Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Front Yard

The landscapers have mostly finished the yard. I showed you the back yard and now I'll show you the front yard.

This is the end of the yard by our townhouse mates door, which you can just see in the photo. The shed is for bikes. We make it really easy to get in and out of it with the large patio in front. I no longer have a car anymore. I walk; I bike; and I take the bus that stops just a couple of blocks from my doorstep. On rare occasion I take the Zipcar that is just a block away. Just past the shed is a small little patio area where we will probably have a table. It is in the shade for a good portion of the day, which is nice. The back patio that I showed you before is in constant sun all day long until really late in the day when the house shades it. So it is nice to have a shady spot. To the left you can see a small shade bed that will have ornamentals. And just past the patio area near their door is the walkway to the back. Along the fence part we are going to put in clumping bamboo. The hope is that it will be big enough to be useful to harvest for the garden, but if not then it will at least be really pretty along the fence.

In this photo I've backed up to the entrance to our yard. To the left just out of the photo is my rock wall garden. Technically the pavement here is part of the private way and the town plows it. But it feels like our driveway. If anyone comes down this road it is because they are visiting one of us. In the winter during snow days we will have to get the car off the road (our townhouse mates also have just one car, the one you see in the photo). Since we ripped up most of the driveway pavement there is no longer much of a place for them to park on the side of the road. But we didn't want to pave the front of the house.

So this is what we did. In 3/4 of the front yard we put down drivable grass. The above photo shows you the under structure of it. Underneath this they pack the ground down hard with a rocky mixture that drains well. They add a layer of sand. They add the plastic surface that will take the weight of the cars and distribute it. Inside of the plastic matrix they put good soil and then they seed. For our area drivable grass is a very ecological way to go for overflow and occasional parking. We live right next to a flood zone. East Arlington floods all the time. And as time goes on it gets worse as more and more people pave over their yards. So we wanted to put in something that would take the rain into the soil as opposed to letting it drain off into the street. Plus grass is much cooler in the summer than pavement is. It will be much nicer to open our windows out to grass than to pavement, even pretty pavement like we put outside our townhouse mates door.

They are supposed to be putting down hydroseed. They were supposed to do it on September 25, but that didn't happen. Then the 27th didn't happen. It still hasn't happened. I made the landscaper put in seed so at least something would happen. It is getting late to seed in this area. It should have been done in late September when it was scheduled.

This is my front door. The bed in front which is larger than you can see in the photo and next to the drivable grass will have two dwarf peach trees under planted with low bush blueberries. There will be one short high bush nearby and two more near my townhouse mates front door. On the left side of my door will be three gooseberries bushes. Looking past the driveway where my husband parks is my garden. There will be a fence with an arbor between the driveway and the garden. Along the path to the left, right against the house, will be some herbs and perennials for the bees. The herb/bee patch will also extend along the driveway just inside the fence.

The rest of the side of the house will be raised beds. It will take about eight 4'x16' raised beds to fill up this area. I think I'm going to do it in cedar. My issue has been finding 2x8s in cedar around here. Lowes and Home Depot both only stock 2x6s and they barely have any stock of that. I really would like 2x8s. Friends Lumber said they could order it for me, but they also said they would call back with pricing and didn't. I'll have to harass them some more. This huge undone section seems very daunting to me. I know the rest of the yard still needs planting up and mulching, but this area is mine alone, and I'm freaking out just a bit about getting it set up. I need an EG in my house that loves this kind of thing, but neither of the guys are DIY kind of guys. I'm the closest we have to a DIY person in the two families. And I like the work, but hate power tools. Loud sounds freak me out and the circular saw really freaks me out. My old garden work was all done with a hand saw, but it was done slowly over time and this is a big job. There is no way I could do it all with a handsaw.


  1. Hey, it's lookin' good. I hope you can get it all done before the nasty weather starts. I'd help, but it would be a far drive. I've never heard of drivable grass.

  2. The backyard pavers look amazing! I love the shed too!

  3. Wish I were there to help you out with those power tools. I couldn't live without my electric miter saw....a good chop saw, with a 10" blade, would be something you could use. That, with a power drill/driver and a level would be just about all you'd need to do a bang up job on those beds.

    The place is looking beautiful. I'm drooling over the pavers you've used on the walkways, and shaking my head over drivable grass! What will they think of next?

  4. Good luck with the garden building. Sometimes the lumber stores will do one cut for you on the lumber (so you can get it in the car. If you plan it out right, you might be able to get them to do half the cutting for you.

  5. It looks very nice. I had never heard of drivable grass, but it's a fabulous idea. I'm in the same boat as you with building beds. I wish my hubby was handy. It looks gorgeous so far!

  6. It's looking really good. Can't wait to see the drivable grass.

  7. I have industrial strength ear protectors, one of the best things I ever bought. Pretty cheap, too, about $30.

    My neighbors out in CA had drivable grass. I'm not sure if it's the same system as yours or not, but it worked well.

  8. p.s. I have the local lumber place cut stuff to size, so I never have to saw. If it's too big to fit in my car, they deliver it.

  9. I like you plan. I recently built three 4'x8' 10" high raised beds myself. They were not cedar, but pine untreated. Home Depot cut the 8' in half so I didn't have to use a power saw. I only had to screw they together once I got them home which made it much easier. Good luck and I enjoy reading your blog.

  10. Dan, well if I got half done this fall and half done next spring it would be great too.

    meemsnyc, thanks. They are in the front yard though. I consider it the back part of the front yard so my wording is pretty weird.

    Granny, I haven't found my levels since our move. I'll have to get a new one. Sure you don't want to visit Boston instead of going to AZ this fall? lol

    Emily, I'll have to ask them if they will cut wood for me. It would make my life really easy. I know they will deliver.

    The Mom, hes a pretty good hubby, but oh I wish he were the handyman sometimes. Occasionally he does stuff but he hates it.

    Mustard, Me too. I hope the grass starts growing soon.

    Karen Anne, I've got my ear plugs that I sleep in (I'm such a light sleeper), but no other protection. I'm hoping mine will cut the wood too.

    Anonymous, I don't mind the drill nearly as much as the saw. So hopefully they will do the cutting for me.

  11. I'm going to be interested to see how the driveable grass works out for you. I'm a city planner and these systems have been being touted as the coming wave of "how to reduce impervious surface."