Decorating the Dead

This has been such a fun project to do, but I’m pretty relieved that it’s finally finished. Most people use the dead side of their house for a dumping ground. To a point, we do too – the bins, wheel barrow and worm farm live here. We have a small home though so the second and third bedroom look out to the dead side. This meant that I had to make this side interesting… and I had collected so many ideas I wanted to use it was impossible to pick.

Initially Pa was going to pave a straight path down the side but I felt this would make the place too plain. I read Millie Ross’s ‘The Thrifty Gardener’ quite some time ago and got hooked on the idea of recycling the frame of a garden. An excellent read if you are a bit thrifty and passionate about recycling, I hope to be able to add even more of these ideas as I go along. Of course this is a narrow space and I wanted to do it for as little cost and effort as possible. By chance my mother-in-law-to-be had large cement pavers to give away. I have always adored, since a trip to Guildford, pavers laid in a diamond pattern with grass in between.

Of course being a thoroughfare grass simply wouldn’t do, but I ran with this. To avoid cutting pavers I used the gaps to plant gardens – an idea inspired by my creative neighbours who laid their smaller square pavers diagonally with sweet little triangle gardens all the way along. I cut cardboard ‘pavers’ out to make sure it would all fit in and see if I’d like it.

To start I cleared the area and began screeding, finding far too much cat poo along the way. It turns out our sand pit had become a loo for the neighborhoods cats. Yay. I suppose this drove me to get through the project much faster! Once cleaned up, I compacted with water.


I needed a hand from my partner to lay the pavers as they weigh a bloody tonne. We straightened them up using a mallet, then on to the next. As it was a narrow space we had to lay only a few at a time so that we could move along to the next area.

I hit a wall about halfway down realising that where a paver would go to fit the pattern there was a sewage inspection point. I decided to create a paver here with mortar and mosaic a pattern on it. So that it didn’t stick out like a sore thumb I did two half mosaic pavers too, which also helped to make the space feel wider. I had to work quick with the mortar and unfortunately didn’t make it thick enough in areas.

It’s really important to plan the mosaics earlier. I sketched out a pattern and then off to Bunnings to buy an assortment of pebbles. I also made sure I got grey mortar rather than cream so that it would match the pavers. There are so many ideas for pebble mosaics online so have a bit of fun looking around if you decide to do it too. Don’t worry if your pebbles get covered in mortar, use hydrochloric acid when its dry to eat the surface away. Make sure you rinse well and use protective gear.


Now it’s time to fill my gaps with gravel. I didn’t have much of my fine gravel left so poured road base underneath it and topped with my gravel. This too needed to be compacted with water.


Last but not least it was time to fill the gardens. I did this with sand, towards the end I ran out of sand and mixed in some soil improver. For the most part though my plants are in awful grey sand. I filled the beds with free, hardy plants to keep costs down. Succulent cuttings, snake plants cuttings, bromeliad pups from my aunties collection. I moved plenty out of pots I had grown before we moved so that they were fairly established.

The final product is so much better than I had expected, the whole thing looks brilliant and the last of the sand is GONE!