New bonsai grow area: share your insights

Lars Grimm

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Hi All,

I am moving into a new house in July. This will include a much larger area for my bonsai, roughly 30 feet long by about 20 feet wide against the corner of the fence. This is a total blank canvas and I can do whatever I want with it. If you had to redo your bonsai setup, what would you have done differently? I am leaning towards two tiered benches against the fence. I am debating monkey pools running in parallel to show off some of my nicer/larger trees, or having perpendicular benches running at right angles (shaped like an 'E') to maximize space and make it easier to run an irrigation setup. Any general feedback or lessons learned would be helpful. I'll post some drawings later.

Thanks,
Lars
 
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If I had a free choice of design, I think I'd go with two opposing C-shaped benches and a comfortable chair in the center. Build them in layers like an arena.
Surrounded by a tiny forest of cheering trees for the only gladiator with a scissor. Something like that.

The E shapes are maximizing space, but visually and mentally uncomfortable to me: you can see trees and not be able to walk up to them without taking a corner. Somehow that little walk is going to feel like a chore, and one day you'll want to cut corners, lose balance and bump a tree of the bench. I'm like that at least. It happened to me more than once. Not with trees but with antiques that weren't mine.

That's my take on it. But I think that whatever you decide, will work just fine.
 

zelk

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Think about where you want your hose to be to minimize any annoyance from going around corners. Consider the side of the yard with the longest photoperiod and maximize its functionality if that is important for some of the species that you grow.
 

sorce

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Think about where you want your hose to be to minimize any annoyance from going around corners
Wise!

My thing is easily being able to walk around the back of them. For easy full inspection.

Keeping them high enough to see underleaves is also good for pest inspection.
Then you also don't have to crouch or move them to spray up under the leaves for pest blasting.

Gutters on top to gather watering water and drip it gently to trees below could also save water and watering time.

Keep Nursery potted trees with the nasty green balls at the bottom so watering them doesnt calcify your pots/foliage below.

Sorce
 

Lars Grimm

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If I had a free choice of design, I think I'd go with two opposing C-shaped benches and a comfortable chair in the center. Build them in layers like an arena.
Surrounded by a tiny forest of cheering trees for the only gladiator with a scissor. Something like that.
That sounds epic!!
 

Lars Grimm

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Wise!

My thing is easily being able to walk around the back of them. For easy full inspection.

Keeping them high enough to see underleaves is also good for pest inspection.
Then you also don't have to crouch or move them to spray up under the leaves for pest blasting.

Gutters on top to gather watering water and drip it gently to trees below could also save water and watering time.

Keep Nursery potted trees with the nasty green balls at the bottom so watering them doesnt calcify your pots/foliage below.

Sorce
This is some really good practical advice. I think going with a selection of monkey poles or free standing benches would be especially helpful for my bigger trees.
 

TomB

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My thoughts if useful:

Word of warning about C and E shapes - you can lose a lot of space in the corners, where it's difficult to get at trees.
I'd be looking at parallel rows of benches if possible, ideally accessible from both sides so you can have trees 'back to back'. Try to make it tiered as you suggest to maximise use of space. Monkey poles look good IF you have the space, but you'll get more trees per square foot on regular benches. Running an irrigation system is also easier with benches.
Certainly think about sun exposure and shade as required for your trees.
Think about having shelving under the benches, for storage (I have firewood under some of mine), pots, watering cans, shade-loving plants etc. If you need winter shelter in your location, think about whether you could do that under the benches.
 
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sorce

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This is some really good practical advice. I think going with a selection of monkey poles or free standing benches would be especially helpful for my bigger trees.
I been looking to build some steel benches since we have a lot of good scrap. ..
Could make Stainless Colanders and such.

Anyway...this got me to thinking.....

Monkey poles that are a 2inch square tube...
With a nut welded to the hollow center..
And the tree on a plate welded to a threaded rod beneath.

This way you could spin your tree..
And raise it and lower it for inspection.

Like a shoring post for trees!

Belt driven Motorization later!

Spinning up till noon, and down till 6.

That's even growth!

Sorce
 

Lars Grimm

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I been looking to build some steel benches since we have a lot of good scrap. ..
Could make Stainless Colanders and such.

Anyway...this got me to thinking.....

Monkey poles that are a 2inch square tube...
With a nut welded to the hollow center..
And the tree on a plate welded to a threaded rod beneath.

This way you could spin your tree..
And raise it and lower it for inspection.

Like a shoring post for trees!

Belt driven Motorization later!

Spinning up till noon, and down till 6.

That's even growth!

Sorce
That's some outside the box thinking. I am going to be using some Pennsylvania blue stone for the garden walkway so I was thinking about using that as the top for some of my posts. It would look really nice and clean.
 

Lars Grimm

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My thoughts if useful:

Word of warning about C and E shapes - you can lose a lot of space in the corners, where it's difficult to get at trees.
I'd be looking at parallel rows of benches if possible, ideally accessible from both sides so you can have trees 'back to back'. Try to make it tiered as you suggest to maximise use of space. Monkey poles look good IF you have the space, but you'll get more trees per square foot on regular benches. Running an irrigation system is also easier with benches.
Certainly think about sun exposure and shade as required for your trees.
Think about having shelving under the benches, for storage (I have firewood under some of mine), pots, watering cans, shade-loving plants etc. If you need winter shelter in your location, think about whether you could do that under the benches.
I have been thinking about ways to combine my benches with some paneling to double as winter storage, essentially a constructed greenhouse. I don't have enough space for a separate free standing structure.
 

Lars Grimm

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Has anyone considered using reclaimed barnwood for benches? It has a great aged look and patina. I imagine it would require some sealant to prevent water damage.
 

Johnathan

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If I had a free choice of design, I think I'd go with two opposing C-shaped benches and a comfortable chair in the center. Build them in layers like an arena.
Surrounded by a tiny forest of cheering trees for the only gladiator with a scissor. Something like that.
Best description ever.
 
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Thanks @Johnathan !

Has anyone considered using reclaimed barnwood for benches? It has a great aged look and patina. I imagine it would require some sealant to prevent water damage.
Barnwood no, but only because our barns are plastic or concrete or metal. I have seen a lot of used pallets though. And the boards construction workers use in their .. scaffolds? Is that the word?
Usually that scaffold wood is so full of concrete remains and plaster that fungi and bacteria can't get a good grip on it. But don't challenge them, they will try to prove me wrong. Seal it up!
 

derek7745

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@Lars Grimm any progress? any plans for irrigation? what types of trees to do you have? Have you thought about shade? I am asking because i have a south-facing yard that gets direct sunlight all morning and afternoon. i only have maples. Shade, and a system for afternoon watering while I am at work, are at the top of my concerns. I got away with it this year, but I need a better plan for next year. curious if you have made any developments on this?
 

Lars Grimm

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@Lars Grimm any progress? any plans for irrigation? what types of trees to do you have? Have you thought about shade? I am asking because i have a south-facing yard that gets direct sunlight all morning and afternoon. i only have maples. Shade, and a system for afternoon watering while I am at work, are at the top of my concerns. I got away with it this year, but I need a better plan for next year. curious if you have made any developments on this?
We just moved into the house last month. I have sited out my grow area but am waiting on a shed to be delivered before deciding how to arrange my benches. My plan is to slowly build everything up over the winter.
 

Cofga

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Make sure you have a combination of the right sun exposure for your bonsai and those you hope to acquire unless you plan on buidling a shade structure for your tender trees or have too much shade for your pines and spruce, etc. Also don’t forget to consider the future growth of trees in your yard and your neightbors’. All too often this is an afterthought or in my case the trees have filled in and my full sun areas are now only part sun.
 

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