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Very Small Backyard!! Needs help!!!
Tracey
January 19, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Just bought this townhouse! No grass, just dirt! I would like for it to be a place to relax. I desperately need help on what to do! I'm not sure why there's no grass.
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lcgrcondo
Grass needs watering and weeding and maintenance.
I would consider interlock or some sort of stone so you an enjoy a sitting or BBQ area but not have worry about cutting grass!
January 19, 2013 at 7:24PM     
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mveasey
Since you don't sound keen on the gardening aspect, i would stay with container gardening and some solid floor. Mowing such a tiny space and having a lawnmower does not make sense. I like the photo with the integrated water feature, especially if you love close to a noisy road and want the relaxation feel. Lots of options to turn this into an oasis - enjoy!
January 19, 2013 at 7:51PM     
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mveasey
There is also great book by Andy Sturgeon called "big plans, small gardens" your library might have it. Worth looking into!
January 19, 2013 at 7:54PM     
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Aja Mazin
I suspect that there is not enough sunlight for grass to grow.

I would avoid wood.

Chose shade tolerant, acid loving plants.
Those oak leaves could then serve as mulch.


Drainage could be a factor.
Check that out before you do anything.
January 19, 2013 at 7:59PM     
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Ramona
Powerwash your fence. You need to give us your location so we can make climate appropriate recommendations. Consider ground cover which doesn't need mowing and can be walked on. You have a concrete slab right next to this, but we don't know if this is your view or if you walk out onto that slab, etc. Growing things is therapeutic, so keep some of that dirt. Create a flower and herb garden if you have enough sun. There are plenty of plants that grow well in shade. Consider training something against the fence in order to green up your 'walls.' You definitely don't need grass which is unecological anyway.
January 19, 2013 at 8:05PM     
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PRO
Stone & Land, LLC
Could it have been a dog run from the previous owner? Looks pretty flat, maybe even pitches back to the house. You might want a contractor help with underdrainage and prepping the soil for your plantings. it looks so compacted, it'll be tough to get stuff to grow. I agree with Aja that you should use shade tolerant plants. Probably would be nice to have some stepper stones to your gate.
January 19, 2013 at 8:15PM     
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PRO
Revolutionary Gardens
Looks like super compacted soil (dog?) and heavy shade. If the existing concrete slab gives you enough room for the furniture you want, you could amend the soil and do some very simple groundcover plantings with stepping stones (I like large flagstone slabs) to the gate.
January 19, 2013 at 8:18PM     
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mangofoop
Perhaps you could add stones on the ground for a nice sitting area. If you want some plants, you can put up some wall planters to hang on your fence, maybe.
January 19, 2013 at 8:21PM     
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Jayme H.
Are you looking to put down a solid base such as concrete, some sort of landscape brick/tile, or natural plantings, or a combo? One option would be a large platform/landscape around it.
January 19, 2013 at 8:28PM     
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Aja Mazin
If indeed the soil is "super compacted", it is unlikely to absorb rainwater.

I'd be wondering where the run off goes.

That concrete has a "suspicious" green tint to it.
January 19, 2013 at 9:01PM     
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mveasey
Here a few photos from the book. I don't know what your style or budget is, but i hope this gives you a few more ideas...
January 19, 2013 at 9:11PM     
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Ramona
Super compacted soil is in big trouble. Bring in a heavy duty rototiller and add soil amendments. Ask your garden supply house or local university what to do to make the soil healthy again. This garden is small enough so that drip water system would mean that you would never have to do anything but enjoy it. Healthy soil with appropriate plant cover does not make many weeds. I have the direct opposite now in way I couldn't have imagined.
January 19, 2013 at 9:21PM     
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houssaon
Looks like you have a sandy soil. Do you? The green stuff is moss. Likes to grow in humid conditions with not much sunlight. Just need a light herbicide or a wash with detergent.
January 19, 2013 at 9:38PM   
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Aja Mazin
Asmall patch of moss can be seen quite well in the second photo, growing in the dirt near the concrete.
January 19, 2013 at 10:33PM   
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Aja Mazin
Stepping stones in the Moss Garden of Saiho-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

Zen garden of Saiho-ji (Moss Temple, Kokedera), Kyoto, Japan

Moss can be encouraged to grow with a spray of buttermilk and water , or a mixture containing yogurt.
January 19, 2013 at 10:40PM     
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Tracey
Thank you everyone for all of your great ideas. I do believe the previous owner had a very small dog. (Saw him in pictures when purchasing) however, we are really thinking now that it was a drainage problem and rain water stood in the backyard. We live in Hampton, Va and have not had that problem, just think the owners didn't try to do anything after flooding. The view is actually looking out from the back door so you step down on to the small concrete slab. Here's another view from upstairs.
January 20, 2013 at 4:31AM     
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Jayme H.
Whatever u do, the ground looks sloped and will prob need some re-scaping so that it drains properly...Ie: no pooling on patio/concrete, etc...Stone & Land LLC mentioned something to that effect. Really could be a cute little area....Show us what u decide to do!!
January 20, 2013 at 9:06AM     
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Judit
oh it's the size of a bed sheet! Moist and mossy.... make a Japanese garden !
January 20, 2013 at 10:36AM     
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Judit
forgot the pics sorry
January 20, 2013 at 10:42AM     
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PRO
Ingrained woodworking Inc
I like the potential of such a space. Many great ideas have been presented already. I definitely would look at drainage and soil condition first. A good design goes hand in hand with that to be sure standing water has a place to go. First questions to ask is ways you plan to use it. You mentioned relaxing. If that is the main purpose, a Japanese type garden or English garden approach is perhaps your direction. Maybe a water feature for the sound. If its family oriented, small seating areas for both relaxing and eating out doors. Place for a grill perhaps. If its entertaining then more open, more hard scaping with accent plantings, seating, perhaps a fire pit.
January 20, 2013 at 11:08AM     
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Aja Mazin
Live in harmony with nature ~ moss is already growing happily in that space.

Don't fight it ~ Make a Japanese garden!

[If you decide to make a Japanese garden, do not rototill the soil or wash the concrete with detergent.]

From a simple beginning [photo 1], your garden will grow!!
January 20, 2013 at 2:39PM     
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Tracey
Thanks everyone! I really like the Japanese garden ideas! I will post pictures when I'm done!
January 20, 2013 at 4:59PM     
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carbary
I love pea gravel it is very inexpensive but looks great some containers next to boxwoods could look amazing. Also some shallow soil brought in for iris bulbs ( they basically sit on top of soil with very shallow root structure.
January 20, 2013 at 6:08PM     
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