Our Garden / Before Photos / by Brooke Courtney

I have always wanted a garden. Like, for yearssss. But every Spring, I forget to plant the things I want, or if I do remember to plant a few things, I've completely forgotten about them come mid-summer and they're all scraggly and literally laying down on the ground like we can't even. To give myself some credit though, I have transplanted quite a few ferns, hostas and other shade-loving perennials from my parent's house to our yard, and those do awesome every year! But our actual food garden has always been lacking one thing - my time. Seriously, if you want to learn a few lessons on patience and "good things come to those who wait", plant a garden. Have you ever seen how tiny carrot seeds are!?!?! They're practically invisible! So you just gotta dump out the package into the dirt and hope that in 3 months time they've turned into beautiful, Martha-Stewart-cover-worthy rainbow carrots. Things I planted in April are only now starting to show up. Geeesh!

Months ago, when we were having an unusually warm spring day, I was in the backyard with my friend/neighbor Kim, when she pointed to the (what I would call terribly embarrassing) overgrown area at the back of our yard and said "Oh, is that your garden?" 😂 Obviously that's why I keep someone like Kim around, because she believes that even the worst sections of my yard will somehow bloom into something amazing and edible, which is excellent for my self esteem, but alas, I had to laugh and say "No! Ha ha! That's our 'parking area'". However, it got me thinking. We NEVER park back there. Like, ever. So why not make it into a garden area? That would allow us to keep more of our grass/yard and give us space to plant stuff! Win, win! When we first moved into our house, the previous owners had installed six square garden beds right in the middle of the whole yard, which was not very functional. We tore those out almost immediately and the grass has grown back in quite nicely giving us a cute little spot of grass for June to play in.

Here is what that back area looked like before T.J. got started clearing an area for the garden beds. As you can see, our backyard backs up against the local lumber yard, which was really convenient when we needed to get stuff for our garden boxes!

It took us only a few hours to dig up the front portion of the parking area and prep it for the beds to be installed. And T.J. was looking pretty, pretty, cool in a tank top -- just saying.

About a week after we prepped the beds, we built the super easy garden boxes and filled them with dirt from our compost pile! Unfortunately I forget to take pictures of the actual boxes being built and filled. Oh well! But now that a few things are starting to pop up you can see the garden bed layout! We took some of the extra gravel from the parking area and moved it up in between the boxes to help control the weeds and mud.

Some of the plants I started myself from seeds months ago, and others I purchased at our local greenhouse just before planting.

In just the few weeks that have passed, you can see that the GIANT tree in the backyard has leaves now, and many of the other things around our yard are loving all the rain. In the words of Phyllis (Lapin) Vance, "The plants are gonna love this."

Just this past Friday, I planted a handful of flowers and herbs in the box closest to our back deck. I am really looking forward to having fresh herbs right beside our grill, and colorful flowers to look at while we sit out back and enjoy our summer watermelon and iced coffees. C'moooonnn summer!

I apologize for the glommy photos, it was literally raining while I planted these and took the pictures.

I am so excited to watch everything grow over the next few months and continue to clean up our yard and outdoor living areas so we can enjoy them more of the year. I really, really believe that living in a home you're proud of, in a home that brings you joy deep in your being, is so valuable to our lives and families - and your yard is a beautiful, living extension of that. I hope you'll take a little bit of time to plant a few things for yourself, too! If you have any questions you think I could answer, please leave a comment! I'd love to know what you're planting or hoping to grow!

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.
— Luther Burbank