After renting for a number of years and not being able to do much around the place, the house was ours in October 2015. It was, from a gardening and renovation point of view, tabula rasa. Beside a few potted plants, a straw bale bed out the back and some random experiments of mine, it was a blank slate. We jumped the gun a little while all the negotiations and paperwork went through and started planting at the beginning of September.
At this time, the new fences hadn’t gone in and the backyard was still a disaster! The owner put the back and northern boundary fences in. Once the they were in and we had clearly defined boundaries, it was time to start work!
Our time renting the property had given us quite a few ideas about how to improve the front garden from the point of cooling the house and providing some food. Once the block was subdivided and the fences went up, we really knew where we stood from the point of view of Sun, rain and wind and it didn’t take long for things to start to take shape.
Ligaya Garden really started with a straw bale bed containing classic Winter vegetables including Pak Choy, Wong Bok, Spring Onions and Lettuces. It was so successful that we added a second one and managed two plantings in each before we moved our efforts to growing in the front yard.
Before the pavers went down and the fences went in at the back, Lon and I rigged up a small 200W solar and battery system at the back to run future lights and hopefully the future aquaponics.
The first thing to go in was a row of deciduous trees that would block us from the vicious Western summer sun that beats down on a Summer afternoon. We planted a Packham’s Pride Pear, a Dwarf Nectarine, Satsuma Plum and Granny Smith Apple.
Then a row of citrus went in along the fenceline. The idea was for them to make an edible hedge that passersby could grab fruit from. It would also serve a protective measure, blocking access except by the future front gate.
We got some plastic raised beds from a sale at a local garden centre and they went in as close to the front door as possible (Zone 1 to you permies). These provided our immediate edibles for quite a while (I’ve never had such a great crop of Tomatoes or Corn again).
We chose to plant these beds with Corn and Tomatoes in so that, once grown, they would shade the front of the house immediately by the front porch and lounge window. Summer was heating up already.
We didn’t lay out a formal path to the front door, rather we let people do the walking and followed the approximate path of most of the footprints.
Luckily, it corresponded pretty closely to a path design I’d sketched out to improve Feng Shui and also to capture cooler Southerly breezes in Summer and funnel them toward the house.
The result was a pleasing curve that would mean that the front door couldn’t be seen from the gate. Probably the heaviest job was putting gravel in the path. That was followed by picking up a couple of trailer loads of second hand pavers from my brother. They were to be installed edgewise to form the edges of the bigger garden beds but that had to wait until the ticking over of the New Year.
The last and most expensive jobs for 2015 was to get the crossover from the driveway dug out and concreted and the floor of the carport concreted. That meant that we could actually use the carport.
We also gravelled the driveway it aesthetically pleasing and open for infiltration of rain so that our garden wouldn’t add much runoff to the area’s stormwater. Then the fence and gate went up. We hired folks to do both of these jobs.
That marked the end of a heavy 3 months of planning and labour!