Sometimes imagination applied to the least appreciated areas of a property can yield far better results than a client expects, and in many cases it can make the property feel bigger without spending much money.
This flagstone mishmash is one such example. The client hated weeding this area and felt it looked messy. it was a rarely visited and untended corner, so it wasn’t going to be a major focus of our efforts. The flagstone was located in a narrow strip between the house and the property line, far from any door or window -- an area that literally was out of sight, out of mind. The client —who had charged us with reusing as many existing plants and materials as possible on the property — only hoped it would at least look neat and intentional by the end of the job, and that the thankless task of weeding a casually installed area of leftover flagstones could be eliminated.
A simple treatment would be to install a flagstone path along the property line and create a planting bed between the path and the house where extra existing planting material could be given a new home.
We lifted some stones and did some digging underneath them to see if this idea was feasible. Nearby jutted out a large deep area of ledge, and we weren’t sure how far it extended. We were pleasantly surprised to find the soil was deep and ledge-free, which would enable us to transplant some leftover Hydrangeas from a redesigned area of the yard.
We then sorted through the flagstones and laid out a path using the stone in the best condition. While it looked perfectly acceptable for the location and purpose, it was not particularly memorable.
We opted to make a path with more character. Japanese tea garden paths often mix stone types, so we incorporated some found stone from another site. We were able to set the stone in a clean sand and stone dust mix salvaged from another path we had removed on the property. The mulch also came from the site: aged wood chips from a stump ground after an ailing tree was taken down on the property. The only purchased material was 4” steel edging installed to keep the lawn from creeping into the stone path.
The location and use of the area did not merit an expensive or extensive treatment, but with imagination and modest effort, the experience of this corner of the yard changed markedly. The neighbors' view of this area from their newly created fireplace patio is of an intentional and pleasant space, and the weed-free appearance also pleases the owners of the property. Ecologically, the reuse of plants and materials leaves a much lighter footprint.
When a client is newly able to enjoy and embrace more of their property than they originally believed possible, the effect is to psychologically expand the property size.
Conversely, when unpleasing areas are not addressed, often the people who live with that space are subconsciously canceling or avoiding them – effectively shrinking their experience of their property size.
Especially on compact properties, attending to the undervalued areas can reap big benefits for enjoyment of the space and making it feel bigger, and not necessarily at high cost.
The Root of the Matter is a blog created by Bespoke Gardening owner Christine Reid to share observations and in-depth insights from a seasoned professional gardener. Edible gardening, perennial gardens, and shrubs and trees — as well as the environments in which they live and the ways we care for them — are all areas of interest.