How I Built My Tiny Backyard - From Woodchips to Wildflowers

How I Built My Tiny Backyard - From Woodchips to Wildflowers

Posted by Lynda Houston on 16th Jul 2020

It was September, 2016 when I moved from an 8-acre farmette to a petite fixer-upper at the end of a cul-de-sac. 

I was a divorced 50-something mom of three grown children and my ship was sinking.

Here in this yellow brick bungalow is where I started over. It came down to this:

                                                   do what you can

                                                   where you are, 

                                                  with what you have.

I began with the forced decision to take down the towering trees that were planted too close to the house. The listing photo made it look much better than it was in person.... I was overwhelmed.

Small Backyard Ideas

By the time the trees were out, I was left with a yard full of poor soil and thick layers of wood chips from the ground up tree stumps. I saved as many existing plants as I could before winter set in.

I look back on these photos taken on a cold November day after the trees were removed, and realize it's how I felt inside - empty...(and with perhaps a touch of despair)....

My first project was a potting shed. I'd always wanted one and it would also serve as an anchor from which I would create my back yard - and maybe even the rest of my home. 

I placed the shed in the center of my yard, leaving about 6 feet in the back.

I began with a solid gravel base:


A few months later my shed was underway!

By the following Spring, I had a 10' x 12' garden shed with a metal roof and skylight. I began planting my back yard, which measures about 60' x 60' and was surrounded with rusty chain link fence.

When the warm days arrived, I scheduled a consult with a local landscaper. For a small fee, I had a basic landscape plan that became my guide. I planted a Royal Raindrops Crabapple tree, 3 burning bushes, a Sweet Bay Magnolia, 6 hardy pampas grass, 6 arborvitae, and 5 Hicks Yew bushes. I also transplanted Hosta and Lamb's Ear the previous owner left behind. 

Small Backyard Design Ideas

Since one side of my back yard parallels a community catwalk, I wanted to create a "wildflower walk" along a barren strip of dirt next to the fence. I planted daisies, black-eyed susans, coneflower, peony bushes, lamb's ear, and several varities of daylilies. I also painted the chain link a dark gray, just to get me through the next year or so until I installed a privacy fence.

She shed decor ideas

Today it's July, 2020, and the privacy fence is a perfect backdrop to my cottage wildflower collection along the catwalk. It's not completely finished but I love it already.

I also learned that flowers are a great way to meet the neighbors - it's easy to strike up a conversation by asking about a flower don't you think? 

Privacy Fence Ideas

My potting shed is also coming along nicely. 

I painted it with Sherwin-Williams Baltic Sage (body), Rookwood Dark Red (wood trim) and Cameo Lace (window trim). 

My shed also serves as a cheerful backdrop when I shoot photos of my Flower Art. This day I was shooting some of my Fall outdoor flowers. My son also helped me string some lights from the porch to the shed for extra lighting.

Outdoor Flower Decor

At the time I began this journey, I was unsettled, impatient, longing for immediate peace and balance.

But as the weeks and months rolled by, Mother Earth taught me me that happiness is not a destination - it's really the  journey itself where happiness lives and even thrives, if we let it.  

I continue joyfully (and patiently) creating a peaceful botanical world in and around my tiny bungalow at the end of Castlewood Lane.

Check back soon. Little bungalow just got an indoor facelift and I'll be sharing that project as well! 


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