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Agriscaping Week 2: Unveiling the Design

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

The design for our new beautiful, edible backyard is underway. With three separate sections, each smaller area has a completely unique flavor and purpose.

My husband and I are completely different when it comes to approaching a new project. He is a dreamer, and I am an implementer. I suppose that's one reason we work so well together - he dreams up the crazy ideas, and I figure out what steps we need to take to move us from where we are to get a little closer to bringing those ideas to reality. So when it came to our backyard adventure, by the time he found Justin and the Agriscaping team, he already had the basic idea in his head of what he wanted the backyard to become. (Thank goodness - I would have had no idea where even to start, but I know Justin also helps people figure out their dream concept if they don't already have it.) Anyway, when we got to the design process, Tara, our designer from The Desert Root: Outdoor Environments did an excellent job getting what was in my husband's head down onto paper. *Drumroll*

Here's the rendering of the backyard:
Ahh, isn’t it beautiful?

If you don't remember what it looks like at present, here's the current (somewhat low quality) satellite view from Google Maps:

Big difference, right? Clearly there's going to be a large change from the blank slate of wall-to-wall grass we currently have! Now, let's talk about the three different sections (note in the rendering below, we're now looking at it from the north, so things are flipped). From left to right, we have the Butterfly Garden, the Citrus Biergarten, and our Trip to the Tropics.

The Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly Garden on the left third is the space we are going to grow most of our in-ground seasonal plants. There will be a garden shed in the back corner, and then some hills and raised beds for growing, as well as wall gardens along the wall of the property. We decided to call it the Butterfly Garden because our 5-year-old has repeatedly requested that we raise butterflies as part of this endeavor, so we are going to have a few plants specific to attracting butterflies in this area. (Our budding entrepreneur has convinced himself that he can sell them...I’m not certain we’re going that far!).

This area is designed mainly to give us space to grow edibles to sell through Justin’s Utopian Harvest local CSA (community-supported agriculture) venture. It is inspired by these pictures from Pinterest. I wonder if we'll be able to find an old circus-lighting sign like that for our garden room! And I do think we're going to try to do some kind of fairy lighting like this along the stepping stones throughout as well.

The Citrus Biergarten

The central area is modeled after a German Biergarten my husband found when he was last deployed to Germany. He loves the quaint, beautiful, and useful spaces hiding in the nooks and crannies of European architecture, and this garden, with its rustic picnic table centered amid various citrus trees, is modeled after that look.

We were inspired by the pictures above, first of a restaurant called da Paolino in Capri, Italy, for the canopy of lemons, and the central table is going to be modeled after the second picture. We look forward to great grilling and family evenings together there under well-manicured citrus trees when they have a few years of growth.

Trip to the Tropics

The last section on the right in the pictures above is our tropical paradise. We eventually want to put a French door in place of our bedroom window that will lead out onto the patio there, something like the resort patio look of the picture to the right. We were inspired to consider a tropical wonderland a possibility after a few visits to our local Tropical Concept nursery (the owner has grown all of her tropical plants there over the past 10 years, and it is a legitimate fruit-producing jungle!). Between the tropical plants and vines proposed for that area, we hope the lush experience is a little reminiscent of the cottage we stayed at on our honeymoon in Kauai (which, ironically was also a small-scale organic farm!).

We plan to install an outdoor tropical-themed shower around the corner too - great for both graywater plant-watering in the tropics, and for washing dirty gardening, bike-riding kids off outside instead of tracking all that dirt in the house! I have no idea what that will look like yet, but this one to the left is pretty inspiring. Hey, if our backyard can look like this, maybe I won't want to go on trips to the beach anymore!

Microclimate Zones and Trees

Now that you know the layout, you can see all the amazing trees that we have dreamed up to add to the canvas. Have you ever heard of a "Pink Wampee?" Me neither. But apparently my husband thinks we need one (soon to be one of the unlabeled trees on the left side). Tara called them out on the plan below (note that it is flipped back from the orientation of the renderings above). We also have the different microclimate zones called out, so that we can choose the right seasonal plants for each location. That will be super helpful when planting time comes!

As I reflect on this first step in our journey, I honestly can’t believe how many different edible plants actually grow successfully here in Phoenix.

We are so excited about this adventure and we are eager, with Justin’s guidance, of course, to see what was once just floating around my husband’s brain get drawn out on paper. It is so fun watching it grow into reality!

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