January 31, 2008
i’m all in favour of using experts for suggestions and direction. last spring, a very nice landscape designer gave us essentially a working outline for landscaping the backyard. i had a very fuzzy idea in my own head about what i wanted and a few hours of her time crystallized everything and improved it greatly. we’re pretty happy with how the backyard is progressing.
Since the front yard is such a disaster, i asked her for more specific direction. I find that I know what I want to grow in the front (edibles), but I don’t know how to plan the structure to make it functional and attractive. We are located on a corner lot with a slope down to the sidewalk, which i find complicates things.
In our initial conversation, I mentioned all of the things that I would like to implement – forest gardening techniques with fruit trees, vines, shrubs and groundcover. In addition, I wanted to reuse all of our existing shrubbery, create permanent evergreen foundation plantings to hide the base of our house and incorporate raised beds for planting veggies that are somewhat disguised from the street.
She came back with a lovely plan for landscaping the lot, but I feel that the vegetable gardening component was mostly lost, and I would like to figure out how to incorporate it.
The basic plan is for a bark path to wind around the front of the house, splitting the front yard into two giant beds. The bed between the house and the path would contain mostly evergreen foundation plantings. She has suggested leveling a good portion of the yard to match our next-door-neighbours, and installing a low retaining wall along the front and side of the yard that tapers back into grade. Trailing plants would soften the edges of the wall, and then either grass, geraniums, false strawberries or mint could take up the space between the bottom of the wall and the sidewalk.
After we replaced our drain tile last summer, we laid river rock (size 2-6) on top of landscape fabric around the base of the house. This is to facilitate drainage and keep access open for maintenance and painting. For phase one (this summer), we will likely try to build the bed between the house and the bark path, as this incorporates most of our existing shrubs. We will need to dig down about 18 inches and replace the existing soil (mostly clay that was brought up during the drain tile excavation) with topsoil.
I also liked the idea of building a raised bed on the side of the house between us and the neighbours. She has suggested building a raised bed about 4 feet by 8 feet and using an apple tree underplanted with strawberries here, as this corner gets quite a bit of sunlight.
I need to think about this a little more…