garden in woods

Discussion in 'Garden Design' started by film495, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. film495

    film495 Seedling

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    Thinking about adding a garden behind house and trying to work out how big of a clearing to make. The area is currently completely wooded. I made these charts to estimate hours of direct sun based on a 175 foot wide - east/west, and 75 foot tall - north/south clearing. I tried to figure this out looking at the angle and azimuth of the sun in Southern, NH. I used M as Morning exposure, D as day, and A as afternoon. Basically I guessed that trees are about 75 feet tall, so at a 45 degree angle, the shadow would cover 75 feet on the east in the AM and West in the AM, leaving a 50 foot strip down the middle. The South side will have a 27 foot Shadow during the day. I broke the area out into 9 areas showing approximate total hours of direct sun on the left and time of day exposure on the right.

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    ( photo / image / picture from film495's Garden )

    I was hoping to find someone who may know more about sun exposure than I do and get some input. I also don't know how to plan a garden once I have the plot plan worked out, but figuring it out is the fun part - then there's just work to do ... lol
     
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  3. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    What time of the year did you make these notes or is it a compilation of your entire growing season? Which side of the house...east, west, north, south? Are the trees evergreen or deciduous?

    Basically there are 3 light requirements noted on plant tags.
    Full Sun is 6+ hours of direct sun per day
    Part Sun(Shade) is 4-6 hours of direct sun per day
    Full Shade is no sun or dappled shade all day

    From the chart you have created it looks like you should be looking for plants that require Part Sun/Shade and Full Shade. But you can also wander through garden centers in your area to find out what plants are native or well adapted to your area and which ones will successfully grow in the sun/shade conditions in your garden.
     
  4. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    Hi Film495,

    I am impressed with your approach! Truly. I have had the same dilemma and I have simply watched the sun distribution on the forest floor over time. There are patches of our woods that do get more sun than other areas. I have concentrated my planting there.

    Another factor I have had to deal with is root competition. The shallow rooted trees (maples, white pines) are tough to grow much under.

    Another tricky factor is animal munching. In my neck of the woods, this means deer & rabbits. They have been a real problem.

    I live in Central MA, probably not that far from you in So. NH. Our dielemas might be similar. Let me know how your planting goes.
     
  5. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I have no answers for you since I have a mostly sunny location, but find this intriguing. I'll be following along just to see how it all comes together.
     



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  6. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    "The area is currently completely wooded. " Wow, you are so ambitious. Looks like you will have some firewood once you get started. Will love seeing photos as you progress through the project. If you have any natives on site you might want to tread softly. They are money in your pocket. Cayuga Morning will be a great resource.

    I am just finishing the bed establishment and plantings for a woodland garden. Now I just have to wait five years or so for it to mature. You are in for a lot of pleasure seeing your project evolve and sourcing plants. My only recommendation would be to mulch heavily where you want your beds (after the trees are removed). It is amazing what happens with microbiotics and worms when you add mulch.

    Be sure to post photos often, both before and during. Happy gardening! :stew1:
     
  7. Henry Johnson

    Henry Johnson In Flower

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    Hello and welcome to the stew..
    As CayugaMorning said, you seem to have a sensible approach; research, research, research before any extensive labor..
    One thing I might add to the advice already given is to find a local 'MASTER GARDENER' program and get to know those people, ask them questions and listen, listen, listen..
    Always know that your new friends on GardenStew will help as much as they can...
    Hank
     
  8. film495

    film495 Seedling

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    I just based the notes from looking at a sun chart, not any observation (angle and azimuth of the sun on June 21st, and estimated how much of a shadow a 75 foot tall tree would cast, so I'm sure there will be some variation from reality, but it is something to work from).

    I wanted to work from a sun chart just to get an idea of how much sunlight could be gained from a clearing and what size shape clearing to make. The garden would be south of the house, but I anticipate a treeline between the house and garden. It is a mix of evergreen and deciduous, well drained soil on 10% grade.

    It is a multiple year project for sure, what I'll need to figure out is how much clearning to do initially, so I can figure out how to start developing the soil.

    It looks like with this clearing shape I could gain approximately a 50 foot by 50 foot full sun area, surrounded by areas of other light quality, morning, evening etc.

    My idea is to develop a type of food forest with fruit trees and perennial crops that may not need a ton of maintenance, and have a smaller section of full sun that could be cultivated as a traditional row crop type area.

    I also have the idea of adding a fish pond and raising ducks/geese on the property, all to reduce food costs.

    Thanks for all the input, it is very helpful. I'll try to get some things staked out and take some pictures before any work is done.

    Any ideas on what to plant right away, dynamic accumulators, or sod forming grass etc?
     
  9. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    film495,

    I have used clover & perennial rye as good cover crops to increase nitrogen in the garden soil. I have typically planted them in the fall though, and let them grow a bit into the spring to boost nitrogen prior to tilling under.

    I am a little concerned that what you hope to grow might need full sun: fruit trees, food crops. While it is possible to grow a plant suited to full sun in part sun, they tend to be less robust, and thus need more maintenance rather than less. If you hope to grow food, I suggest you consider removing a number of trees.
     
  10. film495

    film495 Seedling

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    CM - You hit right on a key point of what I'm trying to figure out. With the 175 by 75 cleared area, I'd still only have about a 50 by 50 area of full sun. A lot of the additional area would have different qualities of light from the various times of day. Eventually, I'd expect to remove all of the existing trees from this space. Knowing a little about the light qualities of the various parts of the garden, before it even exists, should set me up to make some early plans on what could possibly be grown over the total area, not just the sunniest spot in the middle. I am thinking more food forest than row crops, just because I like the idea of doing the research, getting things set up and growing, and then with modest maintenance, allow things to let nature run the system.
     
  11. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    film495--I have to hand it to you, I am intrigued by what you are planning. I have never heard of a food forest but am picturing something very verdant!
     
  12. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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  13. film495

    film495 Seedling

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    Droopy likes this.
  14. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    What are your idea's for these areas?
     
  15. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    film495, I hope those photos weren't taken the day they were posted (ie I hope that snow has now melted!)

    Looks like you've got a bit of clearing to do, as you have said. I wish you well with it. Does your town permit outside burning?
     
  16. film495

    film495 Seedling

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    cherylad - to slowly take down some of the canopy, and start developing soil, so in some years I can have a cleared garden area.
     

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