Garden plan!

(click to see the garden in context)

You guys are great! All of the comments on yesterday’s post gave me the confidence to pull together a new plan for the garden—something that will cost very little and, I think, make our garden very usable very soon. I’m patient when it comes to plants, but I’m not patient when it comes to wasted space!

I’m excited about the grassy area for the dogs. Fritz and Bruno had a playdate with their new friends Maggie and Ada last weekend, and they were very impressed with their fenced-in grass run. Fritz is one of those dogs that tries to eat everything (*cough*sofa*cough*), and I get nervous about him having free run of the garden and all of the gravel, bark chips, and plants in it. A contained area will give our guys freedom to play without us having to hover over them every second.

I’ll try to take some up-to-date photos of our front garden tomorrow morning, too. The Purpleleaf Sand-Cherry is in full bloom right now, and it’s pretty fabulous!

  1. ShannonApr 22, 200911:52 pm

    I can’t wait to own my own place and have a garden! I love your plan. Just out of curiosity, what is a dry well?


  2. anthonyApr 23, 200912:06 am

    Very ambitious plan… can’t wait to see its outcome..


  3. muijaApr 23, 200912:59 am

    I’m excited to see how the garden is coming together. I haven’t commented your blog earlier, but I’m an avid follower and just love what you’ve done with your house so far and seeing you embracing a new big project like the garden just amazes me. You are such an inspiration!


  4. KatjaApr 23, 20091:02 am

    It looks really good, and so great you have a place to grow vegetables too! We might just plant herbs etc into pots and put them on the porch, not much space for a proper vegetable patch in our our tiny yard.


  5. stephanieApr 23, 20091:23 am

    Your plan looks fabulous!! I wish I had a back yard to plan like that! Unfortunately our patio/balcony doesn’t get enough sun to grow vegetables :( I really want to grow my own tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, carrots and peas.


  6. Daffodil CampbellApr 23, 20092:54 am

    I love your plan – we use hearts and flowers as a ground cover because it’s a succulent (hardy, needs little water) and it is so happy – going like gangbusters. I really encourage using succulents whereever possible, they have made my life as a black-thumbed gardener much less stressful :) Having a year-round warm climate is fun but also challenging, because you have to constantly prune and trim and weed ! Oy Vey what I wouldn’t give for a few months off of the yard work !!!!
    And sadly, no, Daffodil is not my given name. Because I yammer on about my family when I write, I use a pseudonym so my mother won’t have a heart attack BUT the Daffodil is catching on amongst my friends, and BONUS my legal middle name is Frisbie ! Almost as good :)


  7. hollandvApr 23, 20093:02 am

    Your backyard’ll be great, I just know it.

    But, what is a dry well?


  8. michelleApr 23, 20096:36 am

    ooo, i really like this!
    is this a “master plan” or will you do it all at once?


  9. lindsayApr 23, 20097:34 am

    I love this Anna! So tidy and organized and unfussy. A nice little oasis, that looks relatively low maintence. Perfect.


  10. AdamApr 23, 20097:57 am

    What may I ask is a dry well?


  11. CamillaApr 23, 20099:21 am

    I’m also curious to see what a dry well is. And I like the lavender idea, it’s such a pretty flower.


  12. LIMOMApr 23, 20099:21 am

    Good plan. Pretty but manageable. Smart putting veggies near the house.

    A couple of thoughts.

    1) TEST YOUR SOIL. This is not a low budget plan. You’ve got pavers and a deck and raised beds and gravel and quite a few plants that you need to buy. Don’t waste $$ buy trying to grow a garden on lousy soil. Most cooperative extensions will do this free or at a pretty low cost. You will likely need a fair amount of It looks like you’ll needs lots of compost, manure, and top soil to get your soil in shape.

    2) Many garden shops have huge sales in July, find one and see if you can plan your purchases then. I’ve saved thousands shopping this way. The only drawback is you’ll need to be super vigilant about watering that time of year.

    3) Grow your veggies from seed.


  13. Ooh, I like your diagram.


  14. Kerry (the seventy tree)Apr 23, 20099:31 am

    I think it looks really well constructed and will develop into a very attractive, manageable and functional space…for both humans and dogs! Good work!


  15. donnaApr 23, 20099:41 am

    Black Lace is great no? We planted one of those and it grew like crazy. I think we had to trim it four times last summer to keep it from engulfing our porch.


  16. zeeApr 23, 20099:59 am

    Love it love it love it. It’s going to look awesome.


  17. Anna at D16Apr 23, 200910:26 am

    Shannon, hollandv, Adam, and Camilla: A dry well is just a place for rainwater runoff to go. Right now our downspouts go into the city storm drains, which the city does not maintain any longer (residences are no longer permitted to use them for runoff except in “grandfathered” cases like ours), so we’re planning to divert the water into our garden instead. A simple dry well can be a deep hole (3-5′) filled with gravel, or there are more complex cast concrete systems like this. A nice plus is that the rainwater will be diverted into the ground where our plants can benefit from it, rather than just being wasted in the sewer system. We haven’t had it installed yet, but I wanted to make sure that the garden plan takes into account the eventual location.


  18. amandaApr 23, 200910:32 am

    The plan looks great! We have a small backyard as well and want to make it into more of an Urban garden with a long run for our Weimaraner.
    I would love to hear more about your job since I am considering a career change. I took a buy-out severance package from Herman Miller this fall.


  19. Anna at D16Apr 23, 200910:38 am

    Daffodil Frisbie: (← I love that even more!) I am definitely down with succulents, but I’ve had problems getting them to thrive. I planted stonecrop in front of my house last summer where the heat is INTENSE (thinking it would be able to survive the heat), and it died. I think it got too much water, ironically, since it was planted around my boxwoods that I need to water almost every day. It’s actually the first plant I’ve had die in front on my house! This year I’m going to confine the succulents to the window boxes in front of my house so they can stay dry and hot. I hesitate to plan succulents in the back, though, because I don’t think there’s enough constant sun over the course of the day to keep them alive.

    michelle: We’re trying not to be too rigid about it. The top priority is the area for the dogs, and we’ll take it from there. :)

    LIMOM: Almost all of these plants are already in the ground and growing, actually (we planted them last summer) — there’s very little for us to buy at this point. No worries about the soil, we’ve been digging down deep and supplementing with LOTS of topsoil, manure, and compost! The vegetable beds will be raised and will have all new, organic soil. We don’t want to grow anything edible in our soil, since it almost certainly contains a lot of lead and other awful things.

    donna: I LOVE the black lace!!! So gorgeous. How long did it take for yours to really get going? We planted ours last June, and by August they were looking kind of weak. I cut back the bare branches, though, and as of last weekend they have a bunch of new growth on them. I’m hoping they get HUGE! I planted them at the back of the garden to complement the Japanese maple. Really lovely. I also want to sneak in some oxalis and creeping Jenny to get a little contrast back there.


  20. AdamApr 23, 200910:59 am

    Thanks for explaining the dry well, that’s a really great idea! I’m hopefully going to get a rain barrel that I can put next to the garage that I can use for watering this summer.


  21. heatherApr 23, 200911:05 am

    I like that dry well idea… unfortunately, I’m sure my local mosquitos would love it too. Your plan is so well thought out. Just thought I’d mention that I have a lot of vegetable seeds leftover this year. If you’re thinking of starting from seed and need some, I’d be happy to send you the extras. :)


  22. KeriApr 23, 200911:51 am

    I love the plan– no, I might even be inspired to do one for our back yard!


  23. timeless garden artApr 23, 200912:32 pm

    It is great to see such skills in being able to lay out your plan in such a detailed and visible manner. This is truly the first step toward accomplishment, even if it has to be done over a period of time.


  24. from the right bankApr 23, 200912:33 pm

    I love your blog but it makes me feel like SUCH a slacker. Seriously, how do you do it all? When do you sleep? (Or do you?)

    Anyway, this looks like a great plan. I can’t wait to see it executed.


  25. TaraApr 23, 200912:35 pm

    Looks like a sound plan. Between this and the inspiration photos I think you have a very cool thing going. Look forward to seeing how it turns out. You’ve inspired me to take a second look at my outdoor space, or lack thereof.


  26. Anna at D16Apr 23, 200912:39 pm

    heather: The dry well doesn’t actually hold standing water, it just acts as a means for dispersion of runoff underground, much like river rocks in the bottom of a flowerpot. Oh, and I am totally into taking those extra seeds off your hands! No sense in letting them expire. I’ll email you. :)

    right bank: I don’t sleep! I’m a robot. Actually, I really only do this stuff on the weekends, since I work all week and have a long commute. (I also don’t sleep very much because I’m in a constant state of anxiety over all of the things I want to get done on the weekend. So it goes.)


  27. MagchunkApr 23, 20091:43 pm

    Look at you! This is great! I can really picture how gorgeous it’s going to look. Ah, to be a homeowner and not a renter (I have no say in the weird bushes and free-roaming pups on my tiny patio space. Note: the dogs aren’t mine.)

    Can’t wait to watch the process!


  28. heatherApr 23, 20091:53 pm

    Please take lots of photos when you make the dry well – now I’m really curious! I have so much runoff pooling around the yard and that sounds like the perfect solution.
    Yes, email me and I’ll make a list of everything I have left.


  29. Frenchy_googlerApr 23, 20094:39 pm

    Let grow the plants a bit wild and free without such order… this look to much like military camp. You are lucky to get a garden, so let a bit the nature coming to you as it is… Less the man do his hand on it, and better it will be. You will be bored after 3 days with such “organisation”.


  30. JuliApr 23, 20094:54 pm

    Wowza. Now that’s a plan. I love the mix of uses!


  31. Anna at D16Apr 23, 20095:02 pm

    Frenchy_googler: “nature coming to [me] as it is” is a pile of weeds and dirt. I have a wild and free (yet planned and controlled) garden in front of my house, and it’s fine there, but I really prefer something simpler for my outdoor living space. Take a look at these photos if you’re interested to see what my taste is. Nothing like military camps!


  32. CaitlinApr 23, 20095:26 pm

    Looks awesome! I love Japanese Maple trees; my childhood home had one in the front yard and now I get nostalgic everytime I see one.

    I’m sure any money you spend on the vegetables and raising the bed will come back to you–with very little effort and money, I had a successful veggie garden last year that saved me tons on the grocery bill.

    Good luck with it!


  33. mommyApr 23, 20095:27 pm

    In reply to Frenchy’s comment, the above plan is just an outline of the various areas, so it may be hard to visualize, but I think it allows for a nice contrast between formal/hard edge elements and the naturally softer vegetation. Besides, Anna and Evan have already given “the man” plenty of opportunity to help out and he did nothing!

    Anna, are you worried that Fritz and Bruno will actually try to eat rocks and sticks, or that they will get out through an opening in the fence unless you have a confined area? I seem to remember that the left side of your back yard had a bit more shade than the right side. If so, you may want to consider switching the dog area and the deck in your plan.

    I’ll come over and help!


  34. SueApr 23, 20096:04 pm

    Anna – you’re always so organized. I’d never even heard of an urban garden, but when I have more than a balcony to work with, I’m definitely gonna give it a go. Update on the Hardoy butterfly chairs – I brought them home today. The canvas needs some cleaning – weekend job, but otherwise they are great. I talked to the owner of the antique mall and he seemed to think they we’re the real thing and that the guy who has the mid-mod booth there(selling there for 12+ years) told him the canvas was original as well. Also, ended up getting them for 15% off, so paid only $75 per chair. Whoohooo!!!


  35. ShaynaApr 23, 20097:37 pm

    oh, i love this. we’re working on our garden as well but it’s not nearly so planned. i wish i had a bit of your planning mojo…good luck! can’t wait to see more…


  36. leslie burkaApr 24, 200912:01 am

    consider climbing hydrangea instead of clematis I have pulled out my native white summer flowering clematis. it was twigs most of the year then very invasive in the summer. Also, if your dogs have allergic tendencies honeysuckle can be a problem. Your plan is beautiful. I love that you added the veggies. It will be a charming space for you and your dogs.


  37. lalaApr 24, 20095:46 am

    How do you do it in the US with the compost?
    Compost works? Just wondering…

    As an architect I love your garden plan!


  38. sonofcontractorApr 24, 20093:57 pm


    On a separate note, from the Times Record: “Did you know Newburgh is a historical epicenter of American architecture?” Good for Newburgh!

    Here’s the lil piece:

    I especially like the line that many of the homes in Newburgh were created to be “homes that served as thinking domains for Americans.”

    Judging by this blog, the plan worked. :)


  39. ClaireApr 24, 20097:26 pm

    Oooh – a whole row of lavendar. That’s a marvelous idea!


  40. JessicaApr 25, 200910:19 am

    Love the blog! I’m an O.C. person now living in Boston. When I get homesick I read your site, and feel much better.

    Idea for your (already there) moss- it grows like crazy (esp. in damp shady areas)… think about actually growing it! It takes minimal effort and looks very cool between pavers, or used as fuzzy frames for each paver. Best of all it is free because you already have some.

    Best of luck! :)


  41. LucyApr 25, 20095:06 pm

    This plan is great. How did you do it? Did you use design software? I spent hours drawing our garden plans on scraps of paper and, in the end, just gave up and improvised. It’s taken us 18 months overall but now we have a garden we love – transformed from a rectangle of dirt. We had help building a wall and patio, but did the design, planting and sledgehammering the old concrete path (that was fun!) ourselves. Given that I couldn’t even keep a houseplant alive before this, it’s quite a miracle! Your plan looks lovely and I look forward to seeing the pics. By the way, some garden centers will come to your garden and provide free advice on planting. That might be a good option for you – it’s worth asking around.


  42. feliApr 26, 20097:55 am

    Thanks for sharing your garden sketch. I am planning my courtyard garden too. Good luck with yours.


  43. deltaApr 28, 20098:09 am

    great garden plan! did you do the schematic yourself or can it be found on a website for us do-it-yourselfers to use as well? love the blog…


  44. Anna at D16Apr 28, 200910:14 am

    lala: I’m pretty sure we do composting in the US the same way as everywhere else. :)

    Jessica: We’re covering the mossy cement with gravel eventually (it’s mossy for bad reasons – i.e. poor drainage), but I will probably make some “moss paint” to get it to grow between our pavers!

    Lucy/Delta: No special software, I just threw this together in InDesign. Would be just as easy to do in Photoshop or Illustrator.


  45. moniqueJun 4, 20095:00 pm

    I Love your plan. If anyone can pull this project together it is you. I just caught up on your blog and I love what you have been up to. Everything looks so fresh!

    Keep up the good work!



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