Saturday, July 07, 2007

Starting a Garden

At a neighborhood potluck breakfast this morning (waffles, crepes, the whole nine yards -- how cool is that?) I got an offer I couldn't refuse. A neighbor would like me to help put in a backyard garden.

Still to be determined -- am I consulting or am I actually doing the work? I am cheap, but I don't break a sweat for free.

So where to start? Or rather, how not to repeat the mistakes that I've made in my own garden?

We took a walk around to look at some other neighbors' gardens. I figure the first thing is to get my neighbor to start thinking about what she wants her yard to look like.

Another question is like that: How does she envision using her back yard? That will help us decide how much lawn to leave and whether or not to plan for a patio. Will she want to grow some herbs or vegetables? How about a firepit or a picnic table? It's better to plan for those things first, rather than trying to fit them in later.

Before I start putting in any plants, I want to lay out the beds and walkways. In my own garden, I went with the creeping bed style of landscape design. Here a bed, there a bed, now everywhere a garden bed. But there's no overarching design. I even used different materials to make each bed. Nothing unifying, except a heck of a lot of plants growing everywhere.

Paths? Again, a mishmash. Should have put them in first.

Another of my mistakes: I started my clematis on a small trellis. After a couple of years, I replaced that with a medium trellis, and now it's overgrowing two large trellises that I joined together to form an "L." For my neighbor, I'll start by building a big trellis and then plant the clematis.

I expect this project to be spread out over a year or more. It's got to fit around my work schedule, my own gardening, and a bunch of other projects.


kris said...

This sounds like a fun project! You're right - lots of questions before you start will probably ensure a well-loved garden.

Internet Ronin said...

When I read this earlier, I meant to ask how often your neighborhood has these potluck breakfasts? Is this a long-standing tradition? Very cool, I think.

peter hoh said...

IR: it was the first potluck breakfast I'm aware of, but well received. Somewhere between 15 and 20 households participated. A fair mix of families, couples, and singles.

Since we painted our intersection last September, a group of neighbors has made a conscious effort to organize one event a month. Softball is on tap for this coming Sunday evening.

Other events have included a progressive dinner and bowling. Our neighborhood yard sale in May raised $700 -- more than enough to cover the cost of repainting the intersection this June.