The tale of Bek's front yard...

01 April, 2014

In my telling of how my garden has evolved, the next area to tell of is the front yard.

The front yard is probably the area which has evolved the most to tell the truth. In 2009 when I first moved in the front yard area was inhabited by a big ugly cyprus tree, a lillipilli and a big overgrown ugly bush and a few straggly smaller other bushes.

This is the view from the corner of the block towards the house.

Here is the big overgrown ugly bush.

Just to make things clear, here is the outline.

The first thing I did was plant my long suffering lemon tree, which had lived for over 4 years in a pot which I had dragged around between rentals.

I also marked out a few garden beds and started planting in a some agapantus, roses, lillies and jonquils.  I then got onto chopping out the ugly bush.

But that didn't cover much ground. There was still lots of grass to mow (have I mentioned how much I hate mowing - such a waste of time!) and so much space to use. It was around this time that I had planned to gravel the back yard. I didn't want to have large spaces of front yard gravelled as this isn't such a useful space being quite visible to passers by. So around mid 2011 I developed what I call my 'choose-your-own-adventure garden'.

I started by laying out some weedmat with rock borders in random circles around the yard, all making interlooping paths that made some large and some smaller beds, ready for interplanting of edibles and ornamentals.

Of course during this time I was still planting edibles and eating from the garden.

Those with good observation skills will note the branches from the ugly bush chopped out are here being used as supports for the pea structure.

As the paths were being mapped out the large ugly half dead cyprus tree was chopped down.

It took my dad and two brothers plus a rented chainsaw most of the day to conquer the thing - I being a girl wasn't allowed to handle the chainsaw unfortunately. Damn patriarchy.

To kill the grass in the garden beds I practiced no dig gardening with thick layers of newspaper topped with compost, which I then planted into.

This is the side of the yard which faces the raised bed veg patch. This is screened by the pears espaliered in the belgian fence style which was planted in 2010.

They were quite young and, at the time of year of the photo, dormant.

They now look something like this.

Last year they set fruit, but it dropped early. Hopefully 2015 will be the year of the first home grown pear.

Once I was happy with the positions of the paths I got the gravel and covered all the weedmat. Unfortunately I didn't have enough rocks to fully do natural edging, so I have a combination of plastic and rock edges.

This is the view from the far corner towards the house.

This is from the right side of the house towards the road.

This is looking from the front of the house (near the entrance) towards the far corner and neighbours house.

I have since extended concept to make more beds and break up smaller beds. I find this makes for easier gardening by meaning most of the beds I can reach the center from the edges.

Most of the beds now have fruit trees planted into them. These are almost all deciduous trees, planted with the idea of creating more shade for the garden beds in summer, as the front yard faces north and gets most of the strong afternoon sun. These were planted in 2012/13.

I also have used the area directly on the right of the house almost next to the lemon tree. This area gets morning sun on the brick, and is also where the heater is, creating a microclimate which gets less frost compared to more exposed areas.

This is where I have planted my tropical trees including my dwarf mango and dwarf cool climate banana.

The dwarf mango has flowered and set fruit but unfortunately so far these have also dropped early.

The banana is a long while off I expect.

This is the current layout of the front yard, with the shaded area representing the gravel paths and the white areas garden beds.

1 - Apricot Moorpark
2 - Almond (self-pollinating)
3 - Espaliered pears (Buerre Hardy, Conference and Williams) in a Belgian fence style
4 - Plum Prune Splendour
5 - Plum Ziegler
6 - Thornless blackberry
7 - Thornless blackberry
8 - Lychee
9 - Apple (cider) Dabinette
10 - Cherry (sweet) Early Burlat
11 - Cherry (sweet) Merchant
12 - Cherry (sweet) Simone
13 - Apple (cider) King David
14 - Lillypilly
15 - White Mulberry
16 - Banana
17 - Mango Florigon
18 - Lemon Eureka
38 - Raspberries (summer fruiting) Sandford, Chilcottin, Nootka

I haven't bothered to document the purely oranmental, but includes most notably a couple of buddileja, another camellia, a lovely jackaranda tree in the far corner, agapanthus, roses, rosemary, the smoke bush and a devinely smelling port wine magnolia.

This is the view from the house entrance.

I know some people are funny about growing fruit and veg but I haven't yet (touch wood) had anything stolen since I got the new fence put up back in 2011. Previously it was open, and I had some garlic, a couple of tomatoes and a particularly fine pumpkin stolen. Since the colourbond fence went up, complete with garden gate, not one thing has been stolen, and many conversations with not immediate neighbours have been started with a comment or two about the garden.

I really like how this part of the garden has become both a fruit and veg haven, but also a fun part of the garden to wander around. And certainly more useful than an expanse of weedy lawn.


  1. I've really enjoyed that tour. You've made amazing improvements (just shows how stupid and useless lawns really are), increased diversity and productivity and beauty. How wonderful it would be if everyone did this. I really believe, if we set our minds to it, that Melbournians could grow all the food we need, just in gardens and naturestrips. You didn't mention whether you have a naturestrip. Will that be the next project a la Costa's The Verge? ;-)

    1. Thanks! I always find it interesting how other peoples gardens have evolved, so hope my story is of interest to others also.
      I do agree that with surprisingly small amount of effort most people could grow most, if not all the food we need. But it is a long term plan and does require time and effort which most people don't think they have. That said I don't think gardening takes any more time than shopping. My belief is that that homegrown is so much better taste wise, and that's the motivation for me. Pure greed really. :)
      I do have a nature strip, and last year in late spring I covered its grass infested area with newspaper and compost like the front yard. But I have a pernicious grass there which is still coming up through the cracks, so I'm sadly using glycophysate to kill off the grass, then the verge growing will start!

  2. what a wonderful transformation and journey. you have really changed ther space, for the better! it's such an active eco-system now, isn't it, rather than a barren space? and i love the curving edges. very inspiring! i'm heading back thru your earlier post now.

    1. Thanks. That's a nice term - active eco-system. Its funny because it was never a defined goal, but there are so many more birds, insects and whatnot, not to mention plants, that live in that area now. A nice benefit for all.

  3. What a dramatic transformation. That's my dream - no lawn, front or backyard. But unfortunately, our HOA doesn't allow that. People love their lawns here - fertilize it ,water it and cut it. Don't get the point of it. . But my plan is to take the grass out in the backyard .... No one can stop me from doing that. Wonderful post. Keep it coming.

    1. Cheers! That's a real pity, but I guess there's not much that can be done about it. I love how you are so renegade gardener in the backyard though. :)

  4. Thank goodness you got rid of the Cypress it lets so much more light in. I guess I had a similar thing when we had to take the liquidambar in the front. It took me an age to get use to it but now I can grow so much more.

    I love a mix of ornamental and food stuff much more diverse. Love the chages. Good luck with the verge

    1. Cheers. I always wanted to get rid of the cypress as it was a half burnt, not very healthy tree and in a completely awkward spot, let alone limiting what I could do with the front garden. I'm very happy its gone.
      Cheers, I shall be sure to post on it once I get around to it.