A formal garden on a shoestring - thanks to WS! (Pic heavy)

lceh(7)September 19, 2011

I'm so encouraged by my new garden's progress that I thought I'd post a few photos. I have a truly miniscule garden budget, but thanks to Craigslist (58 free boxwoods and misc. other plants), the big box home improvement store (75% off sales at the end of the season), lasagna gardening (couldn't afford topsoil), my local garden swap Yahoo! group (lots of divisions), creative bartering (ducklings for peonies anyone?), and winter sowing (thanks you guys!) here's my garden after one year:

First, the "before" of the front yard last August, right after we bought the house:

In progress last fall:

Last week:

Of course there's a lot more to do (not to mention the house, talk about a project -- look at that front door, ugh!) but I'm so encouraged by how WSing helped fill the beds. Next year all those perennials will be blooming and it'll be even better (coneflowers, sweet William, campanula, dame's rocket, luneria). Not to mention all the milk jugs I plan to fill this winter. And I swapped rooted hydrangea cuttings for great classical urn to make into a fountain -- that's next year's project.

Thanks guys! Happy gardening, and don't let the budget get in the way!

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WOW! A wonderful job. Thank you for sharing.

Dorothy (Meadows)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 8:30PM
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It's marvelous and to think you did it on a shoestring budget. Your hard work is paying off.

I have a question because I need to do one ASAP. How do you lasagne garden without bringing in topsoil and on the cheap? I kind of envy you the edging, can't tell if they're supposed to be raised or not.

You pulled it all together with the wonderful trees, sunny spots, spacious lot, and looks like kids will not be so likely to accidentally ride over or trample something.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:17PM
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The front yard is horrible, compacted clay soil and too much trouble to amend (my dad tilled the rows for the surrounding rugosa rose, boxwood, and holly hedges and it took hours!), so I figured raised beds were the way to go. They're simple boxes I built from hemlock planks, 12" high, which I filled with layers of leaves, goat manure, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and anything else I could get my hands on last fall. The final product was about 18" - 24" high. I covered the beds with black plastic and let them bake over the winter. This spring they were only partially decomposed but I planted in them anyway (see http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wtrsow/msg042101474916.html) and it worked fine. Now, at the end of the summer, they're only about 6" deep and I need to pile on a bunch of stuff this fall. I'm also going to add bone meal to beef up next year's blossoms.

You're so right about the kids, even my 4-under-9 now clearly understand where Mommy's plants are and know not to run/bike/roll through the garden! If only I could train the cat....

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Thank you for explaining. The possible good thing about clay soil base [now] is that it retains water during dry periods better. But the downside is if it doesn't drain well, the raised beds should take care of that unless you have extra heavy downpours, and plants can take it for awhile.

You've got your boards joined so neatly; the best I can do is saw and my circular saw went missing so I have to do it the hard way. Wide boards there which is good.

I'll keep struggling with what I have, may have to get a partial load of topsoil.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Happily for me, the whole yard is on a slight slope so the water drains away down the hill instead of making a wet mess out of the garden. As a Virginia gardener I've been dealing with clay for a long time, blech (most of the houses out here are brick for a reason!).

The boards aren't as neat as they look, I screwed them into corner blocks that are pounded into the ground. The good thing is that the flowers and plants distract the eye from all the goof-ups on the beds....

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:43PM
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We can't wait to hear from you next year when all of those plants have turned to teenagers (in A gOOD WAY!) and it feels so lush. Flowers everywhere and you can't believe you didn't have to pay for them. It's such a great feeling.

Do think about how you will tend things once plants are fuller - -are there stepping paths through the raised beds? Cause they look large (and beautiful) and I have ,ummm, a little expereince myself with not planning for how I will get "in" there to tend the plants and pull the weeds. For mothers day and birthday and maybe even christmas my 2-3rd season I asked for slate paths. Just wide enough that I could get in.

Congrats on all you have accomplished!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Thanks Nancy! Yes, there are stepping stones in there. I planted sugar snap peas on the tripods this spring and realized I needed a way to get in to harvest. Seems to be working fine so far. I can't wait to see how they fill in next year.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 10:02PM
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sassybutterfly_2008(7 NorthWest GA)

Beautiful design!! I love the beds you built and especially the shapes. Great job!!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 11:53PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Nice job! It should be beautiful next year after everything settles in and fills out.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 6:59AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Great job, beautiful design. Your hard work has truly paid off and will continue to get even better as the years go by. One question, I am very challenged with space and tend to like things that grow on trellises. What is that vine on the trellis in the last pic.? It seems to have interesting pink blooms. Another WS success story!!!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 3:32AM
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Those are hyacinth bean vines -- one of my WS plants. They're an annual vine and bloom in the late summer. I had Sugar Snap peas on the tripods in the spring and when they faded the hyacinth beans were ready to grow. And wow, do they produce seed!! I'll be WSing a lot of those this year for sure.

I'm training tiny little euonymus standards underneath the tripods that will one day become topiary "lollipops", so the annual vine/tripods are a nice way to give some vertical interest until they get bigger.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 7:39AM
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