina, I love your veggie beds, too. You’ve done a fantastic job adding so much functionality and interest into a small space. I love the contrast of the black pebble ‘river’, what a fun detail.

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      Thank you Debbie! Those Veggie bins have been really fun to play with. Different views with the veggies mixed with flowers has really been fun to design. The black pebble swoosh was a very last minute detail that I’m SO happy we threw in!

  11. Wow, what a jewel-box garden! David is right — you had a lovely garden before, with the soggy lawn, but now you have a really great space with a much more liveable feel AND great design bones. And your container plantings are the icing on this very yummy-looking cake.

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      Oh Pam- you’re singing my cake song! LOL! Thanks very much, that means a lot. :-)

  12. I just adore your makeover, Christina! This is my kind of garden. The details are wonderful! But if I might offer a little design advice – the mosaic table between the lounge chairs is too small. With a garden like this, you’ll be out there all the time, and you need a much bigger surface for your drinks, snacks and books.

  13. Shirley Bovshow Says:

    Wow Christina, what a yard you have there! Love the hardscape, foliage-centric plant pallet and those Christina container gardens. It’s a jewel.
    Shirley

    • Richard Says:

      The detail in the photographs is breath-taking and well mirrored in your new garden design. The green grass of the lawn provides a soothing place to rest your eyes. Well done – enjoy.

  14. Charlie Says:

    This was very informative. I found the pictures very helful, I am always looking for inspiration and new ideas. I think your garden should be a real joy.

  15. […] Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA […]


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