So I presented the idea of the large mulched peach/mulberry/banana swing set area to my husband. He listened graciously and then offered some valid concerns like the kids climbing the fragile banana trees. He thought the design was pretty, but the effect wouldn't be in our smallish yard and that it would be too much mulch in relation to the size and amount of grass. As my favorite virtual mentor "the Nester" says, I now have a Lovely Limitation.
So I went back to the sketch pad last night and came up with this:
I really liked the idea of incorporating the bananas and bushes into my little garden and would still be able to guild them and give them lots of care inside my foot high raised bed. I would still be doubling my existing grow space too.
Unfortunately when I looked at the space from my kitchen window in the light of day and took my measuring tape to it, I realized that the roof has a generous 2ft overhang and only goes up about 10ft at the peak. My bananas will easily reach that high meaning the banana on the left next to the wall would be growing into the roof.
Darn. Back to the drawing board. Time for plan
A, B, C, D...E! Yes, I think Plan E may be a winner. Now I just need a Plan E...
My husband made some suggestions about where I may incorporate the mulberries and banana trees into my garden or the existing landscaping.
1. In the above garden minding the roof and a 2ft setback from the A/C unit
Pros: I like that I'd get to see them from my kitchen window and have easy access to water and garden tools and freedom to "guild them" however I want. I could also reach the mulberries from all sides which would make pruning and fruit harvest easy.
Cons: I would probably loose a bit of growing space. The trees might shade other plants. This area is a bit shaded during most of the day but makes up for it with late day west sunlight (too much shade?)
2. In an existing landscaped area. This could be: in place of the bottlebrush in the far back corner and as the other foundation tree to round out my hedge. I was originally thinking of a palm or crape myrtle as the corner plant next to the hedge and the bottle brush is quite drought tolerant where it is.
Pros: the banana trees would be incorporated into the landscaping. I'm actually not sure why I care about this point?
Cons: I'd have to relocate the bottlebrush. I would not be able to guild the banana near the hedge. The banana where the bottlebrush is would take extra effort to water.
And then there's crazy option number 3 which currently looks like this:
This is the extension of the original fence along the north side of our house. The old gate to the backyard was where you see the two random fence posts near the corner of the house. This area is unused, out of sight, and basically a pain to maintain because the mower doesn't fit back there. I currently have some of the kids toys buried beneath the mountains of Spanish needle and weeds. I usually lean the kids pool against the house here during winter.
In spite of how it currently looks this site does actually have some pros: I could put the bananas and plant some sort of pretty guild here and mulch the whole 8ftx8ft square (anything would be better than what it currently is!) It is in an isolated area of the yard that gets full west sun (the camera angle shows how the sun hits the area). I'm pretty sure it is a zone 10 microclimate that would get nice and hot and humid which the bananas may thrive in.
Which leads me to a couple major drawbacks most of which center around the isolation of the area (it's a double edged sword): The bananas may get too hot here. I've never grown them before and I'm just not sure how hot is too hot especially with the majority of sun coming in from the west. It is also harder to water. It would be out of sight and I'd be less likely to remember to water it and fertilize it. There are a pack of hungry squirrels that like in the oak tree just to the other side of the fence and I'm afraid they'd ravish any fruit from any plant I put here because it's isolated.
Overall, I like the idea of option 1 the best. Fitting the trees and bushes into the garden would add beauty and make maintanence much much simpler. As I'll be having baby #4 in just a couple months, I need to make life easy for myself. However, I know that my banana trees will pup sometime in the next year and I'll have to do something with the pups. I may take that opportunity to try out the pups in option 3 and see how they do in the microclimate while the mom plants are safe in the garden. Also, it would be a fun little challenge, don't you think?