Landscaping has been an uphill battle for the Greenspiration Home—literally.
When we began building our home in the Pleasant Oaks subdivision of northwest Guilford county, like most homeowners, we were too caught up in the house to pay much attention to the lot or its preparation. Foolish. While I was sweating over things like windows, flooring, toilets, etc., I was completely unaware that the placement of a storm drain at the southwest corner of our lot had set us up for a fairly serious erosion problem. Twenty abnormally wet months later, ignorance and poor planning had resulted in the Greenspiration Grand Canyon.
What started out as a slight indentation between the road and slope of our yard became a deep crevice as the south and west sides of our lot continued to erode. Nearly all the topsoil and trees had been stripped away from our high sitting corner lot, leaving the south and west sides completely vulnerable to storm water runoff.
Having moved in January, 2009, we never had a chance to get a good crop of grass growing, so over the next several months we watched helplessly as our yard (and curb appeal) washed down the storm drain. My poor husband tried desperately to grow grass on the south hill — aerating, seeding, liming, strawing, etc., all to no avail. In the end, only a scant amount of grass (mostly crab) grew on the hill, and even it was nearly impossible to mow because of the steep incline.
The ditch surrounding the drain got so big and steep I was starting to envision the rest of the yard, cars, house and ultimately family sliding down into the abyss. Eventually we’d all be floating in some nearby river or lake, polluting the world with all our pesticides, fertilizers, and cleaning fluids—not to mention our bitterness. Our neighbors would remember us only as that family that built that–what was it? (Greenalienation?.…Greendegradation?…Greenflagellation?) home that was tragically swallowed whole by a storm drain.
Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic, but my point is, poor planning, insufficient observation, and just plain ignorance cost us in the long run. And let’s face it, there’s nothing green about your yard washing down a storm drain.
Now, if we had it to do over again, we might have gone to the developer and said, “Look, dude, you need to build up this drain opening and fill in the ditch because we have the makings of a serious erosion problem here.” But we were about 20 months late to start that conversation. We had to deal with the problem at hand. Tired, frustrated, and a little embarrassed, we turned to a local landscaper for help.
Pay Now Or Pay Later
Over the years, my husband and I have killed many plants purchased from local nurseries. (Mind you, my husband and I have skillfully ended the life of plants purchased from all over the Carolinas and Virginia, not just the local ones.) We have always found the staff at these places consistently friendly and knowledgeable, but I can’t say that we ever paid much attention to anything they had to say. We were content to “ooo and ahhh” over gorgeous garden displays, drop hundred or so on shrubs and annuals, and then congratulate ourselves when half survived.
This time was different. We were looking for more than a splash of color for spring. We had a serious erosion problem to solve, one that we had already wasted plenty of money trying to solve ourselves. It was time to call in professional help.
I won’t lie – it hurt as I wrote the check for what amounted to a total makeover of the southwest corner and south side of our 1-acre lot. But the toughest part was knowing how much money we’d already wasted.
I say this as homeowner who has experienced and observed much of the residential housing market over the last few years. Listen closely—even as the words tear at your over-mortgaged soul. The landscaping budgets for new construction homes are ludicrously low. If you want a beautiful, low maintenance yard (who doesn’t?) and you don’t have the skill to develop it yourself, pay the experts to do it. You will save money in the long run. You’ll also curse a lot less.
This story, bitter as it may sound, has a happy ending. Feast your eyes on these ugly “before” pictures, taken in July 2010. And stay tuned for the “after.”