The Back Garden Project: Landscape Design and Garden Infrastructure

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The Back Garden Project: Landscape Design and Garden Infrastructure The Back Garden Project: Landscape Design and Garden Infrastructure
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The Back Garden Project: Landscape Design and Garden Infrastructure

by Gordon Douglas

June 6, 2010


This is the 10th post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

In addition to the update on sunlight and planting that I offered last time, it seems appropriate to offer an update on another aspect of this project: my first real attempts at what I might be so bold as to call "landscape design."

The image above shows the center of the garden, an area once overgrown with knotweed and other volunteers surrounding some discarded stone slabs, a crumbling cement form that I've taken to be a former grill, and lots of trash. Along the wall that forms the garden's eastern edge are the planters I've mentioned before, as well as that enormous gate that I've propped up and plan to hang more pots from. The growth was cleared to the lower right of the picture in favor of a path laid with "wood chips" made from dry, dead knotweed I pulled up early in the season. 



As planned
, I also rebuilt a stone patio using the existing slabs and other things I found nearby. And (this is one of my proudest accomplishments) I laid a new brick path using pieces unearthed and collected from around the garden.

I also built a scrappy but solid compost bin in the bottom corner of the garden out of the large sheets of metal grating that I have found around the garden. I dug a shallow hole, then bent the metal into shape and connected it to itself (and to the pole nearby) using pliers and plastic ties, and then lined the whole things with netting, started it off with some leaves, and created a simple cover out of a random piece of metal and a piece of wood wedged across the top to keep it closed. Here it is in progress and then complete and filled with yard waste and a few kitchen scraps (just the onions and garlic that I spare my interior vermacomposting operation).



So those are the most impressive additions so far. I've also been creating simple landscaping flourishes around my different planting areas, as I've shown in previous posts, and I've created an effective, if less than glamorous, storage area out of some tarp suspended from the fence and held down by rocks. And lastly, of course, I'm still removing trash on a grand scale.


With the help of some friends, I got these four big bags of bulky garbage out to the street in time for bulk pick-up this morning in the middle of a sudden downpour. Some refuse still seems pretty seriously intractable; it may take another proper work party or two to see for sure.

As spring officially turns to summer this weekend (at least as far as schools and East Coast boating attire are concerned), I'm pretty pleased with the progress so far. I've cleared a huge amount of brush and trash and replaced it with a wide variety of native plants, which have been fascinating to learn about and plan for to boot. One thing I haven't spent much time discussing here, however, is edible produce. More on that—both inside the garden and in other creative spaces around my small Brooklyn apartment—next time.
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