Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Solo Cup

That's right ya'll... It's time to PARTY!



After three years of reconfiguring and plotting and despairing, I finally talked someone into helping me move the large chunks of flagstone, and bring me a pickup trucks worth of dirt to begin operation "Hide My Neighbors Ugly Chickenwire Fence" and operation "Plant Something, ANYTHING, In the front portion of the Parking Garden."

Let me explain why exactly things have gotten to this point.  The house next to me, with the 2 story garage...yes that one...2 feet from my property line wasn't always as big as it is today.  In the mid 90s someone got the great idea to nearly double the house size and include monster garage.  First it goes against every historic preservation rule the City has, and likely got done with a little under the table dealing, but SECOND it created an enormous draining issue onto my property, specifically in the parking garden.  Those of you who have witnessed a coastal southern downpour know how violent and copiously wet these storms can be, and massive massive amounts of water come cascading both through the downspouts and directly off the roof during these squalls.  This has left erosion issues like I've never seen in a backyard.  All of the dirt is gone, and most of the tree roots are exposed 3 feet below grade in a 10ft by 5 ft area.  At some point in the intervening years, probably to stop further damage, and maintain several trees in an upright position, someone got the wise idea of coating the area in huge fieldstone slabs.  And, I have to say, it worked.  But after even more intervening years, some additional erosion, and new owners on both sides, the area looks somewhat like an ancient crypt which has been broken into on multiple occasions and vampires and other creepy crawlies are running around back there.  Really gross 4-8 legged creepies.

This entire winter my neighbors have been redoing their house (ripping out rotting wood etc), with some disastrous effects to that side of my garden, resulting in the most hideous and (probably also not city legal) long and thick PVC piping running along the house, of course on my side, so I have to look at it (grrrr).  There is going to be a LOT of hiding of that wall going on this spring.  But, back to the point: the drainage issue has been mitigated.  Not completely solved, but solved enough to really dig into the parking garden, after I paid for enough dirt to actually dig in, of course!


So, I sort of forgot the befores...but here's stage 1 afters of the front parking garden bed.  Sure, sure, I know its a stretch to call a bed of dirt a garden, but if you had seen the befores you'd be raising your red solo cup to me.. that is 2400 pounds of dirt.

And just look at the stack of slate pieces previously used to ameliorate the original problem. And of course, yesterday in anticipation I had to go on a massive plant buying spree.  3 azaleas, 1 camellia, 1 autumn fern, 1 star jasmine, 1 gardenia and a holly.  Six pack of beer.  Lots of the big stuff, the bones.



And here is a very not to scale drawing of my back yard, so people can get an idea of where I'm talking about when I'm talking about the gardens outside the white picket fence.  The area that is technical my land alone is the white picket fence garden, left narrow drive bed, front garden, lirope hedge, left parking garden, front parking garden, main parking garden (all three the 'parking garden').  I co-own the back border.  The side border, the 'little bed' and the right narrow drive bed are not owned by me but mine for the planting should I ever get around to it.  So as you can see, for a city garden I really can make myself a paradise, and I have years of work to go still.  I mean just look at that 'after'... years.

Azaleas Hino Crimson are already in..as is the jasmine vine to start covering the chickenwire.  I am sooooo tempted to put some ivy on there....

19 comments:

  1. Hi Jess, cheers to you for starting your garden make-over. It is always such a daunting task to redo a whole area, but you are off to a very good start. I am sure when all the plants that you have already bought are planted it will be looking very beautiful! By the way I am new to your blog and like it quite a bit!
    Christina

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    1. Well, welcome, and thanks for the compliment! I did the 'white picket fence garden' just a few years back and I'm confident that one day it will look good... I'm just not very patient! :) But it is a relief to finally get the outrageously heavy fieldstone ground crypts UP!

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  2. Hi Jess. Well done! I can fully understand the urge to plant ivy there. But Star Jasmine is going to look so much nicer in the long term, I think. A year or so from now and this area will look as beautiful as the rest of your garden.

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    1. there's a lot of chicken wire to cover....

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  3. Ok, read this twice, looked at your little ( well done), outline three times, and semi-understand what you are doing. Have you never considered talking to the city building comm./historic foundation -whom-ever to stop some of this problem( with the neighboring propert ) ? Sounds like you need to speak up, especially about drainage issues on your property. I do know,since I have been there so much,the basic too close for comfort neighbor situations there. Charleston is very strict usually with their building and city issues, thought you could get some help somehow. Or have you talked to your neighbors about this big problem ?
    Ok, back to your new plans, I think the dirt/garden plans is a great idea, and it will work out nicely. take care !! Gina

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    1. The issue was created before either of us owned the property. The neighbors are trying to fix it, but not doing it the right way, and definitely doing some ugly stuff, but at some point you have to ask yourself...do you want to go to war with the neighbors or let it go? In 90% of cases, the right answer is let it go. Despite stupid pvc pipe through white picket fence garden, and chickenwire fence, I'd rather be able to talk through the fence than through our lawyers. Its one of the trials of city living. At least we don't have deer.

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  4. Darn it, Jess. Just reading the title has that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. We did a job in Johnsonville, a few years ago and had to deal with those downpours that turn your SC dirt(if that is what you call it) into boot-sucking muck. Good luck. Can't wait to see the finished results.

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    1. On the coast here we have sand, but yes inland and here, what goes for dirt is very suspicious.

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  5. Hooray for climbing plants and large shrubs! A few years ago I let my trumpet creeper take over an entire bed/fence just so I wouldn't have to see the yard next to me. When wonderful new neighbors moved in, I cut the vine back severely. It was the ultimate compliment. :o) Have you ever grown loropetalum (shrub)? It does well in SC and grows really quickly. I think the new bed is going to be beautiful, just like the rest of your garden.

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    1. Yes, I have seen them. I could go crazy here.

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  6. Jess neighbors are always so much fun...I adore jasmine and what a treat that will be to the eyes and nose...you have quite a task but the plans sound wonderful and I can't wait to see it.

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    1. I hope I just don't have to hear complaints about the vine growing up the stupid chickenwire barricade.

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  7. hey jess, curious to know how the drainage issue was solved. were the neighbours renovations part of the solution? glad to hear whatever it was worked. a new garden bed is always a joy

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    1. Adding larger gutters, and piping the water to the back of their lot, not mine. It doesn't exactly solve it all... and it should have been piped to the street like the City asks so it will drain, but between the builder and my neighbor good intentions got boggled down in frugality and general not thinking-straightness. She has basically moved the erosion issues 15 onto her property. Not a good longterm solution. But I guess she'll figure it out the hard way and then pony up for the french drain that the house needs. But by virtue of us being 4 feet apart and her house being 3 stories tall with lots of differing rooflines, there will always be some issues... I bought my house knowing this. Sometimes it is what it is.

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  8. You would not believe the eyesore across the street from us. Ugh, I don't even want to go there. Your project looks great and I'm looking forward to seeing the final results!

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  9. I sympathize about the garage! My neighbor built an enormous workshop, three stories tall, less than ten feet from the property line, completely blocking my view of rolling fields. It is ugly, and I still get sick when I look at it. I spent a lot of time and money planting a screen between my eyes and his workshop. But the plantings have finally grown tall enough to do their job, and I am happy they are there.Your project will add beauty and value to your home. If you saw the rampant ivy that is taking over the woods surrounding my home, you wouldn't even joke about planting that monster. But there are lots of other great vines!

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  10. Jess, The graphic really helped me to envision all this. You aren't just kidding when you say you have a lot of neighbors. I would say it's not so much the chicken wire fence as what's behind the chicken wire fence that is crying out to be screened! How about kudzu? (just kidding) -Jean

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  11. Doesn't it feel wonderful to get started on a project? And any time I'm less than motivated, I just go buy some plants, and my motivation returns! Good luck with your new project. Your dirt looks like some good stuff. And you do have a very interesting property line!

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  12. Haha, well at least you didn't forget the beer while you were shopping. I actually do call a patch of dirt a garden, but I'm an optimistic sort ;) I'm about to pay for dirt to garden in too, as we rebuild our front garden now the sink hole is repaired. I think once that fence area is covered, that part of the garden will look so much improved. I can just envision all those azaleas in bloom...

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