Thursday, May 24, 2012

Backyard Dreaming and Scheming

During our meeting with the architect, we had the chance to look at how our house will be situated on the land. It helped me realize that we will actually have quite a bit of land. Even though it's a 1/2 acre, lots of that is in the creek, and the flat part of the lot looks pretty small. But based on the survey, I think we'll have a pretty good chunk of land to work with. Before I jump into the specifics of what to do with that land, I thought it might be better to "start with the end in mind" and focus on the vision piece:
  1. We want to develop the outdoor space in a way that aligns with our lifestyle: playing with kids, eating dinner outside, relaxing/reading, growing food, etc.
  2. We don't want to put a lot of time into maintaining the aesthetic parts of our yard.
  3. We want to cultivate our yard in environmentally- and geographically-responsible ways.
Here are some of the things I'd love to put in:
  • A large deck for eating, relaxing, reading, entertaining
  • A swimming pool for nearly seven months of water fun
  • Raised beds for growing food
  • Fruit trees
  • A chicken coop
  • An herb garden
  • A fire pit
  • A grassy area for playing
  • A large fence around the perimeter so Hoss and the kids can roam freely
  • A welcoming path to the front door (maybe with native grasses taking up the whole front yard?)
Two books have been particularly helpful in guiding my thinking:
  1. The Edible Front Yard
  2. The Backyard Homestead
Despite the great guidance in the book, I'd like to meet with a landscaping guru to develop a plan (that we can implement over time). A woman was recommended to me who charges $50 to develop a vision for the site. Hopefully I can meet with her this week to talk through some stuff. 

We recently had some friends from Houston stay with us, and it's awesome to imagine what it will be like when they come visit us in our new house. We can spend the afternoon in the pool. Cook dinner together around the large island in the kitchen. Eat outside on the deck. Watch a movie on our sectional couch. Then go out and cook some S'mores around a campfire late into the evening. 


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Katie B said...

There are people who will envision landscaping for you? That's a thing? That is AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

I am happy that you seem happy ! :)

...however, i still don't get the swimming pool thing in your plan... i don't get how it fits with your environnemental convictions.

Do you want to build a sturdy swimming pool ? or do you only want something versatile for small kids ?

Lynna said...

That's a beautiful vision! I'm sure you'll make it a reality.

What about a second fence just around the pool area? With two very young children, I think it would be a good idea. That way your kids can roam safely around the grassy part of the yard without you having to watch them every single second. Soon you'll have two little ones running in two different directions! It only takes a minute for a terrible tragedy to occur. Better safe than sorry! You could always remove it when the kids are older. I'm envisioning something like a little picket fence, or perhaps an iron fence. Something you can see through that's not too tall. That way you can maintain a nice open feeling in your backyard oasis. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

more kids die from pools than guns (I learned this from the book Freakonomics).

Kelsey said...

These are awesome dreams Sara! Re: pool safety, there's a law here that any household that has a pool and young children must have a fence or net. I have friends who have the net covers and they are supposed to be super safe and the low profile is also nice.

Ooo, and what about a screened-in porch area so that you can still enjoy the outdoors when the mosquitoes get bad, espeically since you'll be near the creek?

Can't wait to see it in person one day!

Julie. said...

Beautiful vision, the dream is really coming together! Just to add my own two sense, you are a very responsible, intelligent women, who undoubtedly know what it will take to have a pool along side a family. Don't all this worst case senerio thinking cloud a lovely post about all that is becoming reality for you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds very nice!

Heather Lynn said...

Will you let us know what you think of the Edible Front Yard book? Amazon had mixed reviews, but I'm very interested. I guess I should check and see if the library has it.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Heather Lynn! I think getting it from the library would be good. It's worth flipping through. The premise is really strong and interesting, and there are some pretty samples. I always find gardening books a little less than completely helpful because gardening can vary so much from state to state, city to city, and even side of town to side of town.

Matt said...

Planting Our Pennies just did a great series of posts about the true cost of their pool and it made me think of this post and your own pool dreams. The end result for Mr. and Mrs. PoP is that their pool costs them $1,843 per year without insurance or pool heating. That's a yearly cost that won't ever go away so to truly "afford" a pool you need to be able to pay for installation and have an interest earning trust set aside to cover the yearly costs. Even if you go hog wild and assume your trust can earn 10% per year you 18K for the trust, and a more conservative 5% means you need 36K and of course that would go up if you insure your pool or heat it or have other higher expenses. You guys should definitely read through their posts before you move further on your own pool plans, it's crazy how expensive those things are.

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