Because the couple's budget was tight and they were doing the work themselves, they tackled the yard in sections, starting with the southwest-facing hillside in the back. To create terraces for growing vegetables, stone walls weren't in the budget. So they substituted something Brigitte had seen on a garden tour: using bags of concrete mix to shore up the terraced rows. One section at a time, they positioned the unopened bags along the downward slope, then soaked them with a hose each day for a week. Once the concrete inside the bags was stiff, they added another row and watered that. They repeated this procedure until they had enough supports for flat planting beds. When complete, they ripped off the paper to reveal tidy rows of pillow-shaped concrete blocks. When a few pieces shifted slightly over time and one row tipped a bit, Charles simply got out a shovel and nudged the blocks back into place.
Shown: The land is flat immediately behind the house, then rises dramatically. The couple kept lawn in much of the flat area for stretching out on lounge chairs. A series of garden vignettes, each centered on an art object, borders the grassy area.