A Garden Oasis in a New Home


My family moved into a new home in July (it was already under construction, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend moving during a pandemic). After going through an architectural review process with the HOA, securing a contractor, getting permits and an inspection for a gas line, we finally have a backyard oasis.

Our backyard design, which I did myself, includes an extended patio using pavers, succulent beds that wrap around the house, a rose garden, a paver area for our future hot tub, and an amazing fire pit.

We opted for real grass (I think we are the only ones in the neighborhood with it) and 2 large planters in which I can garden my heart out. Fortunately, I have a mostly green thumb so my fingers are crossed for these garden beds to flourish, but I still did my research. Being fairly new to California it was important for me to know the amount of sun the areas of the yard would get as well as what would thrive in my Tri-Valley climate.



I am excited to also try my hand at a vegetable garden. We are opting for raised bed gardening and my back is actually okay with that. Another decision we made was to grow from seeds and then transplant them when the weather is just a bit warmer. There is something to be said for walking out into your own yard to pick your own vegetables. I also used a half wine barrel that I got from one of my favorite Livermore wineries, Fenestra Winery, to plant a herb garden. I might be the most excited about that. You may also spy some hanging strawberries as I try my hand at vertical gardening.


Here are a few books that are great to use to start your gardening adventure, be it vegetable, fruit, plants or flowers.


Homesteader Jessica Sowards, the warm and energetic host of YouTube’s Roots and Refuge Farm, where over 400,000 subscribers get gardening information and inspiration for success. Everyone has to start somewhere, and in The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables, Jessica answers all the questions newbie gardeners will have, including where to put a garden, preparing the soil, what vegetables to plant, how much to water and much more.


Sean and Allison McManus, the gardening pros behind the popular website and podcast Spoken Garden, offer clear, fact-based information, presented in a friendly and accessible way. With step-by-step instructions and full-color illustrations, new gardeners will learn how to select, plant and tend for outdoor plants, the best techniques, how to mulch correctly, pruning do’s and don’ts, tips for effective, eco-friendly gardening, and much more.

Happy planting!

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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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