noobgardener
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Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:56 pm
Location: Southern VA

The Project: Renovating an Old Garden

Hello all! If you didn't see my intro, my husband and I are recently married and bought this house last summer. The people that lived here before us seem to have been pretty serious gardeners. The only problem is that they were out of the house about 2 years before we bought it. So, needless to say, it was pretty severely overgrown when we bought it. I moved in after we were married, around August so by then the growing season had created a jungle in our back yard.

Here's some picture from last season before we did much of anything.

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That overgrown monstrosity is an out of control ornamental plum tree....pretty much a pain.
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Wall of roses in the back amidst weeds
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Poor yard...

Then my parent came and pretty much pulled out, cut back and made the yard presentable.
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There is also a pretty well developed side yard and front planting spot that are pretty well developed. Those pics I'll post later.

We live in "city"...our lot is small which means it's reasonably affordable to do most things. Last year I made the mistake of trying to build on a poor foundation...I think the solution to our yard is to hit it hard this year. Here is a list of the projects I want to do...let me know what you think! I plan on getting a bunch of people together at the end of March and doing a complete overhaul on the landscape.

1. Cut the plum tree down. All it does is drop fruit on my patio and in the bed and attract ants.
2. Prune peach tree (to the right of the patio). Not sure of the best time to do this. I'm not looking for the tree to produce a good yield of fruit this year.
3. Cut the metal down. You probably can't see in the picture but much of the yard is covered in metal. There's a chicken wire roof over the right garden bed...we have a problem with cats and I think they were trying to keep them out...it doesn't work.
4. Rock out, mulch in. My goal here is to get rid of the landscape fabric. My soil is clay and all its doing i making it impossible to pull weeds and plant new things. I've read that wood mulch can break down and help your soil.
5. Replant the lawn. Next chance I get I'll take some pictures of the yard now...but the lawn is a real challenge. It's pretty much all weeds now.
6. Plant a little vegetable garden. Seeds are on their way to my house!

So...thoughts, suggestions, questions?

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rainbowgardener
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Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Congratulations on the new house! You have a lovely spot and a lot of good plans for it. All your plans sound great; I definitely agree with getting rid of the landscaping fabric and keeping everything well mulched with organic stuff, wood chips, grass clippings, fall leaves, etc. For the trees and perennials that may be all you need to do. For the vegetable bed, you will want to start by loosening and enriching your soil.

Other suggestions:

Start a compost pile NOW! If you aren't familiar with composting browse in our Compost Forum. Best thing you can add to your garden is your own home made compost.

Get some bird feeders and add a little water feature somewhere, at least a little fountain. Attracting birds to your garden will add a lot of liveliness and beauty and will be good for the garden - even birds that come to the feeders for seed, usually also eat insects at least at some points in their life cycles.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

noobgardener
Full Member
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:56 pm
Location: Southern VA

Thank you! I definitely plan on using organics to help the beds...but I'm unsure about the process. When I have my crew come down we'll be ripping everything up...should I loosen the soil and mix in an amendment before mulching on top? If so, what kind of amendments? I live in VA and we have pretty annoying clay soil and mine is pretty compacted from being under fabric and rock.

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rainbowgardener
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Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

...should I loosen the soil and mix in an amendment before mulching on top? If so, what kind of amendments

YES.. especially compacted clay. If it is a large area, you could till, otherwise just dig and turn and break it up with fork and hoe. Ideally you should have a soil test to know what your soil might be missing to know what to add. But really if you just add lots of good organics, you will probably be covering the bases, though you do want to know what the pH of your soil is. You can get a meter for that. OR ask your neighbors, since their soil is likely about the same as yours. Add compost, well aged composted manure, worm castings, coffee grounds, fall leaves, grass clippings and anything else organic you can get ahold of.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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tomf
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Posts: 3234
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:15 pm
Location: Oregon

I do not have much to add as it has been said, I just want to say it looks like a nice yard,it looks like a good place to hang out in.

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