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I finally got the first album together on the transformation of our yard from a boring city lot into a California native plant wildlife habitat. If for some reason the pictures don't load, you can go here to see the whole album. I tried to get after shots from the same angle as the before ones.

Most of this was installed in the fall of 2008. We already have tons of bugs, bees, native wasps, butterflies, worms, lizards and birds. I can't wait to see what we have after it fills in.

All the hills and berms were created with the dirt they excavated for the new driveway. Weeds have been very few and easy to manage. Before we planted we put down newspaper or cardboard and then after planting we added 4" of mulch.

What we started with. the fence was falling apart. The Mayten tree lost branches in every storm and offered nothing for wildlife. The lawn sucked up water like crazy.

From Before/After

After, new fence. New paver driveway, unsealed, to allow water to seep in. Downspouts run from the roof, under the courtyard and out to the dry creek. New roof which meant new gutters which are larger than the old ones and will collect even more water. No lawn but we got a rebate from the water district for taking it out.

From Before/After

Backyard corner before. Old fence. Diseased citrus trees. Rest of the plants offered nothing for wildlife. More thirsty lawn,

From Before/After

Same corner, after. I still have to dig out the dirt under the glider to level it. A clemetis will climb the arbor as will a pipevine. There's a new hedgerow planted at the back fence.
From Before/After

Backyard before, facing my office. The Japanese Maple tree is the only thing we kept. the path went nowhere.
From Before/After

Backyard facing my office now.
From Before/After

Standing on the back stoop before.
From Before/After

Standing on the back stoop after. That's Cassie's hill where she likes to rest and survey her kingdom.
From Before/After

Another view from before.
From Before/After

Same view after. The wax myrtles against the fence will be a continual feast for the birds and a great screen from the blecky neighbor.
From Before/After

Sideyard before.
From Before/After

Sideyard after. Filled with dogwoods.
From Before/After

Front before. so much cemener and no way to hide the ugly motorhome that never moves.
From Before/After

Same view after. We can't take down the fence because it is in their driveway but the lattice will soon be covered with native grapes and the Ceanothus Ray Hartmans and Toyons will get tall enough to block the view.
From Before/After

More before and afters here .
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 31 comments — Leave comment )
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August 4th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Wow, you've done so much work and it looks great! It must feel great to look at the side by side pics like this. Very neat!

I have a feeling the motorhome would be more tolerable if the neighbors were? I have sucky neighbors too. But mine are farther away from me.
August 5th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Thank you. Yes, it felt pretty good to look at all those pictures side by side and see how much we had done.

You are probably right that the motorhome might be more tolerable if the neighbors were. But it's pretty ugly and there's a junker car next to it that also never moves. Grow little grape vine, grow!
August 4th, 2009 08:01 am (UTC)
That is utterly, utterly impressive, Susan. I'm just floored. Seriously.

August 5th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Thank you, James. I just applied a different part of my creative brain. I can't tell you what pleasure it gives me each day to sit out there with Cassie and watch the birds ocme in or check on my Charlotte and her web.
August 4th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
This is such a tribute to your creativity and perseverance, Susan! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful transformation.
August 5th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
Re: wow
Thank you for the kind words.
August 4th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Amazing! So many beautiful transformations. Kudos to you guys for all the hard work. There should be a law against parking motor homes in private driveways!
August 5th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jama. Yeah, that motorhome is disgusting. It is also home to the wasps. Sigh.
August 4th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh my. I am sooo inspired.
We trashed our yards when we re-did our house, so now we have dirt fields. Soooo ugly but full of possibility I guess...

You must just WALLOW in this!!!
August 5th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC)
oooh, I love to think you are a bit inspired! Texas has some wonderful native plants of their own and now you have a clean slate!

I am wallowing indeed. Can't wait to tweak it more.
August 4th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
All that green!
August 5th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC)
Yes, and so little water compared to the water suck that was the lawn.
(Deleted comment)
August 4th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Ack - I had gone through and fixed the cars and then changed pictures. Thank you! I've fixed that.

Thanks for the kind words. It would be wonderful to sit there on the glider and chat together. No, a gardener's work is never done but I don't mind the little things now that most of the big stuff is done.
August 4th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Susan, this is GORGEOUS. I know how long/hard you've been working on this project, and I'm just so impressed. It looks like the stuff of those TV makeover shows. Bravo, my friend!
August 5th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
Thanks, Lara. Yes, it's been a long project and there is still tweaking to be done, but I'm enjoying it. It's a nice break from the writing to go outside for a bit. Every time Cassie wants to go out, she wants company, so I go out and work for a bit. It is amazing to see the wildlife that is already showing up and I can only imagine how rich it will be once the yard fills in.
August 4th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Really amazing before and after pictures. You have made such a huge difference! I hope you can enjoy your accomplishment now.
August 5th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: wow!
Thank you, Jeannine. Yes, I am enjoying it even though I still have much to do. It's very peaceful...a meditation for me.
August 4th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
The transformation is breath-taking! What a joy to peruse. It's so wonderful that you're willing to create and share space with other forms of life instead of always being at war with them. Life to me is about harmony and being generous and you've done both. Excellent chi as my instructor would say :) You take care of nature, it will extend its protection to you.
August 5th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Thank you, Teri. I knew you would appreciate it. I am just in awe of all the critters that have already come to visit. I can only imagine how exciting it will be once the yard fills in.

I am trying not to think about how, once we have much cover, the rats next day (the four legged ones) might come to our place. I don't think I can be generous with them.

But I like the idea of creating excellent chi.
August 4th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
not so random commenter
wow, you have made some lovely changes :0) Looks wonderful.
August 5th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Re: not so random commenter
Thank you.
August 4th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
Beautiful job, Susan! You've really transformed all sides of your yard. I especially like the side yard with the dogwoods--how pretty that will be when they bloom.
August 5th, 2009 06:54 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's been quite a transformation. That sideyard makes me smile everytime I look at it. I have a couple more things planned for there. Can't wait to tweak it.
August 4th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
From the pictures I have the feeling that you shook your space free of convention and created a natural, welcoming place.

I enjoyed your before and after comparisons.
August 5th, 2009 06:54 am (UTC)
Thank you. I love the idea that yes, we shook our space free. The ground can breathe again.

It brings me so much joy to transform this tiny city spot.
August 5th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
Wow! It looks fantastic! What great work you've done, and that your garden will continue doing.
August 5th, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
Thank you. Yes, it will fill in and I will continue to tweak it.
August 5th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
The before looked okay to me back in the day, but the AFTER is magnificent!
August 5th, 2009 06:59 am (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly. The thing about the before is that it sucked up tons of water for plants that gave nothing back. The fruit trees were diseased and there was nothing for wildlife. We had no birds coming to the yard, no bees, no butterflies. Not even any worms.

It is amazing to me to see how quickly nature is returning. Simply amazing. And while the foundation is there, now I can tweak and edit to my heart's delight.
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( 31 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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