One of the things we did that I do not recommend is that we did the entire yard at once, mostly on our own. We learned so much along the way but if I had it to do over again I would probably have done the back first because it was more forgiving and less public. Oh well. It is in and done, more or less. I have to get some more current photos but this will give you an idea of the transformation. There’s still a bit of tweaking to be done with accents.
There are birds in this yard almost all day long. Considering that my office and library face the backyard, I have what you might call a very happy-making work environment. Lucky me.
There was an excess of cement in the front yard as far as we were concerned. The aggregate next to the driveway and streetside were removed when the paver driveway was put in. The lawn was removed about the same time. A large part of the front yard is the dry creek bed which is part of our rainwater collection.
I created the original plan when we first removed the lawns. Made a few goofs with the first design (too wide, all the rocks were the same size) but I think it’s looking pretty good now.
When we bought this house it was surrounded by a lot of cement. Both sideyards were wall-to-wall cement. While we conceded that the utilities side yard might need the cement there was no reason for the other side to be suffocating under all the concrete. While we were having the new paver driveway put in we had the guys break up and remove the concrete. Then Pete Veilleux of East Bay Wilds came in with his trusty crew and installed a lovely bluestone walkway with redtwig dogwoods on either side. The trees have grown fast and are nearly arching over the entire path when they are fully leafed out.
I call it Dogwood Alley and I love it!
We didn’t fall in love with this house because of the yard. There was a tiny patch of lawn that was mostly Bermuda grass, a Mayten tree that dropped branches every time the wind blew, a courtyard fence that was falling apart and all that cement! The parking strip had cement, the driveway was extended on both sides with more cement. We knew there was dirt under there someplace and took on the task of finding it.
I created the initial design (after much research) and we have tweaked it several times over the years. Most recently we hired noted urban habitat specialist Jeffrey Caldwell to help us amp up the habitat value. There are still plants waiting to fill in and a bit more tweaking to be done, but we’re pretty happy with having all that concrete out of there.
As you would expect, there’s been a dramatic increase in the wildlife activity since this change.