My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

Redoing the Bird Sanctuary Garden Patio

It never ceases to amaze me how much a garden evolves over time. When we first moved here in 2004, our gardens were pretty bare, with just a few small evergreens and a lot of ground cover. Bit by bit, I started adding different features and creating separate garden spaces. One of my favourites was what I called the bird sanctuary garden, for no other reason than it had a bird bath and a small bird feeder surrounding a small flagstone patio laid directly in the mulch. The garden looked good for several years and provided a lovely view from our kitchen window.

Bird garden in 2007

The bird sanctuary garden in 2007

Everything remained roughly the same for the next few years, with the background eventually giving way to the pool and barn. By 2011, the evergreens had roughly doubled in size, but the patio itself remained in full view.

Bird sanctuary garden in 2011

The garden and patio in 2011 with the new barn and pool.

Over the years, the garden continued to change as the trees grew. Eventually, the patio became overshadowed by the blue spruce. The seating area was buried under the bows of the spruce and certainly not a great place to sit. While the bird garden looked lush, the patio itself needed a makeover.

Bird sanctuary garden 2020

The bird sanctuary garden in 2020, by which time the patio had sunk into the mulch and was hidden by plant growth.

In the spring of 2024, I ripped up the old patio and started over.

I left the entrance where it was but made some changes to open up the space. I pulled out some of the bergenia and moved the bench and birdbath away from the overgrown tree. I also raised the patio a bit to keep it from getting buried under mulch. Raising the birdbath also makes it more visible from the kitchen window during the summer.

The project took roughly a week working part-time, repurposing stones and flagstones I already had in the yard. The base of the patio was elevated using screenings to prevent it from sinking into the ground over time.

Bird sanctuary patio reconstruction day 2

Bird sanctuary patio reconstruction results after day 2

One issue I’m having with all my gardens is that the soil level has gotten higher than the surrounding walkways due to annual mulching. Combine this with raising the patio six inches, and I needed to figure out a way to create some small natural steps up to the patio. The solution was to use some edging stone as a natural stair riser. I think the end result creates a nicer aesthetic appeal to the patio than the original flat entrance.

Small steps going into the new patio with natural stone risers

Small steps going into the new patio with natural stone risers

I lined the outside of the bed with small field stones to help hold in the screenings and level the outer edges of the patio. Certainly not professional landscape retaining walls, but I think it will hold. This is not a heavily trafficked area, other than by the robins in spring!

Flagstone half installed in the patio

Day 4 – much of the flagstone is in, and I’ve lined the edges with small stones to form a low retaining wall and to help level the outer edge flagstone.

To finish off the patio area, I split and replanted some of the removed bergenia and added heuchera that I grew in the greenhouse over the winter. I look forward to watching everything grow and fill the space over the summer.

final bird garden patio

Final patio and new perennials

Oh, and a big thank you to my husband, who was kind enough to ‘recover’ a big rock from a nearby ditch to use around the new patio!

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