The Back Yard

It all started back in 2009 when I started living in this house. This is the backyard which I had to look at every day through the kitchen window every time I washed the dishes or made a cup of coffee.

Not all that appealing is it. This was the view from the verandah, with the straggly branches of an overgrown camellia to the left, and the straggly branches of one of three fig trees on the right. Of course, front and centre is the ubiquitous hills hoist, without which no Australian backyard is complete, and further back in a supporting role the ugly back fence and neighbours visually less than exciting shed. The stacks of roof tiles and sheets of corrigated iron held down (or supporting) the black pots are merely icing on the cake.

To given an additional idea on how the house is situated, this is a rough plan of the block.

This is pretty much what the block existed of when I moved in. 

It is an odd shaped triangular block, with the kitchen looking out onto the rear of the yard and opening out onto the verandah.

Something had to be done.

So I did. I moved the roof tiles and corrigated iron the the garage and pulled out the offending ugly bush on the left. Then I started planting. Around the same time I started a gardening book, for which I am now eternally thankful and highly recommend.

This was the original plan.

By the time 2010 came around I had put in a bunch of green goddess lillies (pilfered from the local river, but I feel ok about this as they are a noxious weed and clog the waterways dreadfully), some iris's, agapanthus, lavender and geranium, as well as my first fruiting plant, the passionfruit which I hoped would cover the ugly fence. I left the lantana for the same reason. I didn't much like it, but I liked it better than the fence.

I had also radically pruned the fig tree and started an attempt at a pond, which was not particularly successful being neither level, nor fully waterproof (somewhere around the 10cm mark was a leak, which meant it needed continual topping up so you didn't see the cement bases of the border rocks as you can in the photo).

But it was a (small) improvement on its previous incarnation.

I worked my way around the perimeter of the triangular backyard and built on the original plan, putting in more green goddess, more agapanthus, more lavender, and a few more edibles (the central pot is a cherry tree, and the terracotta pots slightly to the right of the shovel handle are blueberries).

This photo was taken on an incredibly rainy day, where the water was about 15cms over the grass at this point. It never rains but it pours.

Further around the yard (and in slightly more photogenic weather) I had pulled out the overgrown camellia and replaced it with three nicer ones further into the corner where they get more shade. I also planted a buddileja and have an avocado in a pot (it since died).

By 2011 things had growed up a little and I had snuck in a few more edibles including the strawberries, but I was sick of cutting the grass and the lantana (I had a path running through behind the iris plants).

The time had come for a major overhaul.

I decided to poison the grass, and cover it with gravel (because gravel was cheaper than paving). I also got rid of the hills hoist as having it in the center of the yard ruined the view of the yard and I really didn't use it all that much, preferring to air dry clothes inside on racks.

I also moved the pond forward and made it almost double the size and twice as deep. It took me ages to dig that thing! But I needed it nice and deep to be able to grow waterlillies which I have always loved.

The plan was modified.

Its a pity I don't have any photos from around then.

In 2012-13 I further extended the garden beds and put in the paths which eventually became graveled also, and started focusing more on planting edibles amongst the ornamentals. This documents the edibles I first started with, leaving blank the rest of the purely ornamental garden beds.

Over that time into the backyard went some fruit trees including 15 apple trees (12 step-over apples and 3 free standing dwarf apples), 2 cherries, the Anzac peach and lots of strawberries.

These are the step-over apples when they were first planted as dormant bare rooted trees. 6 Pink Lady step-overs are here, leading around the left side of the backyard bordering the path leading to the front yard.

The other 6 are Woodbridge Winter Pippin and they border the garden beds to the right side of the pond.

The other trees went in scattered around the garden beds, with the idea of it eventually becoming a food forest.

In 2013 I further extended this fruity paradise with adding a mandarin and lime which are being espaliered, plus two oranges between the lilac trees to provide an evergreen covering for the colourbond fence. 

Also that year I got my ducks and had the challenge to fit in their pen (2014 update: I got rid of the ducks and now have chickens in the converted pen). One of the fig trees had to go. Ah well, there is still one left.

How do I fit it all in? Like this.

21 - Peach Anzac, now also grafted with Fragar and Blackburn Elberta
22 - Orange Valencia
23 - Step-over apples Pink Lady (6)
24 - Cherry Regina
25 - Orange Cara Cara (red fleshed)
26 - Evergreen blueberry
27 - Apple Dr Hogg (named after the well know (in apple circles) pomologist and a good cooking apple)
28 - Apple Bramley's Seedling (another well known cooking apple)
29 - Cherry Napoleon
30 - Apple Andre Sauvage
31 - Step-over apples Woodbridge Winter Pippin (6 - including the 5 drawn plus one in the duck pen not noted)
32 - Tahitian Lime espalier
36 - Cherry Sour Morello
49 - Fig (white type, variety unknown)

This is the view from the varandah now.

Not too bad. I'll be happy when the trees are bigger and it looks much more like the food forest I want it to be.

This is the view from the far corner, looking towards the duck pen.

So that's my backyard.


  1. I have just been looking at the layout of your gardens - they are really lovely. I have also slowly removed most of my lawn for gravel paths. I love the clean look it gives.

    1. Cheers! I too love the clean look, and the lack of mowing required. I do get frustrated when weeds try to grow in it, but its not too bad.

  2. Hello Bek,

    Thank you for linking to my page. I noticed a bit of traffic coming from your part of the world and headed over to see what was going on and you have absolutely blown my mind. Your garden is just wonderful and I am so inspired to see all the tremendous work you have done. We are in the very early stages of planning an overhaul of our front yard and I am keen to grow fruit trees. I had never heard of step-over apples before and I am just so excited to discover they exist - what a revelation!

    Keep up the great work.


    1. My pleasure. I got my stepovers from woodbridge fruit trees and I highly recommend them! Good luck with the front yard makeover, I look forward to reading about it :)