The idea started off simply enough: to turn the backyard into a garden. The indecision, however, is in the details. While we could, theoretically, pull up all the lawn and plant right into the ground, we have two dogs who have no regard for boundaries. Enya, a German short-haired pointer, will trample over plants, push over fences and chicken wire, and steal cucumbers right off the vine. We also have our share of rabbits who trek through the yard, despite the wooden fence and the presence of the dogs. I’ve lost more pea shoots than I can count to bunny thieves. Taking all of those factors into account, we decided raised beds throughout the backyard would be our best bet.
Building raised beds from scratch, with wood from the local lumber store, would be expensive. We’re trying to keep our costs down, as the whole point of the garden is to help us save money. To that end, and with the “Use what you have” motto in mind, we took an inventory of what we had on hand. One thing we have plenty of is wooden lattice. We’ve used it as support for vines and vegetables, to keep the dogs out of parts of the yard we don’t want, even as building materials at times. You can see some of it in the header picture above, where we had tried to create a space for the dogs to do their business. They were less than keen on the idea, though. We had several pieces in various parts of the yards, along with stakes and a huge baggie full of zip ties. Add in the powered hand saw and we had our plan.
Stephan cut the lattice down the middle width-wise, turning an 4′ x 8′ panel into two 2′ x 8′ panels. We decided to put the first beds against the fence where there was already lattice attached from years earlier when I had planned to use it as support for morning glories and other flowering vines. We hammered posts into the ground and then lashed the lattice to the posts using zip ties. We’ve used zip ties for other garden projects before and it lasts forever. We arranged the lattice in semicircles. Our yard is almost triangular and I like how the semicircles soften up some of the edginess of it. We’ll plant cucumbers, peas, and other climbing vegetables in these beds next spring. The task was raking up the leaves and dumping them into the beds as a start. We might have to line them with a finer mesh come spring when we add compost and earth, to keep it from leaking out of the gaps, but we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.
The rest of the lattice we formed into a circle and staked in the middle of an open sunny space. The plan is to plant wildflowers to attract birds, butterflies and bees. We’ll add a birdbath to the middle of it as well, maybe a post with a bee hotel, too.
Come spring we’ll need to drop in compost from the bin, and soil. We’ll be checking out Craigslist for that. We have a Jeep, shovels and muscles. We don’t need to buy bagged soil from Home Depot. We will, however, need to get more lattice. We’ve used up all that was on hand. This is a good start, though, that will allow us to get plants into the ground as soon as spring comes around.