At this time, my own yard needs a lot of work as a new septic system was just installed. You need to be careful what you plant around septic systems, as some long term plants can cause damage. The biggest problem I’ve heard of is tree roots getting into the drain to the septic tank. There are products that keep those lines clear of such problems, but I suggest you ask a septic expert what to use.
Planting trees next to the lines is never a good idea. I learned in my Master Gardeners class that trees do not have tap roots but some can shoot out roots half a mile away or more, although roots usually only go down 18” or less. I was surprised by this fact and also thrilled. I now know where I can plant the larger trees I would like to have in my yard.
I love to watch birds and other critters come into our yard. Therefore, I would like to build my yard into a wildlife garden with a productive garden somewhere in the midst. I also love the idea of a cottage garden, as I enjoy the scents and sites.
Luckily, I have a large enough yard to maybe get all three ideas integrated somehow. The sky is the limit! Don’t think you have to stick to one idea of a garden. Mix it up and you may be surprised. If you don’t like it, give the plants away or trade with your garden friends, and put in something else. That is the beauty of creating your own gardens.
My first idea was to gather a lot of sturdy 1” or more sticks along with thinner, longer ones to create a fence or wall. You can do this by sticking the sturdy sticks in the ground at around 1’ intervals and weaving the smaller, thinner branches through horizontally, layer by layer. I would not make it tall, but as a nice 3 or 4 foot border to set my plants against.
Make sure to prepare the soil for each type of garden you want. Then build the bed with plants of all the types you want, as long as they are all able to grow agreeably together. Read the labels on all your plants to know what type of light, soil and spacing is needed.
Check to make sure your plants are not invasive or illegal in this area. There are certain types of invasive plants that are not allowed near waterways, such as the yellow day lily. If you plant them, keep them away from channels and lake fronts. Some varieties of grasses are also not allowed by the waterways. Please be aware of your environment and what you may or may not be allowed.
I would like to put in a water feature to bring in more wildlife but I do not have the time or money currently, so I will use my bird bath for now. I have learned that if you put a sprig of lavender in the birdbath, the mosquitoes won’t hatch in the water. A fountain would be nice also, birds like the water to be moving. The moving water would also not allow mosquitoes to hatch.
I will have to grow some lavender. I love perennials, so that won’t be a problem. I use lavender in many projects, gifts and potpourri, along with other herbs and flowers. Not all plants are just for pleasure, many are very useful. An herb garden can be part of a productive garden that also includes veggies and other edibles, such as flowers you can eat and fruit bushes or trees.
Amy Muncy was born in Wabash County and lived there for close to 40 years. Muncy grew up in the country, has always enjoyed gardening and mowing the lawn. She has been gardening since a small girl. She moved to Kosciusko County in 2000. She is a master gardener intern at this point, but will be a full master gardener before long.
“I enjoy all aspects of gardening. I really don’t have an expertise on any one thing. I make compost. I can, freeze and dehydrate. I like to grow veggies, flowers, herbs and houseplants. I like to plant trees everywhere I can. I know a little bit about a lot of gardening. I would say most of my experience has been on composting and different ways to do it. I believe we must conserve our land for our future generations and composting is a great way of doing this. The more we become self sufficient, the better off future generations are and we need to be teaching them by example.”