September 30th, 2014
Most people like a little privacy in the yard, which is why arborvitae and fences are such popular landscape décor.
But even that wasn’t going to solve the challenge at my daughter’s second-floor “flat” in the Netherlands.
Erin got a job in Amsterdam and just moved into a 5-story complex that curves around a city block. The back has a courtyard with the lots divided into small, pie-shaped spaces.
Erin is fortunate enough to own one of these prized outdoor spaces.
The problem is that anybody can look out their back door and watch what’s going on below.
It’s more like an amphitheater than a series of courtyard spaces.
My job, as the imported garden guy/dad, was to re-do Erin’s space into something more usable and less stage-like.
The inherited “garden” was no Dutch treat. It was a Dutch mess.
Ivy and weeds had overgrown a good bit of the space.
A spindly butterfly bush was growing out of the middle of a back raised patio where a concrete slab had been removed.
A 4-foot-tall version of persicaria – a popular Dutch groundcover – was flopping all over through about a quarter of the space.
Another tall, pink-blooming 4-footer – a type of reseeding impatiens on steroids – was poking up randomly.
And a half-dead redbud tree was growing up about 20 feet near the middle of the space.
The first order of business in any inherited re-do is to figure out what you don’t like about the current situation and then to think about how you’d rather use it. Form follows function, in other words.
In this case, Erin wanted the lot de-cluttered so she could just walk the path to the back patio. She also wanted something nice to look at from above as well as in the garden, preferably with bright colors of red, gold, orange, yellow and burgundy (no frou-frou pink, baby blue or lavender).
She wanted some space for her rather hefty dog, Boon, to dig and “do business,” a few tea herbs, and ideally, a hammock.
Above all, she wanted as much privacy as possible while living in an Amsterdam fishbowl.
What would you do? I’ll wait while you mull.
OK, here’s what I came up with…