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Ok so I have been trying to poke my head outside every hour or two during the day to check out the lighting in this area. It's been an area very hard to keep the Bermuda alive and while it's finally creeping somewhat back into spaces, only the weeds like to grow right next to the house in most of it. I'd guess it's somewhere between 3-5 hours of full sun split between morning and evening during the summer, with some random spots in it getting a bit more during the day.



I used my (awful) paint skills to try to recreate some sketched ideas for you. Essentially these would be for more shade-tolerant fruit and vegetables. I am wanting to keep it away from the house with enough room to still be able to do perimeter pest control, keep extra moisture away from the walls, but still have beds large enough to be able to arrange things nicely. The 8" until the first steel post seemed like a good minimum distance to keep them away from the house. Ideally the spacing between them would be about 2' for room to walk between them. The house is brick exterior with slab foundation.

I'm stuck on materials I should go about doing it though. I thought of a couple ways:

1. Do a border with something like 8" x 4" pavestones, with about 2' x 2' walkways between the beds. Till the bed areas, build some raised cedar beds directly on top of existing (mostly) clay soil. This would likely be the most expensive since it's roughly $5/sq ft. for those little stones.

2. Use 12" x 12" patio stones across the whole area (or same as before leaving holes for the beds). This would be cheaper at around $1 per sq. ft. I just don't know if it would look as visually appealing. Though it might make it easier to fit in with a future plan to extend the patio with an uncovered area (more at the bottom).

3. Don't use any stones, build the beds, make an edging and backfill with mulch/stone/etc. Would probably be the cheapest but higher likelihood of tracking the stuff back through the yard. The dogs already like to drag the existing mulch around.

Along the north fence I will likely do a much longer area nearly ~60-65' long and 4' wide. That would still leave somewhere around 12' between that bed and this bed which should be enough for mowing and not having to worry about the fence and house as much.

There will need to still be more projects to do in the future since this is just the side yard. There's about 2900 sq. ft. as the proper backyard, though the other bed and a plan to dedicate an area to the kids stuff will eat up a chunk of that. I also need to figure out a way to deal with a 5' strip along the south of the house that's just a dose of extra special disaster.

The area in the top left of the picture next to the house is the old garden area that was too cramped. It backs up to the covered patio, and I will extend it with patio stones about 12' x 10' for an uncovered patio area. I hate using the grill and smoker under the covered area and have some other stuff we could put on it that don't need to be covered.
 

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I like option 3. I'm cheap/simple. You won't need to struggle as much with invading Bermuda; it's already weak in those areas.

Then later, if you feel the pavers will workout better with your dogs it'll be easy to install!
 
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