Building a New Garden

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

It's the dead of winter in the Midwest and I've got cabin fever. I miss the hours spent in my garden, so I've been scanning the garden catalogs, looking at all the plants I'd love to add to my garden. Unfortunately, I've run out of room in my border garden - in order to plant something new, I'll need to pull out something I already have (and love). Plus, many of the things I'd like to add require full sun, but my lot has many mature trees, so I have very few areas of full sun.

Yesterday I decided the only way to solve the dilemma is to add a new garden space. It occurred to me I could build a new garden in the center of my lawn. This will solve all my problems - the area gets the most light of any area in my yard (as close to 'full sun' as you'll find in my neighborhood), it's a large, clear space - a 'blank page' on which I can design a new garden - and, it will eliminate a lot of grass!

I'm excited - this will give me something to work on in the cold, winter months. I can spend hours planning the space, researching plants and mentally 'planting' the new garden.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

The space I'm planning to use is fairly large - approximately 45' X 25'. I'll need to incorporate the two large urns at the back of the yard, as well as the two smaller urns next to the patio.

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Here's a photo taken from the border garden, looking towards the house.

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springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

Can't wait to see your ideas!

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

I am thinking of adding to a bed, but raising it up and placing stones around it.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I think raised beds are easiest to work with. I think they get less weeds and are easier to mow around and they look nice too.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

It's January 29 and, intellectually, I know this is the 'dead of winter', but it was 49 degrees yesterday and I could not resist staking out the perimeter of the new bed. Victor, the young man who has helped me with my garden since my heart attack one year ago, and I talked about how we would go about 'building' the new bed. There are so many considerations. How do we handle the corners (the back two corners are anchored by the tall urns - should the front corners also be square insets or could we do rounded insets?). How to remove all of the grass in the center of the bed? When do we have the lawn sprinkler folks come to take out the sprinklers that are in the bed and set new sprinklers in their place?

Victor has experience in bricklaying, and I wanted to put a border of bricks set in mortar around the bed to help keep the zoysia at bay, so he began figuring what he would need to begin that work. He's excited by the challenge and eager to get started, since the weather is so mild. My fear, however, is that he'd get started and the weather would turn cold (the 10 day forecast calls for temps in the 40's - 60's for the next 10 days!).

We decided we need a path through the center of the garden, so we plan to get more of the flagstone used in other paths throughout the yard to give continuity.

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springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I'm green with envy

I need a Victor of my own lol

Brunswick, GA

me, too. Victor cloning.

Now that you know the outside dimensions of your new garden, draw one to scale on graphing paper & either photocopy or use tracing paper + colored pencils to plot out your garden in successive months of bloom, keeping plant height in mind. (Taller plants toward the middle, duh) That should give you some fun during the cold months, and you'll be set to grow once the weather warms.

Consider using some native plants.

Definitely recommend bricks over gravel. Picking the fallen leaves out of pea stone is sooo tedious.

I hope you post pictures of your project as it progresses.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I am very lucky to have found Victor to help me in my garden. Besides being young and strong enough to do the tasks I can't or shouldn't be doing myself, he's good company. He in genuinely interested in the garden and takes pride when things turn out well and doesn't seem to mind that I work beside him.

It's almost 60 degrees today, January 30! I have to work at my regular job (the only way I can afford to garden!), but Victor is here, digging the footings for the brick curb that will go around the bed.

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

The footing is 15" deep and will be filled with concrete before the brick curb is added.

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Brunswick, GA

Thanks for sharing your photos, Leawood! It's so exciting to watch a project come together. Keep posting, and best of luck with everything.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

One of the considerations we face is how to handle the irrigation for the new bed. The large area is currently watered by three zones on the sprinkler system. A large main line runs through the middle of the bed, with secondary lines off to the sides serving 12 heads. It looks like the lines will need to be relocated, since Victor uncovered several lines during the excavation.

Ooops! I keep forgetting DG doesn't accept vertical photos.

This message was edited Feb 2, 2012 6:19 AM

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Virginia Beach, VA

Your plan sounds exciting and the end product will be beautiful. I have a rose garden at the middle of the backyard and has a tall fountain at the middle. It is quite stunning when the roses are in bloom. I used th have assorted varieties of roses but had to get rid of some because of care. I have mostly the type that is very easy to care for, I am having senior moment right now.LOL!!!

since the weather is very mild it is a good time to start and put a lot of compost in it.
I have to check my picture files if I can see the picture but it is posted in several threads,We too have zoysia and somehow we do not have problems with it creeping inside the bed.

During summer we put my plumeria collection around this bed but DH told me I can not do it this summer.He is adding a 4th tier of the concrete he used and again I can not remember the name He is building me a new place for them. With him playing golf almost everyday I do not know if it will ever materialize.

Keep posting the pictures

Belle

Virginia Beach, VA

Just a follow up on the pictures. i just bump the thread on the beginner flowers about my rose garden at the middle of the back yard. DH just added 4th layer of the brick/ concrete around the.
garden

Belle

the roses are knockout roses.

This message was edited Feb 2, 2012 5:38 PM

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Wonderful garden Belle! I used to have a couple plumaria, but they got so large I could no longer over-winter them, so I gave them to a friend who has a greenhouse.

Here is the photo of the lines in our foundation trench - in a format DG accepts (so you don't have to lay on your side to view it - LOL).

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Today is very cold and blustery. The footings are all complete and the re-bar is ready to lay into the trench. The brick was delivered this morning, so as soon as we see a few (fairly) warm days in the forecast, we'll order the concrete.

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I'm excited for you! I can feel my heart pounding in anticipation of your project. I'll be following your process. I love that you're posting pictures as you go. I can't wait for the virtual tour.

What plans are you planning to put in the garden?

Tiffin, OH(Zone 5a)

Are your plans for a fairly formal layout? The symetrical urns kind of lend themselves to that but they are really cool looking any way you design around them. It sounds like you are really putting a lot of thought into this.
I would love to do a project like this -I've dreamed of buying a vacant lot then picking and choosing from among everything in my yard and leaving all my mistakes behind!!
Good luck and keep posting pictures -I'll be watching with anticipation.
MWhit

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks All!

I guess this is a 'vanity' project. I've gardened for about 60 years, but in almost every instance, I've added to, or modified a garden someone else established. Here, I'm able to have a 'clean slate' and start from scratch. Granted, the tall urns are a 'given' that I have chosen to incorporate (I could have established my space so that they are not part of the design, but I'd prefer to include them), but beyond that, it can be anything I decide to build.

It will be slightly formal - the brick border will be echoed by a boxwood hedge, but within the bed, things will be random. There will be a stone path through the middle to enable viewing and provide a walkway to the border garden. I'm also hoping to include plants I have not been able to grow in other places in my garden (not enough sun in most of the beds) and achieve a color and plant mix that is both aesthetically pleasing and visually exciting.

It sounds like a tall order, and I won't guarantee success from the outset. To me, gardening is experimentation, modification (based upon seasonal results) and 'luck'.

I read once - when I was in my 30's and had never lived in the same city (or house) for more than two years - that it takes 10 years to establish a new garden. The author was some well-known gardener in Conn. who had a large estate. I don't have a large estate, and I'm not sure I have 10 years of gardening left in me, so I'm going to try to establish this garden over the next three years before I hang up my hat.

Stay tuned for my progress reports.

Tiffin, OH(Zone 5a)

That sounds wonderful! I think your use of the urns and the brick wall do give a feel of formality. Even though the planting scheme is more carefree than a true formal planting might call for, those hardscape features help to impose a feel of order that will really work for you.

As a really undisciplined gardener I will be watching to see how I can "steal" your ideas to incorporate into my garden! BTW I have no one to blame but myself for any mistakes here since the yard was a 75X235 city lot with only a row of Arborvitea down one side and across the back. It has taken me 40 years to create this jungle so the blame is all mine!

Best wishes to you and your garden helper-it will be lovely! MW

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I never consider an idea 'stolen' - it's the kindest form of flattery, mwhit! The brick will just be a 'curb' edging to keep the zoysia out of the bed. Do you have pics of your garden to share? I'm always interested in seeing how others have tackled problem areas.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I don't know if a garden is ever finished :)

I worked in mine for 14 years before I had it basically finished, but then I moved!

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

That's been my experience so far, but after twelve years in this house, I have done all I want with the border gardens, this will be my 'finale'. I'll probably retire and move to a smaller place in three years.

Tiffin, OH(Zone 5a)

Here's a few pictures from various areas in the yard- I just realized from looking for these that my picture taking is a lot like my gardening- I tend to take pics of individual flowers rather than whole areas.I also tend to buy individual plants because I gotta have em rather than planning what I need for a specific spot then choosing something apprpriate. I read somewhere that if you do that you are not a gardener -you are a plant collector. Guilty (sigh) MW

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springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

well you described me to a "T" lol

if I like something, it goes somewhere!

Newnan, GA(Zone 7b)

OMG! And I have been calling myself a gardener! Oops. Guilty also.

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

I am guilty also. I say we are just plant lovers.

Tiffin, OH(Zone 5a)

Plant lovers -that's our story and we are sticking to it!! MW

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Same here. If I love it I buy it and make a place for it. Why not?

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Brunswick, GA

Good heavens, of course we are gardeners. Buying the plants that you love, placing them where they will grow and show best, endowing them with love, care and appreciation - we work with inspiration & intuition, as an artist does. The pros who start with gridded paper do their jobs well, but from what I've observed, they tend to use the same plants again and again because they know what will please their clients and not die an unsightly death.

Rarely do they pull over to the side of the road to admire the globe allium among the pink-and-peach tulips in someone's yard, or the way the echinacea looks mixed in with purple fountain grass and tea olive - then detour to the garden center so we can acquire some of those plants for our own gardens.

We gardeners celebrate the plants that thrive and mourn those that croak. We have an emotional connection with our gardens that the landscape designers can't afford to develop.

We are gardeners as God meant humankind to be, caretakers of our little places on the earth. The gardens we make will endure long after we've moved away, or passed beyond. Our gardens are our art, visible records of our passage through this space and time.

Just because someone wrote a book doen't mean they know more than you do. You are the one who gets on your knees in your garden, eye-to-eye with the earthworms, face-to-face with the blossoms or the fungus that's infesting your daisies. You know. Deeply and beyond words, you know.

mwhit, your gardens are lovely. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Newnan, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm still relatively new at this but have discovered that I am a "plopper" not a "planner." I tried planning and got totally bored ... before, during and after. Last summer I had to take a hiatus (@#*^ health issues ... congestive heart failure sucks) but this year with a little added oxygen I hope to be able to get out there and finish things I started and forge new territory for things I bought that are still sitting on the deck in their boring, drab little nursery pots. My garage is full of iron trellises and tuteurs, bags of composted manure and topsoil, assorted pots .... at least I won't have to buy anything to get started! I had rather have those beautiful wooden tuteurs like Pirl has but I don't have a DH to make them for me. I will make do with what I can find.

Leawood, I think you are the one who did those huge, gorgeous beds of tulips. I have admired your work for a couple of years. And, of course, photos of Pirl's gardens have their own folder on my desktop. I love to see photos of entire beds and garden areas, rather than just a photo of a single plant or bloom. They tend to inspire me to get out there and do something. While I'm not supposed to do anything really heavy, I do tend to go a bit overboard. But can you think of a better place than in your garden to kick the bucket? LOL

Leawood, keep sending those photos. They are very inspiring.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Judy. Hope you succeed with all of your garden plans for this year.

Conneaut Lake, PA

Well, I certainly see that this thread is the one I belong in...lol.
Lea, I sure understand the cabin fever, especially with this mild winter that we've been having (that is up to now, there's at least a foot of snow out there right now).
MW, your pictures are beautiful.
And Pirl, I think I may have gotten all of your pictures saved...not sure tho.
And Judy, I'm in the same boat as you. I have the congestive heart failure plus a triple bypass and one is now closed. Then add in diabetes and the loss of my husband 2 years ago (has it been that long already?) Now add in age 78...geez. I think that I now need to get some energy
Judy, how did you get the added oxygen?
I do have, or at least did have a blank wall to work on. When my husband got ill, we sold our home and moved next to my daughter. Directly behind, and I mean directly behind the house is a hill. I could picture it covered with one big garden. Little did I know that it had the worse ground that I have ever worked with....clay lined with rocks...terrible....and I, too, am a plopper. It's certainly not what I pictured...
Well, think I'm right for your group? Elaine, zone 5/6, n/w Pa....

Newnan, GA(Zone 7b)

Welcome Elaine,
Leawood's gardens are beauties to behold. And Pirl's are amazing. Mw, your photos are making me drool. We all spoke too soon because the cold weather has finally arrived here in the south. Temps in the teens and twenties in the Atlanta area and snow in the mountains of north Georgia. Supposed to warm up again slightly but, actually, I welcome the cold temps. We would have been inundated with bugs. Don't want to steal Leawood's thread so, Elaine, I will answer you more completely in D-mail.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

More unseasonably warm weather here and Victor was able to put the rebar in place and install 4" PVC pipe for the sprinkler system and electrical wring to pass through the footing. The PVC is installed right next to the existing sprinkler lines. As soon as the freeze danger has passed, the existing lines will be cut and passed through the PVC and the water will be turned on. The new bed will be watered using 12" pop-up heads to sprinkle above the adjacent plants.

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

While digging the footing, Victor encountered the roots of the osage orange / hedge apple tree nearby and the remnants of an old tree that was removed several yeas ago after it was toppled by an ice storm. It took a lot of muscle to chop through the roots and provide a solid base for the footing.

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

The osage orange tree roots were very extensive and the wood is exceptionally tough, making removal an ordeal. It was necessary, however, to make sure the footing didn't heave or break in the coming years.

The weather forecast calls for rain this afternoon, so we've cancelled the delivery of concrete. We'll re-schedule the concrete for later this week, when we have a better 2-day forecast.

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Virginia Beach, VA

It is a major project and will monitor the progress. thank you for posting the progress.


Incidentally we are in Hawaii for Mom's funeral and now on R&R in Maui for 2 days. i needed it because Mom passed away in R.I. but funeral was in Oahu so it was very hectic dealing with 2 funeral parlors and flying her body.

Belle

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

I've been lurking around this post for a while, and just wanted to finally say to LeawoodGardener that I've enjoyed watching the progress. Have you all discovered Pinterest? It's addictive, I will warn you, but some of you should definitely post some of your garden photos there. And it is a great place to post photos you find here and there on the web of things that interest you. It is a free site and you can create your own pin Boards of things that interest you (different subjects as desired), and thus they are kept later reference.

Mwhit, I love your gardens! You take pictures like I do...mostly of the plant, lol! And of course Pirl's are always to die for. I love that we can now post 5 photos...now if we could only view like a slide show and not have to go back and open each one. Are we never satisfied?
Another Elaine

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