Possible Spring Project

collage view of side yard area
collage view of side yard area

I’m thinking about adding to my garden space — and removing from its function as “lawn” — an area on the south side of the house, between the rock wall and the house.  The area I am considering is about 14 feet deep and 58 feet long that surrounds a perennial border already in place around the house. Just thinking about sheet-mulching that large space is daunting. I’m not sure yet how I will go about it, whether I’ll do one small part first, then another, and so on over multiple weeks; or reduce the size of the garden to what I can manageably sheet-mulch all at once (time is of the essence this Spring); or whether I will sheet mulch some and (horrors) till the rest. I may dig holes in the lawn — really, it’s mostly ground ivy in this area — to plant my new perennials and trees, then sheet mulch around them, thus reducing to a small extent the sheet-mulching effort and materials required.

Speaking of perennials and trees, here is what I have ordered from Fedco this year, in a group order with friends; these arrive very small, usually in early April:

1 Buddleia davidii “Ellens” Blue Butterfly Bush
2 Clethra alnifolia “Ruby Spice”  Summersweet or Sweet Pepperbush
1 Prunus x kerrasis “Crimson Passion” Dwarf Cherry
2 Sambucus canadensis “Meadowview” Elderberry
20 bulbs of Gladiolus Green Star
20 bulbs of  Gladiolus Plum Tart
Myrrhis odorata Sweet Cicely
2 Verbena hastata Blue Vervain

I am thinking of planting the dwarf cherry, the butterfly bush. the elderberries, at least one sweet Cecily and one vervain, and possibly the glad bulbs in this new garden area. The summersweet is too attractive to bees for me to place it near the house or garden areas I frequent, but I want them in the yard for this very reason, their siren call to pollinating bees.

What I’d like to do with the rest of the space is plant other herbs and edibles (besides the elderberries, cherry, and sweet Cecily), including many veggies and more berries, but … alas, the deer path runs right along this lovely south-facing piece of land. I could put up an electric fence to keep them out, which would be tall and fairly noticeable to neighbours from the road, though with screening (here is where tall plants like the dwarf cherry, and the Cecily and vervain come in), perhaps it would be noticeably beautiful. And this is, from what friends tell me, the type of fence that could be put up to allow it easily to be removed in winter, when the veggies are gone and most of the perennials are no longer visible above ground/snow.

Here are some photos of the piece of land in question (taken today), with the possible garden area drawn in purple. If you have ideas (especially for keeping deer away), let me know!

approximate area of side yard project
approximate area of side yard project
side yard project, another view
side yard project, another view


  1. I’m intrigued by your plans, Molly, and will be interested in seeing what you do. Wish I had some ideas to offer but you’re way ahead of me — I don’t know anything about fencing. I do like those plants that I recognize on the list of what you’ve ordered.

    A friend of mine here in Andover gave a workshop yesterday at the NOFA Conference on “Fencing for the small landholder” or some such, and I’m glad to introduce you if you think he might be helpful, although I kind of assume he was talking about moveable electric fences for cows, etc. Susan

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Hi Molly, I’m also planning on preparing a new garden area this summer. I want to reduce our parking area right in front of the house, so i’ll hire a machine and pull the gravel pack off and little by little sheet mulch it. I think how much area you sheet mulch all depends on availability of materials. I will gather a pick up load of this and a pickup load of that, build a sheet mulch bed with those materials and when i get more, build the next bed. I’m not in a rush to grow edibles there, just prepare it right and then as each area is ready, start planting.
    Looking forward to 12th!

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