Garden Along Backyard Fence - HELP!

redthreaddiy(6a MI)September 17, 2010


My husband and I are planning to make a large garden in our backyard against the fence and against the side of the garage (white structure)

We know we want it about 5 feet deep, but we definitely don't want it to just be a straight line all the way down. We are making an L shape, where the fence garden is connected to the side of the garage garden.

We aren't sure about what kind of shape we should be doing. Are there any examples or ideas that anyone has?

Also, we aren't sure about what would look nice there. We have a TON of plants, but right now they are all jumbled together in our front garden. It looks like a true mess, so we will need to transfer the majority to the backyard garden when it's finished.

Does anyone have ideas for plant layout? We don't really know how to make a garden look 'nice' and what plants go well with what, since everything is jumbled together at the moment. Here are the plants we have:

Lots of different Asiatic Lilies

Lots of different Hostas

Lots of different Daylilies

Some Different Cannas

Lots of different Dahlias

Different Alliums




Bleeding Heart and Dwarf Bleeding Heart

Lily of the Valley

Different Peonies

Different Bee Balm


Tons of Daffodils and Tulips

Strawberry and Raspberry plants

Lots of different Irises

A rose bush that needs to stay in the backyard (that is where the gaping hole is)

I have a start-up of Rose of Sharon, that I wanted to replace that hideous tree on the right with. Does that seem like a good idea? It's like a weed tree that was NOT planted there and grew out of control (the bright green one)

I have several low bushes, and several other perennials.

Balloon Flower, Bellflower, Tiger Lilies, Turtlehead, Freesia, 2 different coneflowers ( white and purple) , Different Mums, Black eyed susans, different daisies, some vegetables, and the list goes on.

I was thinking maybe the food/herb/vegetable/fruit garden on the side of the garage, and all of the other plants along the fence. I just have to get this straight!

Thanks :)

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redthreaddiy(6a MI)

I forgot the picture! Here it is:

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 1:32PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Forget what plants you have. No good ever came from designing around existing plants. And especially if they look like a "true mess" in the front yard, you are going to have to do something different to avoid simply replicating that in the back yard. Food/herb gardens often look like he## too, so you have to start with something else.

You can throw existing plants away or give them away, and you should be able to acquire new ones that have the qualities you want in plants for this bed.

My advice would be to being with structure, including pathways. This is not just the shape of the bed, but also the shape of the lawn you want to have remaining, how you want to walk through the area, how you are going to maintain it, and what accents you might want, whether birdhouses, trellises, other focal points. Also, where do you want shade, or how is the sun going to reach your plants?

Do you ever see this garden out the window, and if so, what pattern on the ground do you want to see?

In my experience plants don't grow that nicely crammed up against walls and fences. I tend to pull planting areas away from walls for that reason.

Read some of the other threads on the forum here and you may find a lot of useful information posted in response to other queries. Just ignore anything posted by Ideasshare - it's usually garden fantasy.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 2:08PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The most important consideration should be the amount of sun in the different areas of the yard. Your veggies will (almost all) require mostly sun. So will some of your flowers (the daylilies, for example).

So before you plan the layout, make a diagram of the amount of sun the different parts of the yard receive. It's almost the fall equinox, so keep in mind that the summer sun/shade pattern is a good bit different from what you see in mid-September. If you're going to add trees or tall shrubs, keep in mind how that will affect the sun exposure in the future.

The next consideration, I think, should be how much space the veggies will need. What do you want to grow? How much of it do you want to grow? How much space will that require? (You don't necessarily need to go by what's given on the back of the seed packet. Read the theory behind square-foot gardening. You don't have to use Mel Bartholomew's method, just be aware that since you aren't using a tractor, you don't need to space your rows as far apart as you would if you were farming a huge field. GW has a Square Foot Gardening forum which you might like to visit, as well as the excellent Veggie forum.)

Be sure to allow paths for access to your veggies (sowing, watering, weeding, admiring, harvesting); the easiest paths to maintain are simply a mower's-width of lawn left between the beds. Make the beds no wider than you can reach from either side (generally 3-4').

Then place the veggie beds in whatever location (or locations) allow them adequate sun while not ruining your view of the flowerbeds.

As for the width of the flowerbeds, remember that you'll need access for maintenance there also. What works for me is to add paths if the beds are more than 4' deep. I put small stepping stones every 2' or so (cheap 6x9" pavers in unobtrusive colors).

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:12PM
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Nice edible landscape ideas,fruit tree garden is easy.but vegetable garden need more interesting and time.vegetable life always are short,you have to avoid have to use flower bed,pathway,evergreen shrub,tree,stone...keep your garden shape.the edge are stone,shrub,trees... "S" shape is more nature than "L",short plants,such as some vegetable,your flower make they more directly face sun light,or heighten their's bed can design and prune a
ton your plants into some art shape,otherway,vegetable need more nature,safe water,organic manure,careful...NOT use any insecticide.
Sorry,I can design a dozen different style landscape pics,but some one don't agree to post any pics here.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 8:49PM
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Hey, Ideashare had something to contribute that I agree with!

Yes, if you want an "edible landscape" with lots of veggies, it's easy to have a hideous, unruly mess. For one thing, many veggies are unattractive. For another, they are short-lived and even if they are attractive part of the year, you have lots of bare soil/scragglyness/overgrowth to deal with other times. It's honestly easier to separate them for many reasons, but some minor combination enhance the veggie area without making your life harder.

One way to keep flowers from looking like a mess is to group them in swathes instead of having single specimens. I recommend having only one type of plant per minimum of 5 square feet of ground. So however you plant, plant in big groups in areas suited tot he plants, and you're halfway home.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:01AM
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Please keep taking the time to contribute. You have just as much a right as anyone on Gardenweb. Ignore the critical comments.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:29PM
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OK, you have the plants & you need to get them in the ground. Raspberries take up quite a lot of room in a sunny area. They can get out of control quickly & grow long swaying boughs. I tried growing 4 in about 10 ft. by 3 ft.area, not nearly enough space & not full sun so I ended up taking them out after a few years. Strawberries like a lot of sun but can probably take a little shade(in So. Ca. anyway) don't bury them deeper than they are in pot. They spread by runners next summer so figure out your bed so it is easy to get to plants & from all sides to pick berries. Lilies spread so if you are tied up with kids or getting older might want them somewhere so if they multiply it won't ruin your garden if you don't get to them each year-they like lot of sun.They are most attractive when several of 1 color are clumped together. Iris don't like being messed with until divided. Lily of Valley like lots of shade as do most Hostas. Sort out your plants by area they need to be in,then arrange them in their pots until they look right, keep your veggies separate from other plants & try to keep your herbs in a bed by themselves, chives, oregano, onions,etc, they get messy & might put parsley around outside edge of this bed to make it more interesting. Get some graph paper & start planning on paper so you know where you will have trees how much shade they are going to give & if they can have shade plants under them. Get your sunny areas figured out & that will be area for veggies,berries, herbs,if you are planting corn,peas, green beans, squash they take up a lot of room so you will have to cut back on shade. If there is nothing behind garage & a space back there in shade you can make that your lily of valley area & break it up bit with couple of hostas. You don't want your garden & yard so much work you don't get to enjoy it. Digging out the lawn to put all this in will be lot of work so have to make it more manageable.If you want paths you need to include them. Need place to sit & relax & have friends over so you can enjoy fruits of your labors.If your library has Birds & Bloom magazines, there was lovely evolved garden in there some months ago. All gardens evolve as years go by, you find what works for you. The perfect spot at your neighbor's 2 doors down may get you O results at your place so lot of it is trial & error.I love rhubarb, planted it & it was going crazy,hanging over in lawn so I moved it,never have found a place that works since. I had planted a lovely peace rose there I don't have any rhubarb now. It doesn't like wet feet. So you may have to move plants that aren't happy anyway no matter how you plan it out. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:37AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Ideasshare did finally contribute something useful, and it is significant that it was done with words, not pictures.

Rosie, everyone has equal rights on Gardenweb until they start spoiling other people's experience, and ideasshare has been spoiling mine and it seems that of many others. By being always the first poster with completely irrelevant pictures, Ideasshare may be dissuading people from asking questions or discouraging them from checking back after they see that first response that leaves them speechless, and even if they do hang in, the rest of us are under pressure to overcome the first impression left by Ideasshare (at least I feel like I am). That feeling may send some other contributors packing.

And the contributions of Ideasshare are irrelevant because they're unrealistic - as irrelevant as if I answered each query with by putting up a picture of cute baby animals. Cute baby forests and blown up 200-year-old bonsai are no more useful.

I have to admit that people who recommend window boxes as the cure for every ill are no more useful, but they are not as omnipresent as Ideasshare so they don't hang like a cloud over the whole forum.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 11:45AM
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redthreaddiy(6a MI)

Thanks for everyone's input!

We made our shape and it looks GREAT! Now we're in the process of getting all of these evil lava rocks that have been embedded in the ground out. I have already been working for 9 hours on getting the rocks out. yuck. Whoever was here before us really screwed up. Then we will cultivate it and finally put the plants in.

I refuse to get rid of my current plants, but I will be picking and choosing which plants will go well together in the area. I have been making an excel spreadsheet of how tall the plants grow, when they bloom, how much sun they need, etc. Everything seems to be looking good!

I am going to do lots more research on the veggie/herb garden before planting anything there.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 2:54PM
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It does seem that some of the old residents of this forum have disappeared. If you're reading this, please indicate that you're alive!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 2:22AM
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Been wondering about Inkognito. He used to post on Hot Topics too, but has disappeared from there as well.

One wonders if "real life" takes precedence over sitting in front of a keyboard, or what...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 10:13AM
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