Landscape design

Planting as we go

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Too many properties are landscaped as an afterthought, with plants going in long after all the other work is done (or not at all). This is not how we’re tackling Lewisham Farm.

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Planting the slope above the barn with natives

We’re intentionally planting as we go, entirely with Australian natives. This includes a wide mix of callistemons (‘bottle brushes’), grevillias, banksias and leptospermums (‘tea trees’).

There are good reasons for these plantings:

  • Most flower heavily, attracting native birds and feeding the bees.
  • They will flower throughout the year, providing Priscilla with cut flowers.
  • They will screen things like the shed and water tanks, blending them into the landscape when viewed from the house or road.
  • They help to define ‘garden rooms’, breaking up the acres into smaller spaces with their own character.
  • When planted densely, they will keep down the weeds, at least to some degree.
  • They will be beautiful, making the farm a lovely place to spend time.

By planting them early, they get a head start in the disturbed soil, before the grass and weeds have had a chance to reestablish themselves. It also means that we’ll get the benefits sooner!

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Plants that will screen the water tanks from the house

By largely using tube stock plants, the cost of plants for a given area is only $50-100, which is nothing in the scheme of things.

And there’s much more planting to come…

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The “before video” of Lewisham Farm

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This video was taken a few months after we acquired Lewisham Farm, 22 hectares of paradise overlooking Nowra. The property is completely off grid (water, power & sewage), and the land is 2/3 rainforest.

In this aerial view, you can see:

  • The farmhouse, which is lovely, but requires a lot of little fixes
  • The new solar PV, which we had to put in quickly when the old system died in week one
  • One small water tank containing 15,000L, which ran dry at the beginning of Summer
  • The concrete pad for the farm shed (now constructed, photos to come!)
  • A single beehive, now kept company by two others
  • The first two citrus patches, starting our journey towards an edible forest garden
  • Plenty of open fields, some of which have been heavily eroded by horses
  • The beautiful Australian bush that surrounds our farm

A heap has happened since this has been taken, follow us on instagram for more photos and videos to come!

 

Our new shed and improved drainage

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The big news for us at the farm is the completion of our new ‘American barn’ style shed … which will finally allow us to get a tractor!

The new driveway to the shed is designed to shed the rain off one edge, to prevent the shed from flooding. While this is a good design, the first heavy rain we had immediately started eroding the 45 degree earth slope beside the shed.

So I spent a weekend creating a “rubble drain” to ensure that water doesn’t cause any more damage.

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The hand-dug trench, up the steep slope towards the driveway

The starting point was digging a trench that followed the line of erosion. This was lined with weed mat, and then filled will rocks that I lugged up the hill by hand. (A wheelbarrow’s no use on a 45deg slope!)

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The rubble-filled trench, looking up the 45deg slope

The first part of the trench also has a slotted ag pipe, to ensure good water flow, all of which is hidden by the layer of rocks.

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The top of the trench, beside the driveway, with the slotted ag pipe, and half-filled with rocks

It’s a great way to get fit (ha!), and the result is rather lovely I think. Tick that job off!