In the photo above, you can see little glimpses of remnant hardscape and a few hardy plants in nooks & crannies around the yard. There's that lone birdbath, a few stray orange Tiger lilies… and the Redtwig Dogwoods in the back corner….
I spent the growing season of 2008, letting the yard lay fallow – mostly because the ‘blank canvas’ was very over-whelming.
In the past the backyard, with its southern exposure, had been most hospitable to ‘full’ or ‘part-sun' plants. Now with the addition and two mature trees taking up the sunny spaces, I had to consider different plantings. I started researching shade and part-shade plants. A patio (paver or concrete) made more sense then a deck. How big should it be? The more I thought about it, the more anxious I got. I made lists – it gave me a sense of forward direction.
Then I met with a landscape designer. We walked around the property. I shared my wish list, which included a need for strategic screening and privacy. We are fortunate to have good neighbors, but this project has made me feel we were living in a fishbowl. My ideal – to have a cottage feel to the yard, with lots of visual interest – textures, varying sizes, and strategic evergreens.
My wish list wasn't for the faint of heart. It was long - including plants and hardscape. As with all large renovation projects – the landscaping plan was coming in at the end of the project, much of the budget had been spoken for. The reality – the landscape plan was going to be on a ‘3 to 5’ year plan. I want that paver patio; it just isn’t going to be right away. I wasn’t going to plant grass until I knew the layout of my anchor gardens. (We dug up enough sod for the last 5 years to create my garden beds!)
Front yard carnage.....
So, with the windows of my 3-season room open and a gentle summer breeze coming through, I pulled out all my gardening books, magazines and plant catalogs to start strategizing! The first thing I was able to do was repurpose the concrete sidewalk - torn up in front of the house. They became stepping stones along side the 3-season room, where I would plan my first ‘shade garden’ – with its eastern exposure and sugar maple canopy overhead. I was off and running!