Re-imagining a backyard
Kathy Williamson
August 14, 2014
This is a section of our intown double lot in south-central Maine. Previous owners had walled the section off with a line of lilacs. It does this for a day or two after a heavy rain, and for weeks into the spring after snow melts. Then it drains, so water-loving plants don't thrive. 15 years ago I had a lot more time, so I maintained it as a little wildlife habitat. I went in a few times a week to cut back curly dock and hobble the wild aster and goldenrod, which co-operated nicely by blooming at any height. Last summer, my lifestyle changed a lot and I now have a lot less time to spend. My adult son, who has severe autism, is out of school and home full time and Can't be left alone. I can't disappear behind a fence of trees for a long stretch of time. I get respite a couple times a week but I use that for sleeping! My guy loves to help out in the yard but needs physical support for every task, which slows things down a lot. There are lots of things to keep him busy in our big yard, but he would not go near that section because there was too much bodily contact with the plant material. Consequently, it got overgrown and tick-infested. Some kind of tree popped up that grows by sending out branches over the top of the ground. The beach rose got winterkilled and became a thorny black mass. My neighbors were not pleased. So I had everything pulled up and seeded, knowing that the water situation will kill most of that grass next spring. We do have another habitat area in the yard, but no seating area for people.
How would you handle the area where the water pools? By next spring, I will be able to throw a little bit of cash at it. I have to consider that I am in the city, but I suppose I could still do habitat if I put a low fence around it to make it look intentional. One issue with that is that a wild section actually takes more maintenance because you have to be constantly in there culling out invasives, and also the ticks. I feel the same way about a pond. Lots of work to make it look effortless.
I'm also considering a low deck made out of that stuff that doesn't rot, either with a gutter and rain barrel or wide spaces to let the water down through. I love the thought of having some poles like I saw at Naumkeag. (Photo 3) with a deck instead of the sculpted hedge or the pond.
Or maybe a gazebo with a foot bridge?
Or maybe one of the permeable rock-scapes that are showcased here on Houzz. (Photo 4) Does anyone know if they are susceptible to frost heave? I asked on one of them but the designer hasn't checked back.
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Kathy Williamson
PS do you like the post-its on the garage windows? Sometimes birds nest in there and they smash into the glass trying to fly out. A source for attractive, durable window clings would be appreciated as well!
    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:43AM
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