My yard has a cave. It’s big enough for about three people and a dog. And it’s not supposed to be there. It’s situated on my side of the property line that runs along a utility easement, with the neighbor’s yard on the other side. The topography is best analogized by imagining a hill surrounding a lake and then imagine the lake is empty. My house and yard are at the top of a natural hill and my neighbor’s back yard is a drop of over 50 feet. The main floor of his house is almost at the same elevation as mine, but features a large basement/first story garage for which the back part of his yard was dug out to accommodate.
I’m a fan of doing yard projects myself. As an office worker, I find this amazing satisfaction in actually visually seeing physical results of hard work. Last year, I took three pallets of stone and built my own retaining wall. I’m a fan of hard work. Sometimes, though, you have to call in the professionals.
Since we moved into this house, we have not had great luck with contractors. I have been procrastinating getting quotes for about 6 months now, but New Year is the time, right? I put in several requests on Angie’s list and thus far only one landscaper has called me back. I did talk to a structural engineer over the phone, who said it sounded like a water issue not a structural issue, so he didn’t think more than a professional landscaper was needed.
The first consultation was today and I’m impressed with the company so far. He asked more questions about what I wanted than making assumptions (old wounds talking here) and wants to come back during a heavy rain to observe the water flows.
My goals for the project:
- Structural integrity of the area (I don’t want to lose any MORE yard, preferably I can reclaim some).
- Prevent/retain water runoff on the property to help the neighbor’s flooding situation and for general water conservation.
- Facilitate removal of the invasive species taking over the area (I’ve already reclaimed about 100 sq ft from invasive privet, ivy, and honeysuckle, but I don’t want to make the erosion worse). If they remove some or all of it for me, great. If they don’t remove it, at least make it safe for me to remove and replace it without potentially falling into a cave, you know?
- Structure and space to replant with substantial enough plants to reclaim some privacy on this side of the house. We are three houses over from a busy street. When the privet and vines were still in tact, you couldn’t tell. Our yard was like the secret garden. Removing it was the right thing to do, but we definitely want our privacy back.
I’ll take some pictures as things progress. Currently, all you’d see is a pile of leaves on a slope as the leaves are largely obstructing the view of the cavern/cave. (My leaf clean up is done for now, this is a section of my yard I’ve been intentionally neglecting per the Lazy Gardener pledge from Habitat Network.)
This isn’t the only big yard project for the year. We need to have one of our large oak trees removed, but I’ve chosen to prioritize this erosion issue first. I’m sad about losing the oak, so it may be somewhat of an unconscious bias delaying that as well. Unfortunately, the oak has been struck by lighting in the past and has lost some fairly substantial branches lately. We have been lucky none have hit our house, as it’s less than 3 feet (seriously!) from the wall to our carport. I can see some rot on a huge branch and while it was alive last year, I just don’t want to risk it all year.
Wish me project luck! Pictures to come once it’s all put together.