Back in November, I got a call from a woman who wanted to turn her front and back yard into an edible landscape. She had seen me on Food For Thought with Claire Thomas, and felt instinctively that Gardenerd was the right hire for the job.
We worked together to come up with ideas: moving existing baby fruit trees to permanent homes in the front yard, adding a vegetable garden and more fruit trees in the backyard. She and her husband wanted a place to sit and relax under their prolific persimmon tree, and wanted a place to watch their grandchildren run around in the yard.
Here’s what we started with:
Dead grass, an undesired tree in the parkway, and the bones of a great garden.
The homeowner wanted to re-purpose a few plants, including a rose garden in the front yard, but also wanted a mini-fruit tree orchard and native/drought tolerant plants for the rest of the garden.
Grass, weeds and an inherited, unsightly “homemade” patio made the existing backyard less appealing.
The backyard had some well-established fruit trees, including a persimmon (far background), a plum and apricot that had been planted too closely together, and a nectarine. The homeowner wanted to add a guava and a grapefruit tree, and relocate a young citrus to the front yard.
We went to work on the design to create a backyard oasis that the homeowner could sit and enjoy from under the persimmon tree. They wanted to keep a bit of grass, but since there is no irrigation on the property (nor did they want to add any) we kept it to a minimum.
Sorry about the shadows obstructing the view, but this is the progress on the backyard.
The homeowner contracted a fence company (already in progress when we first met) to replace their chainlink fence with wood. We quickly added an enclosure for trash cans and compost bin against the garage (above left) and broke out the piecemeal patio.
We started construction on a stone retaining wall to help level out the sloping area where existing fruit trees and a beautiful Angel’s trumpet lived. We also relocated the apricot tree to a more spacious home (foreground above left).
Used brick ties in with the vintage design of the house.
The homeowner opted for brick pathways, gray granite river rocks, and gray/blue decomposed granite (DG) for hardscaping. They painted the house a cheerful blue that elevated its “cute factor” to adorable. The project was a partnership of homeowner ideas and Gardenerd design, giving them exactly what they wanted in the end.
The rectangular back yard is now undulating with gentle curves and textures.
The new brick patio leads from the house, giving the homeowner a place to put a gliding bench and a few potted plants. They plan to have a friend paint a mural on the back wall, and plant some passion fruit seeds they picked up in Hawaii to climb the back fence (back right above).
The vegetable garden is accompanied by a grapefruit tree and a flower bed with beneficial insect-attracting plants to keep their new mermaid fountain company. A pint-sized bench for their grandchildren sits across from the fountain in the shade.
The view from under the persimmon tree. With the plum relocated toward the house, the homeowner now has room for a few cane berries in the newly leveled planter. They also plan to tuck in a few bulbs between the trees.
The sun is still low in the sky, but as the days get longer, they will have full sun on their new vegetable garden. Together we planted chard, spinach, green beans, lettuces, beetsand cucumbers to start them off. The grapefruit tree is further away from the raised bed than it looks. They will have access around each as it grows in. The guava tree (coming from a friend’s house) will be installed across from the mermaid fountain, behind the grandchildren’s bench.
The front yard now features a mini-orchard of 4 citrus trees, a rose garden (foreground), and bulb garden against the tall windows of the house and a drought tolerant grouping or yarrow, sages and and existing lion’s tale (above left).
With the retaining wall to the front porch opened up, we were able to make a brick pathway from the driveway and the sidewalk straight to the front door. We used mulch and DG with an under layer of weed fabric to keep watering needs to a minimum. The homeowner can hand water her roses and other plants as needed, just like she wanted.
We also installed a fragrant jasmine and some ‘Mystery’ gardenias along the neighbors chain link fence. They will grow in to cover the fence and add a sweet smell to the air. The large parkway was planted with re-located Butterfly irises and bird of paradise from the existing yard. We added some spreading plants and left room for the homeowner to tuck in other plants as she desires.
Round pavers were recovered from deep within the backyard grasses to make a decorative entry from the street.
The charming cottage is complete with a welcoming pathway and colorful foliage. Now the homeowners can watch their young fruit trees grow along with their grandchildren.