pathways and planting beds

I’m still working to put together a plan for what the yard (future gardens) might look like at Firefly Cottage. We have so much space that it’s hard to know where to start! I also know that I’ll change my mind and the plan along the way, but I need something to start from.

Firefly Cottage 2016-03-30

We are getting quotes to redo the front and side pathways (red and blue), so that’s coming along. Those will be poured concrete, and the paths that are marked in grey on this image will be some kind of gravel path that we’ll DIY. I mostly just want some easy ways to get through the yard that won’t be weed-ridden, and some kind of stone seems to be a relatively simple solution.

I’ve added the two existing apple trees we planted last fall (darker green circles) as well as some future fruit trees (medium green) I’d like to plant. I plan to keep all of these fruit trees pruned to a manageable size so we can get at the fruit on the top branches and the trees themselves don’t get too big. Grow a Little Fruit Tree has been an invaluable source for learning about this! There are also light green sections where I’ll do perennial beds. These are a SUPER rough idea of how these will go – I really don’t know what I’m doing with these yet! I think I’ll find some yard accoutrements to accent some of these beds, such as supports for climbers, which might help with focal points. Ideally I’d like to create an overall yard that is filled with garden, has little to no mowable grass, and feels like you’re surrounded by (but not smothered by) plants in that cozy cottage style. I also added a space for two raised beds at the back of the yard. I’m planning to put in one of these this year and wait until the future to add a second one. One is all I want to manage right now but I want to plan ahead for a day when I have more time to devote to veg gardening.


garden! garden! garden!

We have reached the time of year where I really don’t want to do anything else but be in the garden or be planning for the garden.

Firefly Cottage pathways

We are hoping to have some new pathways installed pretty soon – these will replace the existing pathways that are in various states of disrepair. The front walkway (marked in red above) is, right now, made of pavers that aren’t super well-installed, or at least their installation has degraded over time. They’re fairly uneven side to side, and the steps that are about halfway up to the house are really wonky. We’ve put in more soil underneath to support them, but it seems to wash out pretty quickly. We’d like to do a stamped concrete for this front path – something that will go well with the brick of the house. Stamped concrete is pricey, though, so we will likely not do it for everything. The paths marked in blue above we’ll do in regular poured concrete to save some bucks. I’m not sure if we could have the regular non-stamped concrete the same color as the stamped or if that would jack up the cost? If we could keep it the same color but without the added cost of stamping, that’d be great – but if necessary we’ll just go with regular concrete for the blue paths. All of these are currently already concrete or stone (along the side of the house it’s a mixture of really old stone and newer poured concrete – not all of which is at the same level anymore, so it’s really kind of a hazard). We want them all to be uniform and to be at least 3′ wide.

Firefly Cottage - lavender along front path

I’d then like to plant lavender along both sides of the front path. I had it growing along the front walkway at our house downstate, and it was really lovely to have the scent wafting like a greeting as you walked toward the front door.

Firefly Cottage - perimeter hedge

I’d also like to install a hedge around the edge of the yard. It will help give us some definition and in some areas, more privacy. Along the front of the yard, I’m thinking of something that will grow to be about 3′ tall, and I’ll likely use a combination of a few types of evergreens to accomplish this. Cottage gardens often used four or five types of plants to form a hedge, so this will be in keeping with that style. Along the sides, I’m open to using a taller evergreen, but I’d like to keep it to something that will grow no taller than 8′ or so. Definitely on the alley side I’d like to do a taller hedge, but I’m still deciding about the street side of the yard. I may go for a combination, with the front part of that street side being the same rough height as the front hedge, and moving to taller further back? I’m not decided on this yet, nor have I figured out which varieties I want to use. I’m interested in using mostly female plants if possible, so that there will be plenty of berries and flowers for birds and pollinators and so those female plants can act as a pollen filter. I also haven’t decided yet what should happen on the back part of the yard along the alley and along the property line with the neighbors behind us. We have talked about expanding the fenced-in area to go further back toward the neighbors, so I’ll probably try to decide that before figuring out the plant situation there.

I’ll be trimming back both the lilacs this spring. Both are on the street side – the front one, which is white, is sort of covered by the hedge in this drawing. That one appeared to be almost dead last year, so I’m not sure if it will survive anyway. Both of the lilacs are super way taller than they should be and have a lot of dead limbs, so I’m going to try to trim them down significantly. That’s enough for this post! I’m still working on the plans for the gardens within the yard, so that’ll be coming soon!