Connecting old to the new

peace_rose(5)April 20, 2010

Hi all,

Prior to starting an addition to our home we had about 10 feet of concrete between our home and the neighbor's fence. When we dug out to lay the new foundation, the excavators had to remove much of the concrete from our patio, but there is still a lot of concrete patio remaining:

In the photo above the plan is to lay a concrete walkway (about 30" wide) leading to the backyard. So there will be about 2 feet of dirt between the "new addition" and sidewalk, 2' of sidewalk, and 1' of dirt between sidewalk and fence. The problem is what to do with the areas around the window well and grill.

I'm torn between just filling it all in again with concrete OR if we should leave some dirt to allow space for planting. Here is what I'm leaning toward (please excuse the rudimentary photo-shopping!):

That's a butterfly bush I drew, can't you tell? And the brown stuff is supposed to be mulch.

Here's another view:

So basically we could curve the sidewalk to naturally meet up with the existing patio and house. On a practical note, I'm wondering if it would be better (drainage-wise) to lay the concrete right up to the house? (ie, tucked in between the window well and everything).

Other things to note:

- This is a joint venture between DH and I and will need to be negotiated. Translation: if it were up to him we would pave the whole thing. :) His compromise would be to pave up to corner of the window well and leave me the teensy-tiny triangle of dirt between the house and the window well ladder. But I think planting anything in such a tight space would seem cramped.

- Although a nice flagstone path or pavers would be more aesthetically pleasing, it's not an option right now.

- The reason why I really want to allow space for planting is because the view from the inside of the house could use it.

- The blue brick is the south side of the house. It's very hot in the summer, but is pleasant the rest of the year, even a desirable place to be on a sunny winter day in Denver.

- The grill in the photo is non-essential. We can find another spot for it.

I usually hang out on the kitchen forum, but our project surprised me with this landscaping dilemma. Am I on the right track? Thanks so much for your insight!

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It seems like that area beside BBQ could use a vine with trellis or a climbing rose that doesn't get too large. Now it is a lot of bare blue wall. would be nice to have something about 6 ft tall & would improve view inside from that window & in basement if that is the "well". Don't know how lot of heat from BBQ might affect it so might have to move it. Some plants don't like heat or smoke!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 2:10AM
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We had a similar dilemma last year when we had our patio re-done. I can't tell from the photo if you have a large overhang or not. Consider how much water your plant will get naturally or how much labor you want to undertake doing it yourself. We actually concreted up to the house and I'm so happy we did. There's room for a prep table near the grill and everytime I pull out the hose I'm not spreading mulch all over my patio. I also have plenty of space around my yard for plants, so losing that small area was no big deal. If you have a lot of garden space already, maybe just making the patio continuous wouldn't be a bad idea. If you're plant starved and don't mind watering often, then keep a bed space. A large planter would also be nice. To improve your view out the window you could plant a vine or roses on a trellis up against the fence opposite your window.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:01AM
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Roses would do great in that spot, but I'm actually up to my ears in them. The grill got plopped into that spot by default and might even travel back to the other side of the house when our project is done.

There's no overhang; it's full sun. Hot and dry. I am sort of plant-starved - it would be really nice to put a shrub in that spot. But if it's going to look funny to not fill in the space with concrete I want to consider that, too. Is it considered ok to have dirt right up to the house?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:44AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

First the insignificant detail: I would never ever plant a butterfly bush in that spot as you won't be able to walk by within 2 years.

It is certainly OK to put dirt right up to the house as long as you don't go over the siding (oh, it's brick, but still), but I don't like it, and I don't like growing plants against a house either. In my experience they lean for the light - and like with your butterfly bush, I am getting virtual claustrophobia thinking about this little space surrounded by tall, leaning plants.

Having said that, I think I would leave some planting space at least by the fence and also by the house if plants can get water at the foundation, but be careful in your plant selections. I'd choose well-behaved specimens, maybe some evergreen (which tend to grow UP rather than toward the light as deciduous does), or make the deciduous presence something in the small tree department, so the growth is above your head not in your face. Some deciduous shrubs can be grown as single trunked specimens or trained very tall, but mostly I would not grow shrubs here. At the house, perennials or annuals might be better than shrubs. Vines on a trellis if you are a compulsive tucker.

Here's what I don't like about your proposed plan: you've added an amorphous addition onto a very linear existing patio. I think you should stay with straight lines and square/rectangular shapes. I think you'll be more likely to come up with a pleasing shape of patio and transition into pathway, and the shapes of your beds will be nicer too.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 12:55PM
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Thanks everyone. I took your suggestions to heart, and much to my own surprise, I think we will pave right up too the house (in the area by the grill and window well). As for the pathway to the backyard we've decided to pave next to the house (about 4ft wide) and leave a wider planting space next to the fence.

I really do appreciate this forum as a way to help find solutions! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 12:01AM
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gayle0000(zone 5-Normal IL)

I see you've already made your decision, but I'll chime in anyway.

I would concrete right up to the house. I personally don't think a planting space left there would be big enough to really plant up nice where one would be happy. I would take the concreted corner and do a great container display with different heights, tetures, and colors. You can easily tweak a pot display and make it as large or small as what's in scale with the corner and based on how else you use (or end up using) the area.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 10:47AM
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Thanks! We were supposed to lay the concrete today but we got rained out. :(
I'm actually excited about the 2' of planting space we're going to gain against the fence. (Originally it was concrete all the way). Stay tuned - I will try to remember to post pictures!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 11:05AM
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