Bealey Household

The client wished to increase the food production and ecological value of the property, and introduce an irrigation system. I was struck that although the property is blessed with abundant sunlight and had high ecological interest to pollinators and beneficial insects, the yard was mostly all of one height and had little vertical diversity for birds or space optimization.

Chickadee feeds from a sunflower plant
Photo by Joanne Bealy

The challenge with assessing this property was that the client was already doing so much right. Centered in the yard were eight raised beds for annuals, along with a peach tree, herbs, one Earth Machine compost bin, pergola with hops and hardy kiwi, blueberry bush hedge, and black currants.

A backyard with raised beds, straw mulch, sunflowers and a shed
Part of the lawn being converted to paths and beds

Over the summer of 2017, we were able to remove a lot of lawn in the back by introducing two polyculture guilds of perennial vegetables and short shrubs, making sure to not shade out the land next to the house. We sheet mulched with cardboard and horse manure straight onto the grass, digging up the beds after three months when the grass had died.

The east bed faces southeast and had hazel, one black currant, dwarf cherry, Saskatoon berry, air potato, bunching onions, lemonbalm, Solomon seal, oregano, Strawberry, good king Henry, Sea kale, skirret, sylvetta arugula, and rhubarb.

The West bed faces South West and features Hazel, Black currant, meadowsweet, echinacea, bee balm, daylilly, two Haskaps, bush cherry, asparagus, geranium, and Russian comfrey.

The raised beds were moved closer to the house to facilitate irrigation from a 1000 l rain tank

Hostas and tall grasses frame a formal garden in dappled shade
More grass was removed and some pathing optimized in a lawnless front garden.