Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big Plans for the Garden

This fall I hired a garden planner, Villa Verde Garden Designs, to do a plan for the backyard. I decided to do this after a few months of mentally planning, but always feeling unsure of where to start, how much of what materials to buy, and nervous about wasting money with mistakes. With a plan laid out, we know what the final outcome will be and we can do portions of it as we have the money and time, without worrying that putting one thing in is going to screw up something I'm going to want later. I also wanted help with sizes of things from someone who has more experience with gardens than me. The completed plans, delivered to us on a large paper, fully scaled for accurate dimensions, include a path, a couple of border flower beds, tearing down and rebuilding the current raised beds and adding several more. Our planner, Leah, knew to do things I might not have thought of like designing the new beds to be sizes that you can buy boards so we won't have any waste, and with big enough spaces between each one to fit a wheelbarrow. She gave us two options for layout, and included detailed views of how to put together a stable path that will last. She also included a list of local suppliers that have good prices for our building materials, and a list of plantings for the border beds. I would highly recommend this service if you're planning making a major change to your yard, or if you're just unsure about what plants to add to your space. We got our plan and all of the advice for a very reasonable rate, and I am thrilled to be adding to our vegetable garden and beautifying our backyard. I hope to document our progress on this blog as we begin making changes.

We got a puppy shortly after we got the final plan and sadly haven't done a single thing to the back yard since then. But, yesterday I did manage to dig up the entire front border of our front yard, remove the plastic sheeting, add a little bit of soil, and plant 130 bulbs! I am so excited to see them come up this spring! I also planted a lovely climbing rose next to our walkway. My long-term plans for the front yard include adding several lavenders and another climbing plant along the walkway and some wild-flowers next to the curb. As part of doing this I will be taking out all of the plastic that is currently in the border beds of our yard, under an inch or two of wood/bark chip. I hate plastic sheeting! While it does a pretty good job of minimizing weeds for a couple of years, it breaks down in the ground over time, losing functionality and turning into plastic flakes in your soil. This is not the kind of material that I want where I am trying to grow things.

In the back yard, we didn't plant a fall/winter garden this year, so we are pretty much done with harvesting for 2009. . . although there are still a couple of peppers out there that we never picked because we had such an amazing bumper crop of peppers. We ate peppers in salads, in sauces, and in burritos. I cooked more stuffed peppers this summer than in all other years combined, and we made many batches of pepper jelly, which will be one of our main gifts for Christmas this year.

Remaining to do in the back yard before it is really ready for winter: prune the raspberries, remove the dead, dried out plants, stir the compost pile, and add mulch to the raised beds.

So we have lots of big plans, now we just need to find the time to do the work.


  1. A garden planner . . . I WANT ONE!! And then I want him/her to hold my hand throughout the rest of the growing season. And canning. ;)

  2. That pepper jelly was so delicious. We still need to give you back your jar! How did you learn that hiring a garden planner was an option?