Lane Yard Makeover in the Heights

When it comes to projects, this one is among favorites. We completely remodeled this lovely couple’s home into a yard that is the physical embodiment of soul food and actual food. I can tell by how many times the homeowners Instagram meals and meetings out in their new back yard.

This project was different. The wife is an engineer and the husband is a self-published author and photographer. His schedule was more flexible and he works from home, so they actually saved hundreds in labor by sending him out for the grunt work. Wife also helped on the weekends. They were conveniently adept, and we got a lot done.

There were multiple benefits to the homeowners pitching in. I know this isn’t always possible and I don’t expect it to be most of the time, but this couple that put in hours of manual labor regardless of the weather (98º and humid, for example). Not only did they save a lot, but they were personally invested in their yard because they did so much to build it. They know everything about it because they were there. This was a more tedious process at times because they stopped me with questions when I wasn’t clear enough to follow, but I’m glad they were there. They anticipated problems before they happened and nearly eliminated surprises, which can grow big quickly in landscaping. In an extensive build-out of an edible yard – every bit of which is expected to be used heavily – this was important.

Before. Leaning, rotting deck, closed to the yard. Old concrete driveway that submerged the owner’s car in the last heavy rain, and a carport that was barely big enough for her Miata:

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After, and so many details for so many exciting things:

Two Peggy Martin rose vines, a weeping-type vine rescued from a restaurant where they kept weeping out in the way of the main entrance.
A row of citrus trees to the left of the driveway, and a bed of pollinator plants at the top of it. The homeowners wanted mulch pathways instead of grass – the most sustainable method possible. If you use wood chips from local tree waste, they deprive weeds of nitrogen as they decompose, keeping the path clear of all but the most ambitious weeds. When the chips have fully decomposed this provides fresh soil for topping off the veggie beds. Then you put fresh wood chips down in the pathways, wash, rinse, repeat.
Their many garden beds and a lovable garden overall. These homeowners are wonderfully persistent, resourceful gardeners.
Private patio in the back corner for reading, writing, laying in a hammock hung from the posts, using the smoker or BBQ pit, or sitting around a small fire pit. The screen under the arbor catches debris from the beautiful cedar looming overhead.
The stainless steel, locally manufactured metal tank in the background catches up to 500 gallons of water to supply the garden and fruit trees. The system is delightfully efficient in how much it catches.
Have I said I love the homeowners? These organic gardens are mixed – an ongoing experiment in companion planting. The mints thrive in pots below so they don’t take over, and herbs are mixed throughout the veggie beds.
This compost bin surpassed my expectations. In partial shade it doesn’t get too hot. Instead, it lets their kitchen waste and tree litter decompose in peace without disturbance from the many squirrels and rodents in the area, but with the help of the microbes coming up from the earth below…
The multi-grafted peach tree is positioned to be appreciated from the back door and the office (right) and laundry room (left) behind those windows. In the Spring, this tree will have up to five different colors of blossoms. Later in the year, the almighty orgasmic backyard-grown peach.
Boxes on deck are loaded with herbs. The homeowners love to cook, so they use these often.
“Optimus shed” is in place! It was once the old carport. With just one more panel of corrugated metal roofing material, a sliding wooden door and some silicone, this is officially their new garden tool shed.
This yard was made to be social, to grow food, and make the most of natural resources (rainwater). It was a total success with a large deck that opens to the food gardens, a row of fruit trees, a permeable driveway and rainwater catchment.


Photos of mid-way points continue below…

After completion of deck, part of phase 1.


The biggest task for phase 1 of the Lane Yard Makeover. Designed by Patiovore, built by Timi Walters and team of TKW Construction.

The surface and framing is all new lumber, and we were able to salvage a good amount of lumber from the old deck for the planter boxes and pergola.

I love the dappled sun under the lattice, how the pergola’s slope matches the roof it’s perched on, and I’m excited to see some vines fill it in! These wrap-around stairs open up to the new, permeable gravel driveway. Soon, there’ll also be a large veggie garden area and some new fruit trees.


Lane yard - buster on lemongrass


Shortly after finishing the deck, we installed raised beds for growing herbs and veggies. After a month of growing, everything is filling in really well!