Beyond the front lawn project…..beyond the fence.
Depending on the angle of view from the front lawn or street, when you look beyond the fence there is a whole other world of landscape which was once all lawn, but has been “deleted” through various phases over the years. See the photo gallery for a pictorial journal of the process.
Prior to converting the front lawn to communal veggie garden I planted my veggies in this main “house yard,” often intermingling them with flowers, in a more European manner. This is partly due to having learned about the various niches in the yard, though they be but a few feet apart, and also to avoid pathogen (disease) buildup in soil from repeatedly planting the same veggie (and relatives!) in the same spots/beds more than 2-3 sequential years (ie., monoculture). This pertains not only to fungal and bacterial pathogens, but also to insect and nematode pests.
It is natural to establish a group of veggies and fruits together for watering and maintenance purposes, but it’s always good to consider alternative planting options after 3 years. Perennial landscape plants are less prone to diseases, and thus can be left in place (thank goodness!). Thus, I have tomatoes planted in amongst lavender, sage, and euphorbia bushes in my hottest, sunniest area of the yard, along with gaillardia, echinacea, butterfly bush, and colorful annuals.
Looking into the house yard means looking south, where I am bounded by a fence. On my west side is a living hedge of arborvitae (now starting to grow too fast again), that provides shade for much of the garden in the mid- to late afternoon. This is appreciated by many of the plants in that area, as the huge silver maple and sequoia in the southern neighbors’ yards were removed in June 2007. Whereas my southern yard area used to be very shady it is now complete sun, which I appreciate in winter.
In spring of 2009 I designed a pergola to support my newly acquired hardy kiwi plants (requires male and female for fruit). The pergola is angled upwards towards the house to help shield against a neighbor’s back yard security light (never seen until the sequoia was removed). It will take another couple of years before the kiwis are old enough to really take off and climb the structure. Should this not work out well, I can replace kiwis with grapes, but kiwis will provide a better light buffer, as they don’t require the same pruning.
This year also marks the acquisition of a dwarf peach, already bearing 2 peaches under its two small clumps of foliage, plus an apricot on fairly dwarf rootstock. I was going to fan espalier the apricot against the sunny, protected south side of my front fence, but decided the pruning could get away from me, so will let it grow as a standard, and plant it in the same general area next fall.
The west side of my garage is a very hot area, receiving light in the summer until only an hour before sunset; but the sun doesn’t actually reach this area until nearly noon, so it yielded large tomato plants in 2008, without more than 1 ripe tomato. However, it is a good area to grow spring crops of lettuce, kale, and broccoli, and seems to be a great place for squash, once the weather warms up. This year it is turning out to be a great spot for a new artichoke plant.