I have used the fence-side area in the back yard for growing veggies the last few years, but I decided this year that it’s too much to keep up with, so I’m turning it into a perennial bed.
I transplanted some extra daylilies from the other side of the yard, and sowed some seeds for other flowering perennials this weekend. I didn’t do an excellent job with the daylilies – some of them are REALLY deeply rooted and it was super hot so I didn’t dig all the bulb thingies out. If they don’t survive, so be it – I have a billion of them. I’m also letting the potatoes grow here – every year I don’t get them all up so they resprout, and they can easily blend in with the perennials for now. Once everything is grown in more, I’ll get rid of the snow fence. But for now I need it to keep the pupperinos out of the area while things get established.
This is my totally awesome ten dollar bird bath! It’s plastic but looks better than you’d think for such a cheapie. Hopefully it will attract birds!
Holy crap, where has April gone? I feel like the past month has zoomed by. My to-do lists are all overflowing and I feel like I have so much to do even though I’m super busy all the time. Blogging has fallen by the wayside. Hopefully I can make it a priority again, since I miss it. I just don’t have enough hours to do all the things I want to do.
Speaking of hours, I spent almost all of them today out in the veg garden. First I weeded the horrendously overgrown raised beds, in anticipation of emptying them of soil and re-arranging them (you can see a tarp with a bunch of soil on it on the left side of the veg garden). That took awhile since they were so full of weeds. This mild winter didn’t do the usual killing off, and March’s crazy warm temps gave the weeds a real boost.
You may remember that I was making plans to finally replace the ugly snow fence with a real long-term more attractive fence. Today I sweet-talked my awesome husband into helping me install it. We’re still only partway through this process, so pretend the ugly snow fence is all gone already.
Note: poor Cone Of Shame Dog! He has a scratched cornea so he is coned until tomorrow at the earliest.
The fence goes from the side of the garage to the other side of the yard, and the panel that juts out is the gate, which swings in to provide access to the veg garden. K helped me lay out all the panels, dig out the grass in a channel so we could make sure the fence is level, and install everything.
This fence will be a perfect place for me to grow sun-loving climbers! It is also going to be much better at deterring jumping dogs than the former ugly fence, which they could leap over without even thinking. And it’s much more attractive and sturdy. Side bonus: I will never again trip on the snow fence and almost fall while carrying the kitchen compost container out to the compost pile behind the garage.
As you can see, the final panel (on the far right in the photo below) is at a slight angle. Our yard doesn’t happen to be exactly evenly divisible by the width of these fence panels. Big deal! I have no issue with that panel being at an angle. Eventually the expanse along the side PVC fence will be a perennial garden (come on, weather, and stop frosting/freezing at night! I’ve got ants in the pants to transplant things) so the angled panel will hardly be noticeable. I still need to smother the grass on the inside of the expanded part of the veg garden, and cut back the grass on the yard side so I can plant climbers and some kind of border so that K doesn’t have to mow right up to the fence and the grass doesn’t creep back in. And, obviously, remove the last few posts and snow fence in the veg garden. After I get the perennial garden along the side fence established, that snow fence will also be able to go.
We’re still going back and forth about having the grass in the back yard redone. The yard is lumpy (installing this fence was a lesson in just how lumpy it is – some parts of the fence are even with the level of the ground, and others are way below it) and a hodge podge of a ton of different kinds of grass, crabgrass, and clover. Ideally I’d like to have it all be white dutch clover, since it doesn’t burn when dogs pee on it and is good for pollinators. I’m not sure we can find a commercial place that will do that for us, though, and I’m really not convinced that I’m up for pulling up the sod, leveling the yard, and seeding myself, though. We’ll see.
Okay, do. So, for awhile we’ve had this ugly snow fence protecting the veg garden areas from dog access. It’s ugly, and it’s not 100% effective (the dogs are good enough at jumping that they can clear it without much effort – we rely mostly on their training), and I want it to be gone. So I’ve been looking into other, taller, less unattractive options. Lowe’s has a pretty decent-looking option that isn’t horribly expensive and seems to have gotten pretty good reviews overall. The user reviews even give helpful instructions for hacking it so that you can have a gate without having to buy an actual gate. I like that the fence is pretty non-intrusive – it won’t draw the eye like the snow fence does. I also think that if I wanted to, I could grow some climbers on the fence, or put shrubbery in front of it, or whatever.
One note: in order to fit the future apartment-blocking shrubbery back there, I need to move the raised beds, and that requires taking over at least a little bit more of the grassy part of the back yard.
Option 1 has us getting rid of the snow fence, adding a border in front of the side bed, and creating a (very short) top hat-shaped enclosure with the new fence. My goal with this design is to mostly center the protruding part, but since it won’t be feasible to do it exactly centered, leave more room on the garage side since that’s where the access door is.
PROS to this design: it’s somewhat balanced and pleasing to the eye
CONS to this design: it might be more annoying to mow around?
Option 2 has us getting rid of the snow fence, adding a border in front of the side bed, and creating a nearly-straight-with-one-jog line of the new fence. My goal with this design is to allow the additional room I need in the garden area for the raised beds, but still leave access to the garage access door unimpeded.
PROS to this design: it gives slightly more room to the garden area (though I’m not sure it’s needed)
CONS to this design: it might be less annoying to mow around?
So, what would you do?
The west side of the backyard has been a vegetable garden the last several years, but in trying to be more realistic in how much veg gardening I can actually keep up with, I’m going to turn it into a perennial garden this year. This is it:
I have a few goals in mind for this bed, along with questions, natch:
- Eventually I want to be rid of this snow fence, so I’d like for this planting area to be raised up at least a little so there can be some kind of discernible border between the bed and the yard. (Ideally this border might continue all the way around the back of the grassy area.)
- Ideally whatever this bed ends up looking like will be a design that discourages the dogs from wanting to be in it. I don’t want them peeing on the plants or being right by the fence (even though the evils have moved out, it’s possible that whoever eventually moves in will have dogs that attract the interest of ours).
- I’d like to grow some more herbs. I know from experience (as seen in the photo above) that things like mint will take over if you plant them directly in the ground, they’ll creep and spread all over (thanks again, evils!). I’m wondering if I can intersperse some containers with herbs in them amongst perennials planted directly in the ground. Will the herbs cooperate and stay where they’re put? How will the neighboring perennials feel about being planted next to a container?
For reference, the opposite side of the yard has a bed with perennial lilies and such:
So, what would you do if this were your yard?
One of the auto settings on my new camera is for situations in which the subject will be moving quickly. It can shoot a bunch of photos right in a row – perfect for Coraline!
At this point I’m just blinding shooting with this setting – just taking a buttload of photos and seeing what turns out. So far, the results are at least amusing if nothing spectacular.
I like the way that Brodie and Coraline are in quite similar positions in this one:
Hahaha! Who knew Brodie’s back legs went like that?
In this last one, I like to think that Coraline is creeping around on tip-toe on her back legs.
So I invested in a new camera recently: a DSLR! It’s a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, and it was featured on Woot! so I was able to get quite a good deal. Hooray!
I’m still learning how to use it – just beginning to learn how, really. We’ve had such a warm winter thus far, I was able to take some photos out in the garden without even getting cold.
I clearly didn’t ever finish cleaning up in the gardens this fall – there are still weeds out there, but at least some of them are interesting to look at.
It’s been ridiculous how little snow we’ve had, and how many warm days. The grass, crabby and uneven as it is, would usually be protected somewhat in winter. Instead, we are constantly tracking in pieces of dead grass and there are lots of little muddy spots throughout the back yard. I haven’t decided yet what action we’ll take in the spring. We’ve contemplated having it re-sodded, but I am so loathe to spend such a lot of money on something as lame as grass.
The Coreopsis looks pretty even when it’s dead!
The purple wintercreeper is really looking nice on the ugly back fence. Hopefully by next year it’ll be all filled in, but at least what’s there is purple and lovely.
I’m just not sure what to do with this dogwood. For the record, it’s a European Variegated Dogwood ‘Elegantissima’ and as you can see, it’s out of control.
I cut it back last year, and it got HUGE this year. It’s blocking the access door to the garage and Coraline has decided that getting underneath all the lower leaves is fun. Brodie also likes to pee on those leaves – gross!
So anyway, I’m looking for advice! Should I cut it back again? Should I move it to somewhere that it would have more room to grow (not sure if I have such a large spot)? Is there something else I could do to help it thrive?
So, remember how overgrown the back garden was a few months ago? Here’s a reminder:
Well, I realized shortly after this photo was taken that something was missing (besides all the weeds I pulled). Can you tell what it is?
Here’s a hint:
Yes, I am actually sad that the weed trees on the other side of our back fence were cut down (we don’t actually own the fence – it runs all along the back of the subdivision). It’s not the trees themselves, of course, it’s the privacy that they afforded us. I’ve been working for a few years to get the fence covered with Purple Wintercreeper, which has really taken off this year and is doing a lovely job of hiding the ugly fence. But now I’d like to grow something TALL that will give us back that feeling of privacy and coziness. There’s not a ton of room between the fence and the raised beds, of course – anyone have suggestions for what we could put back there that will grow tall but not wide?
So I’ve decided that I cannot keep up with the amount of vegetable garden I have had in the past. I have one area that has been veggies which I’m going to change into a perennial bed. Here it is right now. There are potatoes growing behind the snow fencing – I need to dig them up, in fact. (Sorry about Coraline peeing in this one – didn’t notice that until after.)
It has held a variety of different veg over the past few years, including corn, peas, potatoes, and other things:
Here we are back to the current time. It just feels like too much space for me to keep up with veggies, and I like the idea of having this bed mirror the other side of the yard, which is already a perennial garden.
We also want to finally do something about the lumpy grassy area of the back yard – running around with the dogs, I’m always afraid that someone is going to trip and twist an ankle. If we had someone come in to rip up the current grass (which is a mishmash of types of grass, including crabgrass), level it out, and lay new, we could also have them create a real stone border around the perimeter of the garden beds. Pardon my crappy attempt at showing you what I mean:
What I’m thinking is this: we could have them create a stone border that goes around all the garden beds and is consistent – AND is tall enough that it’s at least a little bit of a barrier to the dogs so that we could get rid of the ugly snow fence.
Our evil neighbors are moving out, and their unruly dogs have been the main reason we needed the snow fence in the first place (they were constantly trying to get under the fence and drove Brodie crazy). Brodie is also older now and less apt to be jumping all around, and we’re doing a pretty decent job training Coraline to stay where we want her.
This would mean that we’d lose the freecycled stone border that is currently around the garage-side garden, but I’m okay with that. It has been good, but I would definitely like to have something that is installed a bit less haphazardly and that is taller and sturdier.
I don’t want it to be TOO tall, though, because it needs to be in proportion to our modest one-story ranch house and garage. It also needs to complement the brick of the house and garage. So here are a few ideas I found online:
I’m not sure yet what I think would look best. What do you think? Seen any other cool ideas online?
Coraline likes to chew. She especially likes to chew on grass, leaves, and just about anything else that might be growing in the back yard. I’m hoping that when she’s done with teething, she will outgrow this. Our grass is dead enough from all the 90+ degree days we’ve had without her yanking it all out of the ground.
You can almost see the blade of grass in her mouth in this shot. Yes, she is somehow entertained by chewing on a SINGLE blade of grass.
She looks sort of contemplative here. Maybe she’s in a zen place with the chewing.
I think she’s chewing on a dead daylily flower here. SMH.
(For about two seconds.)