Backyard to food forest


Valued Member
Premium Member
Apr 2, 2018
Albury, NSW
Temperate (all seasons)
Hi all, it's been a while, I've been busy working & saving & have only just got the internet again after around 12 months.

I bought & moved into a house last week. Its got a nice sized block with no garden at all, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it. I've started planning out the beds, just need to decide what material to make them from.

So far I've planted some acacia, tea tree & a lemon in the front yard. With the exception of the lemon, I'm going to keep this area native, full of flowering shrubs & trees as well as a pond. Going to get a load of wood chips on the weekend to cover over the grass.
Backyard to food forest

The back yard will be manuka around the edges as privacy screen/bee food. Then a whole lot of fruit trees espaliered and raised beds.
Backyard to food forest
Hi Andrew looks like a big job but sounds like fun keep us posted on your progress and the best of luck. Cheers Dave
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A blank canvas....GO NUTS ! :)

Congrats on the new digs.


Greg W
Woo Andrew! A clean slate, how amazing! Do a plan of your site to be sure to be sure.
This is the plan at the moment, the raised beds are 6mtrs x 1mtr. I was thinking of putting a layer of hay/straw bales in them to fill up most of the space, then topping it with soil.

Greenhouse, chickens & bees will come once the rest of the garden is established. I'll probably focus on getting the trees started first.

Backyard to food forest
Andrew, using hay in the bottom is a really bad idea!
Just think of it as dry brown material at the bottom of a compost heap.
Same happens under the soil you want to throw on-top.
It all sinks really quickly.
I did this for my mother's raised bed every 3 mths after she cleared out the beds.
I'd shovel all that heavy compost and soil mix to one end, remove all the composted pressed down hay (sugarcane mulch mostly), put in new heavy well compacted and tightly tied bales, then shovel all the soil back over the top to the other end.
Repeat process for other half of every bed.
She needed the height to be at her waist so I would take a LandCruiser load and use most of them. I'd add some of the half composted hay to her compost, then bring the rest home for mine.
It dam near killed me!
What I should have done was get a heap of styro boxes and stack them in there. Then put geo-fabric over the lot, letting it come up the sides, then the soil compost mix.
Styro boxes are strong. Their only downfall is that rodents may burrow under the sides of the beds and set up house in the spaces in the boxes and will eat your garden from below as well as from above.
I made a start on the beds this afternoon, decided on treated pine sleepers, I'm staining them & will be lining with plastic, so there is no issues with anything leaching into the soil.

The price difference was just too large to ignore!

I compared a number of different options & this is how the pricing per square meter worked out- based on a 380-400mm high bed.
Cyprus 200x50 sleepers - $73.31/M2
Treated Pine 200x50 sleepers - $28.33/M2
Birdies colorbond - $64-$89/M2 depending on size
Concrete sleepers 200x65 - $151.51/M2

I also considered using roofing sheets, but that would mean an 800mm high bed, which is just a waste of soil really.

The way I am doing it, I can always add another sleeper layer each season if I end up wanting more height.

Still a lot more staining & assembly to do over the weekend, plus another half a dozen trailer loads of soil & wood chips.Backyard to food forest Backyard to food forest
1 done, the 2nd half filled & a 3rd stained & ready for assembly. Going to be a long process! I'm really happy with how they are turning out though.

The beds are 1200 wide x 3000 long x 400 high

Backyard to food forest

I need to take out the hills hoist & remove the concrete path for the next one, those things take up so much space. I think I'll do the fruit trees on the other side of the beds before that though.
wow, that is going to be a LOT of growing space, fantastic that you are transforming a barren landscape, can't wait to see the difference!
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A long & tiring day today, so much digging!

Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

The soil here is a fairly heavy clay, not much organic matter or critters in it. I saw 2 worms the entire day & I think they were trapped from the recent rain. So I dug the grass up & added some good quality compost/soil on top, then mixed it all through.
Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

I concreted in some post stirrups & will be running wires to Espallier the fruit trees. The trees are spaced at 2mtrs.

Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

I needed a break after 9 hours, so I'll finish it off tomorrow. I have a heap of comfrey to plant around the bed as a chop & drop, then need to get another trailer load of wood chips to cover the path & mulch around the trees if the soil place is open tomorrow.

I've planted 2 peaches (Anzac & Golden Queen), 2 plums (Mariposa & Satsuma) & 2 cherries (Lapins & Stella) here. I also have a couple of apples (Fuji & Pinkabelle) & an apricot (Trevatt) that I think I'll put next to the shed, which is a nice sunny spot all afternoon.

makes me tired just looking at those pictures, can I ask why are the two raised garden beds butted up against each other? I noticed it last time but this time it stands out a bit more o_O
It was originally just going to be a single 6 meter bed when I was planning to make them from roof sheeting, but the sleepers were only available in 3 meter lengths. It was easier & cheaper to just make the 3 meter segments & stack them up.

The area is a prime sunny spot, so I want to make sure to get as much bed space as I can there. There is no need for a walkway between them, as I can reach the middle of the bed no problem.
ah, ok, good idea, I guess it would also provide a base for some kind of structure if you wanted. Looks fantastic :)
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Thanks, yeah, I intend to make a cover to put on top of them to keep the birds out of crops that they like to eat, or digging up seeds, will do the same for the trees.

Probably just a light weight wood frame with aviary mesh.

I've used netting in the past, but it's awkward to put over the trees & birds just end up getting tangled in it & dying.
This is the plan at the moment, the raised beds are 6mtrs x 1mtr. I was thinking of putting a layer of hay/straw bales in them to fill up most of the space, then topping it with soil.

Greenhouse, chickens & bees will come once the rest of the garden is established. I'll probably focus on getting the trees started first.

View attachment 4263
Hi Andrew
i put spent hay and straw in the bottom of my new beds
i i do is add some blood and bone to it to help decompose the hay/straw
Thanks Lucas, I think I would have done that if I was filling the big colorbond beds, but I've found the lower ones aren't too bad.

They are just at the right height to be able to upend a wheelbarrow, so the shoveling of compost is only from the trailer to the wheelbarrow.

Some seedlings have started to pop up this week:

Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

Chinese Cabbage
Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

Backyard to food forest

I also planted garlic, leeks & radish around the place yesterday. This weekend will be more mulch spreading, I should be able to fit another 4-5 trailer loads in tomorrow before the soil place shuts.
Hi Andrew beds look very similar to mine although mine aren’t as big. What made you stain them? Also can I ask where you get comfrey from? I have just bought some comfrey root stock on line so I’m going to give them a go for my compost etc. any tips on growing it? I am on the Tweed- nth nsw.
Happy digging-Paul
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Hi Paul, I just like the look of stained timber more.

I ordered the Comfrey from a local nursery. Any nursery should be able to get it in if you ask. Bunnings had it when I was in WA, but the local one here doesn't have much of a herb range.

It's pretty easy to grow, you could drop it on the ground & kick some dirt over it & still have success!

For root stock, I'd loosen up the soil, put a bit of compost with it & some mulch over the top, then give it a good drink & forget about it. I've grown it in full sun to almost full shade. so it doesn't seem to mind where in the garden it lives.

The tap root grows pretty fast, so it you want more, you can dig it up after the first season & divide it into as many as you want.
Got a good amount covered today despite the rain, what better time to mulch than when it's wet!

Also planted 2 apples & an apricot tree.
Backyard to food forest Backyard to food forest

Thought I should take a picture of the current soil I have as well so I can compare as time goes by. A couple of years of wood chips should bring it to life.
Backyard to food forest
Hi Andrew great to see you back on the forum, place looks awesome. Well done
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