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Those plans I was talking about: Voila!
These were a long time coming - we've lived in this house for three years, and the back yard has remained largely untouched, save for a simple seating area in the shade and a haphazard "potting bench" that's more a tangle of crates and boards than anything bench-like at all. I have this [relatively] great expanse of unlandscaped lawn, a blank canvas for whatever I want... So what did I want? Somewhere to grow vegetables and herbs, a shed for storage and music-making, a patio and fire pit for long conversations and good times, a dedicated 'potting' area, a clothesline, a chicken tractor, as little "lawn" as possible, and lots of edibles and flowers. A garden to sustain and nourish the whole of us - body, mind, and spirit. Quite a lot, in other words!
Our property isn't large, only your standard suburban quarter-acre. The back yard takes up approximately 3/5 of that (the big lightly-shaded shape at the bottom is our house. It really isn't very big at all). It took three years of living here to know to use this space: where the sun shines, where the shady places good for book-reading hide, how far is too far to trek to the compost bin, etc. As it turns out, the north corner gets the best sun (the photo shows our lot's orientation more truly than the drawing), the southwest section is almost always in shade, and the furthest back corner is too far. It was an epiphanic moment when it all came together - "if that part's always sunny then the garden goes there.. if the garden goes there, then this goes here.." et cetera, all the bits shaping themselves where they should go before my eyes. And hot damn, it all fits!
The idea is to have it all as DIY/recycled/cheap as possible. The vertical garden fences will be made from pallets and cinderblocks, the vegetable garden will be enclosed with a compost fence, all non-garden bed will be edged with bottles recycled from local restaurants, stepping stones will be DIY'd, and I have two giant wooden orange crates (4'x4'x18"!) to hold the culinary herb garden. Rainwater will be harvested as much as possible, and I'll use DIY ollas for irrigation in all raised beds (which should be most of them). Every plant should have a purpose: edible, medicinal, attractive to pollinators, or native. There should be enough 4x8' garden beds to have a fallow cycle (ten?), and the chicken tractor will be able to fit over the beds in turn.
I know it's ambitious. Really ambitious.
But that's what hopes and plans are for, right?