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Agriscaping Week 10 - The Wall, the Shade, and the Forest

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

We have been working hard in the backyard. The initial demo is complete, and we were very lucky to be able to schedule a good mason to come in and do the wall almost immediately. We were concerned with longer timeframes to get it done (thank you, COVID) because the fall planting season is already upon us, and the long raised bed in the back is where we are going to plant most of our food plants. We’re hoping to get something in the ground before winter!

You can see in the pictures my husband finishing the footing for the wall. He dug the trench for the footing with the backhoe while we had it, because that probably saved $1000 of the price of having the mason do it (and we had rented the equipment already). But he had to finish straightening it out and setting the forms for the concrete pour by hand, which was hard work. You can also see my son waiting in the front, excited over the delivery of bricks! We bought the materials ourselves and the mason just charged for the labor to build the wall. Even with the underground work already done, it took two guys about two days to pour the footings and then build the wall.

Ta-da! And our beautiful raised bed wall, almost the entire length of the backyard, is finished!

In the meantime, we started working on another project on the side of the house. We need a Zone E space for some of our tropical plants like the avocados, nicely shaded from the AZ sun on all sides, so we decided to put up a large sun shade on the east side of the house to use as a permanent Zone E growing area and nursery. The process was strangely a lot harder than we had expected - there were very few prefab options available, and every one was far too expensive or was not customizable to fit the entire length of the space. So my husband decided to design his own awning structure and put it together himself. We’re so thankful to have friends who helped - two of Matt’s coworkers came for a few hours, and our neighbor who works in construction let us borrow his tall ladder. It’s been fun figuring out how to do all of these projects as cheaply as possible - it definitely helps to have handy friends!

We first had to cut down a tree in the way (we’re still not sure what to do with the stump, since even the backhoe wasn’t strong enough to pull it out!), and then we were able to get the metal structure mostly built. Unfortunately, with all of the other projects happening simultaneously, that’s as far as we got! Because we are doing this ourselves, the shade cloth we were able to buy is not exactly the right size for the structure, so we need to have it altered. And, unfortunately, that’s where the project is going to sit for a while, until other more pressing things (like irrigation, quail and planting before winter!) are finished. Thankfully, we have an adequate Zone E area to store the plants in our front courtyard until we’re ready to plant them.

I LOVED the makeshift forest in the front courtyard we had for a few weeks before we were ready to plant all of the trees we had picked up at Queen Creek nursery!

We definitely need to get more trees planted permanently in the front courtyard. The forest of green was so fund to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee under! My hope is that we can eventually propagate some of the ones we planted ourselves, so we don’t have to buy more. That’s the ultimate goal of this endeavor, right? To make this plant habit we have self-sufficient!

Keywords: How to plant tropicals in Arizona, how to build your own shade structure, how to build a raised garden bed, urban gardening in AZ, Queen Creek Botanical Garden

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