So, after seven years of living in our house and puttering aorund the garden myself, I decided to get some help with the front yard garden. We have our ponds, put in veggie beds, and tried growing fruit trees (those damn ants!)…and well, the front yard needs more help coming together than what I can make happen. I called our neighbor the horticulturist, who works at a local nursery, for help. He quickly came up with a couple of ideas that I’ve been implementing on my own. Mostly, it’s lots of dirt work at the moment. He’s working on a planting plan based on our wish list. We’ll deal with the plants once the bones of the garden are in place.
There’s the small retaining wall for the cactus garden that runs parallel to the curved adobe wall – but it doesn’t run the entire length of the wall. I’d say the cactus garden area goes more than 2/3 the length of the wall. This area is raised from the rest of the garden by one foot – and then some – in some sections. I lined this distinct area with river rock left over from a previous project. I actually ran out of river rock, and more are being delivered later this week. (I am grateful there aren’t more here right now – I kinda hurt my back this weekend. If the rocks were here right now, I’d feel like I would have to install them right away!) Next weekend!
Our cactus took a beating this winter. A number of plants had to be tossed in the compost bin; even more had to be tossed in the dump pile. At least we’ll have a nice area for future cactus purchases! I like that the cactus will really be highlighted by the adobe wall in the background, as opposed to disappearing in the landscape. The top of the cactus garden area will be covered in smaller red rock (similar to pea gravel, but a little larger) that I have from a previous garden project that didn’t work out. I actually unloaded that 2 tons of red rock while pregnant with Gabe – and totally wore myself out in the process!
The area in front of the cactus garden (shown in the photo above) is a swale to catch water and is lined on both sides with the river rock. Our lone remaining fruit tree – a peach tree – is planted here. The plan is to plant more fruit trees and other flowering shrubs in this area.
At the entrance to the garden, near the metal gates, there will be a sunken garden – with more fruit trees. And hopefully native flowering plants. This area is not well defined at this moment – I’m just supposed to dig. I hope to get some clarification on how to dig exactly this weekend for this area…I moved the 22 loads of dirt from this area this past weekend…at one point, I fell into this hole with a full wheelbarrow load. Sophia thought it was so funny – she asked me to do it again. Thankfully, I managed not to fall in again, but unfortunately, it was not the last time I knocked the wheelbarrow – fully loaded- over. My wheelbarrow was a Valentine’s Day gift 10 years ago, and it has since taken a beating. If you load it wrong, it will capsize on one side (and only that one side!) Someday, I’ll have a new wheelbarrow!
The other side of the main gate entrance area is where my in-ground veggie beds used to be located. This is a great place for veggie bed – lots of morning; however, I am tired of bending over to work in this area. Therefore, we’ll install a couple of raised beds made out of cinder blocks covered in stucco (perhaps colored terra cotta?) Then my poor back can take a rest! I think we’ll have a fruit tree or small herb tree such as a bay located against the wall where the old palo verde tree used to be. I moved many loads of dirt to this area as well.
The large raised pond we have is going to be turned into another above-ground veggies garden – for the kids. Sophia has grand plans of masses of strawberries growing here. The other above-ground pond will stay – I really like hearing the water fountain when the windows are open. The in-ground pond will get cleaned out, and a number of overgrown pond plants will be removed. I need to rig some sort of container (better than my current one) to keep pond plants out of the pond fountain pump – it gets clogged continuously.
And those mounds of dirt, where did I put them? Well, I made berms out of the dirt around the palo verde tree and saguaro in the center of the yard to delineate an area where kids are NOT allowed to play. Since this area is rather close to the sand box, river rock will line these berms I’ve created – otherwise, it is just too tempting for the little ones to dig the berms I worked so hard to create. I know this for fact – last week a couple of those kids started digging here instead of the sand box!
The area around the in-ground pond is also not clearly thought out yet – other than the fact I’d like native flowering shrubs here for butterflies and hummingbirds. But, as you can see, I have plenty of work to do before I manage to get to the planting stage. I didn’t even mentioned the irrigation re-working I need to do! All in good time. However, seeing how I’d like to get some of the garden in place before summer, I probably will get some more help from my neighbor and his company before too long. I can’t wait to eat fresh tomatoes out of my garden again!