Those of us with the gardening bug can’t easily be deterred by challenges like limited space, poor soil or desert climate. When I purchased a home in Phoenix, I was faced with all three. My love of homegrown vegetables, coupled with my disdain for hothouse tomatoes and everything genetically-modified, made me determined to build a garden space despite these challenges. After some local research and budget development, I went to work. What I ended up with was a beautiful, 40-foot long growing space designed by me and built by my landscaper to my specifications.
Ninety percent of my backyard was covered by the pool and flagstone patio. That left me with very little space with which to work. It was also crucial that the garden be aesthetically-pleasing as well as functional, and that it provided enough direct sunlight without becoming an oven in the Arizona sun.
Planning & Implementation
1. Location – The available space in my backyard was very limited. I needed a location that would receive the right mix of sun and shade while not interfering with the foot traffic of my family and dogs. I had a 40-foot strip of dirt along the edge of my flagstone patio that was about a foot wide. It butted up against a five-foot tall cinder block wall on the southwest side of our yard, providing morning and early afternoon sun. This was the exposure I needed for our 110+ degree summers in Phoenix.
2. Design – I had planned to build the planter 12 inches high, but because I only had a width of one foot, I chose to build it up to 22 inches. I used landscaping stones that would accent my existing flagstone and added a matching stone shelf on top to give it a nice, finished look.
3. Irrigation – In southern Arizona we have no choice but to irrigate. Our water here also contains a high mineral content that leaves a build-up of gray residue wherever it dries. To prevent seepage from marring the stonework, I lined the inside with six-mil plastic sheeting. My landscaper tapped into our existing irrigation system and added a drip line that lies atop the entire length of the planter.
The end result is beautiful; although I will have to continue to amend and improve the soil as the seasons roll by. I’ll likely have to harvest crops year-round for the next two decades to recoup my investment, but the beauty and peace it brings to my yard was worth the cost.
More from Cherri:
Tips for a Pet-Friendly Garden for Butterflies and Hummingbirds
Kitchen Composting – From Table Scraps to Home-Grown Tomatoes
Goats: Environmentally-Friendly, Organic Weed Control for Fall Clean-Up