Having decided to create a walk from the kitchen door, the middle door in a house with three front doors, my next step was to run it past other members of the family. It’s not wise to embark on a major project without getting some feedback from your fellow residents. They may have an even better idea than the one you came up with, or they may see potential problems in the design. (Or they may be dead set against any change, in which case it is better to thrash that out before making significant expenditures of time and money.)
My original plan was to have garden beds lining both sides of the walk, from the road to the house, giving the effect of walking on a path through a garden, that just happened to bring you to the house. Sort of like this:I brought a rough sketch of my idea to the head of Plant Facilities (hereafter known as PF). He is the guy we all turn to when a sink gets stopped up, the lights go out, or the lawn mower wheezes to a halt. He usually winds up heading most big projects around here, and I wanted his input. PF pointed out that the double doors at the far end of the house were mighty useful for unloading large items, because of the wide opening and because you could back the truck right up to the porch and slide the cargo over the tailgate, pretty much avoiding the steps altogether, like this: It’s not too hard to back up a truck, but sometimes the load won’t fit in the bed of the truck and the trailer must be used. It’s not very easy to back up a loaded trailer. It’s much easier to pull a trailer across and swing by, and maybe back up just a little. So PF said I had to recognize that in any month of the year, the truck could be driving across the lawn like this (more or less): I had not considered this before. It was clear the truck would not be able to approach from the opposite direction, as the lawn drops off steeply just beyond the house. Because of the narrow road, and the ditches on each side, it would be pretty difficult to drive a truck pulling a trailer along the road and back it straight back to those double doors. I was pretty bummed. My fantasy garden went poof!
Now I want to point out that PF never said, “No, you can’t plant a garden like that.” He just said, “If you do X, be prepared for Y.” I thought it would look pretty weird to have wide beds full of tall, ornamental grasses and small-to-medium shrubs and then have a thirteen-foot swath planted with low-growing plants. I thought it would be too much to watch a truck lumber over a carefully orchestrated planting where some of the plants might be four or five feet or even higher. I decided the truck path would remain lawn, and, at least for now, I would just plant beds along the house, like this:After marking my proposed front walk with spray paint, I actually had PF drive his truck across the lawn exactly the way he would do it for a moving job, and then put markers at the intersection of the two paths. Allowing a little breathing room for the truck, I know it is eleven feet from the porch to where the truck path starts. The truck path is thirteen feet wide, and then the remaining twenty-one feet–from the stars down to the road–is fair game.
I spent most of last year’s gardening season planting those beds around the house. Of course I think they are an improvement over what used to be there (or will be when they grow in), and they will be the subject of another post or two. For now, I am not going to worry about how I will design the garden below those two stars, or even if I will have a garden there. Those are bridges to cross after the front walk is in place. Right now, the front walk exists only in my head.
Thank you for all the thoughtful comments on my last post about the front walk. Next time I will address the practical considerations of designing the walk itself.
This post is part of a continuing series chronicling how I am designing new gardens at my new (to me) house. Previous posts include my one year anniversary, an overview and map of the environs, and the initial front walk post.