Archive | 11:04 pm

Big plans for the backyard

21 Sep

For a freestanding house our backyard is tiny. Once upon a time it was a reasonable size, but then the previous owners built a garage then an extension. This left a courtyard-sized section of lawn and a narrow strip along the back fence.

They previously  had a shadecloth structure over most of the back section and grew rainforest-type plants.

This photo (above) shows what it was like when the first section of shadecloth had been removed. It used to also cover the section shown here, between the shadecloth on the left and the house at the right.

This created quite a nice rainforesty atmosphere, but it just didn’t work for our young family. The kids wanted more space to run around and the wood chips hurt their feet to walk on it.  So we’ve been slowly pulling it down and out in preparation for something new.

The problem is that now it just looks terrible and barren. The chickens have free-ranged so often that they have all but killed the grass and the garden beds are now bare in preparation for their removal. We want to put more lawn in, almost back to the rear fence, but removing those garden beds is going to take a lot of work, and most likely a jackhammer.

We really need to get things moving, because it’s just depressing to be out there at the moment. The thing that’s been stopping us is the cost of landscaping, but the more pressing issue is the lack of any vision. I want more grass, but I don’t want just grass. I would like something edible, but not sure how practical that is in the space.

The Plan

Thanks in part to a comment by Bek on a previous post, during the week it came to me. I’ve been envious of Louise’s espaliered lime tree. I’m going to construct myself a whole wall of espaliered citrus trees!

Now the back fence doesn’t get a spectacular amount of light. It’s under the most enormous lilli pilli tree I have ever seen (the neighbours’), which is why the previous owners went for the rainforest approach. But the soil is rich, and the corner (near the banana) gets quite a bit of direct sun throughout the morning. The section under the lilli pilli itself would get at least 2 hours of direct sun per day. I’m pretty sure that a citrus is going to struggle to fruit under those conditions, but the foliage should look pretty and any fruit is a bonus.

So tomorrow we plan to head out to Dural and buy some baby citrus trees. I have a 10 metre stretch to fill, so I think I can fit 6 trees in the space, maybe 7 at a stretch. So on my shopping list I have:

  • Ruby Grapefruit
  • Nagami Cumquat
  • Tahitian Lime
  • Imperial Mandarin
  • Emperor Mandarin
  • Meyer Lemon (not sold on this, open to suggestions)

Next on my list will be to start the training. We’re not suite ready to plant them out, but I don’t want to miss the Spring flush of growth(at the right height/shape). So I’ll start training them against a wire immediately, ready for planting out when we’re ready.

I’m still not sure, but I think we’ll construct a raised planter along the back to plant them in. I was going to make something out of retaining wall blocks, but they are expensive, and considering we’re ripping out something similar, we may be able to construct something ourselves from the materials. I’m just worried that it will look too informal against the espalier itself.

What do you think of my plan? Is there another citrus variety that you think would be better suited?