Last summer/fall, not unlike this summer/fall, was a time of big yard work. But instead of front yard redoes, it was backyard redoes, and it was the first yard we ever really landscaped, if you can call our very minimal application landscaping. We did a lot of winging it when it came to our plants and hoped for the best. One year in, I’m happy to report that everything rooted, is alive, and is bigger than it was last year = we didn’t totally fail!
We tweaked some minor things over the past year (and added a massive fireplace!), but most of the change is simply growth. It’s amazing to see how large and in charge many of these previously wimpy plants have become. It’s a comparative jungle out here now. But possibly the best testament to landscape success is that I’ve only had to water a handful of times out here, only during heat waves. The grass gets sprinkled a little each week during our hot summer/fall, which I’m sure seeps down to the roots of some of our plants, but they get nothing else besides winter/spring rains. And yet, life sustains. Thrives even. Desert minimal dreams reached.
(Painted cinderblock wall here. Butterfly chair info here. Screen door talk here. Fire pit post here. See the patio here.)
Umm, ya to this new (old) Malm fireplace. I’ve got a problem. A minor fireplace addiction. I can’t say no to dang stuff on Craigslist. Our small fire pit is perfectly fine, I told myself, as I picked this beautiful beast up with the intention of selling it. But when I set it up to take photos for selling and “just to try it out”…you probably can guess the pathetic rest. It stole the show and now owns me. It seems as if it’s meant to be here, and been here all along. The color, yellowish golden tangerine, is way weird next to the colors already out here, but the scale is so right. It has a presence, height, and spark that our small fire pit lacks as a focal point. What would you do? Let me remind you that just inside is another (totally nonfunctioning) vintage fireplace, but let me also remind you that these things, for whatever reason, bring a big smile to my face and I can see it – and smile – from many vantage points inside. Our $10 trash yuccas are going nuts. We bought these, actual branch trimmings, from a nursery’s compost pile. Within a few months of “planting” (sticking the branches in the ground), they rooted and started taking off. We did move them closer together than we originally planted…we had no idea how much room they’d need, and it soon became apparent not very much. They require VERY little of us (yes!), but we do pull off babies every few months to keep their silhouette lean and sculptural. (More info on all our plants here.)We ended up moving another yucca cutting back here from the front yard, where we have decided to plant the most pathetically small/off scale/baby palm trees (which you can kinda see here). It was a tough call to move it because it had just started sending out the prettiest bloom, a message I can only interpret as “I am happy.” It replaced a pony tail palm right here (second picture), that itself was quite happy and growing, but too slow and small. I need to find a new spot for it.The trash agave attenuatas have grown so much. They are taking over the space and a few have constantly been pushing out pups the past few months…cha-ching for the front yard. This one literally came from a trash pile (second pic is how it looked when we stuck it in the ground) and has grown into a beast that would be in the $100s if purchased retail instead of dumpster dived.
I know I said I’m not a flower person, but I can get into this crazy mess. I don’t know what this plant is, other than a Home Depot clearance plant, but it is freaking out with flowers. I love it and so do hummingbirds.I still haven’t properly potted all these wall plants, but they are all still alive and possibly adding a little purpose to this nonsensical fence situation.The San Pedro cactus have almost doubled their height and some are growing arms! They still are ridiculously small for this spot, but I have faith that a few more seasons will bring proper scale. Dracaena marginatas going strong. I know you shouldn’t have favorites but these are my favorite. I even planted some more just to the left of these where we recently ripped out a needy umbrella tree from the patio. Amazing what a year can do:Our painted wall, as bright and as crazy as the day I painted it. I love it more than ever. But of course wish it could extend all the way up, a problem for another year.
If you are curious, you can find some very classy befores of this yard right here, but they basically go something like this, enjoy:
Backyard to do:
Rip out all existing flowers/ plants Install concrete curb around grass Rip out sprinkler system and redesign/reinstall Re-seed grass Paint all fencing Slope plant beds away from the house so they no longer threaten the foundation Rock everything Paint cinderblock retaining wall Plant everything Fire pit Fire pit chairs Reposition/replant yucca when I know more about how well they grow Outdoor lights (went with solar) Build a screen door Fill back wall with tall cacti or ???
- Deal with the back fence mess by building a new one
- Replace horrid security light
- Paint all eaves
I hope I’m back soon sharing plants up front! We are deep in the shoveling so much rock phase right now, but are getting close to completion. I just have a few more areas to plant/tinker with. The backyard successes have made plant selection for the front yard way easy. We have the same minimal-deserty-cheapskate feel going on. All succulents, mostly dug up for free by my husband. So much so that he, one of the least gardeny people I know, has earned the joke nickname AGAVE MAN. Licence plate material, right?!
6 thoughts on “The Backyard Turns One”
It’s amazing how quickly some of your plants have grown from the cut-offs! I personally love the larger fireplace over the original you had there. I find it’s more of a focal point and the bonus smoke removal from the chimney portion is great when you’re sitting at face level with the fire. The only thing you might want to add is mesh chain for each of the sections. The one I have has it all the way around with each section opening individually (It helps with keeping sparks contained). Great transformation!
I have the mesh screen and glass for it but I hesitated to put it in…we didn’t have a screen on our old one and didn’t have any issues. But you aren’t the first to suggest this so maybe I need to reconsider :) Thanks Brooke!!!
If this has glass all the way around, with a swinging door, contact Malm for parts and spiff it up. If it’s all glass panels, it’s an “Imperial Carousel,” which will make a spinning fire that just about burns everything including the ash.
Thanks for the info! We do have glass panels that came with it, but we have kept them off for max marshmallow access – though one day I’d like to see the fire spin :)
Hi Jenny! I love the fireplace outside and it’s exactly what I have been looking for to put in our yard. I was about to find a welder to build one before I came across your blog. I went to the Malm website but I don’t see that exact product. Can you tell me which one it is? I want that exact fireplace!!
Ours is a vintage Malm Imperial Carousel, but I think this model is still in production? You might give craigslist/etc a try in your area? That’s how I found ours. Best of luck!!