Monday, July 7, 2008

Minimalist's Backyard - Taming the Mess!

If you haven't tamed your backyard yet due to bad weather, floods, etc. I's not too late. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Good Design:
First of all, a good design aimed at low maintenance will really help. Decks are great because they can cover a large area, are great for entertaining and most importantly, let the rain water absorb and the earth breathe. Avoid lawns. They are the highest maintenance item in a yard and waste water. If you have one rip it up and replace it with bark or gravel paths through beautiful perennials.

2. Trees:
The best trees are ones that don't drop leaves. Basically pine trees. We plant Leland Cedar on all of our properties due to their quick growth and low maintenance. They can turn a yard with no privacy to a very private one in about three years. The squirrels, birds and cats love them too! Routing the water from your downspouts to your trees really helps relieve the storm drains and here in Portland, we get a discount on our water bill for doing so.

3. Privacy:
Trees don't always solve every privacy problem. When they don't, you can use trellises with vines. I recommend either potato vines or honeysuckle. Star jasmine is also great but takes longer to grow. Clamatis usually dies out in the winter. There are some non deciduous ones but they grow more slowly.

4. Flowers:
To save money and time I grow perennials. That means if you don't have too bad a winter, they come back each year. If you put a cold frame or plastic to keep the frost off them, they'll have a better chance depending upon where you live. Buying a few showy hanging plants each spring really makes you look like a super gardner too!

5. Vegetables:
My vegetable garden is completely grown in containers. They're just ones that trees came in and misc ones I've picked up. I do this because I hate to weed.

6. Watering:
I have two drip systems with a timers. I created them myself. They cost around $150 to do the front and back yards. and I am sure I have saved much more than that on my water bill and in plants saved. It was fun to put together too. It's just a hose with off shoots of little hoses to each plant that I want to get water instead of watering an entire area which encourages weeds. I even have it routed up to my hanging plants!

7. Compost:
I have a compost bin that is open on the bottom so the worms can come up. I just put my kitchen scraps and yard debris in it so I don't have to take them out to the curb. Less work for me! To read more about composting you can read: Minimalist Composting: Why It's Worth It

8. Weeds:
You're gonna have them. I don't let them get me down. I just go out a couple of mornings a week for about ten minutes in my clogs and halter top with a shovel and get my frustrations out. Then I throw them into the compost bin and reward myself by picking some flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Happy gardening!


PetMono said...

the watering system you put together sounds great! is there more info about it?

The Minimalist said...

I bought a kit at a local hardware store and just started putting it together. I wasn't hard at all. There's a little tool to poke holes in the large hose to and little connectors to connect the little off shoots and then there are choice of how much you want each one to drip. Thanks for stopping by!