New home - clean slate - backyard layout advice please

david_in_mn(4)May 3, 2011

We just built a new home on a 3/4 acre lot and have several goals for our yard. Lately, we are most concerned with establishing the layout of the basic, more functional aspects of the backyard. I'm not sure where exactly to post my question, so please direct me to a more appropriate place, if necessary.

Current goals for backyard:

-Apple trees (not sure of number - we have 6 kids)

-Raspberries (+blueberries if we can make it work)

-Vegetable Garden

-Wind barriers?? Other bordering trees/shrubs?

Things to know about our lot:

-farm land behind us (zoned for neighborhood development in the future)

-it is very windy

-Home (with walkout basement) is oriented due South.

-people don't have fences in our neighborhood

-possible sport court SE of house in future

Looking for advice on placement of these trees/plants/garden plot.

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I don't see a scale on your map. How steep is the slope in the back and where is your house situated on the tax lots?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 5:06PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

david_in_mn, you've definitely posted in the correct forum.

Would the drainage and utility easements affect the location of the sport court and/or the planting of trees and shrubs?

Are there any trees in the properties to either side which would provide enough shade to affect placement of the veggie garden?

How large would the sport court be?

Looking at the elevation lines, I wonder if you get a significant amount of runoff flowing across the backyard roughly 30-40' from the back lot line?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 7:16PM
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The elevation lines on the topographic map are in 1 foot increments. I'm not sure about your second question, but the red line is my attempt to draw the footprint of the house/driveway on the lot.

The drainage and utility easements are just a 10' band on paper. There is nothing visible there but I'm guessing there are buried power and/or sewer lines. I guess I wouldn't want to plant anything in the 10' band just to avoid having a work crew rip it out in the future if they ever have to do work on these buried utilities. So long as things are kept out of the actual easement, they don't impact planting decisions.

There are no trees in the surrounding properties that will shade my lot.

We are considering a 35'x50' or 40'x60' sport court.

About runoff ... I see what you're saying looking at the elevation lines. I haven't noticed anything like a stream of water running through there in a storm ... but it looks like it's designed for that purpose. I'll have to pay more attention next time we get a significant amount of rain. Can you elaborate on how that impacts decisions?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 10:37PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Here's my reasoning about runoff: If the sport court is in the SE, then I'm assuming the fruit trees and veggie area will be in the S or SW -- you'll want them in a flattish area, not on a slope. So unless you're putting apples or veggies in the front yard (the only other flat area), the default would seem to be the back of the backyard.

Well -- okay, the E side yard is flattish too, but veggie gardens are generally regarded as not so picturesque, and usually get tucked off somewhere out of sight: i.e. the back forty (not mine, but I'm weird).

Trees probably wouldn't mind the runoff as long as there's not too much of it: the slope would ensure that they didn't get "wet feet" from poor drainage (the Previous Owners planted one of my Galas in a low spot, and it's a pygmy compared to its siblings). But if you're putting your veggie garden there, you might want to think about raised beds to keep the veggies from being washed away.

Now, keep in mind that some veggies (lettuce, for instance) aren't too fond of total sun, and neither are blueberries (from the little I know about them). So you might want to consider having separate areas for the sun-loving edibles and the sun-shy ones. Then again, you're in zone 4, with a short growing season and a lower angle of sun, so maybe you don't have to give the lettuce some shade; I've no idea.

Anyway, I'd put the veggies on your side of the back utility easement, because they'll get plenty of sun there (nothing tall going into that easement, so no fear of shade from the south). Run the rows perpendicular to the slope (N-S). On the edge of the easement, you might not have to worry about the possible runoff.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 11:56PM
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Wow did I misread that map. I had read it as your lot was the little red lines in a larger trapezoidal development. My map professor wouldn't be happy.

You mentioned a wind break. Which direction is the wind coming from at your site?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 12:21AM
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Average prevailing winds come from the northwest and travel southeast.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 12:51AM
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