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Expanding my domain...

Posted by alison 5/OH (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 16, 11 at 14:03

Well, I've been in this house almost two years, and this is the summer for big projects.

One of the few drawbacks to this place is the teeny amount of garden space. But it faces south and gets great light, so -- there's always hope, right?

The first summer I tamed the beds right up against the porch. Despite being pretty much in the open, I raised tons of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, along with lilies and other flowers -- with minimal pilferage. (Thanks to a block full of vigilant neighbors who spend lots of time on their porches!)

But I hadn't done much with the pathetic strip of "lawn". I bought a weed whacker to keep the grass down, but to be honest, I think my neighbors came over and mowed it as often as I did....

So I finally got around to reclaiming that little strip into something more productive -- with a new retaining wall. The plan is to dig up the turf, fill in the bed with dirt, and put flowers and shrubs in front, leaving the beds along the porch for veggies and the like.

Here's the before:

And here's step one:

I had to get some other concrete work done, so I had the pros put in the wall. I still need to put in some "sides" along the steps, to close the bed in. I originally planned to stain the wall with a mottled red-orange-brown, to mimic the color of the brick, but my sister fears it will look like a elementary-school-mural-gone-bad, so I may just leave it concrete color. I think once it's got plants spilling over the edges you won't pay it much attention.

Juggling money, time and a lack of expertise means I'm going slow, but I hope to have the bed itself, and some of the plants in by September. It pretty much doubles my garden space -- and I'm sure my neighbors will appreciate not looking at my ragggedy grass anymore!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Expanding my domain...

That's actually a lot of space to grow veggies. You should be able to get a good yield there. I like the concrete color, but you may need to seal it, since there are no drain holes in it.

RE: Expanding my domain...

The outer beds, closest to the street, are going to be small shrubs and perennials. The beds up against the porch are for the fruit and veggies. (I put in rhubarba and blueberry plants this week!)

I was concerned about the drainage. There *are* drainage holes drilled at the base of the wall, but not as large as I'd expected. I've put wire cages over the hols on the inside of the wall, and dumped a layer of gravel there. the space is actually smaller than it looks in the after photo, so I'm hoping that will be sufficient.

RE: Expanding my domain...

I agree with dirtygardener73 that the concrete color looks good as it is (rather than staining it), because it matches the sidewalk. I also like the way the grey of concrete sets off the colors of plants without clashing with any of them.

Some of the smaller spireas would look good along the retaining wall, and wouldn't cast too much shade on your rhubarb and blueberry plants. A small or miniature rose such as The Fairy would be another nice alternative.

Along with the small shrubs you could plant something that would drape down over the edge of the retaining wall, like creeping phlox or Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatile). Or even strawberries. Whatever you choose, I'd love to see a photo when it's done!


RE: Expanding my domain...

And 10 months later... I take another step!
I've had a lot going on at work, and a lot of work going on inside the house, but I never would have believed it would have been 10 months before I got back to this project.
And I might not have done anything, if my neighbors hadn't begun installing a patio in their back yard. They were left with an enormous pile dirt -- largely topsoil they bought several years ago to put in a lawn! -- and no place to out it. They offered it to me -- and then loaded it up, brought it over, and dumped it for me! (I love my neighbors!)

So, I'm one step closer -- and some of the potted plants that have been sitting in my backyard are also one step closer -- to a much prettier front yard!

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