Here is part of my backyard. I thought now would be as good a time as any to share some of our projects, and this is the most recent: the gas fire pit. (I would rather post photos about other people’s gardens, but it’s not the best time since it’s been raining for the last couple weeks and the holidaze and all that. Not to mention we are in the middle of “Storm Watch” in Laguna Beach, with major flooding and mud slides. See last photo of this post.) Our yard does not look anything like this at the moment…
Back to the fire pit. We re-did our yard a couple years ago to add a spa and small pool, and lots of patio space. The bamboo is “Buddha Belly” and thrives even in our poorly draining clay and sandstone. My husband sunk a large metal pole in the bamboo bed so we could hang the triangular sunshade off our house.
Although we stubbed out the area for gas, we never decided upon a “fire” feature. But this summer, we decided on the fire pit in the center of the space rather than a huge fireplace on the side. We like the way people gather around it, like a camp fire. (Also, a fraction of the cost) A plumber ran the line to the center of the patio for us, and chiseled out a pit. We used the same sand-colored, split-face concrete block we used on our block wall for the bottom, then topped the block with the four pre-cast concrete coping pieces.
I wanted a simple, low-slung pit where you could also set your plate and glass. We filled it with silicon sand, and piled on the ocean rocks. The sand diffuses the flame, which looks great at night.
If you are interested in making your own outdoor fire pit, I found this book, Fire Outdoors: Fireplaces, Fire Pits, Wood Fired Ovens & Cook Centers (Schiffer Book), inspiring–at least visually. It’s not really a how-to, but has great photos for ideas.
This is my miniature bird sanctuary, a 6×6 feet nature-fest in the corner. There’s a lone, stunted liquid amber and creeping fig on the wall that crept over from the neighbor’s. Right now, we have Anna (and sometimes Allen’s!) Hummingbirds constantly bickering at the nectar feeder (not pictured), and my favorite White-crowned Sparrows (only here in winter) are everywhere. In summer, a covey of quail (up to 23!) bomb down off our roof to clean up the leftovers almost every morning.
I always make sure there’s lots of water for all the visitors. I salvaged the funky pot from my mom, a potter who was picky about her work and about to pitch it. I thought these were common echeveria, but I couldn’t find exact names in my 1978 Cactus and Succulents Sunset book. I love the teal succulent, even though it reminds me of ice-plant. The seahorse is a vintage California pottery flea market find, along with the old glass floater and more ocean rocks.
These pots are alongside our pool. The giant clam shell is actually painted styro-foam that I fished out of someone’s garbage. The pots are all California pottery, McCoy or one of those guys. The ceramic mermaid is from the flea.
This might not look too impressive, but it’s a hybrid epiphyllum that someday will produce smaller, intricate white blooms. I think I have a long wait to see it, but it will be worth it! (I know I need a bigger pot, but I like this little vintage number at the moment.)
Me getting artsy with my Adobe Lightroom. These are some succulents and bird figurine inside a vintage, California pottery planter. It’s set on one of my patio side tables (DWR on sale, hence the lime green color).
Back to reality. Here’s a shot of our downtown at Main Beach, which is directly off Pacific Coast Highway (U.S. 1). Much of the rainfall east of us (inland) drains through our downtown and out to the ocean. With our recent downpour (about 3 inches within a couple hours last night), the run-off pretty much washed out the “beach” to the ocean. (Before, the sandy beach came up to that boardwalk.)