A new year, a new project

I love the winter season because it gives me a chance to wind down and really think about plans for the garden. In particular, it is a good time for me to accomplish hardscape projects. The weather is always a deterring factor, however, but so far we are experiencing a very mild season and a noticeable decrease in rainfall. I do not like to work in cold, wet conditions so I have to be really motivated to get outside the comfort of a warm, cozy house this time of year.

My big project at the moment is transforming the former vegetable garden into a courtyard area with a deck and pergola to anchor it in. We enjoyed the vegetable garden but they were a lot of work and locally grown produce is so plentiful here. I wasn't really pleased with the location of it - right in the middle of the back garden. I felt that a more dominant focal point was needed. That, coupled with the fact that we also desire more shade, resulted in a courtyard idea. 

The plan is for a large deck with a pergola to be placed near the back of the area. The forecourt area will be graveled. The water bowl we purchased at Little Baja will go in the center. Trees have been planted around the perimeter. 

The deck has been completed. I was thrilled that it was finished in one week. Now, I will begin to get the gravel down and the water feature installed. I am going to do the remainder of the work myself. There is also a wall project in mind to separate the Pan garden which is over on the side. Whether or not that project will be completed this winter remains to be seen. 

I am pleased with the project so far although the courtyard area looks much smaller than I envisioned. That means less plants, darn it!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I love winter projects. The deck and pergola turned out SO nice, who needs a vegetable garden. I hope to one day cover my bare patio with such wonderful looking structure. It's time to go shopping for garden furniture :-).

  2. Wow. It looks fantastic and it isn't even finished. Can't wait to see it all planted out.

  3. Your deck/pergola is fantastic. You're much more industrious in the winter than I .

  4. Very impressive work. It will be a fine place to relax this summer!

  5. Your deck is just awesome, can’t wait to see how you embellish it with plants.


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