Here’s the question I get asked the most – and nobody asks it more frequently than me!
After I wrapped up the holiday cards* and took a few naps, I felt the urge to start to loosely map out the year. 2020 took such a nosedive around this time, and it turned almost all of our early plans for the year upside down. The biggest dashed plans were for our long awaited building project on the back half of our house. 2021 is going to bring some pretty seismic shifts in our family – the most significant one being E’s graduation from high school and her departure for college in the fall. Even though so much will be cancelled or different for yet another year, we’re hoping to fit in at least a few senior year traditions into the spring. So we’ve scheduled a photo shoot for E, another for our whole family, fingers crossed for some version of a prom (she has a dress!) and a graduation of some sort – even if it’s partially virtual for family and friends.
I started with graduation at the end of May, and thought a good spring goal would be getting the front garden to a point where we could host a drop-in outdoor celebration for friends and family at the beginning of June. February was a bit of a bust weather wise for outdoor work with the frigid temps and snow. But we did get out this weekend before the rain to get some more measurements and spray paint out the patio area.
So the next steps out here are:
- Install large stone steps – in the walkway and into the main garden area.
- Finish off the stone walls back to the house.
- Install plants as they arrive – late March / early April.
- Finish the paver base for the walk, and then install salvaged bricks to complete the walk to the city sidewalk. (We’ve got a little more concrete demo at the gate to complete first.)
- Dig out where the new pebble mosaic will go and install the paver base there. Install a brick border around the edge.
- Install the corten steel planters behind the fence.
If that’s as far as we get by then end of May, then I’m okay with that, but if we have decent spring weather and I can figure out what I’m doing on the mosaic, it would be awesome to have that in progress or complete this spring. I really have no idea what to expect on that, so we’ll see.
We painted the outline for an 11′-0″ mosaic, centered on the garden in east-west direction, and centered on the entry step that will go where that blank space is currently. The finished paved area will be just a little larger than this, as there will be a brick border around the edge. The finished diameter will be between 11′-0″ and 11′-8″ when complete. That should give us adequate room for a bench and a few chairs, and leave us enough planting room around the perimeter. We have a ton of salvaged broken bricks in the backyard, so I plan to use those on their end as the border to contain the pebbles in the center.
Here’s the final Sketchup model with the planters for the front – I’m not sure if they will be fabricated in two or three sections along the longer wall, but we decided to reduce the height to show off a little more of the stone on the walls because they are so nice looking. We’ll have one course showing on the west side, and three on the east side which is the higher side of the garden. The stone will still show up on the sides of the sidewalk, so it won’t all be covered.
We also made a change to the stone stair idea. Originally we had planned to install two limestone steps (one riser) in the walk. The total depth of the two treads would be 2′ – and we’d have planters at the same depth. (See above). The bottom stone would be flush with the brick sidewalk, so there’s only one step up, just like now.
But now that the stone walls are built, we’re thinking that aligning a single tread at the edge of the wall is a better look. (See below.)
I found a similar photo (below) – just image one step instead of two. I think holding all the stone to that edge (wall and step) is a sharper look. The planters will be sort of out on their own versus aligning with the stone steps, but I think that’s okay. They will sit on pavers slightly below the brick walk, so they won’t look like we’ve just plunked down some garden center planters out there. This idea also saves us the cost of one large, custom cut and finished stone tread, so that’s a bonus.
I’m hoping for nice weather next Saturday so we can make some progress on the paver base areas.
Bigger / vaguer plans for the year include starting up our big construction project again. I would love to start it in June / July, after we get through graduation and the start of summer. But even a fall start would be okay. Honestly, I’ll take anything at this point. F would really like to get a dog, and I think that longing is going to grow even more after E leaves for school and the house feels more empty and quiet. We really need to have a yard that’s not a construction zone to even consider that, so that’s how the dominos are currently stacked in my mind. If I think about it all at once, it feels very overwhelming, so I’m taking it one piece at a time. This week – getting remaining materials ordered and scheduled. That I can do.
* I can’t believe it’s almost March and so many of the cards still haven’t arrived. I’m so sorry about that – but I promise they were sent with love. They are a card that transitions from winter to spring – so hopefully they will all arrive sometime this spring!