A Happy Place
Fresh Garden Herbs

Setting up a beautiful blooming outdoor space each spring is so enjoyable for me it rarely feels like work. I like my dirty fingernails and sun-kissed skin, and I love that cool mineral-y smell of damp earth when the sun sets on a day spent digging in the dirt. Even more enjoyable for me is the tending to my plants - Seeing their growth and response to my care. And what tastes better than a tomato you've grown yourself?

My husband and I relocated this March. We had a bit of a snafu with our first intended house and weren't able to settle into our second and current house until late April. There was so much work to be done inside our new home that spring came and went and I hadn't yet devoted any time or resources to the yard. It wasn't pretty.

Let me walk you through it with a quick game of hill-billy-backyard 'Where's Waldo'.

Backyard Hell

Can you find the inexplicable rusting buffalo decoration hanging over head? The dead basil plant still in its plastic package? How about the trenches and dirt piles made to bury the eye-sore drain spouts? The gas can? The weber grill? The leftover tin barrels filled with rain water and rotting tree debris? How about the beer cans? The pile of planting pots left in the slippery, slimy, mud?

It was a hell of my own making! Just sheer neglect! Would you want to spend any time back here? Me neither.

I decided to take control of my ugly yard by first making this patio livable and usable. Here's how I turned it into a happy place.

The only thing allowed to stay were the wooden table and chairs I found at a garage sale for $15. The smallness of these pieces are perfect for the space. They make a wonderful little nook for having morning coffee and afternoon cocktails. The woman I bought them from admitted they hadn't been refinished in the fifteen years she'd owned them. Needless to say, they needed a few screws, a little sanding, and some paint.

Wooden Outdoor Table and Chairs

Although I couldn't commit to full vegetable and flower gardens this year, I was able to make a little 'potager' by planting my herbs in clay pots and setting them around the edge of the patio.

It's worth mentioning that mid to late June is when nurseries start marking down their plants. They might be a little crispy - overheated, overwatered, leftovers from the Memorial Day plant rush - but they're not dead! They need you to take them home (for a discount) and nurture them into their full expression. Most of the herbs pictured here were a dollar each because I waited until late-June to buy them.

Fresh Thyme
Fresh Cilantro and Other Herbs
Fresh Thyme

With the plants taken care of and thriving, I turned my attention back to the table and chairs. Sanding wasn't so bad, but painting the slats was an exercise in patience. It was totally worth it though - the punch of color is absolutely stunning.

Freshly Painted Outdoor Table and Chairs
Vintage Pepsi Crate with Garden Plants
Vintage Pepsi Crate
Garage Sale Patio Furniture

I found a faded old Pepsi-Cola crate at another garage sales for $7 and set it on top to hold fragrant herbs, coasters, and my vintage linen napkins. It's become our favorite spot to have an evening cocktail while we grill our dinner. (We're still using the Weber!)

Incidentally, many of the herbs (mint, cilantro, rosemary) I'm growing on my patio make wonderful infusions for drinks and cocktails. Pictured is a garden-grown rosemary infused fresh squeezed lemonade (with a little bit of vodka) - RECIPE HERE!

Freshly Squeeze Rosemary Infused Lemonade
Freshly Squeezed Rosemary Infused Lemonade

The simple act of potting some plants and painting old furniture has gone a long way in creating an outdoor space I can enjoy this summer. Clearly a lot can happen when you stop watering the weeds and start watering the flowers.

Things like rosemary infused cocktail hours.