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our desert backyard : 5 years later

its been years since i’ve shared the updates we’ve made to our backyard on here and everything has grown in so much, and it feels so lush and private compared to how it began! i can’t believe how much fuller everything looks just a couple years later. you can see the original reveal here!

apologies in advance for the photo overload, i just wanted to show everything since it’s been so long! and you can find sources for everything at the bottom of this post.

gas fire pit

we just recently swapped our regular fire pit for a gas one and i’m not sure why we didn’t do that years ago! i originally chose a manual fire pit because i didn’t want to spend the money on a gas one but immediately regretted it because when do we not only want to want to build an actual fire, when do we want to smell like campfire?! 

because i didn’t do a gas fire pit back when we added the ground covering i thought it was too late, so when i realized i could just have the hose out and bury it later on– i was like oh what am i waiting for?? for us, it’s so much better to have gas. turning on a switch is much more our style than building a real fire. 

our podocarpus hedges

when we planted these guys (25 podocarpus plants) they were like 3 feet tall! after just a few years they grew so large, we cut them back every so often so they grow in fuller (versus leggier as my stepdad would say), and it’s worked because they are so full and make the backyard feel sooo lush. we also feed them which has definitely contributed to their growth. i highly recommend these if you’re looking for a privacy plant, they are beautiful and pretty low maintenance compared to mostly everything else in our backyard (ie they don’t drop leaves like we have everywhere most of the time)

pampas grass

we also planted the little pampas grass plant in the corner there, which i know is not a good idea because it’s invasive, so it’s also sprouted pretty huge. we have to trim it back and the leaves are scratchy and painful, but every year in september we get a whole bunch of new feathery plumes and it’s so pretty.

our ground covering

we covered the entire yard in decomposed granite. after living with it for a few years, i have mixed feelings about it! i do think it’s beautiful, but it requires a lot of upkeep to look good and i wish we had one section of grass for arlo to play on. we did consider it but i wasn’t a parent yet and i guess i just didn’t see the need, oops. the DG isn’t soft, and i don’t really walk around barefoot on it, but because we have concrete in between the DG and the doors, we don’t really track it a lot inside at least.

new table and benches

i’ve always wanted a table with benches because it just feels like it fits the casual vibe out here, i am loving this set! we eat dinner here almost every night and it fits my whole family. 

our pergola

i regret not sharing more back when we built this pergola because i get questions about it so often and now that it’s been years we sort of forget the details. but i’m going to have my stepdad help me write a post about how we built it at some point soon!! in terms of how it’s held up, it also requires maintenance. because it’s made of wood, every year it starts cracking and needs to be patched and repaired in spots. annual upkeep is not a huge deal but it’s worth telling you! we haven’t done it for a while so you’ll be able to see some imperfections in these photos probably. i do love it so much though.

our outdoor couch

i get asked often if our outdoor sofa is comfortable, it is– but it’s much deeper and larger than you expect. because it has individual cushions (6 of them), they do slide out of place pretty regularly, i do like the way it looks and it is comfy but i’m not sure i would buy it again. because we have an outdoor white sofa, i keep it covered in a canvas drop cloth at all times– i considered removing it for these photos but it’s much more authentic to how it looks everyday this way haha. 

our vintage dining set

i always dreamed of having a spun fiberglass set in our backyard and was so stoked to find this one on craigslist. i gotta say though, it’s sooo splintery if you run your fingers across it. so if anyone knows how to fix that please let me know 🙂

our playhouse

after painting it ourselves, arlos playhouse has held up really well! we do cover it with a tarp when it rains, but i’m happy with how it looks after a few years. there is a little warping on the roof and the inside is FILTHY but he still does play with it. 

soft plants

we originally planted cacti all over the yard but once they started growing in and getting huge and we had a toddler running around, they suddenly seemed less like a good idea. we decided to sell them (the girl who bought them drove them home 90 mins away and planted them there!) and it was sooo much less stressful to let him run around back here.

he actually never touched them until the night before she came when he brushed by a prickly pear and got 26 needles in his arm and we were like wow we made the right choice haha. 

we replaced them with soft, flowy plants and the yard still looks so nice and desert-y. i’m so happy we did and almost everything has grown in so nicely.

ok i guess that’s it– but if you have any questions you want me to answer, you can leave them in the comments and maybe i can do a follow up post! 









exterior paint color : benjamin moore moonlight white

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  1. Jillian Brooks says:

    Love your yard, and you’ve kept it looking so streamlined. Have you thought about adding a water element? Like a large bubbling ceramic self contained fountain to add some relaxing background sound?

  2. What kind of boulders are on the DG?

  3. Constance Stevens says:

    I want to know about how the louvered ceiling worked out. I loved the pergola 5 years ago and I am glad I found it again, because I am getting ready to design. Please nudge your father in law about how he built the pergola.
    Thanks, Constance

  4. Can you explain the square stepping blocks? How did you install those? Are they hard to keep clean from the DG?

  5. Do you need/have an irrigation system for your plants?

  6. Hi! Everything is so beautiful! And this is incredibly helpful, as we are about to landscape our desert backyard. Do you happen to know the “soft plants” you used to replace the cacti? Thank you!!

  7. Found your yard while searching for white pavers for our DG. I can not for the life of me find any. Wondering if you can share info on what material they are, brand or where you got them? Anything helps, and I’d be forever grateful!