When last we recapped on brownstoner, we were entering the end of summer and waltzing our way into our fall projects in our ongoing backyard reno.
After working with Diana at Fun City Design, we had the game plan of using quite a few of the plants we had always had in containers, starting with our roof top garden back in Ft. Greene before moving in 2004.
We have a ton of tropicals as container plants, thus part of the moniker of “Tikihouse” (as they all come inside during the winter), but we also managed to collect trees, bushes and an assortment of vines and perennials.
The day lilies were one of the first things we had put in the yard after moving, so that left some foundation plants, which included a dwarf Alberta spruce, Eastern red cedar, several forsythias and several azaleas.
The first of the anchor plantings was our cedar from New Jersey. Taken from Mrs. Tikihouse’s parents’ yard, our seedling turned out to be a beautiful specimen that we had grown for years in pots. We thought it only right it finally go in the ground. One problem…small yard and potentially a very large tree.
Photo: And the digging begins for our two evergreens
The solution, as we saw it, was to dig a whole large enough for a large container to be placed in the ground, the cedar would be root pruned and then planted into the in ground container. This would allow the cedar to grow a few more feet in height without having a 30 foot tree in five years.
Photo: Root prunning the root-bound 9 foot cedar
So we removed/relocated many day lilies and hostas, removed a dying Alberta spruce that came with the property and dug holes for the cedar and our own small spruce, figuring the two trees wold anchor the planting bed, screen us from our neighbors (and them from us) and have color year-round.
Photo: Hole dug, container in place
Let’s just say the hole was much larger than we anticipated (both in time to dig and sore backs later in the day). But we finished both plantings and transplanted some of the day lilies and hostas back in to fill in the gaps.
Photo: Cedar, spruce and hostas all planted
The next weekend we turned to the forsythias (one from Mrs. Tikihouse’s folks and two from BBG) we also had in containers. One of them was located right past the seating area before the beginning of the veggie garden. It had looked swell in that location all summer, so it was a no brainer to just drop it in the ground, after some much needed root pruning, of course. Same thing for another forsythia, this time on the other side of the cedar in our left hand planting bed.
Photo: But first, we had to harvest some potatoes in the area (yummy!)
Photo: Mrs. Tikihouse root-prunes and gets “Dad’s forsythia” ready for the ground
Photo: All planted
The next project, before the weather turned on us, was to raise the grade of the planting bed. We probably should have done this back when the hardscaping was done, but time and money were not in abundance by the end of the project.
So, how to we level the grade of the bed, currently level by the path (which had raised the grade of the yard approximately six inches)? After doing some reading, chatting with friends and spending some time with the thinking caps on, we remembered Gaspar of Your Way Construction had offered (for a fee) to place Belgium block in a soldier row at the rear of the planting bed, then we could back fill with dirt to bring the grade up.
Not wanting any more rock in the yard, we passed. However, his idea should work with other materials, correct? We considered 1/2 inch pressure treated plywood and posts, but who wants those chemicals in the beds if we can help it.
We settled on combining 8 foot 2X4 inch planks of cedar to create our wall. They would be naturally waterproof, relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.
Photo: Mr. Tikihouse working the chop saw (and behind that blur, I am wearing goggles!)
So the measuring tape came out, the chop saw spun and we linked the boards together with cedar posts to secure them in the ground. Within an afternoon (OK, a long afternoon) we had the bed encapsulated and we could add fill as we had time the time and money to do so (late fall 2009 and early spring 2010).
Photo: Piecing the planks together
Photo: Trenching and laying in the cedar wall
Photo: All finished, and you can barely see the wall.
Besides readying the garden for the late fall (planting some kale, working the soil, etc.) and awaiting winter (boo!), we were done with the major projects for 2009′s back yard reno.
Next up in our posts we finally make our way to 2010, spring planting and get everyone up to speed with what’s happening in July as we move towards the rest of the projects for 2010′s continued DIY garden reno.