Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Backyard Resumed

Thank you to everyone who weighed in on whether I should throw money at my lumpy, muddy backyard. My greatest flaw (and greatest strength) is that I am stubborn. If I set my mind on an English Cottage Garden in the backyard, I will do anything to accomplish it. My obstinance becomes a liability when I disregard reason in order to accomplish a goal. For example, when we couldn’t get the queen-sized box spring up the stairs, I was ready to rip a hole in the outside wall and install a door. Similarly, I was ready to bring in a crew to dig up the yard, install drains, level the soil, build raised beds, and install a flagstone patio in pursuit of a backyard oasis. I even left messages with three landscapers. In the end, your advice, and the fact that the landscapers NEVER CALLED ME BACK, has finally percolated through my mulish mind.

I am going to listen to Brit and Brian Heckel (a landscaper from Wisconsin) and my mother-in-law and modify my plans. I’ll concentrate my efforts on the established planting beds and container gardening (thanks Brit!). As Brian said, my money would be better spent on the front yard, enhancing our curb appeal. The final bit of input that changed my hard head was an email from my mother-in-law, Kim. She said: “...it makes a big difference that you plan to stay in your house only a couple of years and then resell. From what I have seen both in renting out and in buying and selling property, is that almost always....no matter how much work you do, or how nice something looks, the new owners will want something else. Their own "stamp" so to speak. I would recommend just keeping the yard neat, maybe a few border flowers, some blog person suggested containers of flowers which is a wonderful idea. Just keep the yard as a neat and clean 'blank slate' for a potential buyer. It will save you money and probably be good for your resale value. (Some people will actually be put off from buying a house with a yard that, although beautiful, looks like too much work.)”

With that in mind, I’ve scaled back my plans. Just cleaning up the yard and a few small planting projects should keep me busy. I still want a fussy, overblown garden, but for now, I’ll content myself with lurking on the Cottage Garden forum. I may have delayed my plans, but, in the words of my sister Cynda, “I’m never giving up!”

A scaled sketch of the backyard.
Click the image for a larger view.


Blogger Scott in Washington said...

I like Brian's suggestion of making a map of your yard and taking it to the nursery for advice.

So, do you currently have the patio or is the patio shown in your drawing what you would like to have? We've done some patio building and some deck building and found the deck building to be easier to figure out, easier to do, and less expensive to do right. I am looking forward to doing more of both.

If you are interested in decks (or maybe even if you aren't), check out deckplans.com. They have some pretty cool deck plan generating tools but they go a little overboard on the deck supports.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Brian heckel said...


nice so far. fences are very cool when they are already there. all you need on the map is due north, with a compas not street direction. gross aproximations of elevations. and neighboring sorces of substantial shade. u need to identify the maple, there is a big difference there. MOST importantly is the location of the current drain and does it still work.

I dont know about there but here you can rent a skidsteer loader at almost any hardware store for about 100 a day. if you can find a competent operator 1 day will be 90% of the hard work. have materials delivered first then gogetit. while your yard is torn up cover your drain with typar. then when you are ready to reseed sod 4' around the drain to prevent erosion filling your drain.

assume the drain is 100' of elevation, a benchmark. then put a stake there and get a string line level at the hardware store. hold the line at the area to take elevations around the yard every 10' in a grid. this is usually on its own page of a plan. also include elevations of deck, door threshold top of eagress stairwell wall.

no grading can be done at the base of any plant. a tree 12"calipar
5' +-6"grade change
at 10' 1'
that would be the 75% survival rate if you did it all the way around. double the numbers half way around to come up with less than 50-50 doesnt make sense but it is.

i only tell you all of this because by the look of your front yard your back may want a retaining wall to make a usefull level space.

your maple is probably budding now. so it would be best to wait till fall to do any rightios pruning. if you water it through the hot part of the summer (i even water my 100 yr old shag bark hickorys when theres been no rain. the water dept loves me i think i paid for new treatment plant last summer. i need a deduct meter) this will alow you to do more "dammage" to the tree, firt will help but water is #1 by alot. if you upset the grade wait to prune 2 yrs. the structure of the roots goes about 50% furthur from the tree than do the branches. keep machine off of roots as much as possible. if you do smuschem deep core areation should releive much of the stress. lawns love areators too.

oh well nuff for now

3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home