Saturday, November 16, 2013

8:45 PM
Our neighbors are tearing out their pool and having professional landscapers redo their entire backyard. Inspired by their ambitious project, I began to take a hard look at our own, often neglected backyard, which is a combination of deck, terraced area, grass lawn and vegetable garden.

The Area Circled in Red is the Terraced Area of our Backyard.
The terraced portion of our backyard was totally underutilized (except by the dog) and we have long muttered that we should do something different with the space. Something about the crisp fall air, and my little native garden project in the front yard, tipped us over the edge and we decided to dedicate the better part of our free time the last two weekends to converting the terraced area into an edible landscape. We paid our gardener $500 to tear out some ivy, redo a failing retaining wall and plant some fruit trees. Our family did everything else by hand with a pick axes, rakes, three trips to the nursery, and countless trips to the Garden Supply Store. Because a picture(s) tells a thousand words, here is my documentation of the project:

We Stripped our Upper Terrace of the Ivy and Useless Trees (We Kept the Apple Tree) and Planted our "Orchard" of Fig, Avocado, Lemon and Nectarine Trees.
Daddy and Helpers Measured the Upper Terrace to Estimate How Many Bags of  Woodchips Were Needed.
We Dug a Meandering "River" Through the Orchard and Then Measured it to Figure out How Many Bags of River Stones Were Needed.
Wood Chips Anyone? Enjoying One of Many Trips to the Garden Supply Store.

Picnicking While Mommy Pickaxes the (Rock-Hard Clay) Soil
One Portion of the Lower Terrace was Transformed into a Blueberry Patch with Native Grass Accents.
Another Section of the Lower Terrace Became an Herb Garden: Basil, Sage, Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Chives
Mommy's Upper Body and Core Workout: Making a Butterfly Garden
Finished Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden (Plant Selection and Layout Designed by 5YO)
Lemon Tree and Butterfly Garden
Note the little stepping stone pathway we made through the wood chips and between the trees. I have noticed the kids playing in this space now in a way they never, ever did before - hopping from step to step; skipping between the trees. My daughter made at least 10 consecutive circuits today as she went about her imaginary play.  When her friend came over for a play date, the first thing she did was take her along the "secret path" pointing out the sights along the way.

Our next family project is to build a little footbridge over the "river" and create a little reading nook along the fence with a bench.  I hope as the trees leaf out and the flowers bloom fully that the kids will continue to have a magical time back here, playing between and under the trees, watching the butterflies, and eating fruit.

I am ending this day feeling a little dirty, day-laborer sore and a lot empowered. My 5YO daughter just read me the illustrated story she wrote in her journal about planting a garden and the life cycle of a seed. Yesterday she "graphed" her plant selection for the butterfly garden by lining up similar plants on the nursery cart.  My 2YO son has been wandering around touching all the new trees, plants and flowers in the yard and saying "Mommy made a garden" and "cool".  I guess we are all richly learning something as we dig around in the dirt together. May next summer bring a bountiful harvest.

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