Fantasy Oasis

Home garden and decorating magazines—and the fact that I live in a desert—long ago inspired in me a yearning for a fantasy oasis. Oh, nothing excessively artsy-fartsy, but I dreamed of a private, lush garden to relax in. Lots of greenery. Trees to enfold our little house and obscure those surrounding us. Perhaps a little artwork tucked away here and there to liven the view and add a little whimsy…

In the Beginning

When we moved into our new house three years ago, there was grass from the street all the way to the back fence. Luckily, there were three mature trees, too. Well, they were advertised as mature, but they were more like adolescents. Maybe I’m being a snob, but I think a mature tree should actually provide some shade! Where was my fantasy oasis?

Anyway, the trees are in the back yard: one in each corner, and an extra along one side. Accompanying these were two weeping mulberry bushes arranged willy-nilly along the fence. They did not appear to be centered on anything. They weren’t evenly spaced, and it hurt my aesthetic eye. (Yes, more snobbery! I won’t talk about the pile of rocks and busted pond liner they tried to pass off as a water feature. With no water.) On the bright side, we are blessed with a pretty high water table, and the trees and shrubs are really taking off.

After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
The neighbor-blocking junipers on the back fence when they were babies, our little veggie garden—and there on the edges are the haphazard mulberries.

As much as I like grass, it was so boring! Especially after coming from a property we’d spent 23 years coaxing into prettiness. And especially with the silly sprinkler issue I talked about before. Our fantasy oasis got an early start when the neighbors on one side installed some playground equipment about three inches from the fence. (Okay, it might have been two feet…) It came with a pair of functioning binoculars that looked right into our bedroom and the family room. I tested when the Darling Toddler was peering at me one day. I waved. She waved back. We dashed to the nursery and bought three of the fastest growing shrubs we could find.

Progress Little by Little

They grew fast! And they looked pretty!

After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
Just barely into the renovation project, you can see the bare ground on the left where there used to be grass. These three shrubs were about 3′ tall when we planted them in 2014.

So we added a few more along the back fence between the mulberries with the intention of blocking the back yard neighbor’s windows. We are surrounded by two-story houses, and they all look down into our yard. Ugh. Talk about living in a fishbowl!

And Then THE Inspiration!

I found a picture. The picture. There’s this beautiful patio, a small stretch of grass, and a lovely pergola across from the patio. The whole picture was taken from inside open French doors, mimicking our sliding glass door on a grander scale. “Isn’t this beautiful?” I asked my hubby. He loved it.  I said, “Let’s do it.” Much to my shock and delight, he agreed. We couldn’t copy the layout exactly—in fact, it was a little too formal for our tastes. And our yard is a different shape. And… we couldn’t see what lay outside the edges of the picture. Hehehe!

While we waited for the Patio Dudes to come do their job, we tore out sod. We moved a vegetable garden. We took out one of the mulberries. We redid the sprinkler system. We moved a lot of dirt. So much dirt… Nice, heavy, clay stuff. I might have two muscles now instead of just one. We put in another tree, added some more of the awesome fast-growing junipers, planted shrubs and flowers, put in a swing, began work on the pergola.

After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
The little veggie garden is being moved here. You can see the issue with the neighbor’s windows looking down into our yard. We are in the process of adding more junipers along the fence line… And you can see how those little bushes have grown!

In the Meantime…

We are still waiting for the Patio Dudes. They’re my son-in-law’s brothers. Does this put us lower down the totem pole than anyone else in the area? Do they not want our money? We may have to find someone else to do the job, but there’s no real rush. The deck still works in spite of being an abode for mice and wasps.

After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
The pile of rocks is my husband’s work-in-progress… (No, not a water feature or even a dry stream bed.) He likes rocks. There are quite a few perennials in the bed that just don’t show up in these pictures. (Can you say “small”?)
After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
The sandstone under the swing is going to “grow” out into the yard and become more organic-looking. Unfortunately, you can’t see the pretty ferns and sweet woodruff behind the swing. The picnic table is about to undergo its own transformation…
After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
Depending on the weather, we might get the top slats added this fall. Cement next spring! (And a climbing rose—can’t wait!) In the meantime, we experience the trial of waiting for the new bushes to more-or-less catch up to their cousins. We were lucky to find some that at least had the height we wanted. And then we decided we wanted another on either end!
After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …
Buried in our junipers as we were running the drip-line, we had an unexpected visitor. He put the pause button on our job for 20 minutes or so. Hunting the mice living under the deck, we weren’t about to interrupt!

I love, love, love how this is beginning to look. It will take awhile for things to grow and fulfill the “lush” requirement, and there is still more we want to do. There is only so much time and energy in a summer, and we’ve done this ourselves with the exception of tearing out the sod and a little help with the sprinkler system. Now, as the weather is cooling, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis …

After spending the summer working on this project with my fantastic hubby, I can go sit out on the deck and watch what the season is doing to my little fantasy oasis…

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So that’s what I’ve been doing this summer! How about you?

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