My tentative garden plans - any tips or suggestion

sheisaeval(Dallas, Texas)September 14, 2012

The actual boundary is up to scale (I pulled from our land survey sheet) but the drawings I made may not be to scale.

Pictures of what the yard looks like currently (large images):

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I live in the DFW area, Zone 7B.

100+ and hot/sunny almost everyday in the summer, could be dry when it's a drought, but when it rains it downpours.

Doesn't usually get below 40-50s in the winter except for an occasion cold front.

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Firstly, I know I'm quite ambitious and I know it'll take months if not a few years to probably transform my current yard into what I have in the plan, but just wanted to know if what I want is feasible or if you would suggest another plan, or if I should move some part of my plan to another part, or any tips/ideas you may have.

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Purple letter notes on the garden plan:

A: I want to remove some/most of the hedges that are here and shrink the lawn back and build more flower beds. I am thinking of growing some native shrubs/flowers in place. The small shrubs next to the door I may or may not replace, not sure yet. I may also grow some native plants around the root of the tree.

B: I may replace this shrub.

C: I want to replace this huge bush/hedge eventually but not sure what to replace it with. There's an AC unit, electric meter, hose and water pipe, and other things that I'd like to hide behind.

D: There's a little crevice that kitchen windows open to, maybe grow some kind of shady flowers?

E: There's a shrub here as well. We'd like to cut it down and put our two rain barrels in its place, maybe also grow some plants next to rain barrels? Not sure yet.

F: Two green circles, we want to grow vines on the pergola. We're thinking grapes but does anyone have any other choices? Something that can provide shade in the hot summer and edible is a plus, and if it has nice flowers that's also a plus. (Pergola picture: http://i.imgur.com/DLwcEh.jpg)

G and H: Raised beds to grow vegetables. Was thinking about bending a cattle panel between them as a long trellis. Not sure if should build another one instead of fruit tree 4.

I: Chicken coop.

J: Our current shed.

K: Perennial fruits - blackberries, strawberries, raspberries? Not sure if I should do raised bed here or grow it in the ground. Thought about blueberry but it needs acidic soil so maybe either grow it in another place (in front instead of hedge?) or in a pot.

L: Paths - not sure what to make it out of. We'd like something that looks good and practical, but also cheap. Thought about either using gravel or mulch. Or maybe big stepping stones? Any other ideas? We also want to eventually replace our thick st augustine lawn with some kind of groundcover but not sure what yet.

M: I put a fruit tree here, but I am not sure if I want to put a fruit tree here or not. I may instead have another raised bed, a fish pond, or a flower garden? Not sure yet, any suggestions?

N: The red dot is where the faucet is currently. I'd like to do drip to the raised beds G and H but not sure if I should do it through the rain barrels on the left or if I should put a hose around the deck to reach it?

O: Not sure if you see it, but there's two circles where I'd like the compost bins to be. We already have one, made from a plastic trash container from Lowes with holes punched into it, but maybe we might get another one. (We also just got a worm bin as well for inside)

P: The circle and rectangle are the previous owner's stone birdbath and bench. They're extremely heavy and we're not sure if we want to keep it or get rid of it, not sure yet.

Red fruit tree numbers 1-5.

We want to grow fruit trees but we're not sure where to put which tree right now. The ones we are thinking about growing are:

Peach

Fig

Persimmon

Plum?

Apricot?

Right now my tentative plans-

This fall/Winter - remove hedges/shrubs/rosebushes/maybe the tree?, build chicken coop, build raised beds, plant fruit trees, sow native seeds

Next spring - order chicks, plant fruit bushes, sow vegetable seeds, hook up rain barrels, plant grape vines

Next year sometime - work on garden paths, replace lawn with groundcover

If anyone has any tips/ideas, it'll be great. Thanks!

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sheisaeval(Dallas, Texas)

Hmm, it didn't let me upload the image, oh well, it's all linked.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:08PM
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yardvaark

It's very difficult to correlate the plan with the instructions/descriptions when they cannot be seen together at the same time. It seems with Gardenweb's new image file upload only one picture can be uploaded at a time. I'd consider posting them the old-fashioned way by obtaining the share html code from your photo-hosting site and pasting it into the message so that all photos are visible in your thread.

I'm testing if the share code (it appears, highlighted) can be obtained from "inspect element" after right-clicking on your photo. If your plan appears here, it can. (I'm using Google Chrome; it may not work the same for other browsers.)

Even with the plan here now I haven't been able to reference it with your notes (they're not visible in this preview) so will only make a couple of general comments. In area "A" it seems you're keeping with the same scheme of "penning in" the stoop area. I'd ponder whether that provides a "welcoming" feel and attractive "look" to the space. At the back yard, it does not seem that much effort has gone into laying out the geometry of the elements, including the paths so that the end result is attractive as well as functional. It's overall appearance is very utilitarian. It seems that things could be arranged and shaped in a more attractive manner, including the pathway system, which also appears inefficient.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:01AM
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sheisaeval(Dallas, Texas)

Do you have any tips or suggestions to make the paths less "utilitarian"? I tried to make it very practical, I just made paths that go to the shed, the coop, the raised beds, and to the left side, where the fence door is located (that's why there's a path there). What would be a better path for these?

The locations I've thought about why I put places at locations. The coop is located the only place in the yard I can locate it (50 feet from neighbor houses). The raised beds are at the sunniest place.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 5:06PM
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yardvaark

As it stands now, the path system is pretty much the dominant central feature of the yard. I can imagine that if it were built with a pronounced color material, it would stand out like a sore thumb. The garden might make a better central feature. I am not submitting this sketch as THE solution for your paths, but only as a sample of how you could clean up the geometry of the layout. I think you should first think about if the shape of any of the elements of your yard could be made more functional and then, more interesting. As an example I changed the raised beds to make them more reflective of the shape of the deck. Doing that and moving them over a little bit helped to eliminate almost duplicate paths, which look like they might both end up being slightly pinched in your layout. After giving the elements themselves another brainstorming session, I'd draw the route--simply as "lines in the grass"--that you would walk to all the elements, for whatever reasons you would go. After you see all the routes, then look for any opportunities to adjust the location of the element to improve the route. After adjusting the best you can, apply geometric beautification to your routes. This is where you simplify, organize and search for attractive patterns... primarily using geometric shapes. (If you go all cattywampus here, figure on it not looking good.) For example, I can see another way that K could be connected. It's the path that I didn't color in. Whether it works, or not, depends on the routes that you've identified. (Which I have no knowledge of; my drawing is just bouncing off of the paths that you submitted.) It's an adjusting process where you would move an element if it improves the pathway system and the overall layout.

For elements that are to be built in the future, you have the flexibility to place doorways and "destinations" where you want. So it would be good to design them in ways that improve your pathway system... whenever possible. Shape and arrange things the way you want them to be. I would explore tying the deck and raised garden system together in some way, if that works for you. (I don't know much about your property and probably won't make the effort until pictures appear directly on the thread.)

Don't think too much about plants now, except in a general way, until you get the hardscape worked out.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:17PM
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adriennemb2(z3/4)

Wow, not just ambitious but an enthusiastic stab at self-sustainability too. Good for you! A few caveats though first...

It sounds as if this house is new to you. That is probably good reason to slow down and more carefully evaluate your needs, wants and the site in all the seasons before there is an outlay of expense or hard physical labour. If you think the bird bath and bench are heavy, just wait until you have to start lugging around chicken feed and manure!

It also sounds as if you are not yet an experienced gardener nor livestock manager :) The key here is more patient and practical research. Why do you want to rip out established shrubs in the front just to replace them with others, albeit native? Why do you want to garden vegetables and fruit canes right beside your deck in separate raised beds no less? Have you considered just how empty and disjointed this plan shall look in winter and how much extra maintenance there will be in cutting the grass and edging the pathways?

If it were me, I would just take a big breath and prioritize everything I wanted to accomplish. Don't forget to consider those important little things such as access to utilities. I personally would develop a simpler layout too. Perhaps zone the entire far end of the yard as "agricultural", grouping the fruit and vegetable crops into one garden situated alongside the chicken run and shed, all of which would be enclosed behind a secondary fence.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 12:29AM
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sheisaeval(Dallas, Texas)

Yes, I know I'm pretty ambitious. While before we lived in a house I was doing research on gardens and chickens for months before we were able to.

The chickens are because we buy/eat eggs a lot and feel it might be a good thing to do, I've looked through the forums at backyardchickens and I've attended many coop tours and informational meetings at my city and area.

The shrubs in front because I don't like shrubs and hedges, I would like to replace it with native flowers which wouldn't need as much water or pruning as these, and still look good. This person's flickr album is sort of my inspiration of what I want done: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arcurikw/sets/72157604084858783/with/4484143533/

I want the vegetables in raised beds because I've read square foot gardening books and think it might be a good way to grow vegetables. The fruits may or may not be in a raised bed or in the ground, I'm not sure yet.

As for grass, we'll probably keep the front but I want to eventually replace all the lawn in the backyard with groundcover or clover or chamomile or thyme or something, which wouldn't need as much cutting as often, I haven't decided what yet, but we don't like grass so we want to change it eventually.

Right now I'm only growing a couple of fall vegetables in pots on the deck now so I'm starting small-ish for now. I may push back on the front yard transformation 'til next year but I think the fruit trees would probably be this winter and also possibly some raised beds and coop, but the lawn replacement/pathway may wait. We did already get rain barrels (from a rain barrel program locally for cheap) so we might set that up in the spring too though.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:28AM
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