When I relocated to a small town just south of Atlanta last summer, I was faced with a typical suburban lot that had been unchanged save for routine yard maintenance for several years. While that meant I had free reign over the outdoor space, it also mean that there would be a lot of work required just to create a blank canvas on which to work. Lucky for me I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. I knew immediately what I wanted to do – create a permaculture-based garden that would be an easy to maintain ecosystem packed with edibles that would feed us, but also act as a source of food and shelter for the creatures that play an important role in this circle of life.
The front yard is average sized and nondescript. Grass runs from the overgrown sidewalk to the front of the house with a few basic shrubs. I planted a small Celeste fig tree in the center of the yard, but haven’t done much more to the front for the time being. When you take a look at what’s happening behind the house, you will understand why.
The image below shows a satellite image of the property with the back yard marked with red:
This was the front corner of the back yard the first time I saw it:
Managed, but definitely not reaching its full potential. The back yard is sizeable for a suburban lot, full of grass with the perimeter thickly ringed by privet and English ivy (all of which has to go).
The first thing I did was to put that green bin to use; a friend had drilled holes in it a few years ago for use as a compost bin but it was never used. That is no longer the case as all kitchen waste is being composted. Less than six months later, that bin is nearly full using only the compostable kitchen waste created by two adults. That adds up to a good amount of usable compost next spring.
But back to the front corner… in the center of that clump of overgrown mess in the top center of the photo above was a struggling dogwood. It was the first thing I noticed on my first walk around the yard and I knew I would want to free it first to give it a chance at thriving next year.
You can see the transformation (above) after just cutting away the brush that was choking the young tree. I would continue to clear away the weeds, thorns, and English ivy over the days and weeks that followed, until I was able to till the area that was one under that pile of brush:
Freshly tilled and amended, I couldn’t wait to plant a few fall edibles. This year I was happy to plant seeds from the Renee’s Garden collection after the company sent me a ton of great options as a birthday gift in August.
At the same time, I got the itch to have something to look at while the rest of the space was in such upheaval. I found just the right ornaments in the form of several old bowling balls that I quickly included in a curved planting with my potted herbs:
The pile of leaves in the center of the yard isn’t the result of laziness on my part. This area is going to be the centerpiece of the new garden space when I turn it into a labyrinth next year. In the upper left of the photo you can also catch a glimpse of the new composting area, aptly dubbed “Compost Corner”. More on that in a future post as well.
I have a lot more to share, but it will have to wait for another day. There’s so much left to show you (and so much left to do!)
NOTE: This post is a long one, due to the fact that this website had to be rebuilt after a fatal database crash in July. For that reason, there is a lot of info that spans several months.