Landscaping Ideas?

Spade-it(5)March 6, 2011

Looking North:

Looking East:

Looking South:

Our house was built too close to the back property line and the original excavator sloped the back yard down to the fence (about a 45 degree pitch right into the fence) making the back yard virtually unusable, not to mention overlooking our neighbors.

It is 25' to the back fence. There is a small square deck just off the back door. The top-half of the yard is flat, the other half slopes to the bottom of the fence(dropping about 4' in total). We own a few feet beyond the fence in all directions.

There is a Weeping Plum and Japanese Maple next to the deck, and that is a Pendula Cherry in the corner, and we planted the emerald green Thujas on the other side of the fence.

I was thinking about planting some Sweet Autumn Clem. along the fenceline.

I like the idea of a lattice to raise the height of the fence, but am open to other suggestions.

Other than that I don't have a lot of ideas.

*Really need some help clarifying a vision for this space. I like the idea of perennials and foundation plants; I don't mind pruning. Looking for a nice place to spend quiet-time, aesthetically pleasing, and privacy if possible ( neighbors). The house that is visible in the pictures is where the privacy concern is, otherwise behind us is a privately owned Cherry Orchard that is currently not being used.

I don't have a massive for this, but will work on it over several years if needed, so I am not hung-up on the cost.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

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karinl(BC Z8)

Terracing or decking can help you make the yard more usable. Terracing would benefit from having as much space laterally as possible, so I might design that to the edges of the property, not just to the fence.

You're saying foundation plants and perennials, but I think you need to think trees, more than you've got. The clematis will not make an impact, I don't think. Plant a grove of trees at each end, of varying growth rates and canopy shapes/heights, so that they can be replaced one at a time on a staggered schedule, so the place won't have to go through bare phases. It's actually good that south is where you want privacy the most, since trees will also provide shade from there. Two benefits!


    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Coming at it from a purely utilitarian angle, I think you can significantly enhance the value of your property by screening off the view of your neighbor's rear stoop. If it were me, I would be inclined to go with a tall, narrow evergreen screen in that southeast corner, and I'd put it on this side of the fence, because I would rather look at greenery than fence pickets. I like the idea of a "grove of trees," but you are contending with some serious spatial constraints. I don't know that I would train vines on the fence. That's an expensive fence, and vines will cause it to deteriorate. (You want it to dry quickly, whenever it gets wet.) You have a very pleasant view to the east, and you can put some low something-or-other at the bottom of the fence, if you're so minded.

You might want to get a long pole and do some measuring, to get a handle on just how tall your screen will need to be.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 2:38PM
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thank you for your suggestions. I like the idea of putting more trees in the S.E. corner.
Seems to be the consensus that the vines will do little to enhance the area (and may actually cause damage). A little disappointed about that, but the point is understood.

Thank you again. Any further thoughts- I would be glad to hear them?!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 4:49PM
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"Terracing": does that mean to put a retaining wall at the edge of the property and backfill so that the yard is level? That would mean I would have to remove the fence and then put it back up after the yard has been leveled- is that what you are talking about? Just wanted to clarify for myself.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 5:03PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

That's one way of using terracing, but you've got some existing trees to work around and I don't know that ending your property with a straight cliff is altogether ideal. I'd tend to go at it a little more organically, looking at the countours of the yard and seeing how you'd like to be able to walk it - you can incorporate switchbacks, stairs, small level patches, a path at fence level around the bottom, or what have you, of course all on a pretty small scale. You could even cut out a level bit at the bottom to put a bistro set or a bench and do a bit of a rock garden on the slope to look back up at while you sip on your morning coffee. That's why I would be inclined to use the whole dimension of the property. The question of whether and if so where to relocate the fence would also arise.

All of that is work and money though, and it depends a lot on who you are as a gardener and whether it would be worth it to you.

I also don't really see anything wrong with putting a clematis on the fence (I put them on mine all the time) just that it won't help with privacy or mitigate the slope visually at all. I think only the evergreen clematis is so dense that it would rot the fence.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 8:55PM
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Plenty to think about; so many good ideas. I almost envision some of them already. Very appreciative of all your thoughts, and that you took the time to write them.
Have a great day!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 9:24PM
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Hi! I think you should determine which is more important to you... privacy or aesthetics?

For privacy, I would suggest some sort of tall evergreens, like arborvitaes. Start by putting them on the south side and add a little at a time until you're happy with the results.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 10:53PM
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In due course, you will become aware that fences of this type start to rot first where they are slowest to dry, usually where the pickets attach to the stringers.

Not sure I would want to give up the view of a cherry orchard, from the deck, for my morning coffee.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:38AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Here's an idea for you to consider.

I don't know how much higher the deck is than the upper part of the lawn. I'm assuming there are stairs down from the south side of the deck.

In the photos, the deck seems very isolated from the rest of the yard; maybe that's just the photos. I wonder how it would be to have a second set of stairs on the north side of the deck. Admittedly, there's not much yard north of the deck -- but a second set of stairs might make the entire yard seem twice as accessible.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:07PM
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