The problem that needed resolving was this:
|Water near front door|
Every time it rained, an area 10 feet by 25 feet quickly became flooded - and unfortunately, that area was all around the back door. In fact, for several weeks this winter, there was 3-4 inches of water between the back door and the gate. I did a temporary fix by building a 'bridge'
|Bridge over the River Crofton|
but of course that didn't resolve the problem of all the mud in the yard, mud which was generously tracked into the house by a minimum of 12 muddy paws several times a day.
And so a couple of weeks ago, I called in the big guns. Together we worked out a plan that was within (more or less) the budget that I had set aside for landscaping, would resolve the problem (as well as it could be resolved when you live near the beach at sea level, on an island where all the homes to the west have properties higher than yours, and where the soil is clay).
We began by removing a section of back fence to give access via the back lane, and in came the machinery to dig dig dig, scraping and re-grading the soil and preparing for the drainage pits and pipes.
The municipality wouldn't allow us to channel water off the property (unless we connected to a storm sewer which runs down the middle of the street at the front of the house, and for which I'd have to pay many more thousands of dollars to have the road dug up and about fifty feet of pipe laid just to connect to whatever underground pipes were being done in the back,), so we dug a pit 4'x6'x6' and filled it with 2.5 tonnes of rock.
|Got any bodies you want buried?|
We dug trenches diagonally from the west side of the yard to the pit, and from the downspout of the back porch to the pit, sunk drainage piping surrounded by landscape fabric to prevent clogging, put in an access port to clean it out if it should clog, and surrounded the drainage pipes with more rock.
|Drain from back porch to pit|
|Drainage channel diagonally across yard|
Meanwhile, we had a 10' x 25' exposed aggregate patio built along the back of the house. We discussed removing the back porch altogether, as the landscaper really thought it stuck out like a sore thumb, but between costs and utility (the porch is easy to contain dogs on, a good place to put stuff down when fumbling with the back door, etc.) I vetoed that idea and had them build around it. Some day I will have a nicer back porch built, or at least replace the ugly cover with something more esthetically pleasing.
|Down comes the aggregate|
|Finished exposed aggregate patio|
Lastly, we added sand and topsoil. We used sod over a small area, so the dogs would have somewhere to pee, and seed over the rest, fenced off with snow fencing while it gets established. One area was left unseeded (covered with tarp) for a perennial garden.
|From back porch. Tarped area will be planted with shrubs and perennial flowers.|
So, with the exception of the new patio, it doesn't look too much different from the mud and bare land I had before - except that it is ready to be 'softscaped' now. However, as the budget has been used up on the heavy work, I'll be doing the rest myself - at least, for this year.
Here's my plan for the yard. It's still subject to change, as I haven't quite decided where to relocate the umbrella clothesline (which I carefully had them work around and then decided to move!) - I use it all the time, so it has to find a home. I'm also unsure of the placement of the 4x4 cedar compost box I want to use for garden materials like lawn clippings that are too long and wet to leave on the ground but fill up my other composter too quickly. I'm pretty I'll use the back corner, camouflaged by shrubs, as any other place creates an obstacle or an barrier to something else.
|Plan for back yard - for those with good eyesight!|
(You can click on the picture to make it full sized, and to view
a slideshow of all the photos in this entry)
I have already built a level contained area for the various garbage and recycling bins and for my mostly-kitchen compost bin, and I have the wood for the cedar garden compost and for the new raised veggie beds. I've ordered two custom-made 5x2x2 planter boxes for the end of the patio, which I'll fill with tall evergreen shrubs to provide a privacy screen from the nearby neighbour's deck. I've got seeds and some plants and lots of compost and peat. I've spray painted a metal flying pig and hung it on my wall behind the red chairs.
But most of all, I have sat on my new patio at sunrise with cup of coffee in hand,
|Sunrise, first morning on the new patio|
and watched four baby birds take their very first flight:
|Mom, is today the day we get to fly?|
|Please, please, please can we fly today?|
|One last snack before you go!|
|Are you getting this, camera lady?|
(Aw, camera lady, you almost missed it!)
Cost of drainage project: $5,600. Cost of a morning sunrise spent with baby birds: priceless.