Monday, March 22, 2010

Garden Construction - Digging and More Digging

When we bought our house over a year ago, the backyard consisted of grass, five overgrown fruit trees, two large rotting raised beds, and a corner compost pile. Last fall I hired a garden designer to help us plan for changes to our backyard, and we had our fruit trees professionally pruned. This month we started spending lots of time standing in the yard saying "hmmm... what about," scratching our heads and sighing. It seemed to be such a long process to figure out what to start with, what materials we wanted to use, and how much of the plan we could tackle this year. This past weekend we finally made some physical progress, which is much more satisfying than mental progress, and we have the sore muscles, muddy shoes, and scrapes (in addition to the changes to the yard itself) to prove it. We have deconstructed the old beds and compost pile, built 6 new 4'x8' cedar-board raised beds, and dug out for the path that will go around and between each bed, along the length of the yard and connecting to the patio and garden shed. We are using Turfstone, an open-cell concrete paver, for the path.

Saturday was sunny and Sweet Pea was happy to play in the grass for most of the day. Once we really got into the digging we fenced her in with the final raised bed (photo above), kind of like a giant open-bottom playpen. Sunday was rainy and she fell down, got her hands muddy, and cried as soon as I set her on the ground. She doesn't like to play on wet ground, apparently. So, I spent part of the day working with her in the ERGO on my back, avoiding any tasks that required much bending over. In the afternoon I went inside and hung out with her for a while, then got back to digging once she went down for a nap (thank goodness for baby monitors!)

Before we began. Average, measuring and sighing:

Sweet Pea does some measurements of her own:
Five of the beds are in place. That's my dad on the right, playing with Sweet Pea. He helped us out a ton on Saturday. Thanks, Dad!
These pavers are super heavy to move around! They are four inches tall and nearly 15"x30". But, they are great for drainage, and I think they look super cool. Plus, they will be great for walking on barefoot once we get the cells (empty diamonds) planted with moss and other "walkables."
Glen tries to help. Digging while baby-wearing. I think she is asleep here:
This is as far as we got by the end of the weekend. The gravel, sand, and pavers will be delivered this week and my mom and sister are kindly coming up to assist us in building the path.
We have more digging to do to get to the 8" depth recommended for installing the path with proper base layer, and still need to plot out and dig the connections to the patio and the garden shed (on the far end of the house, around the corner. Average is also hard at work constructing a set of poles to string wire between to support the raspberries as they grow, and has already completed building the new compost bin. Yes, we have undertaken a major job here, but there is even more I want to do! I really want to install the flower bed along the house this summer, as it is just one long bare, blank exterior wall right now, but we will see how much digging I can handle before I decide it's good enough for this year. The most important thing to us was being able to continue and expand our food-growing this year, so the raised beds have been the primary goal, and we did them! Woo hoo!

This is the long-term plan we are using, with a few modifications, from Villa Verde Garden Design:


  1. My husband and I are so jealous! How fun it will be for SP to watch everything grow. Great job!

  2. I can't wait to come over and see what you guys are up to. Looks super nice.

  3. Wow! That's looking great! I can't wait to own my own home.

  4. Thanks, allie, Paul, and Mellissa! We are thrilled to do more food-growing this year, and I think it will be so neat for Sweet Pea to learn about growing plants as she gets older. I have happy memories of having my own tiny garden space when I was little.