Transforming an ugly yard and house into a sanctuary.




All it takes is a shovel, some pots, fruit trees, long weekends, lots of love for the work and voila! You have taken a hideous yard and made it lovely and productive.

I was searching frantically for homes in 2017. We watched housing prices double in the Sacramento area and rents were skyrocketing (as they are to this day). I have two children and two dogs and I’ll tell you this…do not have dogs if you plan to rent cheap. It is very hard to find a rental that will allow dogs, especially big dogs and you have to pay out more as you will need a yard.  If you have children as well…it gets hard out there. Add a cat to that and you’re done for.

After searching high and low, I went to the next dusty town over and was outbid a few times before being forced to take another look at this ugly little HUD home, once happily occupied by squatters, drug dealers and a lone prostitute.

As you can assume, this was not the first choice…or second…or third. But alas, it was the last house available and it was cheap. It doesn’t look so bad in this photo but the inside was sad.



I must have passed this house up so many times on I kept taking in that tiny backyard and thinking “there’s no room for the kids, the dogs, the garden…”

Turns out there was more than enough room when it was fenced in properly and the useless lawns were dug up and turned into gardens and food forest.

The dogs are taken to the river to run almost daily as the gardens have taken over everything and the boys and I go to the forest to play and hike, but our yards are charming and filled with organic foods.

I now enjoy two kitchen gardens and 23 fruit and nut trees, and grapevines. All this on 5,000 sq foot yard.

My inspiration came from watching Urban Homestead about the Dervaes family on YouTube. What this family has accomplished in a 4,000 sq ft yard in LA is incredible.

Watch this for inspiration:

To see the full inside and outside transformation (before and afters) here is one of our latest videos:






14 thoughts on “Transforming an ugly yard and house into a sanctuary.

  1. Hi Kate,
    It’s wonderful to see the before and after video. You must be very proud of everything you and Bali have achieved.

    I know the climate here in Manchester UK is somewhat different (!) but on average how much time per week or month do you spend gardening?

    Every Blessing,
    Jane x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Only a few days before planting and then water daily until things come up. Once plants are established I water well once a week. It gets easier once you have it all worked well such as the horse manure and compost set up.


  2. What you and Bali have done with the property is nothing short of miraculous!! Your exterior is bright, happy – a representation of the lovely family who lives there, and your lovely gardens are food for the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this. When we’re looking for something, it often looks different to what we end up with. It’s like we don’t know what’s good for us sometimes. I love this house, it’s a house of dreams. I know the blue wasn’t your first choice but I think it looks wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You should be proud of all the hard work and transformation of your home in the last couple of years. You are living proof of how much you can accomplish in a small space or homesteading in the city! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thank you! I’ve been so inspired by the documentary of the Dervae’s family Urban Homestead. They had an even smaller space (although we have that darn garage and cement patio I would love to get rid of).


      1. We will have to check them out also. It’s just so inspiring how people can get so much out of their urban homestead. You’re making good use of your space and continue to inspire others. Keep on keeping on Kate!


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