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New privacy in front, new usefulness in back ... on a limited budget.

New privacy in front, new usefulness in back...on a limited budget Set back only 12 feet from the sidewalk, this Seattle house seemed uncomfortably exposed in front. And in the back, the property dropped too steeply downhill to be useful as outdoor living space. Developing and enclosing the gently sloping front yard added some privacy, created an accessible garden court, and gave the whole house more character.

This garden remodel was planned for a do-it-yourselfer on a limited budget. Landscape architect Robert Chittock's design employs standard-dimension lumber and precast concrete pavers in a composition that gives the materials a look of distinction. Homeowner Jeffrey Kennard did the work himself over several months in 1989.

Creating a level garden

Originally, an almost 2-foot change in level occurred across the width of the lot. To hold the soil in a continuous flat bed, a low retaining wall of pressure-treated 4-by-6s was run across the front and down the side of the driveway to the house. Stacked like Lincoln Logs (see the view of the corner on page 130), the timbers were spiked together and lag-screwed to the fence posts. At the entry, the low wall cuts in 2 feet to make a 4-foot-wide step.

Centered in the enclosure is a 21-footlong patio made of 1-foot squares of precast concrete. These 1 1/2-inch-thick pavers (90 cents to $1.20 each at most home supply centers) lie on a bed of crushed rock and compacted dry sand. Planting pockets (for the ivy) around the patio's perimeter were enriched with added top-soil and humus.

Planting a slender green screen

Chittock wanted to screen the garden's perimeter to provide privacy, but he also wanted the barrier to be made of plant material. A 6-foot-tall hedge would have taken too long to grow and would have consumed too much space. Instead, he stretched welded-wire fencing (painted black) between 4-by-4 posts and wove tendrils of a fast-spreading, small-leafed ivy into the wire.

To speed the greening, Chittock started with ivy that had been grown in hanging baskets. The plants were knocked out of the pots and set into the ground, then carefully woven into the wire.

Staples secure the wire to the back of the 4-by-4 fence posts and to 2-by-4 rails at the top and bottom of the posts.

To enrich the fence's visual character, Chittock capped it with a mini-trellis. Vertical 2-by-2s, centered on the front and back of each post, extend 13 inches above the top rail. These form the support for a light-looking trellis of horizontal 1-by-2s, 2-by-2s, and 2-by-4s. The 2-by-4s; are captured between the vertical 2-by-2s; over the entry, they rise to a peak that repeats the houses's roof forms.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1991
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