Saturday, November 2, 2013

Landscaping Project - Planting Along a Fence

Last month, I started on the first of many landscaping projects I have planned for our property.  Behind our home lies a long wooden fence that essentially cuts the back of our property in two.  To one side of the fence is a fairly large shady stretch of lawn we consider our backyard.   Our barn, the circular driveway and a space I've reserved for our future raised-bed vegetable garden (where the giant spruce used to overshadow) are located on the other side.  Running along this fence is a narrow strip of grass at least 40 ft long and about 4 ft wide.  This strip also happens to be one of the sunnier spots on our yard - something that is in short supply due to the tall oaks and maples that line our property on all sides.  After some careful consideration, I decided that I would turn this unused area into a soft fruit and perennial flower bed.

When we moved back to Massachusetts from Vermont, we lugged back with us many fruit shrubs and vines, some of which I'd started from cuttings taken during the spring of 2012.  Among them were several types of currents  (including black, red and white), gooseberries and hardy kiwi.  In July, I also bought three fairly large blueberry bushes that were on sale for half-price.  I thought this strip would be a great place to plant them since the shrubs would receive adequate sunlight here and help define the fence border separating the two spaces.

My first order of business was to create a straight edge for the bed.  I marked the proposed edge with string and dug a narrow trench about 4 inches deep, which for the time being will prevent the grass from creeping back into the bed.  Eventually, I'd like to install some kind of stone edging next year. (I think that simple landscape cobblestones would look nice here). In the spring, I also plan to dig up the rest of the grass to the right of the bed when it comes time to replenish the gravel in our driveway.

I wasn't planning on removing most of the grass within the bed itself, but it came up rather easily with my garden hoe.  I soon realized that this was due to the fact that there is so little topsoil in our backyard.  As a result, the grass roots were incredibly shallow and peeled up like a carpet. 

The next day, I went about planting my currants, gooseberries and blueberry bushes, setting them approximately 4 inches above the soil line.  After this was done, I laid some cardboard around the plants to help smother the remaining grass and covered the entire surface of the bed with about 4 inches of a soil mix I had delivered from a local landscaping supply company.  The mix is a blend of loam, compost and aged horse manure. Also, I was careful to maintain the narrow trench I'd dug along the edge.

After a few hours of work, I think the bed turned out rather nicely despite the fact that it looks pretty bare at this point.  I have to remind myself that gardening is a process and that it will be several years at least before these shrubs, and any future perennials I plant here, fill this space.  But that's OK, because as many of you already know - time is every gardener's constant companion.


  1. I think the area will look really beautiful once it is all filled in. And yes it takes so much time to grow things. I planted some currents this year. They didn't grow very much. Hopefully next year they will take off.

  2. You did a good job, the area looks pretty already, the edible landscape will look beautiful once it's filled in.

  3. What a beautiful yard! I'm sure your new plantings will only add to that beauty. Everything you do always turns out just perfect.

  4. This looks so wonderful already and will be very pretty once it fills in. Especially with the beautiful fence in the background.

  5. Daphne - the current bushes I have were start from 8 inch cutting in spring of 2012. They are huge now! They take off in the second year.

    Mac - Thanks!

    Gran - Not everything! Haha. I look at pictures of my old garden and felt a good dose of regret. You learn from your mistakes though, right?

    Rachel - I was thinking about tearing the fence down but since it was only put in a couple of years ago, it seemed like a huge waste. I'm glad I decided against it as it definitely sections off our huge yard in a nice way.

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