You might think that a pattern coming from a Mexican beach blanket can’t make sense in a yard, but here I’ll teach you how a small detail like that can bring a yard together.
Sometimes when you have a yard that’s completely neglected it’s hard to envision it differently! Demolishing and rebuilding everything might sound like it would take a lot longer than working around whatever is in there like the existing retaining walls. However, sometimes it’s the best call you can make during a renovation.
In this particular case, our clients didn’t just want to renovate their front and back yards but the entire house. So, while they took care of the interior home’s transformation, my team and I got to work on the exteriors.
For this project, we wanted to go with a relaxing beach vibe. Because of this, I was heavily inspired by the patterns in the Mexican beach blanket. And, since the yard was multi-level and had different areas, I wanted to use these diamond motifs as a way to bring the space together. These are the little touches that go a long way in a project and don’t usually break the bank.
Let me show you a few areas of this project.
Mexican Beach Blanket Cedar Panel Wall & deck
One of the many things that were added to the house during its upgrade was a big glass door to the yard. This meant we needed a new landing, as the house was on a slope. Enter, the brand new deck made out of gray composite deck boards.
However, with the newly added height, the existing fence was shorter and you could peek into the neighbor’s yard. I’m sure no one wants something like that. So I thought it would be fun to create a panel wall with different sized 1x cedar boards. Mimicking the pattern of a Mexican beach blanket. We were able to tie into the existing fence post and added a few support 2×4 ourselves to give me a place to nail the panels. I played around with the spacing of the boards a bit before putting them up and then finished it off with the diamond motifs seen through the yard.
I used 1x knotted cedar JW Lumber as it’s a little more affordable than no knot cedar. The wall at the back of the yard had the same problem, so we also added a screening wall there.
Mineral paint stencil wall
On the other side of the yard, there was a long CMU block wall. Neither the clients nor I wanted to get rid of it. Instead, we wanted to give it a new look.
We had a small problem, though: there was soil on the other side of the wall, which holds moisture that moved through the concrete blocks and pushed the paint off. Because of this, I chose to use mineral paint with a primer from Romabio. Because Mineral paint breaths, this allows moisture to move through, instead of building up of moisture behind a traditional, not permeable paint.
For this space, I used an off-white mineral paint and a DIY stencil to create a Mexican beach blanket diamond pattern along the wall which helped visually break up the long wall.
I thought it would be fun to add lights to our pavers instead of a typical path light. So I ended up using these little puck lights that sit directly into the pavers. We used the In-Lite Puck Dark lights and they are slightly raised giving a light 360 glow illuminating the edge of the patio.
To install these, we used a hammer drill (not in hammer mode) with a diamond bit and drilled through the pavers.
I have to say, aside from being functional, they’re very discreet and blend into the scenery and add the perfect little pop!
No mow native lawn
We wanted an overgrown, low-maintenance beach vibe for this open space. So I ordered some California native sod from S&S seed. You can mow this to make it look more traditional or let it grow tall, up to 1’ which gives it a nice billowy look. Plus when it grows this long it shades the roots and uses less water.
This ‘no mow’ variety is a combination of 3 different types of fescue —Festuca Rubra, Festuca Idahoensis, and Festuca Occidentalis. The benefit of using it in California is that it’s used to the climate. Which makes it a nice environmental choice.
The clients and I loved it because it gave the yard a meadow look, especially after it grows in. Of course, you can keep it short, but if you want to reduce the mowing to once or twice a year, this is the lawn you want.
I encourage anyone interested in having a lawn and who want to save water to check this out!
Shed garden box
The one thing that didn’t get demolished through the entire process was a big red shed at the back of the yard. Since it faced the yard, I wanted it to feel integrated, so I built a small garden box with succulents. Once again, the diamond details made it in.
The client wanted to take a stab at growing vegetables so we built her a raised veggie bed out of Merch Redwood and filled it with soil. We added one foot at a time and compacted it to prevent any sinking and settling.
The key for any veggie bed, especially an organic one, is to use raw lumber (i.e. Redwood, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Western Red Cedar, or Metal). You don’t want to use anything that’s sealed on the inside because the soil will absorb that and you don’t want that on your vegetables.
The Mexican beach blanket diamond pattern makes yet another appearance on the yard, this time multicolored!
The Front Yard
Okay, enough of the backyard. What about the front?
Well, this one had the same fate that the back: everything got taken down and rebuilt. We poured a new driveway, a new curved retaining wall to create more parking space and a fence that was an extension of the one in the backyard.
Some of the plants that I added are Echeveria ‘Afterglow’, Agave ‘Parryi Truncata’, Dianella ‘Casa Blue’, Magnolia ‘Vulcan’, Shrub ‘Loropetalum chinense’ to get a cool grey-blue and accent pink color scheme. As a final detail, we added a buff Mexican beach pebble around the plants.
The focal point of this yard was this huge Agave ‘Parryi Truncata’ that was planted. I surrounded it with a mosaic of broken 1-2” thick flagstone placed into the soil vertically. Most of the hues mostly white to a gray tone.