my budget friendly oasis in the desert

hi friends! if you've seen my backyard, you know it's quite small. however, small can still be magical, and magical can still be budget friendly. when designing your outdoor space be aware of which plants/landscape works best for the area you live in. i happen to live in the desert, so water-wise and low-maintenance plants work best for me. when we decided to tackle our yard {yet again} a few of years ago i was working with a very strict budget. we had tackled it twice before and learned {twice over} that grass just wasn't in the cards for us. xeriscape is the route most go with where i live, and i want to conserve water just as much as the next guy, but i didn't want my yard to look or feel like a desert, despite living in one. so, i started from the ground up. meaning, i knew i had to say au revoir to grass and hello to something i, my family, or our dogs could not kill. enter, gravel and pavers. i really wanted the fine crushed gravel, but i knew it would make for muddy paws on rainy days, and quite honestly, i don't have the desire to wash off my dogs paws every time that happens. i needed low maintenance all around. so, we went with a larger gravel and one with a brownish hue, because the grey gravel seems harsher to me. did you know gravel can be quite costly? well, it can. thus, began the search, the search i often implore...the craigslist search.

my husband and i decided we were going to landscape our yard that spring/summer and for as little cash as possible. guess what? we found out it is indeed possible! we scoured craigslist daily. i know this can be time consuming, but if you want to find the good stuff, you've gotta go for the gusto! my husband actually had his craigslist alerts turned on his cell phone. he's much more dedicated than i, when it comes to craigslist. ;) so lo and behold, the exact gravel we hoped for became available and it was in the free section. free!!! okay, so here's the kicker with free, you're sometimes expected to do the labor with the bigger items. hey, i like to burn calories when possible and get a little sun, so i was all in. my husband and i borrowed a pick up truck, took our shovels, and gloves and removed the gravel and hauled it away ourselves. we washed it down with the hose a few times, then hauled it in the wheel barrow to our backyard. we were exhausted and sore, but we got a good workout in and my pasty white legs began to get some sun.

okay, so see that bamboo that has made our yard a mini jungle? also a free craigslist, remove it yourself deal. the bamboo was hard because the guy who gave it to us only wanted his existing bamboo thinned out, so we had to leave him some while breaking the very thick roots off for our own supply. turns out bamboo removal can cut you up pretty good, so we had some minor injuries {aka; tiny scratches}, but again we burned calories, and made memories. we even brought our three daughters along for this adventure. i think they took pride in "helping" and they got to see first hand that hard works reaps rewards. when we first planted our bamboo it went into shock and i was sure we killed it. however, once it came out of shock it began to thrive and spread. we do have to maintain it now because it wants to spread where we prefer it wouldn't, but we absolutely love it and love that it stays green year round. staying green was another must for me because even though we live in the desert, it does freeze here in the winter and things die off, if they're not some type of evergreen.

my husband built the pergola and i helped him where i was able and with painting it. i've said it before, but he is very handy! our few trees {again, our yard is tiny} came from an auction at a tree nursery that was moving locations and had to sell as many trees/plants as possible beforehand. the trees were quite interesting to get home and our friends had to come help rescue us and get them into our backyard because they were insanely heavy, since they were so mature. we got them for dollars, you guys! when i requested that the locust tree be planted beneath our pergola, my husband and friends looked at me as though i were completely insane, but still met my request. it was quite a difficult task to plant it under the pergola, and let me tell you, i took care of that tree as though it were the last tree on the face of the earth. i could not let it die because my husband and our friends worked so hard to meet my crazy request.

our patio furniture was bought at an end of the summer sale {which i believe was in late july} and we got everything for 75-90% off! it was glorious! i had searched craigslist for furniture for months, with no luck. i have since switched out a few pieces for more bargain pieces - i.e.; my craigslist/thrift store peacock chairs. i found the martha stewart coffee table at a yard sale for a few bucks as well. my macramé plant holder is also from a yard sale and the lady told me that the terra cotta birds were handmade {along with the entire plant holder} by a lady in haiti. i love my macrame planter!

the small square pavers that border the flagstone were purchased at full price a couple of years later, but the large flagstone they border was another free, you haul it away craigslist find. what a fun summer that was, exhausting, but fun! the light fixture was found at a rummage sale by a friend who knew i was on the hunt for one. i was out of town when he found it, so he texted me a photo and i quickly texted back that i indeed wanted it. again, another find for just a few bucks. our lion fountain and mirror were also sale finds.

i guess my point is - it's possible to landscape your yard on a strict budget! don't be afraid to work for it either. ours has been so worth it and we enjoy our little oasis in the desert so much. whether it's just my family grilling in the backyard, or we have a dinner party with many friends, it serves us well. our dogs love it too. so go for it, guys! create your own beautiful oasis with whatever budget you have!