Hi everyone, new member but long time lurker here. I'm in need of plant/shrub recommendations, but first:
Our situation is we're in zone 8A on a 1/4 acre city lot, older neighborhood in the downtown area, and we're starting a lasagna garden on our front lawn. Front lawn and not back for a few reasons: the back is largely shaded throughout the day, we drive through the back to access our garage, and our young kids play in the back since it's all fenced in. I'm including a video of our property (a little more info in the video's description that I forgot to record) and a (not quite to scale but complete with cardinal directions) hand drawing of our lawn. Excessive? Probably, but I did it for myself more than this forum, now the need to share has come up. Since taking the video, we've started prepping a garden space (as indicated on the drawing) lasagna style to be seeded with white dutch clover and transplanted directly into with herbs & veg in the spring. It's an ugly mess out there right now and I'm fearing one neighbor in particular might complain. Right now we're not in violation of city code I don't believe, but once we plant veggies and they get over 12" or "unsightly" we will be.
The code basically says if it's unsightly, over 12" and not ornamental, dry & fire hazard, or a breeding ground for rats/mice/mosquitoes, that's a no-no. I'm willing to take the risk and talk to the neighbors about it more. We want to do a swale/berm around that northeast corner of the garden and plant the berm with some shrubs or something that will hopefully be tall enough and leafy enough year round to block most the view from that neighbor's house. Not just because of the neighbor, but because that's the lower-most part of the property, the whole thing slopes gently from back to front and more subtly from southwest to northeast. Thinking we could hold a lot of water in the ground for our garden by doing the swale while also blocking most the view depending on what we use to plant the berm. Obviously, we'll either dig the swale more shallow over our gas line or dig with a hand spade around the line (suggestions?).
The tree in the middle of the garden is unidentified as yet, so we've lasagna'd around it for now until we learn what it is and whether we want/need to remove it (how to go about that if we do need to?). You might notice our sewer line isn't marked, that's cause the city hasn't come to do it yet but we're 99% sure from how things look in the crawl space that it runs straight along the concrete walk to our mailbox, on the south side of it.
So since that was all probably somewhat confusing, my questions are:
What to plant the berm with? Aside from obstructing view (but not too much sunlight, which I don't think will be an issue anyway due to path of sun over our property), bonus if it's native/produces something edible/would be ideal to plant strawberries or asparagus under/is cheap (after all we're needing to grow our own food ASAP out of necessity!).
How to do the swale where it crosses the gas line?
What is a safe way to remove a small tree from an area that will be used for growing food? Is girdling an option, or the only option? I'm not too opposed to drilling a small hole in the base and sticking a q-tip in with concentrated herbicide if we determine it needs to be removed, but not sure that's safe for the edible garden
If you see anything in else the video or can identify anything (I know I moved past things quickly though) or have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them. Particularly what to do with the (wild? has big thorns) orange tree (idk much about fruit trees yet) and the pecan (I'm sure neighbor would allow us to fertilize it at least).
My phone makes random noises while I record, sorry.