Let me introduce you to Stevie who lives in Vancouver. Since 2004 Stevie has been transforming the back garden into something wonderful and taking readers of Garden Therapy along for the ride.
Some basic background info about the garden transformation from Stevie:
"While there is a wonderful mountain view from the deck, we decided to build a low, enclosed patio to gain privacy from the neighbours and some outdoor living space. The space is enclosed on all four sides making it very private and creating a warm micro climate that has become an extension of the house. This is enhanced by the use of concrete pavers which create the patio floor and walkway. The patio is 15x17 feet surrounded by planter beds of mixed edible and ornamental plants, including Japanese Maple 'Bloodgood', a Smoke Bush trained into a tree, and a 6-variety apple espalier. The walkway pavers have 4 inch gaps planted with Creeping Veronica, Speedwell 'Georgia Blue', mixed sedums, and mosses. The area under the deck was turned into a zen garden, with a hammock facing the garden beds, native ferns, and a rock collection from my travels as the ground cover."
Since the hammock was installed, it has become the most popular seat in the house (that is her nephew upside down in the seat!).
The budget for hardscaping (which covered the patio, fence and deck materials) was $4000 and all the labour was done by Stevie and her husband, her brother-in-law and some friends.
The biggest challenge was that the yard had poor drainage. While it slopes away from the house, rainy coastal winters made it a complete mud pit from November to May. To fix the drainage they installed drain pipes throughout the yard under the soil that extended from the gutters.
Amazingly, now, in this small garden Stevie grows over 100 different edible plant varieties!
(Re-edited from a post originally published 2.22.12 - NM)
(Images: Stevie at Garden Therapy)