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A Before & After Of Our Garden!

Renovating Jul 16, 2019

How To Plan A Renovation

Hello and welcome to a very long post about our garden.

If I’m completely honest, I’ve sort of overlooked cataloguing what’s been happening in the garden, I just wasn’t sure you would be interested. But I should have known you’d want to see it! After so many of you asked for the nitty gritty in response to my garden satires recently, I thought it was time. Instead of drip feeing the inspiration and process like I usually do, you’re getting one giant, steaming, image heavy blog post sharing the what we wanted, what we did, what it looks like now and where we’re going post. It’s going to be fun! (And, possibly exhausting).

If you remember from the before, I have to say I loved that little patch of grass in our original yard. In fact, that was one of the only things I loved! And sadly it had to go – the moving of the house and the expansion of the back meant really cut down the amount of yard we have. Lucky my brother lives next door and has a big back yard… No renovating for him!  At our place, we set about trying to make that tiny space as lush and tropical as possible.


Speaking of lush and tropical, I pulled a few images from my Pinterest boards to share with you. Because we knew you would mainly experience this garden from the deck and the downstairs patio, we wanted to go big and beautiful with plants. We also wanted some nice flagstone pavers to create a beautiful green courtyard feel. The latter haven’t quite materialised yet but someday!


Because who doesn’t love a before photo? You can see that we were dealing with a pretty sad space!

The Plans

Because we were travelling a lot when this part of the renovation was done (Ben was working on 10 different restaurant projects at the time so we were here and there and everywhere) we decided to get landscapers in to do this. As I mentioned in my post about things you can do yourself, so long as you lay the right groundwork – irrigation and good soil, you can do a lot of the landscaping yourself. Although we left the grunt work to the landscapers, we did spend a lot of time in the lead up looking at what plants we wanted to put in the yard, which ones would be most suited to our climate and the ones that would do the best functional things – like screening, providing shade, growing upwards rather than out etc.

Ben (being his usual handy self) designed these landscaping plans (above) for our landscapers to use. Our goals were:

  • Plant a tree at the front fence that would grow big but without too much spread – it’s a tight space.
  • To plant vines around the car port, which would then grow up and provide some soft green relief over the structure.
  • To green up underneath the stairs at the front of the house.
  • To plant some climbing plants around the car port so that they would climb over the concrete fence Ben designed.
  • Add some such greenery and screening outside the windows in the downstairs studio.
  • To create a lush green garden at the back of the house with lots of big plants.
  • At the very back, we wanted to promote screening form the neighbours and western sun.

The key plants we used were Monsterra, Ginger, Helconia, Poincianna, Lilly-pilly, Jasmine and climbing fig.

6 Months After

What’s more painful than watching paint dry? Tying to detect the growth of your plants! Although, I was happy to see that after a few months the plants seemed like they had taken root, and were starting to flourish a little. It was at this point that we (crazily) decided to plant a fiddle leaf fig tree because we were going away for a while…. You can seee it in the corner of the yard in the first photo. More on that later.

I love these gorgeous pebbles that were used around the house! Unfortunately the landscaper put a huge amount of them down the left hand side of the house rather than at the back, so we (aka Ben and his Dad) moved lots of them to the back garden beds.

One Year After!

To say the garden has gone bonkers in the last few months is a massive understatement. It’s like someone’s put steroids in the water! I guess the season changed and we had a decent amount of rain, and I couldn’t be happier with where the garden is at. Other than the fact that we have a crazy grasshopper infestation right now… They can obviously smell a lush tropical garden a mile away.


The plants have grown up and around the stairway at the front of the house, they even want to grow up onto the stairs! You can see the climbing fig starting ti take hold too, which makes me so happy.

This is the view when you look out of the back deck onto the plants downstairs. There’s still work to be done on the upper level, but I love how lush it’s getting.



The screening trees that we planted at the back of the house are also growing really well. It’s so nice to have greenery growing up and around the back deck area. I can’t wait to have a mature Poincianna in the back garden!

Last but not least, here’s that fiddle leaf fig…. AKA fiddle-leaf-fig-gate. In the space of a year it’s grown to almost 15m… After consulting a few (seemingly very knowledgable) people on IG stories, I worked out that you should never, NEVER, plant a fiddle leaf close to your house. They have a tendency to develop invasive root systems which get into your plumbing and basically ruin all your hard renovation work. I’m currently strategising how to dig it up and put it in a pot. You live and learn!


Where to next?

The thing about gardening? You’re never, ever finished. Which is kind of fun but also a little bit terrifying. We’re definitely scheming the next plants we are going to put into the back area. the ginger plants has really taken off but we think it could do with some variety, so we’re going to move a few plants and add in some different ones. The last thing on our list is to pave the downstairs patio area, originaly we wanted flagstaff paving, but now I am leaning towards recycled brick. Cheaper, and also way more sustainable.

Brb. Waging a war with those grasshoppers!


Let us know your thoughts!

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