I've been too busy to tell you about it until now (May is crazy!), but recently I decided to consult with an experienced garden designer to help me with some major design issues in my backyard. (It turns out she helped me with the front too, but I'll save that for another post.)
I always shake my head when I see people who have planted things in the wrong place (a cedar under a spruce tree? egregious!) and think - they would probably save money overall, as well as time and frustration, if they just hired a garden coach to help them find the right plants for their garden. Well, the same applies to me getting help with my own garden design.
I've been thinking about getting help myself for a while, but could never quite admit to myself that I needed it. Until now. And now that I've done it, I wish I'd done it ages ago, as it was well worth the investment!
Why did I need help? Well, for one thing, sometimes you just need the experienced eye of someone who is not so close and attached to your space as you are. Plus, there are some MAJOR design challenges in my yard (listed below.) Here's my drawing of what my backyard currently looks like, including the major spruce trees that I am unwilling to get rid of (there are others that are not shown that are, in my mind, doomed):
My problems with this yard:
- I've been fixing little problems in this already mature yard over time (usually about one major project a year - this was a very large, overgrown and neglected yard when I moved in 7 years ago!) but never really stepped back to develop an overall design for the yard.
- I am very attached to my plants and although I know I need to edit them down a little, it is very, very hard. I need an unbiased expert to come in and say - get rid of that, get more of that!
- I came up with a plan for something nice to fill the hole in the patio that the former greenhouse left. But then I realized I was just patching another hole. I wanted to do something to tie that area to the design of the rest of the yard much better. And with a weird, trapezoidal-shaped yard, and with some straight-lines over there and some curved lines over there, I just couldn't quite figure out what to do to bring it all together.
Enter Sue Gaviller, a designer whose work has been featured on this blog before. I took a few design classes from her this spring and she is great. I was little afraid she was going to arrive and say "You've got to get rid of all those spruce trees" or something similarly impractical. But she was extremely good about working with the major features of my yard which are admittedly not optimal, but are too big and/or expensive to change. So here's what she came up with:
I love it! Although I won't be putting a pergola in the spot where the greenhouse used to be (just a screen against the fence), I do like how the patio curves on either side, getting rid of the awkward triangle of space between where the greenhouse used to be and the existing retaining wall. As Sue says, the curves allow for better flow and also deal with the problem of messy and heaving patio stones around the base of the spruce trees.
I also really like the new shape of the lawn because I knew that the random curves I had before didn't relate to the rest of the yard. The "arc and tangent" theme utilizes both straight lines, and circles and partial circles, for a semi-formal look and seems the best way to tie the yard together since I already have some straight and curved lines in the existing layout that I can't change.
This year will be the year of the north patio project, which I have already started working on. We'll be building the screen against the fence and reshaping the north patio. Stay tuned to see how it developes!