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Garden Designing

Fall River, MA(Zone 6a)

I figured I would start a new thread here but basically I am following up on what go_vols said in her (?) post under "if you could change your yard ..."

This is the time when I want to find Dave's Garden my most indispensible resource! I am buying my first house (closing March 1) and my new yard is 12,300 sq ft (approx 100 ft each side). As soon as the house closes, I will start moving the contents of my 30x60 ft garden in Boston to the new yard. There is so much to consider!

Anyone with experience designing a new yard? Any must-have books? Any must-have software? Any must-do ideas? Any oh-no-don't-do-this stories?

I would love to know who else is currently in or recently passed through this particular stage of gardening life and the details of your process and challenges.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

karenmarie, is this a brand-new home, or new to you? (and yes, I am a "her" by the way :)

If it's new construction, are they sodding or seeding the yard? (Down here, we use sod for most new construction, but I know it's a local custom thing, and differs in various regions of the country.)

The reason I ask is if they are sodding OR seeding, now is a great time to mark off where you want beds, and make sure they don't put grass in them. (MUCH easier to keep it out than dig it out!)

And are there any trees on the property? Those are usually a first consideration if there aren't any, or you want more.

Okay, I'll let you answer those questions, and then we can start giving you advice in earnest. Congrats on the pending home ownership - the first home purchase is an exciting time!

Greenville, SC(Zone 7a)

I'd have to agree with go-vols and also would like to say " Congratulations On Your New Home!"

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Karenmarie, I just started from scratch 3 years ago. It can be a lot of fun, but can also be very daunting. The landscape book that I turn to again and again is the Four Season Landscape by Susan Roth -

Great advice, great pictures, and great plants that offer year round interest in the garden. I can't recommend this book enough.

As go_vols suggests, the first place to start are the "bones" of the garden, which includes trees and shrubs. I am still in this phase of developing my garden (see ). Here are my words of wisdom when starting fresh - make certain you put some sort of edging around the beds that allows you to go several weeks without edging/weedeating with no grass intrusion into the beds. I didn't do this, and have suffered mightily because of it. This is along the same lines as go_vols advice that it is much easier to keep out than dig out - some serious words of wisdom, those are.

Good luck with your new garden and keep us advised of the progress.

Fall River, MA(Zone 6a)

this is going to be so much fun!

the house is an older house (1928 bungalow) with an "established" yard -- lots of yew and privet hedges which will get ripped out -- i'm hoping to find someone who wants some or all of them, hate to see ANY plant end up as compost!

i have some nice maples in the back yard which are perfectly spaced for hanging a hammock -- pinch me!

i also have 16 -- yep, count 'em! -- large blueberry bushes which have been beautifully cared for and, according to the owners, produce an enormous amount. i will give away at least 6 of them as they take up a lot of space and i think 10 will be more than enough for me (a big and exciting move up in the blueberry world as i had 2 very tiny, not particularly productive bushes in my old garden).

right now most of the yard is lawn which i hope to reduce to a fairly small part of the yard -- just enough for bocce and badminton and for the dogs to roll on. i was reading on another site a recommendation for renting a sod-cutter to take the lawn out. apparently the sod can then just be rolled up and given away.

when the time comes to pull all this stuff out, i will post in here and hopefully a dave's gardener will be able to partake of the largesse!

go_vols, what do you recommend for edging between lawn and flower beds?

only 2-1/2 weeks to closing!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

karenmarie, it sounds like you have found "THE" home for you - how exciting!

A sod cutter can help get rid of lawn that you don't want. I also recommend cajoling a few strong-backed friends (or their teenage sons) into helping you when you attempt it. (I don't mean to scare you - perhaps it's just that Bermuda grass is a particularly nasty sod to remove. But in the South, cutting out sod is not an undertaking for the faint of heart.) But it CAN be done, and it definitely makes short work of creating space for beds.

As for edging between gardens and lawn. Well, here's my best recommendation: start your beds on the small side (not teensy-eensy, but not gargantuan.) Why?

1. The first year or so is heavy-duty weeding effort in a new bed - the bigger it is, the more space you'll have between the plants you place in the bed, AND the more area for weeds/grass to sprout and grow. Less IS more the first year.

2. It gives you an opportunity to fully assess the bed's position and shape - you'll find out how the sun in the summer comes across the beds, discover any low spots during heavy rains, etc.) And you'll decide if you like a curvy edge, or a straight one.

For that first year or two, edge the beds with an inexpensive and moveable edging - the rolled plastic or metal edging works well. It may not be very aesthetically pleasing, but it has the benefit of being movable - you can tweak a bed's shape and size any time you want.

When you settle on permanent bed shape and size, the edging of choice depends on your budget and tastes. I personally think a mortared brick edging with a matching brick mowing strip looks very handsome. As does the poured concrete edging that is catching on in popularity around here. If you have access to rock, a dry-stack stone wall is also very attractive. (Now you see why I recommended the other edging to start with - once you get brick or rock - let alone poured concrete - in place, you won't want to move it.

And your tastes will inevitably change as you grow with your yard, so be patient :0) (Which is much easier said than done, I know!) But I really would recommend giving yourself at least one or two growing seasons before you commit to a permanent border for any bed. Especially if you plan to eventually have very little grass in relation to flower beds - don't bite off more than you can chew that first year!

This message was edited Tuesday, Feb 12th 1:23 PM

Toadsuck, TX(Zone 7a) have a beautiful home and gardens! Way too much for this ole gal to handle....but, I certainly admire those who can!!


Fall River, MA(Zone 6a)

thanks for the sound advice go_vols :)

i have a garden full (30x60 ft) of perennials and shrubs waiting to be moved out of boston to the new location, so it will be almost "instant" yard. yeah, all of it is physically daunting (as i'll have to bust the sod to set up for the plants being moved and then move all the plants) but i did it 18 months ago on a much smaller scale -- i wasn't happy with my garden layout, so i pulled up literally everything, packing all the plants and shrubs into the vegetable beds (it was mid september '99 so veggies all done), pulled all the rocks and piled them in the patio area, rototilled with a rental, marked out the paths and beds with string, dug all the paths down a foot, using all the dirt to raise the beds up in varying heights, backfilled the paths with wood chips, reset all the rocks for bed borders and decoration and put all the plants back. All in three days. my friends think i'm nuts! i was very happy that one of my friends volunteered to reset the rocks for me but i basically did the rest on my own.

i have a cousin who is a landscape architect who has offered to help me with making a plan. i'm going to give him the dimensions of the yard, my list of plants and let him have a go at it. i have a hard time with structural visualization -- picturing something which ain't there -- and i don't want to move the shrubs more than once if i can help it!

only 2 weeks till closing. i think it may be time to call the movers ...

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