These are some before pictures of the front "yard". First, a few things about living here in Big Canoe.
- You can't have a regular yard here, meaning, you can't have a grass front yard. I love it, no grass to cut for me!
- The POA (our HOA) has to approve all the projects like this, and we had to get a variance for the Right of Way for the top wall.
- The POA was very helpful, and gracious for allowing us to redesign the front in a manner that helps them and us. For them, it keeps their road from washing away, and for us, it keeps our bank from washing away.
In this post, I'll try to explain why we decided to change the area in front of the house.
The pictures probably make the drive look wider and shallower than it is, so they are a little deceiving. The drive is a semi-circle, and this is the entrance that we normally come in from. The only problem here is the stairs and handrail that was about to fall down. One thing you can't tell in these pictures, is how high the road is compared to the bottom of driveway. This entrance is not as shallow as the camera makes it look, and this is the shallow side of the drive. The bigger problems happen as we move toward the right in the picture.
First, the weather station was only sitting there temporarily! One of the primary reasons for doing the renovation was to get more parking/turn around space. The problem here is the space from that garage door, to the wall. It's sometimes an issue backing out of the garage, especially if we park the SUV against the wall, and pulling back in requires getting right up against the wall, and making a wide swing toward the door. It's very tight and the wife doesn't want to do it, so her car parks on the other side of the garage. Also, if multiple cars pull in, the lead car has to leave first so others can get out, so the extra parking space will be nice. That existing boulder wall (that has already been torn down) will be replaced by the lower of the two new retaining walls, and it will be pulled back in 3-4 feet.
This picture gives you a better idea of the slope of the bank. Also notice that the road slopes up about 4-5 feet from this end of the drive where I'm taking the picture from, to the other end of the drive. The other reason for the walls, is to keep the road from washing down into our yard, and to keep the bank from eroding. Many of the plants that were originally planted, haven't survived, so what was left were a bunch of scraggly plants. The area between the road and the top wall will be landscaped, and the 8 feet between the top wall and lower wall will be landscaped, and that is where the water feature is going. You see this better as things start to take shape.
In this image, you can start to see the slope at the other end of the drive. Unfortunately, the drive slopes can't be changed, but we're use to it. There are a few people that come to visit that get a little freaked out with this steep part, because it is about a 30% slope. 🙂 The upper retaining wall will be 8 feet from the white line at the edge of the road, and those shrubs have already been removed. That's in the next post.
The plants in front of the house will be removed and replaced by new ones, so that area will look very different as well.
In the next post I'll show what they accomplished in the first two days of work. Prior to the destruction of the bank, we had four trees taken down, and will probably have to take one more. We will be replacing those with trees that are friendlier to retaining walls, and I think those might be some Japanese Maples. I would show the plan, but we've had to change it and I don't have the updated copy yet.