Friday, February 18, 2005

Backyard Halt

I’d love transform my backyard into a charming cottage garden. I picture myself in a hammock under the maple tree, enjoying a warm breeze, birdsong, and the heady scent of my flowers. However, my plans have come to a screeching halt before I’ve even begun. As I attempt to come up with a landscape plan, I keep running into problems with the amount of light, the slope of the yard, and the quality of the soil. I have decided that I must address the most basic issue first, the fact that my yard is a lumpy clay pit.

I’ve been “walking” the cat in the backyard, and her slow pace has given me plenty of time to study the yard. First, the ground is incredibly wet and spongy. I sink in a little with every step. Second, the ground is dangerously lumpy and peppered with holes. I wonder how it got that way. Is it the freeze and thaw cycle or the work of the previous owner’s dogs? There also appears to be a shallow “streambed” running from the high point to the low point, a “pond” under the maple. Although the yard has a drain at the low end, the drain is higher than the surrounding soil, making it useless.

Now I have a dilemma. Do I just ignore the backyard or do I have the entire thing dug up to address the drainage, lump issues? If we were going to live in this house forever, it would be an easy choice. I would fix the ground, and work up from there. However, I am counting the days until Mike graduates and we can move westward. I understand that “fixing” the backyard will add to the house’s resale value, but will it add nearly as much value as this project will cost? Will potential buyers even notice what we’ve done?

I am willing to get dirty and perform hard labor, but I don’t have a degree in landscape engineering. At the very least, I will have to pay someone to draw up plans for me to follow. Presently, I’m intimidated and overwhelmed. Any advice from the Internet people?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We ran into similar dilemnas when we were renting...I went with potted gardens. A more adventureous husband dug a four foot deep and six feet radius pit which he filled alternately with lime, dirt, manure and soil( it was sandy if you remember) and we had a small garden area that was very pleasant to work with...Maybe start in stages...that's what I've done with the house, because Let's face a garden is an ongoing, ever changing project...brit NLD (no landscaping Degree)

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Brian heckel said...

I am a landscaper from wisconsin (layed off).

leveling the ground is #1. strip the topsoil wich sounds quite fertile. then regrade the subsoil mostly fill the hole that collects water and disease. next relay the topsoil.

to lesson the shade simply prune trees. do this before the first bud or after they are leafed out. certain varieties are sensitive beyond that but thats the rule for 88%

once the yard is tilled and the pruning done. the design should be considerabally more apparent. there are several questions to ask during design of a future landscape that you will undoughtadly hear wherever you go in fact if you dont hear them leave.

1. how do you intend to use the area to be landscaped.
a. pets b.children c.sanctuary e.relaxation etc.
usually the answer is multiple guess on persentages and draw polygons of %size to be used on a footprint plot of your property. then just put an arrow pointing north and head to the plant center and let them help you get the right plants and mulch borders hardscapes statuary etc.

2. what is your budget? little. no matter how you landscape it will not be what the future owner wants. beyond making an obvious patio near patio door or hidding an eyesore in the back. in the front however brand new landscapes will get your home looked at drivers by will want to see inside and while you wont dirrectly recoop the investment the increased traffic through your home will yeild. having chemlawn full regiment for the year of sale will also yeild. i got them for 160 a year and thats for 3000 sq'

3. how much time do you want to spend maintaining it. daily? weekly? monthly? seasonally? that is 4 questions.

4. get your ultimate plan set then work towards it. even if your budget dosent allow you to finish dont shoot your foot off. ie: if you are going to have a pool run the conduit and pipe before you sod. or dont plant a tree in the only path a vehicle has to the backyard.

THE simplest solution though would be to buy topsoil and a rake and rake it into the holes. and makesure stormwater flows away from structures.


7:12 PM  

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