My Great Outdoors: Maxwell & Sara Kate's Big Garden

My Great Outdoors: Maxwell & Sara Kate's Big Garden

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 9, 2009

Name: Maxwell & Sara Kate
Location: Springs, New York
Type of space: Flower and vegetable garden
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: Helping kicking off our Outdoors Month and to highlight the fact that we're giving away presents to everyone who sends in a tour of their Great Outdoor space, here's a garden that we built out at my family's home on Long Island...

This garden has been a five year labor of love. Sara Kate wanted a garden, so I said I'd build it with her. I was in charge of the structure and she's been in charge of the growing things. It's taken a long time because we've added on to it each year and had to improve our security in ways we couldn't have imagined in order to keep deer, moles and rabbits out...

How did you create it? We sketched out the garden on paper as a big rectangle that could accommodate these 8'x4' boxes (8' is stock lumber sizing and handy to use as a basic length). I wanted to have plenty of room for passing through from two entrances, two tall boxes for herbs and a nice clear space to use as a dining area. Eating in the garden was a must!

The boxes were built over one month with a rudimentary fence, but had to be rebuilt the next summer when we discovered moles coming up from underneath and eating the veggies. We had to put chicken wire underneath each box.

The full fence took another three summers to finish (I just added the ultra deer proofing this past month), and part of the issue (which I forgot) was that I originally built the garden to be half the size and then expanded it the next summer because it was too small and Sara wanted to plant more.

Deer have been the bane of our existence. They have destroyed every crop, eventually getting through in the fall and spring, despite our best attempts. The fence now is over 7' tall and made of wire. I still have to replace the corner posts with 4x4's to really take the tension, as the 1x1's now will not last much longer.

These tables and chairs are from Ikea

Recommended store, site, product or resource? We really like our local hardware stores for the little stuff, but Sara orders her plants from these sources:

• peaceful valley farm -
• local farmers market
Favorite Seed Catalogs here
• Ikea for the tables and chairs
• for pretty nice, cheap market umbrellas

These peonies just flowered this weekend!

I built these boxes for herbs, inspired by pics I saw of the gardens at the French Laundry. You don't have to bend over to harvest these boxes!

I built the gate in a faux Japanese fashion because it's a simple, strong design for growing roses over and adds a bit of flair.

Here's a closeup of the gate. All the wood is cedar, so it doesn't need to be treated or painted, and gets a nice grey tone just like the barn in the background.

The entrance to the garden area is through this hedge. While it's still early in the season, in about a month the hedge needs trimming or it hides the garden totally and I like to make it so that you can just peek through and see what's head.


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