Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Future English Country Garden

There's a new project beginning at our house.  We hired a landscape designer to (finally) create some elegance and beauty on our humble plot of suburban real estate.  Three years ago, we bought our house from a builder -  who had hired a gardening company to come and plant some trees and shrubs in the front of the house and to create a semblance of order on the sides and rear without going overboard.  In other words, the front of our house looks "landscaped" (somewhat) and the rear looks dry, uninteresting and colorless.  I've been very eager to work on this problem, but the interior of the house has always come first - until now, that is.  Last week, I had my first meeting with the designer and he had some wonderful ideas on how to improve our front "yard" and how to create an English Country Garden in the back.  I am ever so excited.  

I'm a big fan of the "before and after" photos, so Josie joined me outside as I took a tour of what will all be so very different come next summer.

We live at the top of a very steep hill and our front yard is really a steep slope down to the street.  The house that used to be on this plot was a small ranch that was tucked behind a forest of trees.  The builder and his garden crew kept most of these trees regardless of their condition or over-all aesthetic.  

See those pink strips of plastic?  That's the marker of doom.  I'm a tree-lover and I'm not one to chop down a tree just for the fun of it, but these babies are too crowded, unhealthy and un-needed.  See ya!

And speaking of see ya! what's the deal with all the pine needles this year?  You can't see our grass at all!

Our tour continued to the side of our house, in an area that I like to refer to as Spindly Tree Alley:

We think this rock wall is the edge of our property, but we're hiring a surveyor to tell us for sure.  Some of Spindly Tree Alley is one side of the wall and the rest is on the other... and we REALLY want them all to be on our side, so that we can remove them as quickly as possible and put some new, beautiful, thick, privacy trees/plants in their place.  

Why, do you ask?  Look at these things!?!  They are old, have very few green patches and if this was California, they would be a fire waiting to happen.

Not to mention that they are getting ridiculously close to hitting the side of our house:

(photo of Spindly Tree Alley from inside)

This area of our property is a perfect example of area left blank by the builder and his crew.  

Our house lay vacant for two years before we bought it and most of the feed-back that the builder received from people who viewed (and rejected) the house, was that the yard was too small.  So why did the builder have his lawn crew stop planting grass six feet from the actual property line?  We have no idea.

Look at this perfectly usable space!  That stone marker in the right hand corner, is one of our property markers and those weed trees are coming down!

Here's another example of landscaping gone wrong:

To separate our yard from our back neighbor's land, the builder planted some tall-ish bushes.  Sadly, he planted them right underneath some more of those sad, spindly trees, so the sun never shone on them and now there's more kindling in my yard.

And moss:

Lots of rocky moss.  

Which brings us to the back of our house and the strangest waste of available yard:

Meet my six-foot square steps.  The very first thing the landscape designer said when he saw this corner was, "Why not just have two small steps down to a stone patio?  Do you ever use these HUGE steps?" 

Answer:  no.

In fact, we hardly use our back yard at all.  The builder and his lawn crew used rock removed from under the house (to create the basement) to make a retaining wall and level off the backyard.

Which would be a smart, rather pretty thing to do, except for the fact that they made the rock wall two feet in from our property line.

I want those two feet back!  With those two extra feet, this modest backyard will be turned into a gorgeous garden utopia with flowers, flowering shrubs, a pretty patio and a gurgling water feature.  You might find me there, next summer, with my feet up, sipping a cocktail on a warm evening.

But we move on, for now, past a tree which the landscape designer plans to move to the edge of the property instead of the middle of it so that we can grow actual grass:

Instead of the fungi that we are currently growing:

and we will have a stone path that will lead us to the last area of the property that needs serious addressing:  The lost corner:

That play structure is not ours, but almost all the land from it's grassy base to the right is ours and it's completely wasted space.  Oh, the builder planted a tree or two and threw some rhododendron bushes to fill up the space, but underneath all that is large area PERFECT for a grassy children's play area.

Here's the view from the far corner, looking back towards our house.

Once again, the builder moved the blasted rock pieces to form a retaining wall (on the right) and once again, he did so far from our actual property border (that second rock pile on the left).  We're reclaiming this land, building a new rock wall and leveling this area for the children to put their lacrosse nets and their hockey goals.  

We're in the preliminary phases now and still waiting for an inspection/final report from the surveyor, but hopefully we'll be starting in the spring.  We're going to re-locate a LOT of plants and trees and we'll be adding everything else.  I can not wait.  I'm not really a forest kind of gal and with our landscape the way it is now, I feel like I'm living along Hansel & Gretel's path.  I'm eager to move from Bavarian forest to a more Pemberley aesthetic.  I can't wait to show you the afters!

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