attention new gardeners and lawnbound suburbanites

When we moved in to Raccoon Tree Acres four years ago, my garden area looked like this:

There was a small area fenced off with chicken wire to the left, suggesting someone threw in a few sad plants one year and forgot about them.  The “garden” was dominated by a scraggly, ill-located rhododendron, the view from the house dominated by a chain link fence.  The brown line is actually a little incline that separates the entire garden area from the lawn.  Legend has it that this area was always a garden for the farm house next door.

After rototilling the whole thing and building raised beds, then cultivating for a few years, it looks like this:

It’s just an average quarter-acre lot with two mature trees (incense cedar to the left, Siberian elm to the right), but the garden makes it my slice of paradise.  There is enough room for seven rows, plus various other “patches,” like my onion patch, lettuce patch, strawberry patch, and lovage-artichoke-rosemary-bay patch.  There is an elderberry tree growing to hide the ugly garage and broken drain spout to the left, and I’ve let the landscaping from the neighbor grow over the ugly fence.

As soon as I can convince my husband, we’ll add a retaining wall to the incline and put in the long-awaited patio expansion and path to the garden.  Every year the lawn is less and less pleasant, and I dream of vivisecting and smothering.

And you can do the same.  All you need is a sunny flat area, a rototiller (or neighbor with one), a couple of years of shipped in soil and compost, fertilizer, labor, and patience.  Every year, I try to do a little more.  I did it while writing my dissertation and job searching/working/freelance writing.  I don’t think it is out of reach for anyone who has some dedication to gardening.

By the way, the rhody (‘Virginia Richards’)is still there, but with water and fertilizer, plus some shady plants that will give it some respite from the sun as soon as they grow up tall enough, it has incredibly lovely blooms:

2 thoughts on “attention new gardeners and lawnbound suburbanites

  1. Robin 8 June 2010 / 1:07 pm

    Great before and after shots. I take over my lawn the lazy way, layering cardboard, leaves and chicken manure over it in the fall. By the spring I can plant right into it. Every year I do a bit more

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  2. Eugenia 9 June 2010 / 7:47 am

    Thanks! I don’t think I really captured the garden now, but I wanted to take the same shot. I built my front bed in the winter, but it still hasn’t broken down. Part of the problem is that my city leaves weren’t delivered until well after the rain started. Maybe the chicken manure is the key.

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