[permaculture] Front yard Garden Design Contest

Robert Waldrop rmwj at soonernet.com
Fri Feb 15 23:58:41 EST 2002

-----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Gordon <gordonse at one.net>
>I'd be interested in hearing what permaculturists in different
>would do with this front yard if you wanted to make it as visually
>appealing to be in as these are and also to produce as much human
>food(or other useful items) as possible.

Well, just about everything we're doing is in our front yard.  Our
buildings are right up against the property line next door, on a
corner, so we have not much backyard at all.  Here's our plant list
http://www.bettertimesinfo.org/2001plantlist.htm , which was updated
last October as to what made it through the summer and what sizzled in
the August heat or never quite got going in the spring.  Here's a
basic sketch of our property, with the plantings as of Spring 2001,
we've added quite a few more planting beds since then.

At http://www.bettertimesinfo.org is some commentary on the process
thus far (click on Springtime on NW 21st Street and the Summer View
from NW 21st Street.

My main problem is visualizing how all this is going to look once it
really gets growing.  So far it's trial and error, but we are trying
to learn from the errors as well as the successes.  This is also true
of making it "look good", since most of what we have is front yard,
although there is quite a bit of it (the property is 210' long).
That's given me more heartburn than anything else.  Fortunately, OKC
doesn't have much of a code requirement for landscaping, I can plant
anything I want anywhere I want, even between the sidewalk and the two
streets our corner lot fronts on. So far none of the neighbors have
done anything other than ask about what we're doing.  I gave away a
lot of tomatoes last summer.

What I'm doing is using wood as a decorative element with most of the
plantings, especially those between the sidewalk and the street (which
for both streets is pretty wide, 25 feet).  I have three logs set up
by the herb bed that are a perfect height for sitting, and also make a
good petting perch for the cats.

At the corner of our lot, there is a dead tree.  It had four branches
last year, this year it has two.  The others fell off.  One of them
has 5 uses: (1) a nice place to sit (it was a big branch), (2) an edge
for a garden bed,  (3) the underside is slowly rotting, (4) it lies
where it fell, and so it is also sheltering (and slowly feeding) a
little peach tree that it missed by about 2 feet when it went
kerplunk, (5) cat scratching post and petting perch.

It's probably doing something else I don't know about (worm habitat?)
but that's OK, it can do what it wants to do.  It will anyway, so I
might as well just go along with it. Logs are like kids in that way.
I noticed some different little plants took root at the place where
the log meets the grass, don't know what they are yet.

The other big limb is also where it fell, basically looking decorative
and slowly rotting.  It's on a bit of a slope, and I'm thinking about
rolling it over a few feet and maybe making it the edge of a terrace.

We had a second mature elm that last year split and went kerplunk.
It's branches ended up outlining the garden beds we made last year, a
big stump of it is still in the ground, and I grew a purple hyacinth
bean plant in it last year.

We have a third mature elm, in front of the little house at the back
of our property, that lost a lot of branches and foliage in our ice
storm earlier this year.  About half of it is still there, but so much
was knocked off the other half that it is very lopsided.  So now I'm
trying to decide whether to take the whole tree down and plant a pecan
guild in its place.  (Of course, I have to figure out what would be
good in a pecan guild, but I guess I don't have to have all of that
answer the first year.)

I have the beginnings of a fruit tree guild along NW 21st, where I
have planted 7 fruit trees (2 apples, 1 peach, 2 plums, and 1 each
apricot and cherry which didn't make it, to be replaced probably with
2 apricots).

We didn't lose any branches from our existing mature pecan tree, at an
interior corner of the property or our existing mature mulberry
bushes, but a fourth shade tree lost a lot of branches.  We are
guarding our new found wealth of tree limbs; when the city comes
through to do its storm pickup on our street, I'm putting little signs
on all of our big branches on the ground, "DON'T TAKE THESE BRANCHES".

I read in one of the permaculture books about I think it was called
hugullkultur, which is building a garden bed with branches, and we
certainly got lots of branches this year.  I was thinking about trying
that with an herb spiral. Eventually we'll rent a shredder.

I don't think our design is very decorative at this point, but I have
some hopes that eventually it will grow out a bit and look better.  I
don't want to present a manicured view, but I would like for it to be
bright and colorful.  We're going to do more flowers this year, and
look for edible shrubs with nice flowers.  This fall I want to do a
lot of bulbs, we have quite a few day lilies already and a few iris,
but I've been thinking about adding some canna lilies.

Sorry is this is more info than anybody wants to read, but that's what
we're up to on NW 21st street in Oklahoma City.  Comments,
suggestions, critiques are always welcome.

Robert Waldrop

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