My last post dealt in detail with moving a driveway for my customers. It was a huge investment in both resources and time – from early spring to late summer. It’s good for me that my customers are incredibly patient people. The property has many trees of considerable age. There was no interest from anyone to change that. The landscape would concentrate near the house and the new drive court. The open area that was once occupied by the old driveway would be an extensive grass arch that is similar in shape to the arch of the driveway – but is larger. This grass arch would be interrupted by some strategically placed specimen trees. These new trees would have plenty of room to grow to their mature size.
The drive court is also very large. The house is far from the street. Although the ascent is at a much easier angle than before, it is still an ascent. A drive court where visitors could come and go was of paramount importance to my customers. On the plus side, it’s an admirable makeshift basketball court, and it’s easy to park outside the garage doors. The landscape that surrounds the Drive Court describes it in a large radius, the size of which was determined by two retaining walls that were installed parallel to the driveway. I can say with certainty that the only flat space on this property exists within the walls of the house. All other flat and navigable spaces had to be created.
I was interested in the landscape being accompanied by a strong, simple and largely evergreen. Formal nature accomplishes two things. It is in striking contrast to the natural landscape surrounding it. And it would be pretty easy to wait. Buxus blocks “Green Gem” in changing sizes would require a routine and precisely timed water source and an annual cut. Planting these 9 ‘x 9’ square blocks in an arch created a lot of excitement for those of us who installed them. There was a lot of work on site to determine the correct plant placement. It has unexpectedly turned out to be the ideal nesting place for a turkey. Green Gem is very hardy in my zone and tolerates very cold and windy winters. At the top of the hill, healthy and hardy was an important criterion for plant selection.
At the same time, project manager and driveway builder Ralph Plummer, owner and operator of GP Enterprises, worked hard to do what he likes best. The placement and planting of large specimen trees. If you need large trees, there is no better source. I am sure that there are countless landscape architects in my area who use his services. He has the resources, the equipment and the experience to bring great material into the landscape. Because so many of the existing trees were of considerable size, large trees were required. Although the London planes that he planted for me on this project were 25 to 30 feet high, they are still dwarfed by the older trees on the property. London Planes is one of the largest shade trees in North America, and these three have plenty of room to grow. There is also a thought about the future. Like any other living thing, trees have a lifespan. You would be the beginning of the next generation.
In addition to the plane trees, a spruce tree of comparable size was planted. The large lawn area has everything you need to get dressed. Watering new trees on a lawn is not that easy. Irrigation for watering a lawn does not offer the deep soaking that large trees need from the last transplant. A drip irrigation zone has been set up to water these new trees sufficiently. The lawn irrigation zones do not overlap and do not water the trees. This requires careful planning and installation – exactly what Ian Edmunds Irrigation is known for.
Of course I imagined what the property would look like with grass. But we were a good way from that moment at that moment.
The big trees gave the house on the hill some privacy. I took this picture of my car and drove past.
The boxwood blocks are provided with Venus dogwoods. These trees give the boxwood an ever better leaf contrast and a better size as it grows. They like quite a bit of sun and are harder than any of their primary parent trees – the kousa dogwood and the Pacific coast species cornus nuttallii. If they are happy, they will grow one foot each year.
The retaining wall created a considerable planting area on the driveway side. We were happy about the good soil and the simple planting conditions. According to the plan, the Drive Court house side repeated the boxwood and dogwood pattern on the opposite side, but added several other elements. A columnar spruce, picea cupressina, grows 25 feet tall each with a mature width of only 6 feet. It will give the chimney a run for its money. This is a large house without so much planting space available. A strong vertical plant helps the landscape to keep up.
This spruce is surrounded by a mass planting of dwarf barberry. This dark wine-red color is very friendly to the color of the brick on the house.
This small area between the porch and the person door to the garage was a clearly visible place where there were no appealing features.
As soon as it was determined that the only traffic to this door came from the driveway, the new landscape was installed accordingly. The window in this picture is one of the few that overlook the landscape. This prospect is better now.
It was always intended to soften the retaining walls installed to support the landscape with a double row of Limelight hydrangeas. The white flowers on the full-grown shrubs provide a breathtaking backdrop for the boxwood on the upper drive court. Changing the level offers great interest for any landscape, large or small. The fact that they describe the entire upper arch of the landscape means that they read heavily from the street. All large trees had a generous edge strip installed around them. It is not necessary for a mower to brush them or a lawn cutting tool to damage the bark. The shape and curve of the grass to come is just as important here.
When we were able to complete the front garden landscape with plants on the street, it was very late in the year. A group of white pines that my customers had planted on their property had spent the summer protecting them. They were placed in a pair of large beds at the driveway entrance. A number of additional white pines were added to the original group, and all trees were planted with the spreading juniper “Calgary Carpet”. I am not a big fan of juniper, but it has a nice horizontal habit and a nice shine to the branches. Culturally, they would be a perfect companion to the white pine.
It was December when we were finally able to mulch all the plantings. It was the least we could do, as a rainy late autumn meant the grass had to wait until spring.
Two pots were selected for the front door and arrangements were made for the holiday and winter seasons.
At the beginning of April we were able to take advantage of all these bare dirt surfaces. What a relief.
A few months later the lawn knitted and took root. There is no sign of all the work that has been done for most of the previous year. All large trees seem remarkably good considering that they were transplanted less than a year ago.
The curved beds of the Limelight hydrangeas will soon bloom.
The landscape near the house thrives.
The entrance beds grip. All white pines survived their first winter at this point with little damage. As far as the tire tracks in the grass are concerned, I stand by the design of how the drive hits the road. I am sure that the damage comes from the latest trucks and equipment.
The back yard is now under construction. What you see here is a temporary stone access road. More on that later.
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