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DIY Secret Garden

March 31, 2020

During the cocooning phase we are all together, it’s critical to find positive mental outlets. Even though I have a serious aversion to mud, I know full well that immersing my hands into the dirt and planting budding plants into pretty pots is good for my soul. Prior to the stay-at-home order, I already had […]

During the cocooning phase we are all together, it’s critical to find positive mental outlets. Even though I have a serious aversion to mud, I know full well that immersing my hands into the dirt and planting budding plants into pretty pots is good for my soul.

Prior to the stay-at-home order, I already had this project in mind. So I got as many plants as I could for this project and tried to keep them alive until I had time to settle them into their new homes. Ha! 

Now I can’t wait to show you what we created, making the most of an awkward space and starting, as always, with our WHY.


My motivation for this project was to create an additional outdoor area for family to experience quietude and connection in a more subdued way. The main area of our yard is communal-based with a fire pit, sitting area and dining table. By contrast, I wanted this secret garden to be a place where anyone can sit and read, meditate and pray and enjoy a private conversation or two with another family member (or friend, in this day of zoom calls and FaceTime).


Once I aligned on my “why” I set out to define my theme for this space. When I was in graduate school, I traveled to the south of France with my mom and it left a profound impression on me. The beautiful seascapes with the lavender and rosemary growing in the charming apartment balcony garden boxes was so serene and calming. I knew this was the exact energy and vibe I wanted for this secret garden.

There are so many scenic towns to visit in the South of France, the beautiful French Riviera. This photo of Antibes says it all.

Image Credit: Wanderingcarol.com


With every design you need foundation pieces. My dad gifted us a teak table, chairs and bench when we first moved as a housewarming gift. At first I wanted to sand it down and stain it. But then I realized how much I loved the weathered gray patina. So that was EASY to just leave it! 


  1. You also need a bistro table, chairs, benches to invite yourself and others to sit and listen to the birds chirp.


To complement rather than fight the long bowling alley setup (why does it seem everywhere I go I run into this problem?!) I bought shepherd hooks for hanging plants to draw the eye up and not just stare into a deep long alley. When space is at a premium, remember to look up.


Paint is the fastest way to refresh your outdoor space big or small! Even painting terracotta pots in an ombre array of colors is a fun spring project! Hmm…maybe I need to do that with the girls! In this project, I painted the drab brown walls. It was funny to clear out the space and find four Sherwin Williams colors I had painted as options six years ago. 

Again because of the stay at home order, I was limited in options. Frustrating right? 

Limiting Beliefs in our homes

I want to take the time to talk about limiting beliefs. During this cocooning phase, feelings of deprivation may crop up intently. No toilet paper, essentials and mundane errands to get them are arduous and hard. 

So you may be wondering, how will I refresh my spaces when I can’t even leave home? This project is proof that we can get creative and achieve something wonderful without leaving our home. Sure interiors might be easy with pillows and throw blankets. But through these outdoor projects, I realized the outdoors is easy too if I shifted my mindset!

From using the paint I already had in the garage to moving the Viticella Etoile Violetta Clematis to the wedding arch (as a budget-friendly arbor), a few strategic changes did just the trick.


Finally, I wanted a big statement entrance that automatically cued you to stroll in and relax. I searched fervently on Pinterest for DIY arbor ideas. But it was disheartening because it all required quite a bit of home improvement materials and tools I simply couldn’t get.

So then I got creative and searched wedding decor. Outdoor weddings always have such great decor but you don’t often think about those ideas for permanent interior design. I stumbled on these circle shaped trellis and I wanted to get married all over again to Trav! Look at these!

Burgundy pampas bohemian wedding ceremony

Image Credit: Tietheknotsantorini.com


@lavenderloveflorist sur Instagram: "Arche ronde au bord de la piscine pour Andy & Caryn" | garden wedding decorations ceremony #amp #Andy #bord #Carynquot #Instagram #lavenderloveflorist #piscine #pour #quotArche #ronde #sur

Image Credit: @lavenderloveflorist via Instagram

My side yard wasn’t wide enough for even the smallest one, whomp, whomp!

It didn’t deter me from looking at more wedding options though. Here’s an inspo pic that really increased my determination to find a design solution.

Finally, an affordable wedding arch from Amazon that fit the budget and I could get it in a few days via Prime. (Seriously, what would we do without it?)

Not bad right? I would say it’s pretty perfect!!

From there all the large and small plants, extra seating and of course DIY GARDEN CONTAINER BOXES all fell into place very logically and functionally. Not to mention, GORGEOUS!

I’ll be writing an additional DIY Garden Container Box blog post soon! Today I’m celebrating the fact that we got this project done creatively during the stay at home order! Whew!

These vintage trellis’ have been sitting in my garage for YEARS! I found these two at a local flea market and fell in love instantly. Life sure got busy and I completely forgot about them!


Small rustic decor accents play into the French inspired secret garden beautifully. Don’t let these small opportunities pass by! Everytime you transport yourself to a destination in your garden design, you will thank your self for taking the time to curate lovely things.

Natalie had been begging for a fairy garden since December. As always, we are so busy working and shuttling the kids here and there for activities, we didn’t get around to it until now. Before the stay at home order when I was collecting plants, I found the cutest fairy garden accessories. She earned these by doing her homework, practicing the piano and cleaning up her room!

This was a great case study that even kids can implement intentions at age 6!

When designing your garden (big or small), always mix in large leafed plants as the foundation and fill in with smaller plants. The variety gives you a multi-dimensional look. The worst kind of design is flat one dimensional, no matter how pretty the items are. Believe me, I learned the hard way many times when I first started getting serious about interior design.

I get so many DMs from you on Instagram thanking me for sharing sunny Socal garden and nature views because you might not have the weather or space to enjoy the outdoors just right now.

I feel passionately to share everything I can, and I mean everything to inspire you and help you cocoon your best self in your home!





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  1. Nora says:

    Job well done. Love the blue chair, pea gravel, lavender and other French accents. Definitely understand the theme right away. Given that we are all at home, what a great time to add a new place to escape to in a small corner of the back yard, tea or wine in hand.
    And at night it could be beautiful with a lantern or two.

  2. Nadine says:

    What a beautiful transformation. I can totally imagine sitting here and honestly just breathing. Great job!

  3. Angela says:

    So incredibly inspiring! You have an amazing eye. Can’t wait to see how it all develops/grows. Thank you

  4. Bente says:

    Such a lovely garden!! The arch (thanks prime) and the bistro chairs and table are so lovely. Looks like it’s been like this forever, very well done!

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