The history of this lot is that it was never built on. It was farm land for a while but mostly in recent years it has been fallow at the end of a private way. It was weird to have a lot that wasn't built on in Arlington, but this lot didn't have the proper access so getting a permit was hard. It took the builder six years to get all the permits for it. I'm not too surprised. The private way is more like an alley way than a real street. It isn't long. There are only seven other houses on the street. Two on one side and five on our side. The road snakes in back there. So the area is weirdly private, but only about a block in from the major road in town. Since the private way curves and the buildings are tall and close together, the noise from the busy street is largely unheard.
Our closest neighbor is a little old lady that has lived in that house for 70 years. She is very sweet and I suspect she will be the recipient of some fresh produce from the garden at times. But we couldn't help her out with what she was really hoping for. She wanted kids playing in the street for her to watch. Since we are two couples that are empty nesters it isn't going to happen. She will have to talk to her son that lives downstairs, but I suspect he has heard it all before.
Our house is a two unit town house. One side will be occupied by my husband and myself and the other by our good friends. Much of the area is multifamily homes. The neighbor's lot is much smaller than ours and all paved over. I guess it makes for easy maintenance, but I want green in my lot.
Even before the purchase and sales agreement was signed I was out with my shovel at the new house. I needed soil samples to send into the UMass Extension service. I was hoping that the original soil was there. A fallow lot that was garden much of the time might be good (or it might have gotten dumped in, but less likely since I bet no one but the abutting neighbors even knew it was there). But the original soil is not what I found. It seemed like fill to me with no topsoil on it yet. And the results agreed with me.
How can I tell it was fill and not original? Well our soil here in the North East is very acidic naturally. Blueberries grow wild in the woods. We have natural pHs of about 4.5-5.5. The soil tested in at 8.5. It really makes me wonder where the heck that soil has been. No natural soil from here could ever have that high of a pH. It is also half rocks. I had trouble getting enough soil out. I should have brought a pick axe. Needless to say it won't grow anything as is and I don't want those rocks in my garden. I suppose at least the lead levels are low. I might just have someone remove it from the area where the veggies are going and replace with top soil and compost. I have to bring in top soil anyway to cover the remainder of the yard.
The front yard had the same fill put in. Then they covered it with top soil. The top soil there has a medium lead level so I'll probably remove it from where the herbs are being put, but the rest will be ornamental and fruit trees so no worries there. The pH again is high but not nearly as bad. It was 7.5.
The whole yard is a blank slate since we told him not to landscape it. I'll give you the layout soon. And our next chore is to find a landscape designer that is good with hardscaping, grass paving and cars. We have real car issues on this lot which will probably affect where the fruit trees can go.