Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Little Slice of Paradise

Some friends, Mark & Patricia, had asked me to re-landscape their courtyard adjacent to their condo in Des Moines.  It is a nice small space that was really fun to transform, only taking about 6 hours and $300 to go from overgrown ivy mess... an inviting courtyard garden, complete with a raised vegetable bed.

To make the raised vegetable bed, we got some 6-inch wide by 8-foot long cedar decking boards and stakes to hold them in place.  We cut one of the boards in 2-foot lengths for the shorter sides.  We put the boards into position and filled the space with eight bags of topsoil.  I gave them a few starts of eggplant, basil, Swiss chard, and a watermelon, and they also bought a small rosemary, cherry tomato, pepper and cucumber plant to add to the mix.

We planted the rest of the vegetable bed with some seeds: Beans, carrots, radishes, cilantro and basil.

Here is another "before" shot:


And this is the final product:

We also bought several bags of Cedar Grove Compost to cover the bare soil.  This provides slow-release fertilizer and microorganisms to keep the plants healthy.  It also helps minimize water loss and keeps the weeds out.

There were already some bricks outlining a pathway to the gate, so we got six bags of pea gravel and used the existing bricks to make a new, nicer pathway.

Here is a list of the ornamental plants we added:

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly everlasting)
Brugmansia suaveolens (Angel trumpet)
Canna musifolia x 2
Canna 'Tropical Yellow'
Carex pendula x 2
Colocasia esculenta x 2
Fargesia rufa (Clumping bamboo) x 2
Hydraenga macrophylla
Lilium 'Stargazer (Stargazer lily) x 2
Musa basjoo (Hardy banana)
Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana' (Dwarf mondo grass)
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black mondo grass)
Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese spurge)
Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’ x 2
Sarcococca humilis x 2
Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine)
Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill palm)
Weigela 'Pink Java'

And the finishing touch...a nice little water feature.  Ahhh...


  1. Wow Justin, what a nice change! I hope you'll post updated pictures in a month or so when some of the plants have had a chance to fill in; it'll look like a tropical paradise! Bravo!

    1. That's the real test, isn't it? I'll be sure to check in with them to see how it's holding up through the summer.