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Back Yard Garden

 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
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Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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We are getting a little garden going in our back yard this year and I wanted to share some of what we have going on.

The first thing we did was go out and get a bunch of nice pallets to make a couple fences out of. A quick Kijiji search lead us to a massive pile of pallets of all different sizes we could pick from. We needed to keep the dogs in the yard and not have them roam around the alley. We also want to do this project as cheaply as possible. So free pallets for a fence is perfect.

Before we started standing the pallets up to make a fence, we had to do some earthworks at the end of the drive way. There is a low spot in the alley right at the end of our driveway and our driveway is even lower than the alley, so whenever it rained all the water would run into our place and make a huge mud puddle at the end of the drive. So we shovelled all the built up mud and gravel from the end of our drive and made a nice little berm at the end of the drive. We drove over it a few times with the car while we were bringing loads of stuff in making it nice and compacted.

A couple days later we had a torrential downpour and the berm worked perfectly. The water level was noticeably higher in the alley than in our driveway. It worked so well that the water was actually able to flow down the alley to the sewer drain where it was supposed to go. You can see the water level in the second picture a bit. It's hard to tell from the pictures.

Making the pallet fence was incredibly easy. We just stood them up on end and screwed a 2x4 along the top and the bottom to hold it together. We then anchored one end to a tree and the other end we secured to the concrete driveway. We also put in a gate, by securing another pallet perpendicular to the fence into the ground, then attaching hinges. The gate works great. This fence is solid and about 5' high. No dogs are going to jump it or crash it down.

Not only is the fence almost free, super strong, and easy to build, but it looks sweet. From the alley, you would almost never know it was made of pallets. It looks every bit as good as any of the neighbour's expensive fences and better than the cheap ones.


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Back pallet fence
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water level
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pallet fence from alley view
 
Tyler Ludens
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Posts: 9455
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Great fence! Looks super.

 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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We only did the pallet fence where the driveway was along the back of the property. The other half of the property has a few fairly large ceder trees along the edge. So we cut down a couple shrubs which were in our garden area, as well as the lower branches from the ceders and wove them between the trees to create an impenetrable natural fence. This worked out swimmingly. There is no way the dogs will get through this either and it looks cool.

With the new berm in place keeping the water from the alley out of our driveway, we also made a little drainage trench over to the low spot in the lawn for the water that does collect on the drive to drain into.

We also needed to fence the dogs out of the part of the yard where we are going to be growing things, so we made more pallet fence. This one isn't as high, but it worked out just as nicely. We only needed one 2x4 along the top of the pallets to keep it together. We also staked a couple supports into the ground to hold it up.

I am super happy with the way these fences turned out. If you look for them, there are many nice looking, high quality pallets of the same size just waiting to be used for fencing.

To make the actual garden we decided to go with cardboard and wood chips to kill the grass. We went with this method because we could get chips and cardboard for free and we wanted a garden which we could leave for periods of time and not have to weed as much. I am aware of the cardboard toxicity, but I figure we are living in the dirty city anyway and who knows what the people did to the lawn before we moved in. The ground is undoubtedly somewhat toxic as is, so a little cardboard is surely not going to make it worse. And we want a fairly low maintenance set up, so cardboard and wood chips it is.

We called up a local furniture store and had them collect some large cardboard boxes for a few days for us and we had a family member working for the parks department who hooked us up with one of their large piles of wood chips. So we made a few tips with the trailer and got a nice pile of each.

After getting some cardboard and chips down, it started to rain pretty good, so we kept at it and got the whole fenced in area covered as it got nice and soaked. It's been pretty rainy since then, keeping everything nice and soggy.

We also set up a little compost bin with some smaller pallets and chicken wire we had lying around. It's working out nicely as well. Keeping the dogs out.

Thus far I am pleased with how things have turned out on our little project. We have ordered a bunch of seeds and will plant those in a few weeks. We would really like to get some bushes, trees and shrubs in, but we don't have any money for those right now. We'll keep our eyes and ears open for any sweet deals and add them into the project as they come.

This is as far as we have come right now, but I'll keep updating this as we progress.
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Natural brush fence
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chips, cardboard and pallets piled up
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garden area fenced in with chips down
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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How large is the actual growing space? It looks pretty big!

 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How large is the actual growing space? It looks pretty big!



Hi Tyler,

The space is 18' x 30'. Not huge, but should be a good start. Half the back yard is driveway and we figured better let the pups have a little grass at the end to do their business on, and it just worked out to this size with the 2x4s we had.
 
Simon Johnson
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Posts: 201
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Just a couple more pictures of before we started, the pallet gate into the garden area, and one of the pallet compost bin.
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before we started
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pallet gate into garden
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pallet compost bin
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Posts: 493
Location: Palmyra, Virginia
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books dog fish food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Awesome work Simon! You are obviously resourceful and quite handy. Great pictures. I love that there's a dog's butt in 4 of them. Did i see a German short-hair pointer?
Im going to have to get some pallets. I think i know of a source.
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 397
Location: Los Angeles, CA
30
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees urban woodworking
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That large space, covered with a beautiful layer of wood chips is a thing of absolute beauty to me. I can only imagine the amazing veggies you'll be pulling out of there in the months and years to come. Every time I take another section of grass or unused land and cover it with chips like that, it looks so bare and forlorn. But you punch through that mulch, and plug some tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, a pumpkin or two . . . and within 3 months, it's no longer this blank blanket of chips, but a riot of growth.

Good for you!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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That's a decent amount of space, especially if you concentrate on veg. I don't know if you've looked into Biointensive gardening, but if your main goal is to grow the most food in this space, there's lots to be learned from it: http://www.growbiointensive.org/

It's amazing what people can cram into tiny spaces. http://geofflawton.com/videos/urban-gardens-microspace/



Of course how much you can shove in there has a lot to do with how much sun you get, so further north, you have to space things more widely.
 
Simon Johnson
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Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Karen Layne wrote:Awesome work Simon! You are obviously resourceful and quite handy. Great pictures. I love that there's a dog's butt in 4 of them. Did i see a German short-hair pointer?
Im going to have to get some pallets. I think i know of a source.


Thanks Karen! The pups like to be close and see what's going on There is one german short hair and one blue heeler / border collie.
 
Simon Johnson
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Thanks for the input guys. I'll keep you posted on what happens here and any other projects I get going.
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