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A Small Backyard Gets a Stunning Makeover in San Diego

Learn how Ashley and Ross used Tilly for an unrecognizable backyard remodel.





The Brief

Ashley is an old pro at DIY who’s been restoring her historic home in San Diego room by room and sharing it on her blog The Gold Hive — but she needed a helping hand in turning her rundown backyard into a space for her growing family to live and play. When Ashley and Ross welcomed a beautiful baby girl, it was time to finally tear down the dilapidated deck and sheds left behind by previous residents and make their backyard an oasis for their family. Here’s what they told us about their dream backyard remodel:


  • Their small backyard was packed with a huge deck, unused 10-seater hot tub, and multiple sheds

  • Their sunken backyard pooled water at the foundation of their home

  • Their home is surrounded by neighbors on all sides

What They Asked For

  • A lush, cottage-style landscape design that would match their updated historic home

  • Space for their baby to play and for adults to enjoy

  • Privacy from the neighbors and the street

  • A design with permeable hardscape and water-efficient, pollinator-friendly plants


Our Plan

After going over the information we got from the clients, Ashley’s inspiration board, their space assessment, and a video call with them, expert landscape designer Claire presented a plan for a cozy, private backyard makeover that would give this family the space they needed to grow.


Design Elements

  • Replace the old deck with an open backyard with a permeable patio and soft lawn to play on

  • Add trees and plants along the tall fencing and a pergola at the entrance of the backyard to make privacy beautiful

  • Include a kid’s play area for the baby, a dining area and fire pit for the family, and raised vegetable beds to grow dinner

  • Charming cottage-style plants that support pollinators and are specialized to California’s dry climate, including:

    • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’)

    • New Zealand flax (Phormium ‘Maori Sunrise’)

    • White rockrose (Cistus x hybridus)

Finished Project


A Small Backyard for Everyone

  • Fresh plants have added vibrancy to their backyard and will fill the space (and provide privacy) as they mature

  • A swing set makes the perfect play zone for the baby now and they plan to “up the equipment” as she gets older

  • The cozy outdoor living spaces have turned their backyard from a place to avoid to a place to luxuriate

  • Follow Ashley @thegoldhive to watch her yard bloom and see her family enjoy the space!



Ashley's Feedback



The Full project


I would have never been able to maximize the space the way my Tilly designer did! Claire took a small yard and filled it with amenities, features, and lots of greenery and blooms to completely transform the way we live in our home! I'm so impressed with the creative approach she took to solving our yards grading and orientation problems. We're so lucky to have had a pro design a space for us and it couldn't have been an easier process working with Tilly!

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