Blue stripped market umbrella

Let the backyard refresh begin

A backyard refresh project on a shoestring budget, transformed a tired desert courtyard into a charming European inspired retreat.


Backyard refresh includes cute market umbrellas

Bright market umbrellas add shade, while providing color and texture to a pea gravel courtyard.

The Arizona desert is brutal in the summertime and after years of failed attempts to grow beautiful lush grass, I waved the white flag. I wanted an economical and easy to maintain solution. Most of all, I desired the natural charm and character that my space lacked on a tight budget.

After research and countless Pinterest pins, it occurred to me that I love the look of French country gravel courtyards. There is a simple elegance to a pea gravel patio and I knew that it would add character to my yard.  Bob Villa had me at low cost and low maintenance.

A backyard work in progress

I knew pea gravel would provide a good foundation. It could be enjoyed today, and as a work in progress, by adding additional plants and containers.

After laying the landscape fabric, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. And 80 pounds of pea gravel later, my base is rock solid. Yes, the pun is intended. Once the gravel settles, I will add an additional layer of pebble. 

Did I mention that I don’t have a green thumb? In fact, this backyard project is a stretch for me. I know that I mentioned the brutal nature of the Arizona summer sun and decided that a raised garden bed would be the best way to incorporate interest.






So, for now, I added a few simple drought tolerant plants, such as red Texas salvia, fiery bougainvillea, red Mexican bird of paradise and rosemary.

Once I see how they take the summer heat, I will add to the garden. I am happy to report that the hummingbirds are enjoying the salvia. My fingers are crossed that my plants will survive the summer.






What is better than a cute market umbrella in a garden? The answer: two adorable umbrellas that I scored at Tuesday Mornings for the best price in town. My store is receiving a new shipment on June 1.


Infuse color to your backyard in interesting ways

A copper hummingbird feeder  strategically placed in a container pot adds intrigue to a boring block wall. I painted my home’s garage lighting fixtures copper and decided to carry the color theme into the backyard. In the morning, before the heat sets in, I love to watch the hummingbirds dance.  Someone once shared with me that hummingbirds are signs that your loved ones are visiting.

A copper hummingbird feeder adds interest to a yard

A copper hummingbird feeder hangs from a shepherds hook, providing a hummingbird friendly zone.

I added a sweet little farmhouse bench that was a gift from my mom ala the Rustic Hutch. (The bench is featured in the above photos)  Through the years, the bench has been a variety of colors, depending on its function. I am toying with the idea of adding a concrete look top to the bench with Ardex feather finish. It will “up” the French country farmhouse factor, while allowing me to experiment with this product. I have an indoor counter project calling my name. I am thinking about treating it with this product but I have not made up my mind about the commitment to concrete.

A statue of an angel in a garden

My sweet angel watches out over my garden. and sneaks peeks on me while I am working my behind off on the garden.

Mosquitoes are a problem even in Arizona. The little pests suck the joy out of my little outdoor paradise. No outdoor area is complete without the summer scent of citronella.  I created an essential oil cocktail featuring, citronella, rosemary, geranium, lemon grass and cedarwood oils. I sliced lemons in a mason jar and added water and the oils to it and placed the elixir in a glass hurricane. The glass lantern is from Kirklands and a fantastic Memorial Day Sale score.

The jury is out on if my brew keeps the bugs at bay, but my patio smells amazing. A citronella candle in a bright lime vase provides a pop of color.

A citronella candle repels pests.

A citronella candle repels pests.

Essential oils keep pests at bay in a pretty glass hurricane lantern.

Essential oils keep pesky bugs at bay in a pretty glass hurricane lantern.

Last, until my garden proves that it will grow, I added a pink flamingo, from Lowes, as a touch of whimsy so that I may dream about the beach.

A plastic pink flamingo adds whimsy to a garden planter

A touch of whimsy adds interest while my garden area matures.










My goal is to be able to actually enjoy my patio, while I watch my garden grow.

A backyard refresh includes a patio table space.

A comfortable nook to relax, complete with an adorable lantern from Target.