Aug 012011

Paths are important

Getting started with your edible landscape really begins with you sitting down and writing up a list.  It will have two parts.  One part is what exists.  One part is your wish list. I suggest walking around your yard at different times of the day. Remember that some areas which are in full sun in the summer, are in shade in the winter.  These areas are on the north side of a house, a tree, or any structure. Take stock of your property and find the easiest, sunniest most accessible place to start planning your edible landscape. Take pictures. Take your time. Take a stroll around the neighborhood and see what catches your eye that looks good.

Copper relects the morning sun on this front yard fence

After you list what exists on your property, start thinking about what you would like to have. Is there room for fruit trees, or berry bushes? What perennial vegetables would you like to have? Asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes are just a few. Herbs are some of the best edible plants in terms of how much we use them and how good they look in the landscape.  Create places to sit, eat, read, look at a view.  Set out destinations in your garden.  Morning sun is different than the setting sun and if you can find a few special places to sit, that would add a lot to your design.

At this point, make a wish list and then prioritize it. Everyone has a budget, and we can’t always get what we want but we can usually get what we need. Later we can talk about the different ways to use new and recycled materials to get the most out of your garden budget.

Before you start digging and cleaning and planting you want to make sure you’ve got your plan. Measure your area and put it on paper. Get a compass and notice where North is.   This is an important step, as it will remind you where the sun and shadows will fall. In the winter the sun is low on the horizon and the north side of anything will be in shade. Even a low fence will cast shade on winter days.

Open fence lets light into garden and keeps out dogs

Draw your garden  and place the important elements that won’t change. These would include the house, sheds, trees and shrubs, paths, and fences.

Note any slope and retaining walls, or areas that need retaining walls.  Note drainage issues.  Rain in winter can run off in different patterns. Look for erosion areas. There are many issues associated with water which we will talk about in following posts.  They include drought, storing water, irrigation methods and costs, winter storms and runoff and much more.  Let’s get started with your plan and not worry about those pesky little issues right now.

Fruit trees and herbs are part of an edible landscape

Pull out your paper and pencil, and make your lists.  Next step: make a drawing of your garden site.  There’s lots of information to pass on, but we have to start, one blog-step at a time.  See you tomorrow!

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