Garden Photo of the Day

Courtyard Makeover

We love before and afters, and Amy Kirschbaum's has made us speechless.

"Hi! I wanted to share my garden adventure with you. I moved to San Diego a little over a year ago. I am a garden-lover. My mother has been a huge inspiration and help to me as I have tried to turn this sad spot into a tranquil, beautiful place to enjoy a cup of tea. My eight-year-old daughter has a little fairy garden in here and my six-year-old son has a small construction zone near the fountain. It has proven to be a wonderful place to sit and relax and play. It also has perfumed our entire house. The jasmine is in full bloom right now and the smell is delightfully sweet."

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The interior courtyard at our house looked like this to begin with.

View Comments


  1. user-7007498 06/15/2016

    Amy: I am having a hard time believing this is the same courtyard. I kept flipping back and forth between the pictures. Well done. You transformed a fairly uninteresting paver courtyard with inadequate garden space, to an exciting location with great plantings and a beautiful flagstone pathway. Your space is so inviting. The plants accent and soften the walls of your home. Fabulous.

    1. amykirschbaum 06/15/2016

      Thanks Kevin. This is indeed the same courtyard but I realized I should've taken a photo from the same view as the before. I just snapped a quick one below...

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/15/2016

        Love how this view frames the vertical window in the distance.

      2. user-7007498 06/16/2016

        Thanks for the extra picture as "proof". Amazing job!

  2. tree_ee 06/15/2016

    Lovely . . . the lavender and roses look so pretty together!

  3. frankgreenhalgh 06/15/2016

    Hi Amy, you have transformed your stark courtyard into a lovely, relaxing and colourful place of great enjoyment for your family. A fantastic achievement of which you should be very proud. Congratulations.

  4. christianelena 06/15/2016

    Great j ob! Big changement! Congratulations

  5. user-7007960 06/15/2016

    Color, color, Color everywhere, And every drop to drink in...... The ? Navaho rug sings a song too! Would love to see the children's area also. The hard scape is perfect. Did you have workers come in to give a hand or two? Can't imagine going solo on all this.... My son can, But I know I couldn't. It is charming and just beautiful!! Thx for this cup of tea.

    1. amykirschbaum 06/15/2016

      Thanks Carol. yes! I had people help me with the hardscape. We actually made a sunken courtyard which also helped with drainage into our garage. Here is my daughter's fairy house. I must warn you though, it is a bit messy since our puppy got into it!

  6. user-4691082 06/15/2016

    I am trying to figure out why someone would want that private area so stark! You have done a beautiful job in that space. I have only been to San Diego once and I was taken by the health of the roses. The lack of humidity there keeps them pristine. I am so jealous of your ability to have jasmine. I tried bringing some home from Florida but it just doesn't overwinter well. There is nothing like fragrance wafting into your house. Amy, you are a lucky lady!

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/15/2016

    This transformation is amazing, Amy. What was once a stark, uninviting, see nothing but the 4 walls space (almost had an enclosed parking lot vibe) has been turned into a charming, color and fragrance filled garden. It has pathways, beautiful plants, and interesting accents that invite lingering. Super sincerest congratulations!

  8. bsavage 06/15/2016


  9. wGardens 06/15/2016

    You must have had a blast designing and planting your wonderful garden areas! Gosh, those roses are luscious!

  10. amyfalise 06/15/2016

    Nicely done!

  11. annek 06/15/2016

    I've always been intrigued by the concept of an interior courtyard and you've shown how it should be done. I love the color, variety and charm of your design and can't believe it's only been a year! It is lovely

  12. NCYarden 06/15/2016

    Wow, what an improvement. Hard angles and edges to soft colorful organic lines. Nicely done. Certainly a wonderful space to enjoy now.

  13. Jay_Sifford 06/15/2016

    Really lovely. I envy people with courtyard gardens. You've made yours something very special. Congrats.

  14. greengenes 06/15/2016

    This is a wonderful change. How fun it must be to have a courtyard garden! Your colors are beautiful against the white walls. Thank you for sharing!

  15. sheila_schultz 06/15/2016

    You have created a beautiful and welcoming courtyard... it's lovely!

  16. wittyone 06/15/2016

    What a great job. The area not only looks more inviting but must be much cooler as well, with the trees, bushes, and plantings soaking up a lot of the stored and reflected heat.

  17. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/15/2016

    That *is* a great transformation. Such an improvement. I love the plantings and the stone you've used for the paths. I am trying to figure out if the courtyard is enclosed on all four sides? I've always wanted a home with a center atrium. I've vacationed in San Diego a couple of times and I just loved it. Thanks for tracking your before and after and sharing it.

    1. amykirschbaum 06/15/2016

      Thanks Tim. Yes! we were lucky to find a home with such a large, fully enclosed courtyard.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/15/2016

        I may need to leave work and go home to cry, I'm so jealous! Really, it's beautiful.

  18. DonnaJones 06/15/2016

    thank you for gave me just the idea I needed for my garden!

  19. VikkiVA 06/15/2016

    Gosh Amy I wish I had your insight. I thought pavers in the before looked great however, the added planting spaces and the flagstone take it way beyond great. Your roses are stunning and I'm drooling over that lavender. I've just killed my 4th lavender in as many years. Vikki in VA

  20. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 06/15/2016

    Amy, there is something so inviting about a courtyard and you've made yours a gardener's dream. My husband and I have always tried to make an area with a courtyard 'feel' in every house that we've owned but yours is a spectacular transformation and I can just imagine how much joy it brings to your family. Thanks for sharing.

  21. barbarapatchettbonnett 06/15/2016

    Great transformation, beautification, great job!

  22. nenitafranck 06/15/2016

    That is surely a wonderful transformation and you included some of my favorite type of fragrant and blooming plants. It's nice to include some area for your children. I wonder if they'll remember the before when they get tall enough to want to transform the area back into a basketball court???

  23. perenniallycrazy 06/15/2016

    That's a mighty sweet spot you've got! Great vision. Hope you can enjoy it for many many years to come.

  24. eddireid 06/15/2016

    I love courtyards and your transformation of that prison like space is entrancing. Huge amount of work and the planting are just gorgeous - lots of my favorite things. now you have an oasis of beauty and scent. Perfect.

  25. thevioletfern 06/16/2016

    WOW! I want a courtyard! What a great transformation and vision. Applause!

  26. foxglove12 06/23/2016

    What a fun project! Absolutely beautiful!

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