Friday, April 16, 2010

An Introduction to the New Yard

The design of what is happening to the grounds of the new house is just starting. We had to take into account what I want and what my friends want. Their priority is a hot tub and a table outside. My priority is a large enough spot to throw a barbecue (in front or back), a large vegetable garden, an herb garden and places to put all the fruits I want. The land we own is about 94' x 75' (7000 sqft), but in reality we have a larger area. The road is a private way and we are at the end of the road. Though we don't own it, we are responsible for its care and upkeep including the unpaved parts. If we include that part it is a square 94'x98' or about 9000 sqft. In fact the builders fenced this whole section in so it is very private. The dead end does not have a turn around and end abruptly so no one else is likely to come down this way. The road in front of the house looks and feels much more like a private driveway than a private way.

This is the private way in front of the house. The neighbors have gates to access it. As you can see there is a large raised planting area. It is the sunniest planting area I will have, but it isn't fenced off from any critters and can't be. It is three feet wide and has a planted area of about 200 sqft. The tall fence will probably have little eyelets screwed into it so I can put up trellising when I need it. It would be great for heat loving plants. With the rock wall below it will be very hot in here. In the winter it might make a good greens area.

The front of the house is shaded for quite a while all morning long. It is the northwest side of the house. I expect that a peach tree or two would be a nice addition since the ground won't unfreeze here for a good long time. I'm guessing it will act like a northern slope. But by summer the sun will be high enough to give it plenty of sun.

Then we get to the back and side yard. Above is the back yard from my side of the house looking towards my friends side.

Here is the backyard from the other direction.

Then here is the side yard which right now is totally paved. This is the southwest side of the house and except for one spot gets a lot of sun. We will rip out most of the pavement and make some kind of parking on their side for one car. The parking is very hard here and tight. Even with the spot they put in it is hard to get out since the private road is only 13' wide. We have already hit the back of the car against the rock wall once. And you probably guessed it but we are ripping out the pavement to put in my vegetable garden.

Above is the current plan that is very much in flux. You can click this one to get a bigger photo so you can see better. I'm thinking of a 3' brick walkway along the ends of the beds from the driveway down to the bottom of the paper where the compost piles are. Then it will turn to your right and go along the compost piles and then turn again and go up into the back door of the house. The paths between the beds will be mulched. This gives ten beds that are 16'x4' wide (63 sqft each). The three closest to the bottom right corner get only 5 hours of sun a day right now (and yes I've been there at different times during the day to check out the sun). There is a maple tree in my neighbor's back yard that shades it a bit. I'm guessing there won't be much shade there in June or July as the sun gets higher. The other side beds lose the sun just at the edges for a short time. The two beds by the house already have full sun all day long.

Along the fence in the garden area I want a small short shed at the end for my tools. I want a potting bench. Then a place to store the wheelbarrow. After that the leaf collection area and the compost piles. My friends will be taught the basics of composting. I think I'm going to get a tumbler for the veggie scraps though. I'm thinking anything on the ground will attract rats. This ought to keep them out. Once they are decayed enough I'll put them in the real pile. I'm hoping Molly, my friend's cat, will also help keep the rodents out of the yard.

If you look harder you can see some of my fruit ideas. Nothing is written in stone yet. Currently I have blueberries along the house basically from the driveway to the small spot that sticks out of the house. On the other side of that I have a gooseberry (is one enough?). Then I have rhubarb in front of the air conditioning units (the two circles next to the house in back). I' thinking of putting the raspberries with three sides surrounded by something (the stairs down to the yard, the wall of the house, and the bulkhead). Raspberries are weeds so really need to be kept under control. Now I only have one side to deal with. Then I have two dwarf apple trees in the back yard. I wanted to put them where the raspberries are, but I think they really need more than 5' to spread. I think the neighbor has an apple tree right against the back fence too so I should have good pollination.

We discussed more fruit trees as there is plenty of room in the front yard. But she is allergic to cherries and I hate the upkeep of a pear. I hear of too many pear deaths and issues. A single plum would be nice, but I don't think they are self fruiting and two plums is way too much. I'll eat them, but don't go crazy over them.

So that is the start of the plan for growing edibles - which could change at any time. It has about 800 sqft of growing area which to my mind is huge and about three times what I have now. Is it too big? It really is a garden for two families though so in reality it is just 50% bigger.


  1. I am sitting here reading this post and feeling excited for you and all the possibilities! I can't wait to see all the stuff you do with all this space.

  2. Too big? Can a veggie garden be too big? I think it looks fabulous! Oh, if I could only do mine over again, I could have had at least 3 more 4x8 beds where I now have only three.

  3. Wow! Talk about a blank canvas! You have so many possibilities! My advice would be to break it into small sections and complete one at a time so you feel a bit of accomplishment before moving on to the next. Good luck, it will be fun watching your progress!

  4. How exciting to be able to create your surroundings from a clean slate. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress.

    BTW, there are self pollinating plum tree varieties out there. We have one in our yard, although I don't know what kind...

  5. Oh my goodness I love a project from scratch! Seriously I can't wait to see what you do with it...what fun! Kim

  6. Wow! What a plan. I certainly can't wait to see this fruition.

  7. I'm sitting here getting all excited for you! It's great to start a garden from scratch, even if it's hard work. Are those sloping doors in the ground at the back?

  8. I'm so with Granny. Too big is never so. You'd just grow more storage crops or give more away. Can you grow apricots? That might be a nice addition to your fruit tree load. Sounds as though you have many, many possibilities and I think any garden which begins with the removal or asphalt is a good thing.

  9. Wow, 800 sq ft to me is simply amazing ! Your layout looks great. Can't wait to see your space come together.

  10. Sounds like a neat project to me! You'll have the most beautiful garden on the internet before long...

  11. David, I'm pretty excited about it to - also a little nervous.

    Annie's Granny, lol yes it can. If you don't have time or the energy to take care of it then you just have a big weed patch. I've been wanting a bit bigger though.

    Sheila, well we are hiring a landscape designer. We will have a plan (that incorporates all my plans). And all of the hardscaping and heavy soil work will be something they do. I don't know how much of the rest we will have them do or have us do.

    Momma_S, I just checked out extension service and they said there needed two. I'll have to research plums then. Because one plum tree would be nice.

    inadvertent farmer, it will be lots of fun.

    Ribbit, and I can't wait to eat the fruits. I've never had fruit trees before and I can't wait for my own apples.

    Jan, yes they are bulkhead doors to the basement.

    Stefaneener, I'm not an apricot fan. Though my friend was talking grapes. I pulled mine a few years ago because I wasn't using them. I'll have to ask her if she still wants them.

    Miss M, it is big. The first year we might have a lot of cover crops growing before I get all the plans ready.

    EG, we will see how it turns out. I hope it will be really pretty. But then I love the look of raised bed gardens, so I'll probably think it is.

  12. It is so exciting! I love planning things like this. It will really be gorgeous when you get it all put together. Sharing a smallish lot with like minded friends is a wonderful thing. Even though we didn't know our neighbors before we bought our duplex, they have certainly become like minded friends over the years. Have fun!

  13. Wow! I think this is going to be a great space for you and I am so excited for you!

    I love drawing out ideas, changing them a hundred and two times and then making it happen. Something wonderful about the whole process of creating a kitchen garden.

  14. Wow, it looks like you have a lot of work ahead of you Daphne! I can't wait to see how it all comes together in the coming months.

    I'm sure ripping out that pavement alone will be a lot of work!

  15. Ripping out asphalt... wow, those are words to lift the spirit! So many decisions! It must be fun and a bit overwhelming! It is a good thing you've been gardening for years, that will help, and I think hiring a landscape designer is a great idea. Someone to bounce ideas off from will be great. And you can blame them for any failures ;->

    What about an espaliered Asian pear? I saw one on A Way to Garden

    Anyway, have fun planning!

  16. The Mom, that is nice it turned out so well. I know someone that moved recently because she didn't get along with the other owner.

    kitsapFG, I really have to get down to figuring out the rotations for the beds too. Right now I have just been guessing about how many tomatoes and peppers to plant.

    Thomas, Yes it is a lot of work. I'm guessing a lot of work will be hired out to get the majority of it in fast. Other things will wait until we have more time. But the veggie garden must get in.

    henbogle, I've never had an Asian pear. I wonder how easy they are to take care of and what they taste like.

  17. Oh, I'm so envious of all that space. I'm really excited for you and hoping to see your new digs take shape.

    BTW, Asian pears have a firm, crisp, juicy crunch when you bite into them just like apples, but they taste like pears. I have two of them (semi-dwarf trees) and am waiting to see if they flower this year. They're both new trees for me, third summer this year. One has never flowered and I got only two pears two years ago from the other, nothing last year.

  18. I believe our plum tree is a Santa Rosa (pretty common in CA), but they're not cold hardy. Maybe the self pollinators won't do well in your colder climate? Hmmm... Now I'm curious...

  19. How exciting! It is going to be fun to watch the yard transform. The yard area looks good, lots of space without having to mow a 1/2 acre. So do all the neighboring properties have a right of way to drive/park on the private way?