Budget-friendly, Provencal Backyard Makeover

Photos by Jerry Bowles

With other home projects taking priority, a complete backyard renovation of our Benicia home was not on the radar. But summer beckoned, and the space no longer reflected how we live. Having said goodbye to our beloved dog last year, we didn’t need the small patch of grass where he loved to chase balls. We like to entertain, but the space felt carved up and lacked cohesion and purpose. What to do?

In the April 2010 issue, we featured a beautiful low-water, low-maintenance backyard belonging to local landscape designer Pam Hughes. Wondering if we could pull-off a Provencal-style, low-maintenance makeover on a thin budget and tight deadline, I contacted Hughes and asked her for ideas. A collaboration was born along with a brand-new space that not only has the French flair we wanted, but functions much better for empty nesters who like to travel.


Our small backyard is framed by a long fence, large curved gate, hedge and the garage wall. There are three levels of brick and three distinct spaces, which makes for an awkward layout. We asked Hughes to use our existing furniture and fountain and retain all hardscape elements. The hand-colored design looked promising, and it delivered.




The space is now unified with a plant color scheme of green, purple and white, and terra-cotta pots on each level for consistency. Hughes brought in additional color through striped umbrellas and lots of cushions. The upper level was planned as a sitting area flanked by white Iceberg roses and potted succulents, the middle area for dining and a fire pit, and the back corner for lounging and potted tomatoes and culinary herbs. The day after completion, we used some of the herbs in a relaxing meal al fresco.



Materials & Decor: $2,000
Labor: $2,500





Design: Pam Hughes Design, pam@pamhughesdesign.com

Planters and plants: Mid City Nursery, Vallejo, midcitynursery.com
Bench and chair: IronHorse Home Furnishings, Benicia, ironhorsehome.com
Cushions: homedecorators.com
Umbrellas: potterybarn.com



Categories: Community, Home + Garden, Miscellaneous