Awkward side yard

sergeantcuffMarch 21, 2012

How would you fix this side yard? I want to build a new walkway, perhaps a two-foot wide flagstone one. This area is 18' wide. I'd like to move the walkway away from the house a bit, but that would be difficult because of the tree? Should the border on the left be straight or curved?

I am really stumped.

(I love the walkway in Deviant Deziner's post in the thread linked below (first photo, from garden in Vancouver. I will ask her if I can post it here). I can't figure out how to obtain that sort of stone though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread with pics of side yard

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

A wider path is nicer, for sure. Perhaps the new path can sidestep around the tree instead of following the existing linear curve? Think of a straight path that offsets toward the house once or twice.

I love shopping for rocks and slabs of stone. A simple search for "stone quarry, Maryland" brought up this link...

Here is a link that might be useful: Stone retailer in Maryland

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Perhaps there comes a point a which a studied effort to avoid the dreaded "straight line" becomes a design chiche.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 2:38PM
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Catkim - Thanks for the link. That place is kinda far from from me (especially as I don't have a truck and have to move smaller quantities in my car) but their site has lots of good info and pictures.

I think the path will have to be straight or people won't use it. I may want to use a mix of the concrete pieces I have mixed with something else like granite? But the granite I am finding is very sparkly and sharply cut. I wish I could find some reclaimed stuff.

I plan to build a trio of freestanding trellises next to the property line to provide screening between my front porch and that of my neighbor.

I am not sure if the border has to be straight? or can I curve it towards the house?

Here's another picture of the work in progress.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:16PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I wasn't sure what you meant by "the border on the left" -- the rectangular plot in front of the telephone pole? Now I see something circular in front of that? Are they both yours? Waht are you growing there?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I apologize that my post was not very clear. The rectangular border (on the property line) is mine and I want to extend it so that it connects with the border in the back.

The circular middle section was a large stand of lilacs that were removed because they no longer bloomed. The bulbs were torn out as well, so the area is now a blank slate.

I am fiddling with having the border curve towards the house in the middle (sorta in the middle of the second picture) although the path will be straight.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 12:00PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

If that was my property, with such a nice, wide sideyard, I wouldn't mess about with little beds and narrow paths! I'd extend the bed that can be seen along the property line all the way up; make a wide bed on the house side that incorporates the tree; then the 'path' would be a wide grass sweep between the beds, with the only curve being a natural one where the grass path turns the corner (and presumably merges with the lawn in the backyard). I tried to draw that on your last picture - hopefully you can see what I mean from this:

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Woody - I like your idea, it's very much like the other side of the house.

Unfortunately I never explained the purpose of this path - to get out the back door and towards the front of the house, very utilitarian, for getting the mail and dragging the trashcans out. Kids come in that way as everyone knows we use the back door. (driveway is in back yard; front of house is steep hill).

Here is another picture showing that no one will walk around this tree. Grass does not grow well in this shade either. Shade plants do very well. I will have to use stepping stones close to the tree as I can't dig down much.

Maybe I am missing something, but it seems like the tree really hinders a nice design. Yet the tree serves a purpose too.

(Ah, and the garden looks so trashy - I am behind on cleanup and the weeds are unbelievable this year!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 4:50PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

People will walk around the tree if you make them. If for some reason, you put up a chain link fence from the house to the tree, people would learn to walk around the tree, rather than insist on climbing the fence to get anywhere.

I'd give serious thought to making the tree part of a large shrub foundation planting. It is difficult to shoehorn a path and associated plantings between the house and the tree. That is the problem with the tree. Associated with the house, it isn't in a bad place at all.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 5:36PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Ditto what mad gallica says... make a big shrub-based bed on the house side.

That picture you just posted won't print without being distorted (a copyright protection of some sort...?) so I can't draw on it, but it looks like there's a beaten-down path running from the front. If grass won't grow by the tree, I'd be inclined then to make a mulch-based path that would run from the front, around the corner, between the beds - tree in the house-side bed as I showed above, around the back corner of the house, to exit at the edge of the back lawn, much the same as I showed above. That's how my paths through the sideyards here work - although I only have 8' of space on either side of the house. The house-side bed would continue around the corner to the front and the property-line bed merge into the frontyard bed seen in the latest picture. If you focus on shrubs with good groundcover under them, it should be relatively easy to maintain and be more attractive than trying to shoehorn something into the space between the tree and the house.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 6:17PM
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I would think a little artfully placed concertina wire would do the job.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 9:23PM
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I ditto the shrub plantings.

When landscaping a curve without a "reason" to curve feels unnatural and awkward. With plantings in place, not only would others walk around, the walkway would look more natural.

We too have a wide side yard. We purposely will be creating a meandering walkway 1/3 of the way out. Though there currently is a shorter route, with planting in place it will feel like an experience instead of just utilitarian. Can't hurt to have both beauty and utility.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 10:05PM
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