how can i turn my back yard into a garden

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by peja, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. peja

    peja Member

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    Location:
    calgary, canada
    where do i start, i have never done any gardening before. i'll have to dig and remove grass im guessing and replace it with with soil. Also i'd like to plant veggies; fruit trees and herbs with require different types of soil; nutrients and temprature. how do i pull this off in a simple way?
     
  2. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    philly, pa, usa 6b
    start small and simple. as in, don't go overboard with lots of projects or anything that's to big - you'll easily become overwhelmed. start off with a couple small areas and then you can expand them each year.

    make a list of the things you *think* you want to grow (this list will be modified - additions/subtractions - as you go along over the years and learn things). do separate lists for plants/trees and edibles - one for vegy/fruits and one for herbs.

    soil does not necessarily need to be modified. you can easily grow native plants with little fiddling. even some that aren't native.

    you need to look at the areas you have and see where a garden would look nice and/or would work - sun light levels, drainage, foot traffic, how much room you have, etc, are things to take into consideration. you also need to know what your hardiness zone is - there's a link in the panel on the right hand side of this page for 'hardiness zones'. regardless of what your zone is, there are always 'micro climates' within any given zone - so, you may be able to grow things in certain spots that aren't, technically, really do-able in your general zone.

    you also need to think about what 'type' of gardens you want. by that i mean formal and neat & orderly (think english garden) or a bit more 'wild' and natural looking (think cottage garden). do you want a particular theme? that could be a certain species or a certain color or all flowers or all bushes with no flowers. you can also do plants native to calgary area. or native to all of canada or north america. there are lots of options!

    you also need to think about how much maintenance you want to do each year. perennials need little maintenance - maybe some bit of trimming yearly. annuals need to be redone/replanted each year. weeding is an ongoing thing - there are ground cover plants and other products that can be used to reduce them...still, that's going to be something that's always there and needing dealt with.

    vegy gardening is vegy gardening - kinda have to be a bit formal with that section, lol. you do need an area that has sun for the majority of the day if you're going to have decent harvest. also, some things (like aspargus) need LOTS of room as they grow over the years and also need certain type of soil (bit sandy; easily done in a raised bed if your soil isn't naturally sandy). you will also need a fair amount of space depending on what you want to grow - anything in the squash family needs feet and feet of space for the vines to grow. same for strawberries unless you do them in strawberry pot.

    once you have a general idea of what you want to plant and how you want it all to look in a few years, take out your lists and do some research about them to find out what zones they'll grow in - and remove anything that is definitely not possible. you'll also need to find out how large things become over time - and plan accordingly so that you're not doing a lot of moving things around in a few years because things became crowded.

    a good way to get ideas of what grows well in your area is to walk around your neighborhood and see what others are growing. you'll get ideas about what plants you like and don't like as well as what you like or don't like about how things are layed out. that will help in planning out your own gardens.

    as i said at the beginning: start small and stay simple. one or two flowerbeds and an area for vegy's - all done on a small scale. just get the tips of your fingers dirty without going completely overboard up to your elbows in dirt!

    you can expand on your starter areas each year.

    doing things gradually works on many fronts. you're not going overboard and getting overwhelmed. you're not spending a fortune all at once and then finding you don't even like things a year or so later. your tastes will change as you go along and doing things at a slower rate allows you to compensate for that. also, you learn as you go along and mistakes will be made, so, starting small saves time, effort and money in the long run because you'll learn from this years mistakes and won't repeat them with next years plantings.
     
  3. peja

    peja Member

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    ya first time gonna try this and theres lots of thing i want to try. thx tho, i'll try to cut my list down to what i want most. wish it wasnt so cold here so i could grow year round.
     
  4. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    well, you can do plants inside. either keep them inside all year round or move them outside for the warm months.

     
  5. peja

    peja Member

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    ya i could keep smaller ones inside but i would have space issues with the bigger ones.
     
  6. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Calgary is zone 3a, but you are by no means limited to that zone. With protection from the wind and a bit of leaves and snow cover (which I know is limited in your area), you could easliy grow zone 4 plants. How big is your yard? I would agree with joclyn - start small. I tend to prefer raised beds. A lot less digging, and I garden on a slope, so it is a good way to get a flat gardening area, so the soil doesn't wash away - probably not an issue with you, since Calgary is so dry. I got landscape ties at Rona to use for the raised beds. They come in 8' lengths. You could either make an 8' x 8' bed, or, I cut some in half to make 8' x 4' beds. Interlock the ties, and drill holes through, and put cut pieses of re-bar (or something else sturdy) to keep them in place. Just an idea - I like the look in my yard. Just a lot more convenient because of the slope.
     
  7. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    We just started turning our back yard into a garden. What you see in the photos is mostly a one week change. Afterward, I started on the vegetable and flower garden in the corner.

    Several fruit trees that you can't see. Room for more plants of course. I think that the starting point is to do the big stuff first, to spare damage to small plants.

    Previous owners planted big trees too close to the power lines. So we removed two. Lots of light for the garden now. I kept the trunks 12' tall, as a grape arbor. The seedless grape is now between those two trunks.
     

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