Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Refreshing an Overgrown Backyard

Early edition this week, Happy Friday!  I've given a couple previews but here's the complete project summary.
This latest project finished was a
backyard hideaway in the Beaverdale neighborhood of Des Moines.  The former owner was a Master Gardener with a huge collection of perennial shrubs, flowers and ground covers.  The backyard was set up as a secluded woodland with a very small meandering yard.  The new owner was overwhelmed by the number and diversity of plants, where to start and fears of potential maintenance.

It started as a smaller job incorporating a vegetable garden, refreshing mulch in a few areas, and removing an outcropping that really broke up the yard.

The garden site was selected where it could get the most sunlight throughout the day.  A couple layouts were discussed, and the more organic beds were chosen over rectangular beds.  Materials were discussed and recycled bricks were chosen for economics, aesthetics and environmental impact.

Several hostas, lilies and rhubarb plants were saved and
moved to preferable locations.

The remaining plants and weeds were removed and
the roots were disturbed to hinder future regrowth.
Cardboard Sheet Mulch with Beds Marked
The vegetable garden was then "sheet mulched" and the layout was outlined with marking paint. Sheet mulching is the process of laying down biodegradable materials, such as layers of cardboard or newsprint, that will last long enough to kill or hinder weeds and grass from regrowing in new planting areas.  As new plants grow, and have access to sunlight, they can punch through the decomposing cardboard/newsprint/etc. while the covered weeds are starved and die.  The sheet mulch decomposes, feeding the soil biology, and avoids problems associated with landscape fabric.

A soil and compost blend was brought in overtop, and contained by a brick border.  The pathways were covered with wood chip mulch.
Vegetable Beds

Soil Solarization
The remaining plants in the outcropping were also removed and the area was covered in plastic to solarize the soil. Unfortunately this didn't work since we didn't have many really sunny days; and it was probably too early in the Spring for the sun to be high enough in the sky.  Regrowth was rapid in our unintended greenhouse.  Another round of weed removal, and this area was also sheet mulched, with a couple yards of soil and compost added on top. This area was seeded with a shady grass blend.
Cleared, with fresh soil and seed
While the new lawn area was incubating under the plastic, the new mulched areas really stood out.  The homeowner decided to mulch all of the perennial gardens and the front flower beds.

Fresh mulch on front and foundation plantings

The compost bins have a stone stepper path to them now and a corner of the yard is ready for relaxing.

The grass is coming in nicely now, flowers are blooming and the vegetables are in. 
The corner is ready for the hammock, to relax in and enjoy the refreshed backyard!
If you like any of the elements is this backyard, or need a landscaping refresh of your own or have something completely different in mind contact Abundant Design for a consultation and estimate.
Have a great weekend and happy growing!

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