Magazine article Sunset

"Welcome to My Garden"

Magazine article Sunset

"Welcome to My Garden"

Article excerpt

Our inventive readers show how to create the backyard of your dreams, even on a budget

Bringing Japan home

David Polifko : San Francisco : 3 years, start to finish


The architecture of Japan, where I lived for five years in the 1990s.


Budget and time. Solution: I divided the makeover into three separate projects and completed one a year.


Working on the garden let me focus on something different from my venture-capital job; it inspired me to pursue a fine-arts degree too.


Have a vision and make a plan. Then stretch out the work depending on your time, budget, and energy.


My garden is the first thing I see in the morning when I took outside - a great way to start the day.

Q & A

Which project came first? Planning, and shaping the land. To extend the patio nearest the house, I dug out 5 cubic yards of soil and moved it to the yard's far end, then built a retaining wall to keep it there.

Then the decks? Yes. I built three decks of different sizes, at three different levels. At the same time, I added a fence on the property's west side - stepped to follow the property's slope - and a covered bench and arbor.

And the teahouse? That came last, in spring '05. It's a custom design, 8 feet square, with post-and-beam construction, a board-and-batten roof, shoji-style door, and wraparound deck. I angled the teahouse to fit the tight corner.

The best part? Seeing my vision come to life. And the cost: about $7,000 for materials and plants.

Potted bamboos and maples dress the gravel-covered patio against the retaining wall nearest the house. RIGHT Up a few steps is a deck for relaxing.


Despite its many elements including stepped decks, a covered bench, and a teahouse, the garden is serene not busy.

Johnsons' beach

Pam and John Johnson : Keizer, OR : "Never done!"


Our fondest childhood memories: mine of the beautiful Oregon coast, and my husband John's of sunny California.


No beach! We live 70 miles from the coast. So we turned our backyard into the scene we love most.


Finding great stuff for our "beach" during our morning walks along the coast: netting, shells, rocks, and pieces of driftwood.


Leave room for plants to grow to their full height and spread. Read those tags on nursery plants.


Our garden makes us feel we're at the most important place in the world - the beach. But it's our own backyard. Cost? Priceless!


How'd you start? We dug up a small patch of sod, deeply, to get the roots, then brought in a few boxes of beach sand we'd found in parking lots near the coast -blown there from the dunes. …

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