Two garden features we love are the pergola, which functions as an outdoor dining space, and the raised bed that we assembled from a kit for growing vegetables (dog-proof!).
Pergola (aka arbor):
The fellow who built a fence for us turned out to be the go–to-guy for building the pergola we envisioned (Peninsula Fence) :
Our ex-gardener (we no longer needed his services after we remodeled) laid the flagstone on sand, with some planting soil on top so we could plant wooly thyme in between (note: some types of sand are not compatible with planting).
We put a round tile-topped table with four chairs underneath the pergola. The roses were preserved to provide green “walls” with lovely flowers spring through fall, and grape vines quickly grew to start filling in the top. We’ve spent many a pleasant day since then having breakfast, lunch or dinner under the grape vines!
Modular Raised Bed Kit:
We needed a space safe from our lovely greyhounds for growing edibles. Maui and Zippo love to race around the backyard, which resulted in removal of the raggedy lawn we inherited with the house. They did us a favor and jump-started our backyard remodel, which included getting rid of water-wasting lawns, planting native and low water plants, and spaces for growing vegetables and herbs. We also added some young fruit trees and blueberry bushes.
We are not carpenters, and we both work during the week, so for us it was a great choice to order this kit from Gardens to Gro :
We liked that they are a mom 'n pop company, and that it would not have to ship too far (from San Diego to SF Bay Area). It came with wire mesh to lay down to foil gophers, and also with a watering system. It also has a cute gate, to keep out the pooches. We got the 20 inch high beds to minimize back strain while planting.
The beds have herbs planted around them, and they have provided fresh food year round. We are in our second winter with the beds, experimenting with what grows best and tolerates our frost, and we look forward to our third spring and summer coming up! By the way, we use no pesticides, and we are committed to keeping our yards free of that stuff- besides, we have found it's really not necessary. Common Ground, our local organic gardening center in Palo Alto, provided lots of inspiration and resources.