Thursday, February 26, 2009

Site Improvements

One of the issues we need to work on with our house is curb appeal. Unfortunately, the previous owners didn't layout the driveway to take advantage of the site's natural attributes. They sited the driveway in the least aesthetically pleasing location. In fact as you approach the property all you see is the utilitarian side of the house where our garage and shed are located. There is a door and stoop on that side of the house to further confuse folks into believing that the side door might actually be the front door. As you drive in, you are never able to appreciate the front of the house. This problem is probably why we got such a great deal on the house. Most people can't see beyond that.

Luckily, we have some vision. I figured that we could do some relatively simple things to resolve the awkward site arrangement. I think the first thing we need to do is close the unnecessarily large swath created by the home's construction. Clearly, little was done during construction to protect the trees. The result is an unnecessarily large swath of open lawn that is not in keeping with the character of the rest of lot. I'd like to see this area become forest again. Lawn is not very eco friendly in that it provides very little habitat for native species, little air filtering effects, etc. It is also a pain in the arse to keep mowed.

Nick has been taking a course at the cooperative extension office on how to make this happen. While I'm a landscape architect, that doesn't mean I can't take a point or two from area foresters. Our current plan is to annihilate the grass. Then, we will plant some modest evergreens for instant effect as well as hardwood seedlings. We will allow the area to fill in as natural meadow. Eventually, nature will take its course and it will become a transitional forest. For a time, it may look "un-kept", but the goal is worthwhile. By enclosing the open swath, it will give the house an enveloped feeling on all sides and buffer any undesirable views to the utilitarian side of the house. I think our neighbors will appreciate the long term effects.

For the short term, however, we will need to make the neighbors aware that there may be a number of years where the area is meadow until the canopy is able to fill in and get them on board. If you have read our previous post about our neighbors, we are well aware that they don't like the look of natural meadow. If this poses to be a huge problem, we may have to mow until the canopy fills in.


In the meantime, we will relocate the driveway so that it meanders through a forested area that was previously disturbed. We won't have to remove any trees and we will do only minimal regrading (i.e. to fill in small divots and place a culvert, etc.) This will allow the front of the house to be seen first resolving any confusion as to the entrance of the house.

Below is a sketch of the proposed changes. Please excuse the rough nature of the sketch. It was quick and dirty and my scanner isn't working right now so I had to take a photo of it. So, excuse me on that!

3 comments:

E4H said...

My Gosh! how big is your lot!

Aliceson said...

I can't believe that some builders and municipalities approve such silly site layouts. Our big grey house (the one you visited) was turned so that the view from the road was terrible. You had to be facing it from the west to see the front. When we were selling, one family loved the house but said the view from the road was the deal breaker.

Looks like like you have a good plan to override poor planning.

Out in Them Sticks said...

nah, it's just a little over 5 acres.