Saturday, April 30, 2011

Working on the backyard this weekend

Still need to get rid of some non-edibles in the front, so I'm planting in the back.

My backyard is more of a typical veggie garden than the front -- my tomatoes and raised beds and other such things I don't care for in the front yard (my garden of the month for March notwithstanding) go into the back for now. One day it will be more spiffy and less weedy. One day.

So I've put onions and watermelon and tomatoes and snow peas in and have harvested some asparagus and worked on a sort of raised bed thing I'm making out of some old fencing. Photos one day when it actually doesn't look like a mess. ;)

Related pages:
Backyard landscaping ideas
How to grow tomatoes

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The plan

Okay, I finally broke down and drew a plan out.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something that you can read and work with. I drew this on some scrap paper with a pen just now:

As you can see, I have some edible plants already there. To the right is the driveway, to the bottom is a private road.

This is the first set of alterations that I've thought of:

I have already put in the daylilies, but everything else is still to be done. I was going to use blueberries for my "some kind of berry" but I seem to kill blueberries (have gone through four so far now) so I'm going to look for alternatives.

There is a lot of foot traffic between the door and the mailbox, thus the path there. I originally wanted to do it in concrete but my husband isn't wild about this idea and we may end up doing a mulch or brick path instead.

There is a drainage swale that goes along the front of the property so it may end up being brick to support the little bridge I'd like to put there so we don't have to slog through calf-deep water or try to hop over when it rains a lot. I also want to expand the plantings around the mailbox and do a garden plot near the end of the driveway.

Right now, there's still too much grass in my garden plan, but this is definitely a work in progress. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Setting up my garden design

This has been an interesting time: our family has had three surgeries in the past two months, and now that my sixteen year old is convalescing from his oral surgery I finally feel like I can make some proper plans for my landscaping.

Not that I haven't been thinking about it (because I have!) but I've felt a bit distracted with everything going on.

So today I thought I'd make a list of what needs changing and what I want to keep. I'm going to start with the front yard, mainly because we've done some work on the front already.

This is my house from across the street. By the mailbox I have daffodils on each side in spring, and tiger lilies in the summer. I like them, so I'll probably keep them ... I may add to these areas later.

Behind that on either side are apple trees ... the one on the left looks like it might have died over the winter, so I may have to replace it.

Close to the house I have (from left to right) an ornamental pear (which I'll keep), some edible plantings I put in along the porch a few years ago, the front door with steps and a walkway, a small magnolia tree (I'll probably keep this too, haven't decided yet), my pond, some random plants the original landscapers put in (including three crape myrtle bushes RIGHT NEXT TO THE HOUSE which are coming out), and a strange tree (we call it the "crazy tree") that no one seems to know what it is that my kids like so I'll keep that too.

The right hand plantings are infested with Virginia creeper, tend to be weed magnets, and seem sort of random to me. I added some lavender in front of the magnolia tree, but other than that not much there is edible.

So for that I need some sturdy edible ground cover as well as some edible shrubbery under the windows. I'm considering blueberries or perhaps serviceberries for the latter, which grow better in Oklahoma and look pretty similar.

Here's the pond, which we had put in a few years ago. The original pond had been put in by the original owners and was a mess, so we ripped it out (along with a huge pampas grass that again was RIGHT NEXT to the house) and put in this. We were having a bit of an algae problem when this photo was taken which is fixed now. I had koi in there until some egrets came by and ate them all; right now all that live there are some frogs. I'll be restocking the pond later on, possibly with catfish (edible!).

The problems I'm having with this space are that it's hard to access, only gets sun for part of the day, and weeds love it back there. I added some dwarf cattails (the straight stuff to the right of the photo) which are nice in the summer as well as edible.

I want to put in some taro on the waterfall area, some step-stones for access, and some sort of perennial edible ground cover there. Until I figure out which one, I plan to plant purple-eyed peas, which make lovely vines all over and should choke out any weeds that emerge.

In front is some wild onion that I got from a friend. I sort of like it: it comes up early, grows in a tuft-like shape, and stays green for a long time. I may move it to the left side there and get some tufts going in a "pond grass" fashion.

Right now I'm redoing the garden plot around the "crazy tree" (I didn't get a "before" photo or I'd show it to you) and have some "Wine Delight" daylilies to go there.

Here's what they are supposed to look like. Since the "crazy tree" gets these chartreuse buds in the spring and dark green leaves the rest of the year, this should go well with it.

Anyways, those are my ideas so far. My garden layout is taking shape, which makes me very happy :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Starting out

We have to start somewhere, right? ;)

So today I'm taking a look at what I have. I go over the process that I use over on my website -- today let's look at the garden layouts page.

For starters, I live in central Oklahoma, which is usually zone 7b but we busted out into 7a this winter. With the way the weather's been going, I have a feeling that I'll have to plant things that can stand colder temperatures than usually are found here.

The only real limitations I have zoning wise is that this HOA requires that you maintain at least some yard, and many people in the neighborhood have cut theirs down pretty far. I don't think I'll have to worry much about it. Also, we're not allowed to have a front fence, which I dislike as my front yard feels too exposed for my tastes but oh well.

Here's my house:

I don't know how you would classify this house (other than brick two-story) but the columns do give it a more formal look. However, with curved walkways and decidedly non-formal plantings (most of which I'm getting rid of), I suppose you could go either way.

Shapes -- I see columns and right-angle roofs and little arches and lots of little trellis-like squares. The Bradford pear tree (too bad it's only ornamental!) has a nice teardrop shape to it as well.

Colors -- There are a lot of interesting colors in the brickwork:

Lots of orange-reds, tans, browns, even some blue-grays that don't show up well here.

The house colors aren't showing up well in the photos, but the main house color is a dusty gray-green, with the window borders a white that's going towards ivory. The ever-present Oklahoma red clay dust is another factor to keep in mind, too. I'm thinking that black edgings on the garden plots would go very nicely with all this.