Opinions – Small yard, cutting large trees for vegetable garden
We have a small dilemma. Our house is on a small lot. The location is great, with farmer’s market down the road, co-ops within reach, as well as work, shopping, nightlife, etc. Our self assessment has led us to start a garden. Being on a small lot limits our options of ideal sunlight locations. Further complicating matters, we have two large spruces at the back of the yard, which happens to be the best spot for a garden. One is about 80-100 feet. The other has been topped because of proximity to phone and electrical wires.
We think a garden (something like 22′ x 22′ of mixed shape boxes) coupled with a rain water collection system is a good, and green, use of the land. But old spruces that big are not just a nice property anchor and good for the environment, but spruce also has many uses in a SHTF world. I’m not necessarily a tree hugger, but cutting these trees down is difficult. Even while I know that growing my own food and collecting my own water is an equally green use of the space with equal or better uses in a SHTF world.
Does this seem sensible?
Also, speaking of the environment, can anybody share any thoughts on why leaving the trees and not having a vegetable garden is a better?
Do you have any room in the front yard to grow some veggies? And, supporting the local farmer’s market is actually a great way to be environmentally-friendly. Or, is there a community garden in your area? You could get some practice growing a garden and hold off on cutting the trees until you really really had to. (and personally, I would do most anything to avoid cutting the trees)
I also recommend checking out the Definitive Gardening thread for some ideas on what to grow in the back yard without removing the trees.
Thanks for the reply. The front yard would be tricky. It’s kind of an urban area. Our plan includes various fruit trees, which help a bit with the environment and birds. Besides that and the benefit of the most local of grown food, and rain water collection, if we do cut them down I will find ways to reuse the wood. I’m talking myself into and out of it.
I don’t think there’s much value in the trees as a potential source of wood, unless all the forests nearby get cut down. But do the trees serve other useful purposes like shade for the house to reduce AC loads in the summer or a windbreak for protection in winter? Is there a way to open it up enough for a garden by removing some of the lower branches? If you plan on owning your property a while I might not be afraid to change it to suit your needs. If you think you may sell it soon, I’s lean toward protecting the value, if the trees at to the value.
Check out the book or website http://www.squarefootgardening.com I’ve been using this method to grow a lot of stuff in small spaces and learn my gardening skills.
I second the recommendation on Square Foot Gardening. Great book.
And, if you’re worried about what the neighbors might think (gardening in the front yard), this year they might think it’s pretty cool.
I’m in a similar situation. I have always had the attitude that any tree growing on my lot at the time that I purchased it was respected and allowed to exist if at all possible. Like you, I am far from a "tree hugger", but I can’t help but think it is my role to try to "fit-in" to my environment. Based on this, I have done the following:
1) I hired a team of tree professionals to drastically thin the canopy of the trees that shaded my prospective garden area, and they also removed the weakest tree of the four. Of course, I mulched the trimmings and saved the firewood from this process.
2) In the region most directly shaded by the remaining trees, I’m in the process of developing a Food Forest Garden. Its still early in the process, but so far everything that I have planted in this area seems to be thriving.
3) In the region that has partial shade, I have built raised beds and I’m currently in the process of trying several vegetable crops to see what I can grow.
My basic strategy is to try to establish the vegetable garden with the trees first, and if that fails, I will consider cutting down the trees. But I have been really intrigued by the possibilities of the young food forest garden, and I hope things work out without too much intervention on my part. Perhaps you can employ an edible landscape and/or food forest approach in your front yard as well, to help increase your overall harvest. You might want to look into container vegetable gardening also. I have grown corn in large, self watering planters and it worked out well. I also harvest about 300+ lbs of tomatoes each year from self watering containers on my deck. Containers also give you the ability to move a crop to adjust for seasonal shade and sunlight patterns.
Bottomline: If your hesitant about cutting down the trees, explore (and try) all your options first, and cut them down only if you have to.
Appreciate all the responses. My options are limited by the fact that the conifers take up, I’d say, close to 15% of the lot. That is the 15% that gets the most sun. The rest is shaded by neighbors trees, houses, garage, etc. Small lots around here. We’re talking 40′ max width. Good thing is my yard is deeper than wide and runs east-west. Problem is only the last 25′ or so have the room and sun for a large garden. I’m working the input/output thing. If I clear the land it should be for good use… not just more room for grass. I think vegetables, water collection, and fruit trees get me close to balancing my impact.
i was facing the same kind of scenario two years back, i was in favor of veggies so my gardening Ryobi tool dealer, and now i am glad we took the right decision, be practical think about the productive, health and commercial value of vegetable garden, you only need to trim or cut the trees that are giving you hard time, rest you can make your job easier by using specialized vegetable gardening tools.
This looks like an old post from over a year ago. Maybe Stu can give us some follow up.
I am/was in a similar situation. We have about a 1/2 acre lot, heavily wooded. Lots of oak trees which are actually a food crop. We had a big ice storm a couple of winters ago. Previously I thought the oaks were pretty much indestructable, but we had some very large branches that fell close to our house. Our neighbor had a big branch fall onto his roof. So for big trees its important to assess what the potential is for the tree to fall on your house. i have no regrets now having cut down some trees. I has opened up a lot of sunlight into our yard. it has allowed us to plant a good number of fruit trees and have a veggie garden with adeuquate sunlight. Psycologically it is hard to cut down trees, but sometimes, getting the extra sunlight is well worth it.
Appreciate all the responses. My options are bound by the actuality that the conifers yield up, I'd say, abutting to 15% of the lot. That is the 15% that gets the a lot of sun. The blow is black by neighbors trees, houses, garage, etc. Small lots about here. We're talking 40' max width. Acceptable affair is my backyard is added than advanced and runs east-west. Problem is alone the endure 25' or so accept the allowance and sun for a ample garden. I'm alive the input/output thing. If I bright the acreage it should be for acceptable use… not just added allowance for grass. I anticipate vegetables, baptize collection, and bake-apple copse get me abutting to acclimation my impact.trees for sale