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Front yard.

Good morning everyone


I had both a Robin and a Bluejay in my yard yesterday so spring must finally be here. I'm ignoring that last bit of snow :)


I'm in a new house this year and picked it partially for the yard. The lot size is 50 x 120. I'm not sure yet of the front yards exact measurements but I plan on making it all garden.


I haven't been able to find much online on how to get started. Do you have any ideas? I thought I would buy a rototiller and just go to town on it.


I'd like to plant white lilacs down the side for shelter,to define the yard and to keep people from walking across it. Along the front I'm adding a white picket fence. In front of the fence I'd like zinnias.  Behind the fence I'd like to put white hydrangea. 


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2014 02:11 pm (UTC)
Can you rent a rototiller? Because ideally you won't be using it much after the initial tilling. I didn't use one at all when converting the front yard to a garden, I sheet-mulched the whole thing, but it was a slope that I was reducing and we have retaining walls. Depending on how high your front yard is compared to those surrounding you and how high you can go with it? Against a fence may make it less of an issue, you might be fine just cutting the grass back as far as possible then mulching over that, but it would require quite a bit of compost, topsoil. Otherwise I would till, sheet-mulch to make the grass less likely to come back and plant through the sheet-mulch, adding some type of mulch around the plants, depending on your needs and what you have/can get an abundance of.
Apr. 12th, 2014 02:12 pm (UTC)
Many communities have a rental shop that has things like chainsaws, tillers, edgers, and pressure cleaners. You may be able to rent a tiller.
Apr. 12th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC)
Tillers (good ones) are pricey, and not something you'll use often. I'm with everyone else here--rent it. But I'm going to go one step further. Hire someone to do it. It won't cost much more than renting the tiller and you'll save yourself for the fun part of the project.

First though, planning is important. There are a number of apps and such available online for you to work with. Or you can go old school and just use some gridded paper. Personally, I prefer paper because you can easily keep a record of what you've done, and if it gets wet, well, it's not that big of a deal.

Are you thinking of just pretty stuff or are you putting in vegetables, too?

One other option is to see if any of your local community colleges have a landscaping section--get yourself hooked up with someone who wants to do this for a living and pay them a small sum to help you design it. Then you can budget time and money to doing it bit by bit. Gardens don't happen overnight--they take time. And they evolve. You may discover that you use your yard differently than you imagined, and then you'll start making changes.

Apr. 12th, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
Ok. I will look into renting or hiring someone for tilling it.

I'd like to mix in veggies with the flowers in the middle. Like rainbow chard with marigolds. That kind of thing. I'll have a bunch of raised beds in the backyard. The front is mostly to look pretty and cause it makes me happy.

I have a landscape class starting next week. It's a couple hours every Wed for 4 weeks. I haven't taken anything like that before so should be interesting.

I'll be here for the next 15+ years so this will definitely evolve :)
Apr. 12th, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
When I designed my vegetable garden beds, in order to clear the sod a friend and I rented a sod-cutter (gasoline powered! There are "manual" or muscle-powered sod-cutters, too) and it was my friend who wrassled that thing which shrieked and bucked like a wounded brontosaurus, around the various beds.
After that, a rototiller was needed, but we didn't bother: I did all the tilling of the beds by hand (and foot.)

Anyway, I'm with everyone else: rent it, don't buy it. (I did purchase a Mantis (TM) tiller many years ago, and it hasn't had enough use to justify its purchase price although it came in handy when my mother's long driveway needed to be edged. And if you can rent someone to operate it for you, do that.

Zinnias are pretty and they're sturdy and they come in quite a variety of sizes and petal types and colors, which is all to the good, but they're annuals.

You might want to consider having a non-turf "lawn" of something low-growing, pleasant to look at, self-restricting (height), and tolerant of a given amount of foot traffic. You can find an assortment of ground covers called "Steppables" (TM) which are graded according to how much stepping on they can handle: light, medium or heavy.

Or, you might want to consider having a "prairie" front garden. WIldflowers, happy in open, unshaded space, and nothing but wildflowers. I recall the guy who lived across the road from my grandmother planting a "prairie" in the space between the back of his house and the shed and garage at the back property line. To give himself a pathway through the flowers, he'd mow down just that one swath. From the sidewalk, the street, or from our houses across the street, the path wasn't visible: all that could be seen was the meadow of wildflowers. Most of those self seed. You can buy canisters of "prairie" flowers' seeds, by the way, or select your own and just scatter them so the mix occurs however they fall and whatever the birds don't eat.
"Prairies" used, at least, to be a popular front yard solution for Montreal residents, whose front yards tend to be quite steep and therefore quite difficult to mow. The wildflowers meant no mowing was or is required. When winter comes and the flowers die back, nothing has to be done, either. Just wait for spring and more flowers!

ladycelia mentioned putting vegetables in your front yard. Edible landscaping (even if you don't eat the vegetables you plant as part of the landscape) is gaining in popularity. Rosalind Creasy has a number of books on the subject:

...as do other authors (search Amazon-dot-com for "edible landscaping" under Books.)

Have fun!
Apr. 12th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC)
If you think you'll keep using the tiller look at used ones, and consider the storage space. Ours gets used once or twice a year, and lent to the neighbors, and it was a 15 year old freebie, and it is pretty nice to have it when I need it.
Mulch heavily or stay on top of pulling grass in your flower beds. I didn't and the grass is making a comeback. I'd like to till but have a lot of random bulbs and annuals that mean a lot of hard work if I want to re-till.

When I started I fell into the trap of putting random flowerbeds along the edges of the yard because I had no overall plan for the yard as a whole. I still don't! Look around at books and online to get ideas of how to avoid that, and consider how much time you will have each year to work on your yard, especially spring and fall. It's easy to keep adding year after year and suddenly realize there's a bit too much to keep up with.
Apr. 12th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
I would advise either renting a tiller, or hiring someone to get everything in.
Also, when thinking of planting, don't forget to consider native plants. Your local Extension Office can give you free advice regarding this- I keep in mind the honeybees and other pollinators.
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
you may want to consider the 'call before you dig' place. they come out for free and mark any utility lines on your property near where you want to dig or till. water, electric, gas, sewer, phone co, cable co.
Apr. 25th, 2014 12:32 pm (UTC)
I have no idea what hardiness zone you are in, but here are two bits of advice I can give you that apply to everyone:
1) Learn everything you can about your soil because the ultimate success of your garden depends on your soil and how well you can work with it. Even poor soil in the hands of a gardener who understands it can be made to bloom but a good soil can be ruined by someone who refuses to listen to its needs.
2) You've mentioned wanting to plant white hydrangea's and white lilac's in your front yard, but do you have any idea of which VARIETIES of them that you'll want to use?
The reason why I say this is that there are a lot of different varieties of lilac's and hydrangea's and not all of them will be suitable for your yard.
You will want to pick varieties that are hardy enough to thrive in your area and that are the right size for your yard. I think you're going to be happier with smaller varieties since your yard is a smaller-sized yard.
If you check out http://www.gardenlist.com/Trees.html, I think you'll be able to find nurseries that specialize in hardy lilac's and hydrangea's that don't get too large for a small-sized yard. (After all, you don't want to spend huge amounts of time constantly pruning something down to half its size, do you?)
You might also want a specimen shrub or even a small tree for your front yard. There are extremely hardy varieties of azalea's that are hardy down to -40F. You might also consider an Evans Cherry tree (which is extremely hardy for Canada). It would have white blossoms each spring and you'd get cherries from it too.
Some of the BEST advice I see amongst the comments is yesididit's! You absolutely MUST check with the local authorities about underground pipes and wires and have them help you locate them! The last thing you want to do is get in trouble with them.
Other good advice I see in the comments is where they are telling you to either rent a tiller or hire your soil prep done for you. Using a tiller is mighty hard work and it gets even harder when you're trying to till your soil deeply or you find out that you've got clay soil. I own a tiller but I just hired someone to come in with a tractor to plow up a garden patch for me. WHY? Because the tractor did a far better job of breaking up both the grass and the clay soil under it than my small tiller and the tractor also went deeper.
For all I know, you may be rich and not have to worry about how much you spend but many of us around here do have to limit the amount of money we spend on plants. Here in the US many of the places that sell shrubs generally have a clearance sale in late May or June and those clearance sales are an excellent time to buy shrubs. Last year was a hydrangea year for me; I bought three of them for $5 each and they were all over $20 each in early spring and I recently bought two more also for $5 each. They are all different so I'll wait and see which ones do the best here and then I'll root some more of them.
Hydrangea's are extremely easy to root. I brought home a hydrangea branch in a bag of raked leaves five falls ago to use as mulch. I was extremely busy that fall so I didn't bother pulling the branch out and throwing it away--thought I'd do it in the spring. Well, the next spring it took root and grew! It bloomed for the first time in its third summer but last year it really strutted its stuff.
Lilac's are also said to be easy to root--maybe there's someone here in the Gardening community that can tell you how to do it.
If you'd like some rooting hormone that's safe to use, you can make your own. Gather up a couple good sized handfuls of sprouting willow twigs and clip them up into a bucket and then fill the bucket up with water. Let the bucket sit for at least a day or two and it's ready to use.
If you have some tilled soil in a shady place, stick some cuttings down in it, then water them with the willow water and place a large jar over them (keeps the humidity high around the cutting). After that, you keep it damp and wait. A month or two should see some roots forming on most stuff.

Edited at 2014-04-25 12:32 pm (UTC)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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