Your Bonsai Garden Elevating Your Trees

I recently had to move all of the stuff away from my house so it could get a fresh coat of paint, so I used that chance to completely redesign (and really for the first time, create) a bonsai garden for my trees. Ryan has talked about in past streams how everything from the pot to the stand should elevate your tree, and I see now that applies to the rest of your garden, too. A similar idea is also found in Japanese gardening, the idea of “borrowed scenery.” In short, what this means is that the garden itself is enhanced by the environment that’s around it (and usually in the background).

Over the last two weeks, I’ve put in right at 60 hours of work (in addition to my day job), and I would like to share the results with everyone in the forum. I dug up a large section of my yard (the old fashioned way), laid down weed cloth, shoveled and wheelbarrowed (is that even a word, lol) nine trailer loads of limestone gravel, placed patio stones that I reused from my previous patio, built another bench (my favorite design thus far and probably what I’ll use in the future), and still found some time to do some repotting.

I described all the work because, as I sat with my trees last night worn out after the final day of graveling, I felt like my trees had never looked better (and they’re basic bonsai by most standards). It felt good to sit with my trees in their new home, and I felt a new sense of calm in my back yard that I had never felt before. I hope my trees can feel it, too :slight_smile:

There’s still some things that I want to do in the next few days, but for the most part, the foundation for my garden has been laid. It was well worth the effort, and I suggest that, if you have the space, you should give it a try, as well. Let me know what you think about your garden elevating your trees.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Before…

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After!

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From the other side.

UPDATE:
I also just added a bamboo screen as a nice backdrop for my trees and garden. It also kinda hides that ugly electric meter. Additionally, I checked with my power company, and they said I could paint the pipe and box a color that matches the brick on my house, just so long as I don’t paint the meter itself (so they can read the numbers). That’s definitely going to happen this weekend.

All in all, I’ve learned to be more creative and ask a bunch of questions throughout this whole process!

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Very Nice! You did a great job. I like the organic feel and the benches look great. Ive been considering undertaking the same diy project myself. I’ve set up a small 350 gallon pond in my yard and a deck. It’s really hard work and I commend you on a job well done. Can you post a few close up picks of your benches?

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@blewis1975 From the shadows on the before photo the site is south east of the house?
I try to water the benches and any fencing around to increase humidity and make a micro environment for the trees when watering. Do you water once a day or twice? Nice landscape flowering tree. Is it a redbud? :heart_eyes:

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The back of my house faces east, and by noon, the benches closest to the house go into shade, so that helps with tree placement and watering. I usually water once a day depending on the weather. We get a lot of rain here in North Mississippi (58 inches average per year). And the landscape tree is a Prairie fire Crabapple. It’s really pretty during this time of year, and the flowers smell like roses :slight_smile:

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Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed my pictures. Here’s a couple pictures of my benches. The first one is the one I just built, and I’m going to make the rest of my benches like it.

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Super sturdy…I notched the legs so the stretchers sit on them, and the weight goes down into the legs.

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Similar design but 12 feet long. I’m going to change the tabletop to 2x6’s to make it stronger…I was just using what I had handy at the time.

Enjoy!

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@blewis1975 Nice, is that a cedar in the foreground? :thinking:
Have you considered levelers to keep the benches level on uneven ground?

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That’s a very nice arrangement you have there. I need to improve on my “make do” benches (2X10s and cinder blocks). My small collection deserves better. Would like to see more pictures of your bonsai garden as it evolves. Thanks.

It would be great to see pictures of what others have done to display their bonsai collection.

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It’s a Colorado Blue Spruce that I rescued a couple years ago from Home Depot :grin: They tried to up sale it after Christmas by putting it in a three gallon pot, but they forgot to fill the pot with more soil. I talked to the manager and got the tree for 10 bucks!

I have considered levelers for my benches, but now that I’m using gravel, it was easy enough to level the benches by settling them into the gravel as needed.

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@FloridaBoy Beautiful! Need a fence to keep gators out? :grin:
Poles in concrete or rock? Cedar, green treated, cypress? :thinking:

@Bonsai_bob Poles are cypress other materials are red cedar and white cedar. Poles in 3’ concrete. Wood treated with Australian timber oil by Cabot. The best wood sealer on the market. I’ve been testing wood sealers on a bench at work and this has lasted the longest.

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That is a really cool bench design! Love the angles. I may try to miniaturized it for a single tree display :grin:

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That is seriously smart
Wish I had a bigger garden

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@FloridaBoy Beautiful and built to last! We do not have good access to cypress in the mid-west. At least not affordable access! Thanks for the advice on wood sealer. Will make a note of your experience. Linseed and tung oil so plant based sealer? Not sure how long-oil alkyd is made.
Staying inside during a snow storm and learning a lot. Two pots and a box of akadama arrived today so will be potting soon… if the weather permits. :person_climbing:

@Bonsai_bob the alkyd is the is the “film” aspect of the mix. Alkyds are another type of finish/varnish like polyurethane. In combination with the oil(which will “polymerize” over time) it’s a good finish with uv protection. The oils are what soak up in the wood grain. Be sure to thin with mineral spirits for the first coat or two to really allow it to soak in. 25% mineral spirits. That said all these films solidify over time with no leaching.

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@FloridaBoy Thanks for info!

My soil is in the garage …
and my pots are in the sunroom…
The trees are under the new fallen snow. :persevere:
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Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’ ------ Birds nest spruce…hard to identify when covered with snow.

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Haiku… … … …

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@Bonsai_bob I feel your pain. Feels like I’m stuck in a neverending winter here in the northeast!

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As a deck builder I do not find Cabot’s ATO the most durable sealer–at least not in my environs. Nor does the product rate well in comparative studies. I have had best luck with TWP Deck Stains/finishes however they are all ephemeral. Treating any wood buried and touching the ground or cut with copper naphate is very effective but not very aesthetic. I have usedCabot’s ATO on bonsai benches as well. Nothing really holds up so really it is how renewable the finish is.