Home Decor

DIY Landscaping

When we purchased our house just over a year ago, we felt really lucky to have such an amazing lot. We have a great front and side yard, but the real treat was the huge backyard. Eric and I both grew up in suburban/rural areas, so we were used to having a lot of space. We couldn’t wait to have family and friends over to barbecue and enjoy the hot tub we inherited (after scrubbing it with bleach).

We decided that we wanted to tackle the two islands flanking the back patio. Both islands were overgrown and had a lot of dead space in them. We decided to work with the plants and general shape of the island that were already there.

back yard 3

Look at all that space!!

We trimmed all of the plants, re-defined the island by edging the outer corners (which was a really hard job that I left up to Eric), layed down weed barrier fabric (we used this) to prevent weeds from growing and purchased some new plants to fill in the empty spaces.

That's Eric back there hiding behind a tree.

That’s Eric back there hiding behind a tree.

Here is the second island.

Here is the second island.

We purchased four Hosta “Autumn Frost” plants, which we dispersed throughout the two islands. We put three plants in one island and one plant in the other island. The great thing about Hosta’s is that they grow fast. By next year, I am hoping for these to double in size. If they grow too large for this island, I can even transplant part of the plant to another area. This makes for smart, easy and inexpensive landscaping in the future.

We put three Hosta's in the right side island to fill in the empty space.

We put three Hosta’s in the right side island to fill in the empty space.

Once we edged the islands, planted the Hosta’s and layed down the weed barrier fabric, we needed to decide what kind of mulch we were going to use. Most people either use bark chip or mulch. The only problem with using these materials is that they degrade and need to be replaced on a yearly basis. We wanted a more permanent, less wasteful and more cost effective solution. We looked at a lot of other materials including gravel and lava rock, and ultimately decided to use Vigoro Rubber Mulch in Mocha Brown (you can buy it here).


I was a little skeptical at first. Would my entire patio smell like rubber? Will this really last? Won’t this just look like chewed up tires sitting in a pile in my backyard? But, I was pleasantly surprised! There is no rubber smell and this material had an extended life span. The mulch also looks just like the dark brown wood mulch that most people buy. In fact, it looks even better because it has a slight sheen to it, giving it that wet look that is so appealing on outdoor spaces.


I got my planter here, but I may try my hand at building my own in the future (check back for updates on this)

While we were at the nursery, we also picked up some colorful flowers to put in a plater. Flowers are a great way to dress up an outdoor area and add a pop of color. I am notorious for not being able to keep plants alive, but I wanted to try my hand an outdoor flowers, since most of my failures have been with indoor plants. We filled the planter with topsoil about halfway, placed the flowers a few inches apart and backfilled the space with more topsoil.

Tip: Try using the local topsoil that your nursery sells, we saved about 50% on every bag we bought in comparison to the name brands.


With proper watering, these flowers lasted all summer, so I finally broke my flower killing curse! Landscaping is a lot of work, but had we hired professionals to do this, it would have cost a lot more. We feel very accomplished. Now we just need some patio furniture…

Here’s a recap on what the islands looked like before:

Here is the second island.

Here is the second island.

We put three Hosta's in the right side island to fill in the empty space.

We put three Hosta’s in the right side island to fill in the empty space.

And here is what the islands look like now:

20140531_135109 20140601_144600

Stay tuned for what we did to that ugly wood fence seen in the background.

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  • Reply
    Ronald Swanson
    February 11, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    My wife and I are the exact same as you and your husband. We both love having a huge yard, because we both grew up with one. We would love to create an island in the back, but it takes a lot of weeding, and like you mentioned mulch can get expensive as you have to replace it over time. I love the idea of using rubber instead to keep the weeds out, and you really can't tell the difference between the bark and the rubber.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you Ronald! Don't get me wrong, this landscaping project was still very time consuming and expensive, but knowing it would last for a few years made it worth it! I wish luck to you and your wife on your future landscaping projects!

      If you end up using the rubber mulch, let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Obuj balok
    May 22, 2015 at 3:28 am


    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you Obuj balok!

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