Landscape Design forum→New house, planning a garden

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Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 24, 2019 11:35 PM CST
Hello everyone,

My wife and I recently purchased a new home. The old owners had quite the gardens at some point. Grapes, blackberries, fruit trees, strawberries, flowers, the works...

Alas, the old owners neglected the garden for the last 5+ years during a divorce and it's reallt more of a tangle. It's so bad that most of the fruit trees were cut down and I have a lot of small stumps, the garden is a tangle. The garden walkways were so thick with weeds that I only saw them during the winter when it was a bit more bare. The garden beds were edged with a kind of synthetic material that wAs reinforced with some kind of wood. There were trellises but they're wood and wire fencing that has fallen apart. Most of the beds are weeds so thick you'd be stunned. Some have a few resilient plants left. Strawberries, marigolds, and scallions but it's not worth saving. The edging on the beds is fallen apart. There is some black landscaping material under the garden beds and crushed stone walkways but it is permeated with weed roots and full of holes. The garden is overrun with Japanese beetles and other pests.

What is worth saving are some grape vines and blackberry bushes. the blackberries are plainly invincible and took over a pathway, strangled a grape vine, and crowded out some stuff I can't identify.

The wife hates the whole garden area and rightfully so right now. I've been weeding for days and trimming stuff back just to figure out what I'm looking at. I've decided that Ill have to replace basically everything but save what I can. In doing so, I'll basically design a new garden! Hurray!

I measured the space out roughly and have made my first draft design. I'm identifying where the blackberries and grapes are. The green is going to be lawn space. The black will be raised garden beds. The white will be walkways. I have in mind vegetables, strawberries, and other edibles, with maybe some flowers.

The space is 26x21. Each box is a 1'x1' square.

Thumb of 2019-07-25/NoviceGarden/5bf1d7

The top is facing west. The bottom is east. South is the left side. North is the right.


I'd love advice, comments, critiques, and any help. I'm I. Zone 6.


Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
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conniepr27
Jul 25, 2019 7:21 AM CST
I had an experience similar to yours. We bought this place eleven years ago and the previous owners became unable to care for their gardens so it became overgrown and unhealthy over the years. I spent the first year just maintaining the space and learning what was in there. I spent the second summer trying to improve the space, make it look a bit better. By the end of that summer, I knew what grew well and which plants I wanted to keep. The next few years were spent planning my own designs in the beds they already had. I discovered that there were new plants coming up that I didn't see the first few years, I believe because the soil had become too compacted and unhealthy. Lilies, tulips, Columbine, clematis! I started moving those around to better locations. After that, I started adding more landscape areas. I love my yard now.
Thumb of 2019-07-25/conniepr27/e59d68

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[Last edited by conniepr27 - Jul 25, 2019 7:30 AM (+)]
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Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 26, 2019 6:29 AM CST
Dear wife was not convinced that the initial design was the right one for our garden. She'd prefer something more straight forward like this below
Thumb of 2019-07-26/NoviceGarden/5eb562

I think this is nice too.

Thoughts?
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Jul 26, 2019 7:47 AM CST
Funny!
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
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RickM
Jul 26, 2019 7:52 AM CST
I would consider making all of the pathways 2 feet wide instead of your current 2-3-2-3. With the 'reclaimed' space, that gives you 2 feet to put a pathway behind the West bed, making it easier to get to those back 2 feet of the bed.
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Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 26, 2019 6:41 PM CST
RickM said:I would consider making all of the pathways 2 feet wide instead of your current 2-3-2-3. With the 'reclaimed' space, that gives you 2 feet to put a pathway behind the West bed, making it easier to get to those back 2 feet of the bed.


This is good space but I will be able to reach behind because behind the garden is a strip of lawn and then public land that is maintained as a lawn.
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
Snakes
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Sallymander
Jul 29, 2019 8:36 AM CST
NoviceGarden said:Dear wife was not convinced that the initial design was the right one for our garden. She'd prefer something more straight forward like this below
Thumb of 2019-07-26/NoviceGarden/5eb562

I think this is nice too.

Thoughts?


You might consider not having such a wide bed against the property line. Beds are typically 4 feet wide under the assumption one can reach in from both sides. I would go with a narrow bed, or no bed at all, like on the other side. Pathways need to be wide enough to run a wheelbarrow through them. I wouldn't have a pathway less than 3 feet, in fact, I'd lean towards 3 and a half. I know that is a small space, but if you can't navigate through it, you won't get out there to do the work, or reap the rewards. Sounds like you are hoping for an edible garden?
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
Snakes
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Sallymander
Jul 29, 2019 8:58 AM CST
You don't say where your house is, and where the back door is, nor where the other paths around the house are. You have a "walk out here" but is that a walk out from the house, or the garage, or path around the house? Is the lawn next to the house? Or are the blackberries? The squares for the lawn are disproportionate to the rest of the scale. If the lawn is only three feet wide, why have a lawn? What purpose does it serve? How easy will it be to reach with a mower?

Twenty feet of blackberries is about ten feet too many if it is just you and your wife. Blackberries are easy to get rid of, (dig them out by the roots,) but a nightmare to maintain. Raspberries are less invasive than blackberries.

What kind of grapes? Fresh eating? Raisin? Wine? Ornamental? What do you hope to get out of growing them?

If the grapes are against the house, then your garden gets morning shade, afternoon sun, assuming the neighbors house/trees don't shade anything. How many hours of sunlight does your garden get?

Any slope to the property to speak of? If so, towards the house or away from it? You just bought it, so you probably don't know about drainage problems if there are any.

Have you done a drainage test to see how well your soil drains?

What type of material do you plan to use for your pathways? For an edible garden, I prefer sawdust.

Any restrictions overhead/underground? Utilities, septic?
[Last edited by Sallymander - Jul 29, 2019 9:14 AM (+)]
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Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 29, 2019 7:34 PM CST
So the picture isn't really complete. The house is below the bottom, several feet from the garden. There are various beds around the house not portrayed as they're not, strictly speaking anyway, part of this garden. The grapes are apparently nimrod seedless grapes, which the prior owner claims are a wine grape. They're already there and have been for years but the vines are in rough shape having become a buffet for Japanese beetles. In with the grapevines, I found what may be hardy kiwi vines as well.

To the sides of the garden there is lawn except the walk out here spot which is where the patio ends.
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
Snakes
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Sallymander
Jul 29, 2019 9:58 PM CST
NoviceGarden said:So the picture isn't really complete. The house is below the bottom, several feet from the garden. There are various beds around the house not portrayed as they're not, strictly speaking anyway, part of this garden. The grapes are apparently nimrod seedless grapes, which the prior owner claims are a wine grape. They're already there and have been for years but the vines are in rough shape having become a buffet for Japanese beetles. In with the grapevines, I found what may be hardy kiwi vines as well.

To the sides of the garden there is lawn except the walk out here spot which is where the patio ends.


Yes, it didn't feel like a complete picture. Thanks. So there is a patio along the bottom where the grapes are? Just trying to get a visual and an idea of how much sun exposure. The patio I assume is cement of some kind? Bugs, particularly ants, love to live under patios. Cement adds warmth, but it also doesn't allow water to seep in, so your yard will be on the dry side. Grapes can handle dry, especially once established. Kiwi wants more moisture.

My one size fits all solution to bugs: chickens. If your garden is fenced in, there's a good chance a neighbor would let you "borrow" them for a few hours a day until the problem was solved.

Kiwi vines are fairly easy to id. Not all Hardy Kiwi are self fertile, but one assumes, if there is only one vine, the person got a variety that is. Kiwi is more voracious a climber than grapes, so it needs a lot of support. It is also a late sleeper. I dug up three kiwi vines thinking they were dead, before I learned my mistake. So if it sleeps late next spring, don't be quick to toss it out.

I'm not familiar with Nimrod, do you mean Himrod? Himrod is a white table grape. Wine grapes are cultivated very differently, so it's a little important to know what you have. If you want to make wine, you need to ask someone more knowledgeable than I.
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
Snakes
Image
Sallymander
Jul 29, 2019 10:01 PM CST
I re-read your original post. You have my sympathies. Black "weed barrier" cloth is one of the greatest scams in the industry. It is the worst. Good luck ripping it out and good riddens. Never put it back in.
Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 30, 2019 9:17 AM CST
Sallymander said:I re-read your original post. You have my sympathies. Black "weed barrier" cloth is one of the greatest scams in the industry. It is the worst. Good luck ripping it out and good riddens. Never put it back in.


Yeah, there is an existing garden with edging that fell apart and some rock hard soil that they clearly were trying to amend with compost over time. I'm going to rip out the old edging which is falling over everywhere, remove the red path stones they used, remove the weed barrier and basically start over. Really, the only stuff I'm planning the keep are the blackberries, which have been a delight, maybe some strawberry plants if I can safely dig them out, maybe save some of the perennial flowers and then I'm going redo the garden area. That's why the grapes and blackberries are basically the edge of the picture. The lawn is much bigger than it appears on the image, it's just that's where the lawn begins. The location of the garden was the right spot. The old owners had that done right.

The patio is at the bottom right corner below the yard. It's under a pergola, which keeps it shaded, the pergola appears to have wisteria vines growing on several areas.i haven't decided if we'll cut it all down as wisteria is pretty poisonous and the pods can be mistaken for string beans by a child. For now, I removed the pods but I suspect the wife will ask me to remove the wisteria soon.
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
Snakes
Image
Sallymander
Jul 30, 2019 10:02 AM CST
NoviceGarden said:

Yeah, there is an existing garden with edging that fell apart and some rock hard soil that they clearly were trying to amend with compost over time. I'm going to rip out the old edging which is falling over everywhere, remove the red path stones they used, remove the weed barrier and basically start over. Really, the only stuff I'm planning the keep are the blackberries, which have been a delight, maybe some strawberry plants if I can safely dig them out, maybe save some of the perennial flowers and then I'm going redo the garden area. That's why the grapes and blackberries are basically the edge of the picture. The lawn is much bigger than it appears on the image, it's just that's where the lawn begins. The location of the garden was the right spot. The old owners had that done right.

The patio is at the bottom right corner below the yard. It's under a pergola, which keeps it shaded, the pergola appears to have wisteria vines growing on several areas.i haven't decided if we'll cut it all down as wisteria is pretty poisonous and the pods can be mistaken for string beans by a child. For now, I removed the pods but I suspect the wife will ask me to remove the wisteria soon.


Strawberries are tough. They can look dead, toss some water on them and they spring back. You can pull them out like weeds, toss them in water and replant. There really isn't a lot of reason to be delicate. I would divide the roots to make more plants, that will help with fruit production.

I was gardening in a friends yard one day when some gleaners came walking by. I could hear them talking. They were picking the wisteria pods off the vine my friend had growing along the fence by the road. I stood up and said, "Excuse me!" I was going to tell them the beans were poisonous, but they said something (not sure what) in a rude tone and took off running. No idea if they tossed them in their soup or not. So yes, if that is a concern for you, you do want to remove it.
Hershey, PA - zone 6a
NoviceGarden
Jul 30, 2019 10:07 PM CST
Sallymander said:I re-read your original post. You have my sympathies. Black "weed barrier" cloth is one of the greatest scams in the industry. It is the worst. Good luck ripping it out and good riddens. Never put it back in.


Yeah, there is an existing garden with edging that fell apart and some rock hard soil that they clearly were trying to amend with compost over time. I'm going to rip out the old edging which is falling over everywhere, remove the red path stones they used, remove the weed barrier and basically start over. Really, the only stuff I'm planning the keep are the blackberries, which have been a delight, maybe some strawberry plants if I can safely dig them out, maybe save some of the perennial flowers and then I'm going redo the garden area. That's why the grapes and blackberries are basically the edge of the picture. The lawn is much bigger than it appears on the image, it's just that's where the lawn begins. The location of the garden was the right spot. The old owners had that done right.

The patio is at the bottom right corner below the yard. It's under a pergola, which keeps it shaded, the pergola appears to have wisteria vines growing on several areas.i haven't decided if we'll cut it all down as wisteria is pretty poisonous and the pods can be mistaken for string beans by a child. For now, I removed the pods but I suspect the wife will ask me to remove the wisteria soon.

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