Friday, May 16, 2014

Handing Abby the Hose

Aftermath of SEVEN hours of
digging up the grass on the
side of the house by the roots.
(Isaac, at right, is NOT peeing...)

And so the landscaping begins. Or at least thinking about it. Last month it was the French drain, which I think is fine, but Abby insists is still not draining correctly; I'm not convinced, and plan on running the hose in that corner for a while to see what happens. Then two weeks ago I spent a whole Sunday while the fam was at the National Science Fair digging up the grass on the strip between the house and the road-- about 35 feet long, 2 feet wide, roots and all-- so we can put actual plantings in there. Then I sowed in six bags of clay breaker, which pretty much disappeared into the clay, meaning I probably need at least four or five more bags...  And I'm planning on doing the same this weekend around front, hopefully tweaking whatever Abby feels needs tweaking with the French drain in the process.

But the big work is the backyard now. We had talked with Lee, the guy who did the windmill and the chalet and the pagoda (and who should've done our house...) About helping us with the backyard, but his quote ended up being a bit more than we wanted to spend-- although probably totally fair-- so it looks like we're going to try this thing ourselves.

We've been putting it off, though, because we're master procrastinators-- our children have proven to have learned well from us. (One of the reasons Lee was so attractive to us was that he represented a swift kick in our own pants, timing-wise.) We thought at first that we had to wait for a Landscape Committee meeting to get our first approvals, but were then told it's the Architectural Review Board, which is a different beast because there are no deadlines-- a procrastinator's dream/nightmare. We'll get there, though, because we desperately want that patio.

Last weekend, we had a party. An honest-to-goodness party, not celebrating a kid's birthday, not for a holiday. A just-because party. With 15 people. And grilled vegetables. It was awesome to be a real adult again, and it would only have been better had we had a patio. So there's our procrastinator's impetus: do this already, and there's a prize at the end; a prize of adulthood.

So yesterday, I handed Abby the hose.

(Alone, that is quite an interesting sentence.)

Never mind the hose; I know what it means
when Abby gets that look on her face.
There are all sorts of cogs a-churnin'...
Anyhow, I handed her the hose to use as a planning tool, to lay it out to demarcate where she wants the edge of the patio to be. She spent a few minutes smoothing out kinks, but --true to form-- knew right off the bat the size and shape she wanted: slightly oblong, bubbling out from the side of the house, but not far enough to encroach on any of the trees. (Can't touch those historic yews!) That was easy, but deciding how to alleviate the elevation problem won't be. There is a change in elevation of 28 inches between the back-door stoop and the sidewalk, so there are all sorts of questions: where do the steps go? how many are there? will they even let us do this?

Hoping this won't be too big of an area
for the Architectural Review Board
(and the State) to approve.
Hopefully, the last question will be answered in the affirmative. Our backyard is pristine and natural, but it is also completely uneven and unusable. My grill sits in the most even part of the yard, and it is neither level from side to side nor from front to back. Burgers and dogs in the back right corner-- the highest-- get blackened, while those in the front left stay rare. And we can't blame the grill; it's new, and doing its job as best as possible. I feel we should be able to create a livable space in the backyard that will accommodate a level grill, a few pieces of furniture, and space for our trash cans. Is that too much to ask?

I met one member of the Architectural Review Board (Kellie, a blog reader, and a fine, upstanding citizen if I may say so myself...) at a residents' meeting last night, and she didn't balk at my idea of a front-yard flagpole (which I have ALWAYS wanted, along with a circular driveway), and I think the patio is much less intrusive. So there's hope. But remember: after the Board, there's the State. And we all remember how that process can be. (See: 2011)

So for now, I do what I know I can do. Amending the soil on three sides. Planting shrubs and bulbs and some big grass on the side. Encouraging my hostas, four of which have survived the awful soil to peek out into the so-far full-sun locations they inhabit (and probably hating me, because their cousins at the old house-- in the shade-- are already huge and about to bloom). Attacking weeds with a shovel. And making sure Abby's happy with the French drain. (What is it they say about a happy wife and a happy life? Oh, I forget...)

As an added bonus, look at this thing I found while digging.
They were all over the place. Anyone have any ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Japanese beetle grubs. Kill them with fire.