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My wife and I have been looking for a house for what feels like a really long time (February) and we've finally had an offer accepted!
We currently live in a two story townhouse with a postage stamp back patio and small storage shed. I've quickly outgrown the space with my attempts and gardening and just can't wait to start working the large lot that we're about to call our own.
Here's the google overhead view of the property. It's 16,244 sq. ft lot and as you can see open to pretty much whatever we decide to do. I'm an architect by education and experience and have already put the buildings and site into sketchup for my wife and I to create site studies and get a sense of our desires for our home. There's no flood irrigation at the property (there's a lift station 200' away but it may be a nightmare trying to get it to the lot) which some of you may recall was becoming more and more appealing to me as our house hunt drug on. But like most things in permaculture, rather than casting something off for what it appears to lack, we're going to try to take advantage of what it has to take care of it, us, and our neighbors.
I look forward to sharing lots of projects as they come up. Haven't met any neighbors yet, any chance any of you recognize this hood as your own?
13th ave and Glenrosa
Since you are a fellow sketchup-er...
I'll put in my two cents. Sketchup saved me during escrow. I did the entire exterior and interior of the house, built out our furniture, and really worked through the program to figure things out.
Run a sun study by checking sunrise and sunset times for the winter solstice, one of the equinoxes, and the summer solstice and do hourly scenes to run through the animation. By adding 3d trees instead of faceme trees, you can get an idea of how much tree you need to cast shade when and where, and what kinds of shadows the house will put out so you know where to grow. Saves you a year of observation.
I have been debating hiring a landscape architect... now leaning towards YES because it ought to mean that you can do things in the "right" order and even break things out into projects while improving the beauty of the lot and its functionality/production. That said... I wish we could all get together and help plan eachothers yards.
Do you plan to do xeriscape in the front and more lush vegetation out back? That's the direction I'm leaning, but I've got about half the yard you have.
Yeah, it's a great program and I do need to utilize it more for shadow studies on the property. I'm sure some people wince when you say it saves a year of observation, but I would agree with you. If not very accurate, I'd say it's at least good enough to understand relationships between various objects (trees, fences, buildings).
As for the landscape arch., I'd recommend it pending two things. They need to understand function as it pertains to the desired production, the symbiotic relationships that are beneficial and detrimental to success. And second, you need to feel comfortable with them so that you're able to trust them. Anyone can design a good looking landscape that even puts out good production. What makes it special is when it's tailored to you and your families needs and desires. This takes at least a good dialogue and at most a friendship.
From what I know about xeriscape, it doesn't intrigue me all that much. We will be adding a small front patio and may end up doing some planters in the front to produce more and create a connection with our new neighbors. Right now I've got just under 2000 sq ft of grass shown. Anything transitioned to mulch in the front will likely become more grass in the back.
About committee design, that's kind of my goal with this thread. Pluck ideas from the wiser minds out there. Anyone have any demonstration projects they need a blank slate to try out on????
I guess the good part about getting your offer accepted/closing this time of year is that you have time to plan your plantings.
We closed 15 days ago and I've been busting my tail on the inside of the house, trying to get everything nice so that we can live in it. Once that's all taken care of I can spend more time on the outside.... which is what leaves me with tons of questions.
I know a lo of people ask the "what's your goal?" types of questions.... have you thought about what you're trying to create? What your priorities are? What fuels your desire to have a lawn?
Yeah, and by the time we get into the house the brunt of Summer will be over. We're planning on doing the same as you, tidy up the house to our desires and then turn our attention to the outside.
After discussing the water requirements with my wife earlier today (also posted my findings here) I think we may shrink the grass areas and make sure that we have enough in all the places we want it.
We desire to make an outdoor movie screen and try and create community with our neighbors and friends by having movie nights at our place. We like the idea of throwing blankets on the grass for this scenario.
Also for our dog and us, it has been awhile in the making and we want to have a good place to play around barefooted and enjoy the refreshing playfulness of laying around in the grass.
Priorities would probably be a good thing to write out. We haven't done that yet and I'm sure that would help us make decisions as options and plans start to develop. We have lots of little goals and things that we want and I think the relationships between these smaller objectives will really define the end result.
Met a neighbor last night as we made a trip by the house to check out the neighborhoods vibe when the sun goes down. A neighbor two houses down saw us walk into the backyard (we had ridden our bikes, because we live really close) and walked over to ask us if we were supposed to be back there. He felt bad that he approached us but we thanked him because it made us feel like the neighbors actually look out for each other. He proceeded to show us around his place and even let us and our dog into his house to see the similarities/differences.
Met the next door neighbors today when I stopped by the house, going to leave it at that and start putting these long posts on my self titled blog bradyfulton.com
I'm close at 9th ave & Glenrosa. Welcome to Melrose. We moved in Oct last year but had the house for a few years.
We really like this neighborhood. This is our 3rd move in 5 years since coming to Phoenix. Lots of interesting people here, all kinds. A few are insane, but most are very nice and interesting.
I'll echo what been said already...sun/shade management is I think the most important aspect. Amazing what a small difference will make.
One thing I like in the garden is water. And there are a lot of "water" plants that do well here. I grew Canna this year and it's done OK (still alive). Umbrella plant (Cyperus involucratus) doing really well, sculptural. This whole group of plants do really well here because of how they manage water. They use water but kept in containers for little oases of green, color and structure. So total water use is low.
Turf...That's a tough one. Growing turf is easy, growing really nice turf is hard. I've got a rental with turf and it is just plain a big effort to keep nice. I removed all the turf here straight away and am very happy. The neighbor across the street put the fake turf down in her back yard (she's an architect BTW). I'm not big on fake, but the fake turf really looks good. And given where we live...I've considered it.
Hope we can wangle an invite to the outdoor movies. We went to several at the Biltmore Fashion Park outdoor movies and a couple at Indian School park this past spring. Great fun.
Thanks, we really appreciate your insight on the hood. I like your ideas of the little water oasis'. You're right about the turf. My wife and I have been discussing what mixes of vegetation we may start our yard with. Invite, you got it. I'll let you know when we're ready to entertain.
I like your farm name. Yeah, I really like the odd shaped lot, especially how you cannot tell from the street how large the back is. I would definitely encourage you to download sketchup and give it a shot. My two biggest recommendations for people is to use layers and groups. Maybe the VPA could setup a sketchup event where we rent/borrow a computer lab and teach basics of sketchup. Yeah we finally closed on the house yesterday, setup power service with APS today and should have my first bill in a couple of weeks. Need that to sign up for the tree program.
I'm on board for the sketchup fair/workshop. I spent a couple months on sketchup while we were in escrow and it was a source of solace to me when I could not do any work on the house. We closed back in July and are ALMOST done with the inside work, just have to do a little drywall and tile the bathroom and one last coat of paint and it's time to move the furniture in.
Have you updated what you'll be doing with your yard at all? With all the interior work and heat I sort of ran out of steam and realized that I didn't know quite what to do... I think I am finally to a place where I have good ideas, but not sure... not yet at least.
No, I haven't done much updating to the outside plan other than learning new strategies through podcasts I've been listening to. I've tried to find examples of people using hugelkultre beds in climates like ours, but haven't found a definitive answer to whether that is a strategy I want to implement.
We just closed yesterday, so we went over there this evening and did a little demolition, a little pruning, and took a ton of pictures and videos (reminds you where you came from).