Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Permaculture in the front yard!

Wow!  What a change!
The lone sidewalk
Fence nearly completed!

Our front yard looks quite different now, as anyone who drives or walks by can see.  And in the process I've learned that working on your front yard is a great way to get to know the neighbors all up and down the block!
Before any work, with old sign and old bushes!

New bushes and new sign, Spring of 2011
This idea of having a yard filled with sod, and one lone sidewalk to allow people to traipse through the lawn without ever even touching it, has always confused me a bit.  Especially as I've thrown myself into caring for the lawn for the past 3 years and see how much work, how much water and money have to go into it to make it look attractive and nice.  As this season of lawn care began I began to think about all the hours and work it was going to take, and I contemplated the final bill for maintaining it over the next several years, it seemed there was a better way to go about this.  All this open, sunny space with great soil and we are growing and mowing a fairly "useless" product, we aren't even enjoying it by running through it or rolling about in it, as the children do in the back yard.

Another thing that has always been a little stressful is that the front yard was not fully enclosed, it was easy for children to run ahead so teachers and parents were always running after their children to make sure they didn't get to the busy street first.
Taking out the tree

The solution seemed to be to change the position of the fence so that at least one portion of it could be escape-proof and stress-free, and simultaneously we were thrilled at the idea of replacing a large portion of our lawn with a permaculture garden forest full of low-water needs and  edible plants.
We are so excited to plot and plan the design for this fun project!  Anyone with skills in or an interest in permaculture please give us your ideas!

Toddler Logs

We took out the Catalpa tree in the front and have found lots of ways to incorporate the tree itself into our playscape!  The main part of the trunk was saved as a log so we can use it in the new front bed that moving the fence is giving us.  The limbs were cut into child-sized logs and stacked in a "wood pile" near the dirt digging area.  I am curious to see the many ways the children will find to put the logs to use!  Another portion of the trunk was planted in the front as a stump, just a good sittin' spot for viewing our lovely flowers.  
Moving the fence line created a lovely new perennial bed in the front!

Front porch - not fully enclosed yet

The final pieces will be adding bike parking (patio will need to be installed and bike rack assembled) and fully enclosing the front porch so we can "hang-out" more out there with the children, especially during the mornings when it would be so nice to be out splashing in the water table or tending to the gardens.

Fortunately I have an acquaintance who is not only a metalsmith with his own custom fabrication business but an artist as well, I'm excited to hear his ideas on securing the porch and bringing beauty and art into its design too.

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