Today’s post is a novel! It shares our DIY landscaping ideas and progress, as well as a look at the raised garden bed area and our Vego Garden beds review after the first season growing in them.
Our DIY landscaping progress & a Vego Garden beds review
You hopefully can’t tell while reading this, because I’m hoping it works well and I can nip out all of the typos, but I’m actually using voice dictation to write this! Apparently it’s a built-in feature in Google docs.
I have spent a lot of time on the computer over the past few years, well…eeally the last 20 years if I’m being honest. And it finally caught up with me in the form of pretty nasty carpal tunnel.
I tried a lot of different things but finally had to get surgery on my left wrist this week. I’m home from work and puttering around, reading and whatnot. And I figured it’d be a nice time to go through some of my blogging backlog.
This year’s yard…
And one of those projects was my yearly yard post. This is our second summer in this house, but the first full growing season. We are still very much getting to know the space and figuring out what we want to do.
You can see the post I did about our progress last year here: How to Plant a Garden From Scratch. Since moving in, we also put a four-season sunroom off the back of the house and added a patio. And did a ton of landscaping ourselves.
We also put in raised garden beds, which I’ll give a bit of a review of in this post because I really like them! So much so that I think we’re going to add a third raised bed this fall and kill off some more grass. Here’s a peek of the patio and yard before we get into it…
Before our DIY landscaping…
To get started, here are a few before shots from very early this year. Probably early March. The patio went in last fall, but we pushed all landscaping work to the spring.
The first picture below shows where my husband laid out the raised garden beds area. We knew we wanted to put perennials in here, but also a lot of zinnias and herbs to attract beneficial insects.
Once we had it completely laid out, we used an edging tool to manually edge out all of the areas we wanted to mulch. Our real goal is to get rid of as much grass as possible in the yard. We hate grass.
We also wanted the raised beds area to come around the patio and connect seamlessly to the long bed we put in along the fence last year. Which honestly also look pretty rough in these pics—keep in mind that this was March in Maryland.
Adding the beds & our Vego garden beds review
So you saw a peek of the beds in a few of the pictures already, but we got two Vego Garden beds. We chose the 17″ Tall 9-in-1 beds in Pearl White, which is really more of a beige.
These are not cheap, but we had wooden raised beds at our old house, and I wanted something that would last. our wooden beds were rotting out after only two growing seasons.
I had heard a great Vego garden beds review or two. And they are built to last. 20 years, to be exact. I also like that they are aesthetically pleasing with nice colors to choose from. they are coded with non-toxic USDA-approved paint that lasts.
I put these together in March in our kitchen. They were super easy to put together and then carry out to our yard, but the process did take some time. Lots of nuts and bolts to screw in.
Other reasons to like Vego Garden beds…
I also like that the beds have an open bottom to the ground. meaning that the bottom of your beds will not be a barrier to your plants reaching their full growth potential.
The beds are designed to use the hugelkultur gardening method, which originated in Germany. Hugelkultur is German for “hill culture.” It essentially entails filling your beds with layers of material.
Lego recommends first putting in a layer of cardboard on the bottom, then adding sticks and logs, then adding plant waste and other compostable materials. Finally, you top it all off with your soil.
This method is ideal for filling your beds for many reasons. First, it saves money on soil. Filling raised beds can take A LOT of soil.
But it also creates an ideal ecosystem within the beds for your plants to thrive. And it also helps you convert yard waste and other things into something that helps you grow plants.
I’ll make sure to update this post with a full review after we’ve had them for a while. So far, I love both the functionality and the look of them. As the materials decompose, we’ll add more compost and soil for next year’s crop.
DIY landscaping around the Vego beds & the patio
After we had the beds edged out and the Vago beds in place, it was time to start filling in with mulch. I decided to use thick landscaping fabric in the areas where I knew I wanted to put a path.
The goal here was just to save myself a little bit of time weeding since I find that thick landscaping fabric generally does a very good job of blocking out weeds.
But I only did the landscaping fabric in areas where I mostly wouldn’t be planting. In all other areas, I opted for layering cardboard/paper and mulching on top of it—otherwise referred to as sheet mulching. (You’ll see below that I later decided to plant in some of the landscaping fabric areas, so I used a knife to cut a circle out.)
In some areas, I just laid cardboard and mulched right on top of the grass. It will smother it out. But once it got warmer in the grass really got going, I sprayed it down with horticultural vinegar and let the sun cook it for a few days before sheet mulching.
Our DIY solar-powered rain barrel irrigation system
Mike also led the charge on setting up a really awesome DIY solar powered rain barrel irrigation system. That post has all of the details, and it started out as just one rain barrel.
Since that post, he expanded it to include two more rain barrels that are daisy-chained together. given the droughts we’ve had this year, it was great to be able to harvest so much rainwater and use it in our raised beds.
What we planted…
I definitely wanted to focus on planting perennials and Native plants. But perennials are obviously more expensive, especially when buying them in the spring. So I decided to put in a few perennials and fill in with annuals.
Mostly zinnias and dahlias that I started from seeds, but a few other things. We are planning to add more perennials this fall, and eventually become a 90% perennial garden. I just don’t have the energy to water annuals every day, especially with our increasingly hot summers and the very little rain we got this year.
Around the patio, we put in three ornamental grasses that ended up getting quite large. so I’ll be able to fill in more appropriately with perennials this fall. For the raised beds, we did mostly food.
We added a cattle panel trellis between both of the beds to maximize growing space and add a bit more visual appeal. And I attached some solar powered globe string lights which are entirely unnecessary but just look really pretty at night!
The cattle panel trellis had a couple things on it, but the Christmas lima beans and Malabar spinach really took over. I know lima beans aren’t really the best thing to grow to save money, but I love how they look, and I love how they taste!
I also planted a lot of Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects like herbs that I let flower, geraniums, alyssum, yarrow, cone flowers, black-eyed Susans, daisies, sunflowers, and of course—milkweed! We’re planning to replace more and more annuals with perennials as time goes on.
The patio area
So you’ve seen a lot of the landscaped area around the patio because these areas are connected, but not much else. Truly, the patio really took a back seat to all of the other landscaping we had to do. It was just so much work.
But the patio came together really nicely. We used all of the same furniture from our last patio…and the coffee table is actually our old indoor DIY coffee table! It was only meant to be a temporary solution, but it stuck.
The gazebo & privacy…
This area gets a ton of sun from midday into the early evening, so I knew it would not be even remotely usable unless we added some shade. I toyed with the idea of sun sails, but I ultimately decided that total shade would be best.
We got a gazebo, and it has curtains that I honestly thought we wouldn’t use. But we use them almost every day to block the sun if we’re having dinner out there. We did use another wire panel like I did in this post last year to make a privacy screen between us and our neighbors. Our yards are long, but we are very close to our neighbors.
Although we planted privacy trees as soon as we moved in, it will be many years before they get tall. so we figured a moon flower vine growing on a wire trellis would be a great short-term solution.
Mike also set up a solar panel on this side of the house that powers the string lights under the Gazebo and the ceiling fan. I truly did not realize how much of a difference the ceiling fan would make!
The utility box for all of that stuff is under the slatted black side table you’ll see in later pictures with plants. It’s the perfect multipurpose solution.
Other stuff on the patio…
The patio also has our compost tumbler, our grill, our GreenStalk vertical garden, and the beautiful DIY potting bench I designed and built this year. We love the GreenStalk for growing greens and herbs on the patio!
The potting bench is also something that I use daily. Whether I’m repotting something, savings seeds from the nearby milkweed plant, or just using it as a garden drop zone so I don’t lose stuff, it’s been a super valuable addition.
Final, end-of-season photos!
So I’ve been rambling on about all of the things we’ve done in the year this year, but I know you probably just want to see the final photos. As with every year, I took my summer photos in late August.
In Maryland where I live, everything is in peak bloom by mid- to late-August. So this is when I shoot the year. The zinnias look the best, the veggies are poppin off…it’s the peak! So that’s what you’re seeing here. Enjoy!