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. Well done! What an inspiring post about the evolution of your garden. Thank you for writing such a comprehensive description of the planning and contents of your garden to. I'm so glad I found your blog. Can I ask, when you killed the lawn, was it enough to lay down newspaper and throw soil/compost on top? I want to kill the lawn in my front yard, but it's the awful couch grass. Cheers. Vess

    1. My pleasure! Thanks for commenting.
      Yes, the newspaper/compost did kill out the grass, but it wasn't a particularly virulent grass to begin with. But I did the same treatment on the nature strip and that had a really strong grass (not sure if it was couch or something else, my grass identification is not strong ;) ) which has required repeated applications on glyphyosate to kill it off in a few patches where it grew through the newspaper/cardboard box cracks. But it did work reasonably well. I'd be more inclined to use all flattened cardboard boxes (much harder for grass to grow through) than newspaper if I were you. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for replying and advice :-). I have another question now sorry - do you do anything to your banana plant in winter - like if there's strong winds and hail etc? I'm in Melbourne to and have a dwarf lady finger and am worried about this week's nasty weather. It survived today's strong winds so fingers crossed she's a hardy one.

    1. Not a problem. :)
      I do nothing to my banana specifically, but I did plant it in a fairly sheltered spot (not very windy) in a warmer microclimate in my garden. It gets morning and early afternoon sun, which hopefully warms the bricks, and also backs on to where my heater is, which I also hopes radiates a little heat in the evenings to prevent too much cold.
      Mine too seems to have survived the crazy wind we've had the last few days. Just a few more ratty looking leaves.
      Good luck with yours. I'd love to hear if it fruits in future!

  3. Thanks! I thought I had to winterise it (wrap etc...) even though the tag says it's suited to Melb temps. I just planted mine earlier this year so I guess it won't fruit for a few years. I'll certainly be excited once it does and will be happy to let you know. All the best. (・◇・)