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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)November 27, 2011

I'm having fun helping a new neighbour think about changes they might want to make to the garden at the house they bought nearby late this past summer. I've been using the Dynascape software from the course I took this past winter to play around with the space.

The house was originally built in 1960 and they bought from the original owner! The lots is ~75'x150'. There are mature trees - particularly white pines in the front and on the north side (those ones belong to the neighbour to the north.) There is also a mature ash and Norway maple. There are some great-looking rhododendrons along the south side (I'm jealous!) and lots of Rose of Sharon standards (it looks like they were seedlings that the lady couldn't bear to get rid of - a lot of them need to be eliminated...) There are also a number of small trees that I'm not sure what they are because they were leafless when I saw them. We'll have to wait until spring to identify them. The trees on the plan are a mix of existing ones and ones that would be added. Some of the trees and shrubs are identified on the plan but many are not because at this point I'm just looking at the shape and uses of spaces and the 'feel' of the space.

The new owers have two young boys (4 &6 years old) so they want play space for soccer and running-around room. The boys loved running along/exploring the paths in my garden and they'd like something like that in their garden. There is a small 'forest' behind them but a fairly large grassy area immediately behind the back fence, with one large tree off to the side..

They hope to remain in the house for many years - at least 10 or more. In 5-10 years they hope to do an addition on the back. Since anything immediately behind the house would be destroyed in a renovation/addition, they don't want to do anything in that area that would be too costly now and/or difficult or costly to remove later.

Currently there is only a narrow single car driveway, which they'd like to enlarge. The sideyards on both sides are graded for drainage so they can't expand the driveway outward on the north side.

They'd like to have edible things (esp. raspberries and blackberries) but don't intend to have a large vegetable garden - just stuff for the kids to enjoy. She also has a yen for a birch with a white trunk as she's seen a number of nice ones in this area and would like one too.

I'm not sure if this file will be very easy to read here but this is my first attempt to come up with a plan that they could work towards over a number of years. Any feedback would be useful BTW - this is a no-charge 'you get what you pay for' :-) thing so she's not expecting a professional job. She likes my garden and would like whatever help I can give her. The winter is boring season so this is a fun project for me.

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

This might be marginally easier to see although I can't make the lines and text darker...

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:36PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Thank you for posting the larger view, woody. It makes all the difference in the world.

I was wondering what the wiggly thing along the lower left is, but I realized it must be the kids' path. What about the rectangle in that area?

I assume the white pines in front will be replaced by the birch?

I think it looks good. I'd want some flowers in front -- or at least shrubs -- but perhaps they're in the built-in planter, or the homeowners prefer the front yard plain lawn and trees. Certainly there's plenty to care for in the rest of the yard, not to mention keeping up with two young kids.

Is there a fence along the perimeter, and if so, how tall?

The Saskatoon berries sound yummy....

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:13PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

MTO - Picturetrail wouldn't let me upload the full-sized file so I had to use Photobucket after I realized that there was no way to zoom it on the smaller Picturetrail image...

The squiggly thing is indeed a mulch path through the woodland area to provide a path for the boys to run, play and explore along as well as to make maintenance of the woodland area easier. The rectangle is to be a garden shed/little house or cabin nestled in the woods - pretty to vien from the house or patio but practical for storage of lawn and garden equipment.

No, the birch would be in addition to the pines. The pines are probably 60'+ tall and completely bare on the trunks other than at the top 15' or so. The odds are good that they will likely come down in a winter storm some time in the next few years. There are a lot of pines of a similar size and age in the forest behind their house and on properties throughout the neighbourhood. The last few winters have taken a toll on them - we no longer go for walks along certain streets - including past this house - on windy days - it's far too dangerous! So the birch would eventually replace the pine trees but would be a companion at the moment (assuming the pines don't fall on it!) They would also like to add an oak there too to be the eventual canopy tree for the front; the question is do you wait for the pines to come down or plant now so the tree will be bigger by the time the current canopy pines come down?

There are relatively short(~4') wooden fences on the sides and a 4' chainlink fence along the back - that's what the raspberries and blackberries would be growing over and the highbush blueberries be growing along. Fortunately the 'forest' is just a small woodlot in the midst of suburbia so there are no deer to worry about. There are rabbits though.

Yes, there are existing plants in the built-in planter in the front. There are a couple of nice hydrangeas and two small variegated euonymus and a scruffy cedar. The cedar needs to be replaced but the rest will stay I think. There are some scruffy evergreens in front of the basement windows on the north side of the front. They're not sure yet what they want to do on that side so I've left it blank at this point until we talk about the options more. They don't want to add flower beds to the front (too much work) so that's why we're looking at the ornamental trees to be added.

The current front porch and walk is not what is shown on the plan. The current porch is very narrow and the steps face towards the street. The walk is about 3' wide with a 1' bed between it and the built-in planter. I've shown a wider porch (partly to make room to eliminate the current 6" drop immediately outside the door!) an reoriented the steps to face the widened walk (eliminated the 1' bed) to the driveway. There would be a railing at the edge of the porch and along the stairs.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 11:54AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Woody, with the best will in the world I can't read the printing on the plan so don't know which trees are which. But if the canopies are drawn accurately, I'm going to say that the first thing they should do is a tree plan, and if their neighbours are amenable, they could do it with the neighbour.

Here's the thing. The trees are probably not the ones they want, where they want. Especially not the Norway Maple, and especially not if it self-seeds as much as my neighbour's does. And they're all at North and East, not South or West where you'd want them, if I understand the directions correctly.

If they do up the yard and their renovation first, and then later get rid of the big trees, they have to do a design twice, because the space totally changes, not to mention that the removal process is destructive. So if those trees are mature, I would totally take some out. And ideally, the little ones growing in on the southwest will get big and provide shade in the long run. If their big trees in turn provide shade for the northward neighbours, then perhaps something new can be planted on one side or the other of the lot line.

The way I would encourage new owners to think about the trees is "someday those trees will be taken down. Will it be by us or the next owners?" And if by them, then do it now.

The other thing I am noting is that the lady seems to be in the phase of making a wish list. I think the terms of your contract are good, because they can figure out the work involved with each step as they put it in. Your garden is fabulous, but work that you think of as nothing or just part of the day may be too much for the phase of life she's in (trust me on this, I was trying to do it back then).

I think part of the benefit they get from you is learning to think in terms of the yard as a whole space and also as an evolving system in which you can make decisions and change things up. We just thought our surrounding big trees were acts of nature and contorted ourselves around them for years before it dawned on us that we could actually control them rather than them controlling us (we were a bit stupid). The things that your experience and foresight can help them with are the ability to project forward 5-10 years and foresee problems and needs that an inexperienced homeowner and gardener can't yet see. The need for shade. The change of a set of mature conifers from three charming trees into one solid block of greenery that feels crushing. But also, you can't have it all in one space. Your backyard forest has no veggies, right? There's a reason for that which, at the wish list stage, you don't yet have to face up to. And how much trouble are you really going to go to, how much space and function are you willing to compromise, so you can show the boys how berries and tomatoes grow? Depends on the kids and how excited they are by that kind of thing. I would encourage her to have a veggie garden or fruit if SHE wants one, and then her interest will transmit to the boys. But if you garden just to show them, karma says they won't be interested for more than about 30 seconds.

Running space for the kids should be near the house, I would think, so the parents can maybe sit on deck or porch to watch them for now or oversee easily from the house, and that is the space that can be sacrificed for the addition later. They'll know by then whether the boys are interested enough in soccer that they need a space for it at home. But planting a tree now so there is some afternoon shade on the lawn/addition in ten years? Priceless.

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 12:13PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Woody, I didn't see your last installment before I posted, but... sounds like the best thing you can do is talk them into immediate tree removal!

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 12:16PM
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I agree with Karin, clear the site first and take the pines down (a far more convenient practice than taking down a tree that is leaning on another tree, the house, car etc.) Also it is a common practice to plant trees that you want to grow straight up like a telegraph pole amongst conifers, is this the effect you want for the Birch?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 12:46PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Karin - I'm very conscious of trying to minimize the work involved in the garden. She says the neighbours say the previous owner/lady was 'always out in the garden' and that scares her a bit. So I'm definitely keeping work requirements in mind. One of the most useful things I can do for her is show her how to minimize work required. My woodland garden requires very little work to maintain (mainly tree seedling removal!) - it's the sunny/flowery front garden that takes the most time. I think the hardest thing she's going to find is to learn to be ruthless - she's already saying she doesn't want to destroy the previous lady's plants. (She's still in regular contact with the previous owner and I think she's feeling guilty about thinking of taking out some of the previous owner's plants...) So I have to lead her diplomatically through that particular problem :-)

The pines are indeed in need of removing but probably won't be until they come down on their own. The cost of tree removal would be an issue for the pines, and the other trees too. They just spent a small fortune to buy the property and are in the process of spending another small fortune for needed structural things. Taking down trees is very low on the priority list. Hopefully they're well insured if the trees fall on something! They are beautiful trees - just dangerous at times :-)

As for the big trees in the back, I'm less concerned with them. The ash may well succumb to Emerald Ash Borer in the near future as some around here are starting to do now (including thoses on the neigbours to either side of me.) At this point the one on this property looks healthy.

A complicating factor re tree removal is our town has a punative by-law, forbidding removal of mature trees of a certain size (all 5 of these would qualify) unless an arborist certifies that they need to be removed because they are unhealthy. Otherwise there's a $500/tree penalty. So, if an arborist doesn't find them unhealthy, the potential cost to remove 5 trees at once could be $7-10,000 (the arborist fee + fines + cost to actually remove the trees.) Realistically, it is unlikely they are going to want to pay that cost when other more basic needs in the house are pressing. So, while some of the trees may come down for whatever reason over the next few years, it is unrealistic to expect to clear the trees to start with a blank slate. So, for now, I'm leaving the trees in but thinking about what to do to replace them when/if they come down in the next few years. If the maple is still there when they get to the point of wanting to do the addition, they could well run into a problem where the tree by-law would prevent them from extending the house back on that side because it would endanger the tree. At that point it would be worth paying the fine because, in comparison to the cost of the addition, the fine would be relatively minor.

Given all that, I come back to the question of do you plant the replacement 'generational' trees now, while the old ones are still there, so the replacement will a larger size when the old ones are removed, or is it better to wait until the competition from the old trees is eliminated? To some extent I think the answer depends on where you'd place the new trees - and that will depend in large part on what their plans are for the future addition. I need to get a better feel for that.

Re running space for the kids and oversight from the house... Because of the slope in the property, the view from the house and screened porch is better than it would be if the property was flat. Once the proposed new trees and shrubs get a bit bigger, the woodland side would be a bit more screened from view. But, by the time things get bigger, the kids will be bigger/older too making the supervision factor less of a concern.

The fruits and veggies are partly for the boys (they immediately gravitated to all berries they could see here - including inedible/poisonous ones!), but also for the birds and adults. The raspberries and blackberries were a requirement from her - personally I think they are a PITA :-) I'm strongly pushing for thornless varieties if she must have the berries. The grass path that sweeps around that bed is partly to keep the inevitable root suckers mowed! That should help keep them in bounds a bit.

Ink - I wouldn't have a problem with the birch being relatively straight up, but those pines have such a tall canopy and bare trunks that they aren't going to impact the way the birch grows too much. I'll try to get a picture of the pines in the next few days, one that doesn't show the house (for privacy reasons) but would let you see what that area looks like.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 4:26PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

woody -- I asked about the fence because I was wondering about the amount of sun for the berries.

Just to satisfy more curiosity, what's up with the screened porch, the patio, and the stairs down from the house? I'm wondering how much is existing and how much is future.

karinl: The trees are probably not the ones they want, where they want. Especially not the Norway Maple, and especially not if it self-seeds as much as my neighbour's does. And they're all at North and East, not South or West where you'd want them, if I understand the directions correctly.

karinl, if I understood what woody said about the neighbor's pines and the driveway expansion, north is to the upper left. The very odd compass rose in the bottom right corner has the N at its bottom right but the arrow points to the upper left. NOT exactly intuitive (and one way or another, woody can report to the software guys that it's confusing people!).

So I think the Norway Maple should shade the porch in afternoon/evening -- though I'm not sure exactly where the sun sets that far in the north.

unless an arborist certifies that they need to be removed because they are unhealthy -- I'd forgotten about your municipality's tree quirk, woody. What happens if the arborist certifies the trees are dangerous -- are they allowed to be removed sans fine? We're in the midst of a heavy rainstorm (I went out to see if the creek was at full bore yet -- it's not -- and forgot to check the rain gauge), and half an hour ago the small-town dj reported someone had called the station to say a tree had just come down on their house; they're fine (I don't know about the house) and she was requesting that the dj play "rain music."

She's still in regular contact with the previous owner and I think she's feeling guilty about thinking of taking out some of the previous owner's plants -- Living more or less next door to the Previous Owners, I understand this. Especially having cut down half their foundation shrubs during the past 15 months, not to mention the Leyland Cypress and three of the large-to-humongous Silver Maples around the house. And then there were the hostas and peonies....

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 6:01PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

MTO - there should be lots of light for the vines on the back fence, on the south (left) side at least. It's fairly open on the garden side and the forest trees don't come anywhere close there - it's a wide grassy area on the other side (that gets mowed regularly which should help with sucker control...!) Any vines on the side fences would need to be shade tolerant ones. There looks to be a climbing hydrangea growing on the north fence near where all the white pines are on the neighbour to the north's property.

(North is where the arrow points. The N should be on the pointy end, but that's just another quirk in the program - there are lots of them! I wonder how long it takes someone to get really fast with this program?! It's not easy or intuitive at all.) The funny north arrow thing is actually quite useful since it shows where the sun and shadow is likely to be at different times of the year. Here is a closer look at it using an image of it from the LD1 course I took two winters ago:

(and the Preview page shows that the figure is not clear - the thicker dark arc is sun in the summer and the smaller arc is sun in the winter. So it's a useful figure to show someone what parts of the yard are going to be sunny at various times of the day. You can 'explode' the figure and move the N, but you can't then put it back together so it moves as one piece if you want to relocate the symbol on the drawing, so it's not worth the hassle to do!)

The screened in porch is existing, as is the exterior stairs to the basement. Those stairs show up in a number of houses of that era around here. It's sort of an odd feature. While there is a storm drain at the bottom of the stairs, it can be a problem that the stairway is open to rain and snow. Most people have roofed over the stairway, but the previous owner at this house never did that. I asked if there was any signs of water damage in the basement; she says that there isn't but that there is a board on the inside that looks like it might be a water barrier. A future addition would eliminate the stairs - or at least end up with them being interior stairs. The patio doesn't exist at the moment. What I've shown is made from those inexpensive 2'x2' concrete slabs with 1'x1' ones as a border - the idea is to be inexpensive and easy to remove for a future addition, without being too unattractive in the meantime. It's curious that in 50 years there's never been a patio in the backyard. I suspect that the reason may be that the forest and all the neighbouring trees means that the mosquito population is high so a patio would not be used a lot - but a screened porch would!

MTO is right about the maple and shade.

I'm not sure if an arborist would consider the pine trees dangerous if he thought they were healthy. There was an incident a couple of years ago on the other side of that street. An older bungalow was torn down to build a new house. The white pine on the property was under a tree protection order. The construction activity was not close to the tree. But on a mildly windy day, the pine came down on a contractor's van! Fortunately nobody was hurt. The tree turned out to be rotting in the core but looked healthy.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:35PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Someone needs to sue your municipality. That is an insane tree bylaw and will kill someone soon.

You probably have to pay a premium too to get an arborist/chain saw operator right after a windstorm like our Dec 2006 event here. Trees lying all over the city.

I'd suggest they take down one tree per year even if they have to pay the stupid premium, but honestly, if the courts are accessible to ordinary people in your province, I would like to see some citizen take that bylaw to court. I'm not a lawyer, just a person with a strong sense of fair play. If I were them I would get at least two arborist danger assessments on each tree, and then also document, once the tree is down, what its health actually is. Never know when that might be useful information. If the tree proves to be unhealthy once it is cut, I imagine you could challenge that fine.

Given that you have a legal right to peaceful enjoyment of your property and that those trees are planted by POs, not by oneself, it is like having a PO dictate to a present owner what "peaceful enjoyment" constitutes. Granted one buys the property, but then trees grow, and different people have different workload and danger tolerances. What if a handicapped person buys a property with a lot of deciduous trees because the house is perfect for them? Or becomes handicapped while living on a treed lot?

Even someone on the trees forum recently said that now that he has a child he looks at trees near houses differently.

OK, rant off. But honestly.

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:47PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

One thing the owners should probably realize is that no one can get it right first time, even with the help of someone experienced. This is because people change, and because what you imagine is not always what you think it is going to be.

Case in point: raspberries. Sucker control vs. berries on a few days of the year. But you have to try it, and then you can take them out if you don't enjoy them, or you can triple their area if you do. The house I grew up in was a tiny building placed at the far back of the lot, and the front yard had raspberries on both side fences, front to back. To be honest I don't know what my parents did for sucker control, but there was a lawn between the rows! I know that because I mowed it :-) My mom is an expert at processing raspberries! And I am an expert at picking them in large quantities. And at eating them... However, I myself have one raspberry plant IN A POT.

So they need to give themselves permission to try and err, even if it is written on a plan. That is so much the luxury of DIY, far too seldom appreciated.

I can't say much more about the plan as I can't quite read it. Maybe photos? Or darker print?

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 2:19PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Karin - yeah, I'm going to have to educate her on realistic expectations and learning to be ruthless :-) My early experiences with raspberries and blackberries were as wild plants in pastures and logging clearings in the woods at my grandparents' place. At our first house, I planted some in a fit of nostalgia :-) They lasted about 3 years before I ripped them out! When we moved here, one of my first chores was eradicating the blackberry tangle by the shed. I am not a fan of either in the garden, but I think it's something she'll have to learn for herself.

For the moment we've put things on hold as December + young kids = no time for anything but holiday prep. We'll get back to this in mid-January or so when longing for spring takes hold....

When I save the file as PDF, it's darker but I can't upload a PDF file on any of the sites I use. The basic problem with visibility is that the drawing is done as if it's on 18"x 24" paper so printing it/saving it for 8.5" x 11" paper means you have to have VERY good eyesight to read it! I can read it on the copy direct from the printer but it's much fuzzier if you right click on the image on the thread and print that. I'm not sure there's any way to get a better image on here.

I took a picture of the pines this afternoon. This has been cropped to edit out the house:

They're magnificent trees, but you can see they are nearing the end of their life just by looking at the size of them! What tends to happen is the tops break off, leaving a tall piece of trunk behind. This picture shows the remainds of one that came down into our next door neighbour's backyard last winter:

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:42PM
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I'm coming in late and skimming a little so this might have been covered...

Seems like the driveway connection to front walk is opposite what it should be. Drive should flare out, not pinch in. Drive also seems a little narrow. Better to widen another foot or two and be easy to use rather than always seeming cramped.

I would re-work the overall shape of back yard lawn with a stronger and more distinct shape (generally semi-circular with curved area furthest from patio) and have all the non-lawn areas be planted and/or mulched. There wouldn't be a need for a separate mulched path nor grass behind the veg. garden. Speaking in terms of the plan geometry, the veg. garden seems more of an interruption than an integration.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 8:46AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Strumhead - The reason the driveway looks/is 'pinched in' at the top is that dashed line you can see running parallel to the walk marks the base of a fairly steep bank along the walkway. The driveway is actually 18-24" below the walkway, so it's impossible to have the driveway connect to the walkway along the length of the walkway. The current walkway slopes down to meet the existing single car driveway and has an about 4" step down where it meets the driveway.

The proposed driveway could be widened a bit more if they are willing to try to move (or risk damaging) the exsting Japanese Maple on the lawn.

I think you may also be missing the slope in the backyard. The proposed lawn shape is basically two rectangles; one parallel to the house/patio and the other at right angles running up the slope to the back fence (and morphing into the grass path that runs around the bed that has the veggie garden area at the base. ) I propose a grass path rather than mulch because mulch would wash out on the slope in our regular heavy rains. Also, mowing the grass will help control any stray root suckers/shoots from the raspberries and blackberries to help control their spread. In the woodland area on the right side, I propose mulch for the path there beause the tree canopy will help break the force of rain and mulch would look the most natural in a woodland-style area. And grass would not grow in the shade there - and would be a PITA to maintain even if it did!

I'm not entirely happy with the veggie garden either but I suspect it might disappear in a few years after the novelty wears off :-) That area could then easily convert to perennials and/or shrubs. I located it in that place as it would get the maximum sun and is conveniently close to the house for maintenance and harvesting.

All the non-lawn areas will indeed be planted but most of the specifics at this point are still undecided - and it would be too messy/busy to show that level of detail on the drawing shown here. (It's not visible on the posted drawing I think, but there are brief text notes of where perennials and groundcovers will likely go.)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:01AM
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There's a distinct disadvantage to appraising a design without being able to see site conditions. And I can barely make out text on the plan so my comments must be taken with that in mind. That said, I'm thinking that if the owners are going to be in the house a long time, the entry connection is unfavorable and worth re-configuring. Rather than appearing as an open welcome, it seems to say "only the initiated are welcomed," i.e., flow to the front door is interrupted. If this were my property, I'd be rebuilding the front walk and if steps were necessary to make it work correctly, I'd create them. It's an opportunity to improve a key use of the property and greatly improve the entry experience. Without seeing a photo that shows the impediments, it's hard to accept that there isn't a way to improve much upon this.

I wouldn't let a jap maple dictate every day my being squeezed in the driveway. Here's a place where I'd I'd "pay my money and take my chances." As another alternative, they could widen the drive in areas except where the tree(s) was. That's still an improvement for getting in an out of a car.

In the back yard, the mulch path (looping around an existing tree) seems somewhat contrived and rigid. Seems like it should f l o w through the "woodland" area in a more gentle way one big curve in that quadrant of the yard and that it might want to encircle the tree trunk rather than loop to its side.

Could the veg./perennial garden be on both sides (left and right) of the tree (that's in it) and be used to create a relatively uniform "border" across the back of the yard? I don't see the advantage of the 20' x 20' grass patch that goes nearly to the back fence. The garden's leading edge could be curved or rectilinear. I understand the logic of the grass path that encircles the garden, but to me it seems like a higher maintenance way of managing this area. If it were mine, I'd give the berries more room to sprawl and use the garden to define their limit.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 10:14AM
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My deviant side says girdle the trees you wish to take out, wait a year and then I am sure that an arborist would identify them as unhealthy... Damn ______! (insert "beavers", "deer","neighborhood kids" or other animal of your choice)
I understand the intent of the law, but sounds like it needs revision...

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:26AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

strumhead - I wish I could post pictures, but I can't. I agree that it's hard to get a feel for things without them, and it doesn't help that I can't figure out a way to post a more legible copy of the proposed plan!

The front entrance is definitely a problem for a number of reasons. What I've drawn is an improvement to what is there now but but may not be the ideal solution. It is the lowest cost one I could think of; I suspect any major/expensive change would only be viable years down the road.... There are no sidewalks on these streets and street parking is restricted, so the entrance walkways are all oriented to the driveways as that is primary means of access. I agree that it is better to get rid of the maple (which I think is a wimpy, unattractive one!) to allow for more flexibility re width etc. Now to convince the owners, who are reluctant to remove the previous owners plantings, to remove such a visible one...!

I don't like the path in the woodland area as it appears on the plan. The reality would likely be different as it will depend on what makes sense when we actually lay it out. The overriding issues that the squiggly line of the path was trying to show is that the path needs to sort of zig-zag across and down the slope to make walking it easier and also to minimize washouts by slowing down the speed of waterflow in a rain; provide access to as many of the plantings as possible to make maintenance easier; provide access to compost bins; etc. Part of the reason the path loops around the tree is actually to provide access to the back side of the saskatoonberries for harvesting. The actual eventual path will undoubtedly be different than the rather awkward one shown :-) (Part of my problem is I'm still learning how to make this cursed software draw the curves I can see in my head!)

The grass patch running up the slope to the back fence is somewhat necessary 'breathing space' I think. The owners would be very intimidated with even more of the yard planted than it already shown! Also, while the kids are still young, they expect to use that slope in winter as a place for the kids to slide down. So grass is the best thing there. Since the area is sloped where the veggie garden is drawn, only the bottom strip is flat enough to use for easy planting. That is, in part, because there is the remains of what was obviously once a raised bed made from 6x6 wood. At this point, they are unlikely to be strongly motivated to go to the effort to remove that, so using it as the edge of the veggie bed seemed the best option.

Essentially much of what I've drawn/proposed is seeking to minimize the work - and cost - involved in giving what's there a stronger shape/structure while making it suit their current needs, without causing issues for their future (somewhat undefined) plans, while also keeping maintenance relatively easy/simple.

As I've said many times before - I have no intention of ever doing this sort of thing professionally! If this was my own garden, there are a lot of things that I would do that I have to eliminate because I know that they would consider it too much work. It would drive me crazy to be constantly running up against that sort of constraint, which would undoubtedly be the case when doing this sort of thing professionally. I'm definitely a gardener (who thinks a lot about the design of the garden). And, I'm very aware that most people do not garden - and have no interest in gardening - to the extent/level of detail that I do :-)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:34AM
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"Part of my problem is I'm still learning how to make this cursed software draw the curves I can see in my head!"

Strumhead understands completely!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 8:47AM
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Interesting, we have exactly the same law about tree-cutting here! We have applied for permits a few times, and only got them for trees that really looked hopelessly sick.. but then, we don't get hurricanes, and tornadoes are a rare thing, and there are plenty of yards whose landscaping can be described as "50 or 100 pines in the grass".
Folks are finding creative ways around the law, e.g. "pruning" the top of the tree first (not many species survive that). One neighbor used to climb his tree at nights with a chainsaw, removing the tree bit by bit (we enjoyed the show from front row, and of course we didn't report him, we want to stay living here, besides, his motifs are fully understandable... ten years ago, a giant falling pine log missed our house by just a metre).
As for your plan, Woody, I think I'd surround the veggie patch with ornamental plantings, and round any sharp corners there. The rows of veggies could run diagonally instead of parallel to fence.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 3:58AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

timbu - I can envision that sort of action happening here at some point re trees! I think it's such a dumb by-law - if you want to retain a mature tree canopy longterm, you have to replace trees regularly. I can see a time when the older parts of town will lose their tree canopy within a short period as all the old trees die and there are few middle-aged ones to take their place because people were prevented from taking down older trees and planting new ones.

The back part of the veggie garden area - the sloping part - will be planted in perennials and shrubs, so that should provide a nice ornamental backdrop. I'm not sure what is the best way for the rows to run. Easy access is probably going to be the determining factor I think and that would probably be straight lines or in small blocks. I suspect the kids may be the ones who make the final choice :-)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 10:27AM
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