Stevies Backyard In Apartment Therapy

Backyard Patio Project: Before and After…and After

Since February is Before and After Month at Apartment Therapy, the Gardenist, Rochelle Greayer of Studio G and Leaf Magazine,  featured the backyard renovation that we have been working on for the past many years.  While it’s always changing and evolving (as a good garden should) here is the original post I wrote that features the big reveal.

Stevie's Backyard in Apartment Therapy

May marks the anniversary of breaking ground on my back patio project.  I use the term “breaking ground” loosely as the year was basically a mud pit in the winter and a dust bowl in the summer.


Over the course of a few months, my husband loaded up thousands of pounds of  the backyard “soil” (another loose term) into a wheelbarrow and replaced it with a patio surrounded by beds and a small grassy area.


In the next 5 years the patio changed many times over. New house colours.  New patio furniture.  New deck.  And last year was the beginning of the potager phase where I packed this wee garden with hundreds of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers.


This year it already looks quite a bit different.  I have replaced one of the tomato planters with a strawberry planter.  I’ve been growing only lettuces in the wine barrel planters as they get too much shade from the trees now.  I’m now growing mushrooms in my zen garden under the deck.  I’m only going to grow what was a success last year (sorry, no purple cauliflower) and I’m going to try to keep the clutter down (damn giant purple cauliflower).

The corner of the patio holds the container herb garden.  While the plants change up yearly deepening on culinary fancy, this photo shows sage, parsley, oregano, garlic chives, Egyptian walking onions, romaine lettuce, wild arugula and a few other treats.

The herbs don’t get lonely however, as we also grow quite a lot of veggies.  Enough to feed us through the summer and put some by for the winter.  The keys to growing edibles in a small space (that you want to use mainly as entertaining space) are to choose decorative varieties, tuck them in among ornamentals, and use interesting containers (like the wine barrel of lettuce shown here).

There are many showy flowers to keep spirits bright…

….and containers, containers, containers.

In the end what the space is now best used for is enjoying a little quiet time in the garden.

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Carri
    CarriMay 24,10

    It looks awesome! I LOVE before and after pics- it gives me hope that my garden will fill in nicely some day too!

  2. kristin crouch
    kristin crouchMay 24,10

    All I can say is “Wow!” What a transformation!. It is lovely.

  3. Angela
    AngelaMay 24,10

    Beautiful!! Love it! I also love before & after pictures.

  4. Crafty Gardener
    Crafty GardenerMay 24,10

    That is quite the transformation you have made to your garden. Everything looks great.

  5. GloriaBonde
    GloriaBondeMay 24,10

    Very nice transformation. You’ve done lots and lots of work and it looks wonderful! Thanks for commenting on my buffalo poo. So nice for my garden :)

  6. Priscilla Prince
    Priscilla PrinceMay 24,10

    Beautiful patio Stevie! That was tons of work and it’s very rewarding. Nice new profile pic as well!

  7. Genevieve
    GenevieveMay 25,10

    Stevie, this is stunning!! WOW!! This is so valuable because even as a professional, where I advise people to take it slow, think it out, and see it as a process, not a race – in my own garden, I want immediate results! It’s great to see that slow and steady really does get you there in the end. What a gorgeous space you’ve created.

  8. Laura
    LauraMay 25,10

    Great transformation! You both have put a lot of hard work into that space, and it is paying off! It must be a nice place to sit on a warm summer evening!

    I like the new house colour!

  9. Dan
    DanMay 25,10

    What a transformation, it looks great! I had a similar site here. Lots of bare ground, garbage & weeds. They even used to park in the backyard. Oh and you can’t forget the live wires laying on the ground!

  10. melanie watts
    melanie wattsMay 26,10

    It looks fabulous! You have done a lot of work to create such a beautiful, livable, productive spot.

  11. Linda
    LindaMay 29,10

    I love to see garden transformations and yours is a wonderful example. I like the way you placed the square stepping stone pathway along the patio, with a little grass in between. It’s very eye catching (and so is the ginger puddy cat).

  12. KatieLovesDogs
    KatieLovesDogsJune 1,10

    I love your patio. Who could have imagined (other than you) how a run down back yard could transform into such a fabulous space?

  13. Lavenderbay
    LavenderbayJune 2,10

    I hear ya. It took me six months to redistribute, by the barrowload, four tons of unwanted fill — but fifteen, wow!

    I like the way the walkway is now set apart from the patio pad, and some of the timbers have been removed. And the new deck and staircase are fabulous. Bravo!

  14. Grace
    GraceJune 3,10

    Hi Stevie~~ I love your before and afters. The transformation is pure inspiration. I love the light green color for your house and the plantings are lush but leave room for your terrace. And your adorable kitty cat adds just the perfect finishing touch.

  15. Ron McDonald
    Ron McDonaldJune 6,10

    That’s quite a transformation, very well done!

  16. 20minuteJan
    20minuteJanJune 7,10

    What a lovely deck and yard! How clever of you to remember to take “before” and “after” pictures too. Many times we forget to document our accomplishments. I’m glad I found your post and blog. Best wishes for a happy gardening season.

  17. Heavy Petal
    Heavy PetalJune 21,10

    Just catching up on some blog reading… WOW! What a gorgeous transformation. Love the deck/stair railing.

    Would you consider sharing your garden with readers of my blog? (

    I would love to share!

  18. Michelle's Green Thumb
    Michelle's Green ThumbAugust 9,10

    The transformation of your personal space is stunning!! What an inspriation…

    We built our house 3 years ago (is it that long already?!) & I’m still in the landscaping (or ‘yardening’) phase of things, with another 2 years planned for the other 2 sides of the house. I knew that putting a ‘5 year plan’ into action was the only way I could handle the disaster that building a house does to the land (we are still picking up nails…)

    So, it’s so uplifting to see transformations like yours – I know I’m on the right track. If only I could bribe the husband to help me with the rocks…

  19. rebecca sweet
    rebecca sweetNovember 30,10

    What a space! I LOVE the before and afters – they convey so much about your creativity. Absolutely fabulous – thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving your link!

  20. Melanie
    MelanieFebruary 22,12

    Stevie- Congratulations on being featured in Apartment therapy.

  21. Melanie
    MelanieFebruary 22,12

    Stevie- Congratulations on being featured in Apartment therapy. And what a fabulous transformation of your back yard. Good Job :)!

  22. Jennifer
    JenniferFebruary 23,12

    It has turned out lovely. Great place to watch the garden grow, read a book and enjoy the sun!

  23. Cindy
    CindyFebruary 23,12

    What lovely pictures of a continuing transformation. I love where you ended up. You must be quite the gardener to water all those pots. I think I will every spring when I plant them, but mid-summer it unfortunately becomes a chore. Thanks for sharing a bit of summer with us.

  24. Joy
    JoyFebruary 24,12

    Looks awesome, my dh can’t wait to get out and start gardening. Love the hammock shot!

  25. Danielle
    DanielleFebruary 24,12

    This looks amazing. I love the patio, the planters and the furniture. So beautiful. Hoping we can straighten our back yard out a bit this year.

  26. Aimee
    AimeeFebruary 26,12

    Incredible transformation!!! It’s so inspiring to see how beautiful you’ve made it and how many plants you’ve managed to pack in. We also have a small yard and need to garden mostly in containers. I feel like our place still looks a little makeshift and scrappy…some of our containers are still 5-gallon buckets – ha. I’m looking forward to progressing toward a more beautiful arrangement – so inspired by this post and by your garden!

  27. Justine
    JustineFebruary 26,12

    Stopping by from the Penny Pinching Party!

  28. Cyndi @ The Decorating Chica
    Cyndi @ The Decorating ChicaFebruary 26,12

    Love the veggies mixed with the decorative garden containers. Wishing for Spring.

  29. Carol
    CarolFebruary 26,12

    Wow! Lovely! Have you considered adding some roses to your back yard garden? I suggest a climber or two, or even some growing in those containers!
    Check out -link removed- for some tips.
    Keep up the great work!

  30. Jamie
    JamieFebruary 27,12

    Wow what a great space! Good job! I think the hardest thing to do in my backyard is make a decision!

  31. Denise
    DeniseFebruary 27,12

    What a beautiful space you’ve created. Looks like you were able to feed the neighborhood too.

  32. Kristle
    KristleFebruary 28,12

    What a transformation! This reminds me of my backyard when we first moved into our house. Although it is a rental and we can’t lay down concrete, I added grass, a border and tons and tons of plants, foliage, a comfy seating area and turned a little corner into a play area for my daughters. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease can do huh?

    So glad I found you from Tip Me Tuesday – stop by say hi and stay awhile:

    xo Kristle

  33. Sherry
    SherryFebruary 29,12

    Beautiful! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  34. Glenda
    GlendaMarch 1,12

    Your patio looks so inviting and healthy!

  35. Whitney @ The Rooster And The Hen
    Whitney @ The Rooster And The HenMarch 1,12

    Oh what a relaxing and fantastic yard! This project would be perfect for our linky party featuring “Transformations” called Repurpose-Remodel-Reveal, I know our readers would love to see it too! (It starts Friday, March 2nd 2012 at 7:00 am MST and reoccures every 1st and 3rd Friday)

    -Whitney @ TheRoosterAndTheHen

  36. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.
    Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.March 3,12

    What a wonderful space! Makes me so ready for spring! I want to be outside again!!!

  37. Danielle Benson
    Danielle BensonMay 7,12

    I love this! I’m about 1/2 way through mine.

  38. Brandi
    BrandiMay 27,12

    Hi Stevie! Your backyard is gorgeous. Such a transformation. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I really appreciate your comments.

  39. Andrew
    AndrewFebruary 15,13

    Wow, What a transformation. Its amazing what some planning and effort can do to a patio or garden setting. Add some flowers, some veggies, new paint job, new outdoor furniture and you see what you can get.

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