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Here is my potential garden... I need LOTS of help..

February 28, 2007

Angelcub ( Diana) has prompted me to get help from this delightful and talented forum. I have been in Kitchens so long I have neglected all else. Then it was Cooking but I know how to do that ,so I have decided to move to a new area where I have little in the way of knowledge and try to get some activity going in this back yard.

I have a terrible sense of gardening and what I plant usually is the wrong thing or dies or if it grows I hate it and it won't go away. I have an 1890 house and we are done with the interior. We need to really concentrate on the backgarden as we have a huge drainage problem , lots of huge trees with little sun except in the winter ,

I had a brickmason/engineer come yesterday. He suggested remove all the big trees in the back and level the earth so it slants away from the house and then put a wall and french drains to get the water into the sewer system where it needs to be. We have to have a plan to show the Historic Committee and get their OK to take out trees and tear down the picket fence and replace it with a wall . There already is a wall on the property around the pool ( another landscaping disaster) so we are hopeful they will let us match it and then we can block the view of that awful brick rental you can see outside my new frenchdoors/sunroom.

Here are some pics. I can take as many as you can stand and I will be very grateful for any help in design and planning. We have several issues

1) water control

2) errosion from the big tree roots


4) the little play house needs landscaping

5) a/c units


view into backyard from carport area -shows picket fence/huge trees to R and house is to the left (playhouse in distance)


same view only more house


pic back toward the carport (can see wall we will copy)


another back toward carport only a bigger view


adjacent side of house showing "playhouse" and other picket entrance to backyard


play house and a/c units


same side of house a/c on left now and can see the street


view from the sunroom toward the big trees and neighbor's house..will have a brick landing area and a step down to far the only plan I have ..LOL.


Comments (42)

  • memo3

    Welcome to the cottage, Trailrunner! I love these kinds of posts. Love to get my wheels turning in new directions. I was wondering if you would add pics of the front of the house so we could get the whole picture. Also more of the cement fence. Where are you planning to add this new fence at? I doubt there will be many cottagers who will go along with you on the complete removal of the picket fence, lol, since most are doing their darndest to get one put in. Lots of potential in the back, even with lots of shade. Personally, I wouldn't dream of taking out all that nice cooling shade in your very warm zone if I didn't have to. What exactly are the drainage issues?


  • trailrunner

    Here is the front of the house. And the porch.




    The problem with drainage is that we are the lowest area in a huge block. Our yard has a drain in the backyard but it is a problem as the runoff when we have a huge rain is too much for it if there are any leaves at all over it. The yard floods in minutes as will destroy the HVAC system it gets so deep . So our guy yesterday said to take out the trees ( he LOVES them) and put a cont. of the other wall and a french drain along the bottom edge of it and feed the whole toward the drain that is there now via the regrading of the yard after trees are gone and the french drain. This would make the yard easier to grow stuff and also solve the pot. flood issue if we are gone and it rains and noone takes the cover off the drain. The city refuses to help us but a neighbor on the planning commission said we shoudl camp out in the mayors office.

    As to picket fences I hate ours as we have no privacy in the back at all and can see the ugly place next door. Our wall is very New Orleans Garden district looking as is our house and pool we want to keep that theme think N.O cottage not English LOL.

    Any and all ideas for privacy and flood proofing are welcome ! Thank You, Caroline

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  • angelcub

    Hey, Caroline, glad you got out of the Kitchen and over to the Cottage! : )

    If the trees must go, can you plant one or two new ones that won't affect the drainage? Maybe closer to the house where the shade would be most welcome. I was also thinking a small deck off the back would be nice. You know, a pleasant place to enjoy that great bread you bake. : )

    I love a picket fence and have two, but I really like your wall and think it's in keeping with your area. I bet you could grow some beautiful vines on it to soften the overall look. Does bougainvillea grow in your area? It would probably keep any critters out do to its thorns. There is a coral colored one that is drop dead gorgeous. It doesn't over winter for me but I'm tempted to try it in a large blue container that I can store away during the cold months.

    I LOVE that playhouse! I would confiscate that and turn it into a potting shed, asap! lol! What are you using it for now?

    Perhaps you could recycle some of the picket fence for a potager. I have one around mine and love it. Here is a link to it. I have roses growing in the beds outside it and various annuals and perennials. Just think of the vegies and herbs you could grow in it. Maybe use them at the restaurant?

    And you need an arbor somewhere with a climbing rose. I'll let someone from your area suggest one since my zone 8 is much drier and cooler than yours. Do you like wrought iron? That seems in keeping with your N.O. style.

    Ok, I'll stop for now. I'm sure you'll be getting lots of ideas soon. Lynn and GGG are in the south, too, and have a lot of gardening experience. I hope they chime in, as well as others from the south.

    See you soon, fellow (soap) stoner! : )

  • louisianagal

    How lovely! I would consider removing some of the trees, but in the South shade is lovely in summertime. If the trees are deciduous you could do alot with bulbs. Daffodils are gorgeous in the south and here in n.e. Mississippi they are everywhere now. There are other early flowering shrubs that are quite cottagey and would bloom before the trees leafed out. Forsythia, quince, some spirea. There are gorgeous camellias that do well in shade. I like the picket fence but I like the wall too. The picket allows more air circulation and light. I would try to keep some picket. It just needs to be whitened up I think. I just love daylillies in front of pickets. Maybe you can keep some or even move the fence to delineate the playhouse or to conceal the a/c unit. the playhouse looks like historic slave quarters or outside kitchen or guest house I've seen on plantations. I think french drains can be put in w/o taking all the trees out.

  • Steveningen

    Hello Trailrunner and welcome to the CG. First, let me say that you have a beautiful house and property. I'm glad you got dragged out of the kitchen and into the garden ;-)

    Judging by the other houses shown in your pics, I would think that it would be in the city's interest to help shoulder some of the burden. You live in a lovely neighborhood. Flooding like you describe may actually give you leverage here. It may not be too difficult to prove that the aging city infrastructure is adding to, our even causing your problems. If you raise a loud enough stink, they may chip in just to quiet you down. It's worth a try.

    I won't pretend to guide you on what to plant in the south. Even though my dad's family is from Kentucky and my mother's family from Florida, my brother and I were born in Illinois. I'm sure our entire extended family wondered who these little Yankee children were, running around their house asking for casserole. I'll leave it to the experts on this forum to give you plant suggestions for southern gardens.

    Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be gorgeous. And I hope you share the journey with us.


  • Eduarda

    Welcome to the cottage, Trailrunner! I would personally be extremely suspicious about a person wanting to remove by big old trees to improve drainage. I have serious drainage issues in my plot too, because we are in the bottom part of a hillside slope, so we had to install drainage trenches all along the backyard and one side of the house before planting the garden. Without it we would already have drowned, because when it rains all the water comes down from the hill and into our garden.

    In your case, I cannot see how removing the trees would improve the situation. Maybe it's just me, but don't trees actually sustain soil and prevent erosion? If you remove the trees, erosion will be worse, and water will flood even more freely than it does now. I may be seeing it wrong, but I don't think so. We have a big problem with wild fires here and the devastated areas where trees are gone are very prone to landslides once the rains start, so a lot of effort is being done to replant again.

    Having said all that, will it be possible to install drainage elsewhere in the back garden without touching the trees? Now would be a good time to do it, since you hardly have any plants. Once that was in place, then you could start creating the garden proper. Looking at your photos, and considering all these nice big trees, I think you have the right conditions for a woodland type of garden, which can be a spectacular thing. Maybe you could capitalize on that for the back garden and provide the cottagey look more in the front? Just an idea. I believe our Floridian Nicki, who posts regularly here, has a similar setup in her garden - more tropical looking in the back, totally cottagey in the front. Maybe she sees this post and gives you some hints.

    You have a lovely house and property, my advice would be to work with Nature and what you've got.


  • trailrunner

    Thank you for all the startup ideas and encouragement. I don't have enough sun, Diane, to grow any veggies at all and the tree roots are so thick in the back that I can't even dig to plant a bush or anything else near them. PLus I really have no talent for that kind of gardening. I need the kind of plants that you stand back and watch as they grow up trellises !! BTW where do I get trellis ( not wood) that are not expensive and will hold heavy vines ? We can do bulbs out front but I have a feeling we will have to put cages over them as the squirrels dig up everything. The PO used to put out poison but I can't do that. I know we need to paint the fence. DH got the house done but the wall and fence were put on hold til we decided what to do .

    You all have made me think about all of this again. I think Steven has the right idea and a neighbor said the same thing last night....we are going to camp out at the mayor's office and make them fix the alley that is causing the runoff to come here. We have the drain in our backyard that they put in but it causes gnats and mosquitoes. I want the run off stopped instead.

    So if we were to just leave almost all the trees except the ones right on the playhouse then what can I do to block the view of the brick eyesore outside our sun room ? A wooden fence instead ? Imitating a tall picket and keep the current picket and paint it and plant along it to spruce it up ?

    There can't be french drains with the roots as entrenched as they are. The digging would kill the trees...I think...will ask about that. The trees are right on the property line. We have to submit a plan to the Commission and so it will be next month as it is too late for this month.

    Eduarda...the woodland theme is what I wanted originally. Besides hostas and dry loving ferns what could I do ? We already had the picket around the a/c and they took it down to work on the unit. It was a trap for all the leaves and was a PITA to clean them out of there. I guess it may need to go back and when painted etc will look better.

    Glad I have you guys to bounce ideas off of. It has helped to clear the air ! Thank you and see what else you can suggest. Caroline

  • sylviatexas1

    what Eduarda said:
    I would never never cut down a tree without a big ole fight, & I especially wouldn't cut down a tree to keep it from shedding leaves.

    & if the trees were gone, you'd still have the lowest lot in the subdivision, & you'd still have a water problem.

    I'd call in another expert.

    & I bet French drains *can* be installed on your lot:

    A caller on The Natural Way, Howard Garrett's Sunday radio show, suggested a solution for the tree root problem, but I'm not sure I remember exactly how it worked.

    It seems like he suggested using something like an auger or a roto-rooter to make the drainage tunnel;
    it would cut through the problematic roots, leaving the other roots undisturbed.

    You might go to & browse around on there to see if you can find the info;
    you can also email him (address will be on the website) with the question.

    Best luck!

  • fammsimm

    Hi Caroline...and Welcome!

    Wow..those azeleas are gorgeous. They really pop against the white of your beautiful home.

    Your home is very southern in appearance and I really like the plantings you already have in place, especially those azealeas. ( See above paragraph). :-)

    When I think of N.O. I immediately think of the wrought iron, porches, and courtyards that you see all over the French Quarter and Garden District. A wrought iron fence would give you even less privacy than the picket fence, but you could add an evergreen vine like Carolina Jessamine to add some privacy and block the view.

    I see lots of potential for a courtyard. How about a fountain in a bricked courtyard. Very N.O. ! :-)

    I also would keep the white picket fence and find another use for it. It looks in great shape and could probably be re-purposed for something.

    Your front porch looks so inviting! Whenever I see white wicker, I think ferns. Again, the N.O. influence. :-) I can see wicker baskets filled with ferns, or perhaps some hanging baskets streaming with ferns. I think it would be very cooling during the heat of the summer, and also very southern.

    One thing I was wondering about though, is how strict your Historic Commission is. I have a friend in Ft. Worth that lives in a historical district and before construction begins they must approve building material, colors to be used..basically the whole plan.

    Your home is beautiful and I have a feeling your outdoor project will be just as successful as your interior project.

    Keep us posted!


  • girlgroupgirl

    I would NOT remove all of the trees in the back yard! Mature trees in an area like yours, with older homes, give the homes that sense of history and grounding into the landscape. Remove only those which intrude on the health of other surrounding trees. Sometimes that means only keeping one, but keep at least one.
    You will probably find your drainage WORSE if you remove all the trees. Trees drink water!! So be very careful.
    Get more than one company out to give you advice.

    I would agree that french drains may be necessary, but you need to look at where the water is generated from which invades your property.
    Is it from neighbouring properties?
    Is it from your own roof?
    You can put in perimiter french drains with very little problem around your home. The trees look far away enough from the foundation that you could root prune those roots with very little problem. Make sure the drainage company has an arborist to do this.
    Your own downspouts from gutters can now be buried in "pits" of gravel, underground. They would basically put in short french drain systems attached to your downspout which feed underground away from your foundation in deep pits of gravel for perculation underground. This actually makes for nice planting areas.
    If your neighbors are generating the water, you can put up short raised beds around your back yard, and put drainage in behind to run off your property and into city storm sewer etc.
    It just takes creativity.
    It seems to me that just leveling the back yard and starting over is a more common practise in newly built homes, and it's a shame, especially if your beautiful yard has native trees.


  • tressa

    You have a beautiful house as well as a nice piece of property!!! Have you posted over at the Landscape Design forum??

  • trailrunner

    OK--- we will keep the trees except the 2 trash trees that are entwined and killing each other. I will have the pecan pruned up by an arborist.

    raised bedds seem like a very good idea and I had not thought of that !! we already have french drains right at the house and they and the gutters already tie into the dratted open drain in the backyard. The runoff is as I said in the 1 st post from the whole block and is the neighborhood /city problem so you guys have given me the impetus to go to "city Hall" again !! We are having tornado watches and HUGE rains today so I took the cover off the drain as it coleects debris and ceases to function .
    Keep picket and paint.

    We already have a fountain and courtyard inside the wall where the pool is and a whole wall of Jessamine about 20 ft long.

    I did post on Landscape and will check to see what was said over there. Thank you for the ideas....I still don't know what to do to block the neighbor's house view from the sunroom doors....see last photo in first post. I appreciate the ideas. Caroline

  • Eduarda

    Caroline, when I look at your last photo, what confuses me is the fact that the picket does a 90 degree angle there and stops abruptly. It seems to have no purpose to my eye and I think this is disruptive. If I were you, I would correct that in the first place - either making it a full straight line going behind the trees or replacing it with a wall, if you feel so inclined, or by planting a mixed shrub border, which would take care of hiding your neighbours' brick.

    Only a small portion of the brick is visible, so if you add some vertical structure in front of the area to be screened that would serve the purpose nicely, IMO. You could build a nice little patio on the right side of the tree and then add a vertical structure right behind it. I'm thinking in the lines of an arbour with a bench beneath, similar to the one Mary Lu has in her own garden. That would give you some secluded place to sit in the shade in hot Summer days, provide a lovely view from the sunroom and hide the brick. The arbour could be planted with vines or climbing roses, if the area is sunny enough. I believe Mary Lu has roses climbing hers. I hope she sees this post and provides a pic.

    I agree with the advice to try and cure the cause of the flooding problem, and not just deal with the symptons. In any case, I'm glad you took the decision to keep the trees, they add a whole lot more historic dimension to your property.

    Let us know what you decide

  • todancewithwolves

    Hi Caroline. Darling house and property. Welcome to the Cottage forum.

    I agree with the others to not remove the older trees. Perhaps they could do with a good thinning/pruning. Mature trees add value to your property and help with erosion. The smaller trees I would let go. They can sometimes be dug and hauled away (free) by landscapers.

    I really like the picket fence, so happy your keeping it. I am in love with the little playhouse. That would be my home away from home.

    I've seen episodes on TV where people enclose their AC units with lattice. I've added a link below.

    Happy gardening!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lattice A/C Cover

  • mary_lu_gw

    I am somewhat confused by your pictures. Well, what I mean to say is I cannot get a handle on the shape of your yard and how it all relates to the house. Would it be possible for you to sketch the entire layout(house, playhouse,pool, fencing, etc) That would give me a much better idea of what is in place that will stay and what could be added.

    I agree with most everyone else, keep as many of the trees as you can. We removed a very large tree from the edge of our garden room. My DH originally suggested removing it as it shaded so much of the garden room. I had reservations, but we had the tree examined and found a very large crack in a major limb/main trunk that would have caused it to fall on the neighbors house had it come down in a storm. So the tree was taken out. Lots more sun, but the sense of privacy is completely gone(it really didn't provide privacy but covered the view of much of the neighboring house to make it appear to give privacy) It took me weeks(and many tears) before I even wanted to be on that side of the house and work in my garden room. So you should be aware that not only would you lose shade, but privacy or at least the sense of privacy as well.

    Eduarda, not sure if you were thinking of my arbor/swing or the "porch" arbor. Here are pictures of both. Oops, I was going to insert some pictures of both, but Photobucket is down. So instead I will put a link to my garden web site below. There are pics of both arbors, on various pages in different stages of development.

    Here is a link that might be useful: our garden wen site

  • trailrunner

    The lattice box over the a/c might be an idea or at least it is giving me some notions.

    About the picket fence in the back...LOL. We moved the playhouse to the left this past fall and removed the chainlink fence that was behind it. The picket you see ended at the playhouse. So it appears to be out in the nmiddle. We would cont. it if we go that route. As for the neighbor's house it ALL shows. The pic just doesn't have the right angle on it. The shade is so deep when the leaves are on that you can't grow even weeds back here. This cancels any plants at all til we get the pecan pruned up and thin out the small trees...not the crepe myrtles as they don't affect the area we want to put plants and I am hoping for some light on them so they will bloom as at present they don't bloom at all either.

    The playhouse is my DH's office. It has carpet and a/c and bookshelves and desk etc. It was my idea to move it and add a porch on it. We sit out there all the time. That also is a big reason for getting rid of the drain as we have so many mosquitoes from the water in the drain and gnats too. I am thinking we can do a lattice to block the view and put it up on the top of the rise betoween our house and the ugly one. Then I need vines that will grow in shade. Are there any of those ? I have willow furniture I want to put on a brick terrace and also we will have a wide landing of brick with a step down into the yard from the French doors. I would also like to move the fountain to back here when we get the terrace made.

    You all have really helped me see some possibilities that I had not considered. Also this will be alot cheaper than taking out trees and bulldozing and building walls..none of which I can afford to do anyway.

    I am so grateful for this sounding board. I will post a couple more pics at the weekend. Thank you, Caroline

  • flowerangel

    Mary Lu
    all I can say is WOW!!!! You have my dream yard!!! I hope that I can get my yard half as beautiful someday. You are truely an insperation!!

  • Eduarda

    I meant this one, Mary Lu

    Your website is a dream come true. How are the plans for the B&B going? :-)


    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:639629}}

  • wantoretire_did

    Beautiful home and trees. 2 things come to mind: Can the AC unit be raised higher? Can you use dunks in the drain to control the mosquitos? Some municipalities will even give them out to residents.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Dunks

  • trailrunner

    MaryLu I will get you a plane ticket to Opelika !! I love your arbor. If I use that idea but have the porch on the playhouse be the covered area and the picket to either side and then do the chairs and plants along the sides...I hope that makes sense. Anyway I think that will work nicely. Someone on the Landscape forum said we are in 8a and has forwarded a plea to a friend of his in Loachapoka...a town 15 miles from us. Also I have a call in to a person who is highly recommended as a landscape person and they do fences and stone work etc. So I will keep posting.

    As to Dunks. I have a whole pak of them and have tried putting htem on a string and hanging them in the drain and also putting a piece of one in the neighbor's birdbath...something eats them right away...I think the squirrels like them ..LOL...must think they are an hors'douvre.
    I am seeing a lot of possibilities and I thank you all for your ideas.

    Still need ideas for shade loving vines for the lattice or fence....THANK YOU Caroline

  • armyyife

    Mary Lou- I have seen your pic's before but forgot just how beautiful they were! You and your DH are very talented. Did you plant a lot of those from seed? Please share any secrets to such a gorgous garden!

  • Eduarda

    "Still need ideas for shade loving vines for the lattice or fence...."

    How about climbing hydrangea (hydrangea petiolaris)?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Climbing hydrangea

  • FlowerLady6

    Caroline what a beautiful home and property you have. I am glad you are keeping the older trees, and will do something with your picket fence. Your azaleas are gorgeous. I can't wait to see what you do with your place, it's like a blank canvas just waiting to be filled.

    Have fun and good luck with your water flooding issue.


  • trailrunner

    eduarda that is a great idea...all the qualifications seem to be met and hydrangeas do well here . I have several.
    Yes flowerlady I have been out back off and on all AM looking and thinking. I am getting a lot better idea of how to use what I have rather than spend money to change things so drastically. Also we won't have the Historic committee to worry about if we only take out the tree that is almost on the playhouse and the 2 that are twined together. Ya'll are great. I will clean up the pool area over the weekend and post a couple pics too !

  • angelcub

    Hi Caroline! Just popping in to read all the ideas. I'm so glad the majority of the trees are staying. An arbor near the playhouse will be lovely, as will the picket fence. And hydrangeas are a must in the shade garden. How do hostas do for you? They are very easy care unless you have to deal with slugs and snails.

    If you get a chance, please put a link to your album with the Victorian Christmas porch pics. There are quite a few here that I'm sure would love to see pics of the porch tour your town does every year.

    And a big thanks to all my cottage buds for helping out my friend Caroline! : )


  • Eduarda

    Victorian Christmas porch pics??????? Diana, you know I'm game for this sort of stuff, LOL! Please, please Caroline, we want to see the photos!


  • BecR

    Caroline, hello and welcome to the cottage!

    I remember your spectacular Victorian Christmas porch pics, over on the Old Houses forum. Such a wonderful home and neighborhood you have there.

    You've been doing alot of work and have come such a long way. Congratulations on a job well done.

    Happy to hear that you will be keeping most of those gorgeous big trees. Big trees like yours add character, charm, and WELCOME shade to a property (esp in hot summer areas like yours).

    That said, I certainly understand the challenges of shade gardening. I'm also dealing with lots of tree roots. A trick I've learned is to plant a small plant or a cutting, rather than a large plant, to avoid having to dig a deep hole (it's impossible to dig deep with tree roots running all over the place). Also, container gardening.

    I would like to add confederate jasmine (trachleospermum jasminoides) to your plant list---it is simply a 'must have' for the South, and a personal favorite of mine. It does well in both shade and sun and is as tough as nails. I think it would be lovely on that arbor you are planning.

    Am looking forward to seeing your garden evolve.


  • ninjabut

    I don't know if you have the same "county extention " offices that we have in CA., but if you request mosquito fish for a pond or flooded ditches, they come out and bring a bunch for free! They even appreciate us calling to help eradicate the mosquitos and West nile virus and other mosquito borne illnesses.
    You might also ask a fish store if they have them.
    HTH Nancy

  • Annie

    You have a beautiful home.
    First of all - Engineers are NOT GARDENERS. To them, trees and flowers are just things that get in the way of their construction projects, so beware!
    I would NOT remove the big trees in back. Good grief, no! You can build up the soil level next to your house and add French drains along the sidewalk to take the runoff away from the house, thereby preserving those ancient trees which add so much to the value and beauty of your lot and preserves the Victorian charm of that old house.
    I can see plantings of Weigelia, Mock Orange, asaleas, rhododendrums, Hostas, Ferns and lots of other beautiful flowers and plants that love moist, shadey growing areas.
    There is so much that can be done with your site! Oh that I had such a place!
    That's my two cents worth anyhow.
    ~ Annie

  • jennbenn

    I just love your home and I see so much potential. I just want to add that I think you should try to work with your trees, and use some good old fashioned southern plants. I am going to see if I can find a link to a great southern garden site. Good luck, and keep us posted!

    Here is a link that might be useful: A Southern Garden !!!

  • Eduarda

    "Engineers are NOT GARDENERS. To them, trees and flowers are just things that get in the way of their construction projects, so beware!"

    Annie, you could be talking about my DH, LOL! You are *absolutely* right!


  • trailrunner

    Annie and Jennbennn you are right...we had already concluded that he wanted to "clear the decks" to make his job easier. I have been here 5 yrs !! and when I see jennbenn's wonderful garden I want to cringe at what I have not been able to do ! I can't imagine being able to plant something and have it look like that. I have brought home lots of plants and they never even made it into the ground ! I finally throw out the dead plant and the pot. So I am going to really try this time. Ya'll's enthusiasm is really catching. I got 3 trellises at Lowes and got my jasmine up off the ground. It looks much better. I will post pics of the pool and fountain and try to get some ideas to improve that. Thank you and please don't give up on me , c

  • HomeMaker

    I hang around here sometimes, mostly lurking these days, but I have to post about your drainage issue.

    We had a drainage problem at our last house. The garden was the lowest spot - houses behind and on each side drained onto our property and, especially in the spring with the snow melting, we had a lake in our backyard.

    All kinds of people gave us all kinds of advice, but finally a gentleman that had done a lot of landscaping in his day, suggested what turned out to solve our problems. The water just disappeared underground and drained away at its leisure.

    We dug a pit - about 6 feet by 6 feet and about 5 feet deep, filled the bottom 4 feet with gravel, topped it off with some kind of cloth. I can no longer remember what it was called, but it was white and thick and sort of fluffy, kind of like a really heave fleece blanket. I got it from a company that used it underneath the paving on highways. Since it was a small piece I needed, I got it from the company's leftover pile for nothing. It kept the soil from washing down into the gravel area.

    On top of the cloth we put soil and grass. The grass grew very green over that pit! LOL Eventually we built a raised veggie bed in that spot, and the veggies did very well there.

    Perhaps this idea might work for you.

  • jennbenn

    Ohhh Trailrunner... that is not my garden, I am so sorry if I misrepresented myself. That is just a garden I admire very very very much! It was just a link to a wonderful garden to inspire you to work with what you have and enrich all of the inherent charm of where you live.. know what I mean???? I wish that was my garden, maybe one day if I am really lucky I will have garden that is so charming! So sorry!

  • trailrunner

    jennbenn...we have almost the same B'day..I am 12/6 ! I LOVE that garden but from your description I bet yours is wonderful too. We have 2 huge Hackberries and a pecan and several pin oaks in that picture. The one Hackberry is almost on the playhouse so that one will come out for sure. we will have the rest trimmed up.

    homemaker: that is a great idea...I will find out what that stuff is it sounds like that would solve a lot. We can also do the trench idea at the fence line and put the french drain and I think the raised bed idea is going to help.

    I love the stacked stone walls in the Southern Garden pics. We want a brick patio off of the steps that will be put in so we have to solve the water issue first. You guys have a lot lf great ideas ! c

  • Annie

    TrailRunner, don't forget to plant 'CastIron plants' (Aspidistra) at the base of those big trees and next to your sidewalk of against the house. What's a good old Southern Garden without them!
    I lived in Louisiana for ten years and just loved gardening in the South and the people there, too. I just hated to leave "My Home" and the people I had grown to love.
    It is too cold here in my 6b/7a zone in Oklahoma where I live now to grow Cast Iron plants out in the yard year round, but I grow them in containers in the house all winter and set them out in the garden again in the spring so I can have a remembrance of my lush semi-tropical Southern Garden.
    They look especially beautiful along shadey brick garden paths near the house and planted around the base of tall pines with Azaleas and Mt. Laurels, and etc., and they like the moisture.
    Best wishes on your Historic Home preservation project and your Victorian garden. Let us know how it comes along. If we can help you, we will!
    ~ Annie

  • natal

    Caroline, you have a gorgeous piece of property with so much potential. I'm glad you didn't listen to the engineer. It sounds like you're moving in the right direction considering selective removal of trees in order to set up good drainage.

    I agree that the picket fence is a perfect match for your charming home. The wall might offer privacy for the pool area, but I don't think it does anything for your yard. You may not have total privacy, but very few of us who live in close proximity to each other do. Even walls and fences can't provide that unless they're 10 feet tall.

  • girlgroupgirl

    We get run off from all the neighbourhood properties too. We are planning on putting drainage behind stacked stone walls and angling the drainage all to one area to create a dry creek bed. Luckily we do have a drainge area that leads to the sewer, we are also planning on adding a cistern of some kind. Hey, it's free water.
    Like you we also have pin oaks. At least pin oaks soak up water like a sponge.
    I think you can fix the drainage, your back yard is in a lovely spot and it will look gorgeous when you are done. Just takes some thinking to get around existing issues. I've been here 10 years and we still haven't gotten the $$ to do the back yard yet. Soon, I hope. The inside comes first!


  • Kim Fraser

    Hi, trailrunner! You've got so many responses already, I don't know if this has already been said. I just wanted to say that you may want to get a second opinion about removing your large trees if you already have drainage problems. We're suddenly having MAJOR drainage problems on our lot because of the recent removal of many mature pines. We had a landscaper build us a retaining wall to help re-route the storm water, but all that's done so far is to retain the water a few feet farther from the house than it was. Whereas previously the water had been absorbed by the big trees, now nothing is absorbing it.
    My husband has been digging and installing hundreds of feet of French drains for weeks now and they seem to help some, but the water problem isn't entirely gone. Our next step is going to be installing a pond to contain some of the stormwater, and a rain garden to catch the rest. I really encourage you to look into rain gardens. In our research, we've learned that stormwater run-off, in addition to making your backyard an unpleasant place to be, is becoming an environmental issue, at least around here where residential growth is rampant. It's much better for this water to percolate through some soil and plants BEFORE it gets to streams and lakes. A rain garden is a nice solution and there are a fair number of plants out there that tolerate both dry and damp conditions.
    Good luck! Bad drainage is NO fun in the mosquito-infested South!

  • trailrunner

    you are all right. The wall would not be a good idea as I think more about it. You are right natal about privacy ! are in Atlanta and it sounds like we have about the same situation. A think a stacked stone and drainage leading to the drain we already have is also going to work for us.

    I don't know what a raingarden is I will have to look it up. I am sick today so trying to respond and now will go lie back down. you have given me so many great ideas. Caroline

  • lavendrfem

    Hi there and welcome to the cottage forum!

    I agree with some of the others - get another opinion about removing those trees. Or at least find out which are closest to the house and potentially damaging the foundation. I have a friend who cleared an acre of trees on her property and the result is now she has more water flow during storms than she would have if the trees were there. Every rainstorm she gets flooding in her basement.

    You have a beautiful home. What a great canvas!

  • manda_2008

    I vote for leaving older trees also as long as they are not a hazard or just completely in the way. Older trees are majestic and they do a lot of great things for your soil. You will have a lot more drainage problem and erosion problems without them. You can plant other younger trees that may be more appealing to you along side the trees you are looking to move and then remove the older trees as the newer ones mature.

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