Creating Moods in a Regular Backyard

man standing in backyard garden entrance with sign that reads Bienvinedo
Imagination, creative reuse, and spirited fun turned an empty backyard into a sensory voyage in Jeffrey Harris and Kevin George’s San Antonio garden. Circular paths amble from vibrant poolside color to tranquil conversation nooks. “Before I started, I didn’t really know anything. So, it’s been an adventure,” he told us on our visit in May 2023.
long covered patio, walls painted a warm umber, with blue patterned rug, artwork, and dining tables
When they inherited the house from Kevin’s mom in 2009, the first thing they did was turn the bare patio slab into a welcoming (and shady!) outdoor living room.
patio to concrete pool deck and grassy spot with blue chaise lounges surrounded by raised beds of colorful plants
Since they love to entertain, gradually they created engaging destinations.
canna flower bed to backyard pool to colorful raised bed and lounging area
They added the pool to put a damper on San Antonio’s months of hot weather.
blue chaise lounges on grassy spot next to raised beds of colorful  plants
Windsor stones came in handy to add dimension in this flat yard. Jeffrey stacked them to define a poolside alcove. “As this was kind of close to the pool deck, I started thinking like, I really want to create more of a rounded form of garden where there’s plants in a circle rather than in a line,” Jeffrey said.
blue chaise lounges on grassy spot next to raised beds of colorful  plants
It’s the only spot with grass for cool, soft footing after stepping from the pool.
blue chaise lounges on grassy spot next to raised beds of colorful  plants
Native and adapted flowering perennials and annuals join evergreens for a sense of intimacy. Bees and butterflies also like to hang out here.
patio old stove and artwork to flagstone path
They broke up the plain, fenced lawn with circular paths that step from one mood to another.
silvery agave and various colors of flowers and foliage overlooking backyard pool
Jeffrey spotlights pause points with plants and artwork.
flagstone and gravel path with raised beds and plants on each side ending at orange arbor to secret area against house
With a salvaged arbor, he turned a corner into a contemplation sanctuary. “I worked as a social worker for many years and that work was pretty stressful. So, I needed a place to de-stress. And I had been to a few gardens around the country, and I always found them so tranquil and they really created this sense of peace for me,” he said.
dark orange arbor into secret outdoor room against house and fence featuring blue chairs and blue bench
“And I thought, you know what? I want that at my own house so I don’t have to keep traveling to all these different gardens.”
flagstone and gravel path bordered by plants to large iron gazebo and sky blue flowers
They lucked into a grand iron gazebo that instantly beckoned a journey along this path.
round iron top of gazebo with twining blue flowers
Morning glories dance across it from spring to frost. In their garden, it’s a reliable perennial, though Jeffrey admits he culls out unwanted seedlings. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love this sky-high buffet.
flagstone and gravel path bordered by flowers, foliage plants, pink plastic flamingoes and at end, an orange arbor
Turn around for a new perspective.
flagstone and gravel path bordered by colorful flowers and foliage plants to red adirondack chairs
Or keep strolling through the gazebo to the back corner’s conversation room.
black bars as frame to outdoor room with red chairs and chimenea
Jeffrey and Kevin repurposed the windows’ former security bars and painted them black to unobtrusively frame destinations around the garden.
man on garden path against sabal palm
Notice the black bars on the left as Jeffrey’s rounds the corner and back out to the pool.
backyard pool to raised bed garden on other side of pool deck
The bars distinguish the sheltered passageway from the openness of the chaise lounge alcove.
backyard swimming pool to red cedar cabana
When they put in the pool, they gave it a punctuation point at the other end.
narrow cedar cabana with bright blue chairs and various wall hangings
As an elevated cedar and breezy lattice-framed cabana, it unites a cozy mood with an expansive one.
wood wall with metal Texas star, blue plant containers to orange arbor
Return to cool shade in a tranquil harbor behind the shed.
shed and doors to look like old English setting
Cleverly, they installed doors on both ends of the shed to access it front or back.
wall hanging painted like English garden in pale green; on either side ivory colored bifold doors
An English-setting wall hanging and bifold doors brought from Jeffrey’s former home enclose a graceful room while disguising the fence.
arbor on flagstones bordered by large containers to backyard pool and raised bed gardens
“Part of the garden is filled with colorful flowers, shrubs that give off scent, just a real sense of excitement,” Jeffrey noted. “But there’s a time for downtime, right, where one needs to relax to get a sense of calm and peace. And I think by creating the different rooms that that is achieved. And that’s nice to have both.”

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Thanks for stopping by! Linda