Blue Castle Garden: Year 2

In 2006, house construction was completed. Several serious issues came up, preventing the planting of the actual garden.

My focus instead turned to collecting garden ideas and planning the overall design. At the same time, I worked closely with my neighbor to resolve our grade problem with the builders.

 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

House Construction Completed

House construction was completed in late January with no sidewalk blocks to the front entrance or top soil on the lot.

The bleak exterior of the house and yard on moving day.

Top Soil Placement

The builder delivered and spread top soil in late summer, delaying hopes of planting until the following year.

Uncovered top soil led to a tremendous amount of dust blowing into the house.

Resolved Grade Issue

Discovering a serious grade issue between my lot and my neighbor’s lot caused enormous stress and delayed the laying of sod.

Neither builder took responsibility until my neighbor threatened to sue her builder, leading to an offer of a wooden retaining wall to be built the following year.

My neighbor’s house was completed several months after mine so the grade issue was not immediately evident.
The grade issue extended the entire length of the lot and was up to 18″ (46cm) in height. Not a problem that could be easily solved by simply sloping the grade.

Front Yard Tree Selected

I chose a Russian Olive tree for my front yard, rejecting two free builder provided trees. While considered invasive and illegal in some US states, this tree can struggle to survive in our city’s harsh climate.

No matter how many of these I would eventually kill, I don’t regret falling in love with this tree. The combination of black bark and lacy silver leaves is utterly unique.

My mom planted this beautiful specimen over 20 years ago at our old home. It started out as a small, 18″ (46 cm) tall bush.

CHALLENGES

Warped Wall Studs

Weeks before moving a huge bulge became evident on the exterior wall due to warped framing wood. Quick work by the builder ensured my move-in date didn’t slip.

Siding was removed to replace the warped studs.

DISCOVERIES

Buried Construction Debris

Years later, I’m still discovering house construction materials when digging holes for plants. This buried debris can seriously stunt the growth of grass and plants.

It’s important to remove this type of debris before the top soil is laid.
Fourteen years later, I discovered buried wood when moving a mature clematis vine.

Surprisingly, the wood was still in great shape. Not something roots can easily penetrate.

Local Plant and Design Ideas

Great garden inspiration can be found in your own city. Long walks in established neighborhoods and city parks provided excellent plant and design ideas for my own garden.

Joining my local horticultural society and touring top city gardens also demonstrated what was possible.

These tall sunflowers inspired me to grow my own a couple years later.

This well-maintained lawn shows the importance of using large sweeping curves in garden design.

My love affair with Daddy petunias began here, highlighted by a lawn of perfectly trimmed golf course grass.

REFLECTIONS

It’s important to keep your expectations low when dealing with new house construction. Your schedule is not the same as your builder’s. It was frustrating to realize I wouldn’t be planting for an entire season.

In hindsight, this forced waiting period was hugely valuable in designing a better garden. It gave me the time to ponder and investigate different options I never would’ve considered if things had gone according to plan.

This post is part of the Blue Castle Garden Timeline series. 

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

Jolene Rempel on Cirque Peak, Banff National Park.

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

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