North Mount Pleasant Rear Yard

About this project
  • Location: Calgary, AB
  • Scope: Design and Installation
  • Timeline: 2017 to 2018

The landscape of this established property in North Mount Pleasant had gone for many years without an update, and the clients identified several challenges the yard was posing, such as occasional water leakage in the basement from overflow of a rain tank, an aging asphalt shingle roof on the garage that was constantly dropping sediment into the downspouts, structures including a fence, large wooden deck, and concrete pad that needed replacement, shade in the backyard due to an mature spruce tree, creeping bellflower from the alley and neighbouring properties, and an annual garden area that was too far away from the kitchen and not easy to maintain.

 

After taking a Permaculture Design Course, the clients created their own concept design for their yard, and we provided a review and update to that design, further detailed designs, and installation of the first phase of the rear yard renovation. In the design, we incorporated the clients’ goals of creating a sanctuary in their rear yard; a place that was teeming with life, had several places to sit, relax, meditate, and socialize in the sun or shade at various seasons and times of the day. A rainwater harvesting and rain tank system was designed that would not overflow into the basement again, and could eliminate the need to use City water for irrigation. The annual vegetable gardens were moved closer to the house by removing the mature spruce tree and removing all of the lawn in the rear yard, which also opened up the niche for a beautiful, diverse, and low maintenance food forest.

 

The installation began with the felling of the mature spruce tree in the rear yard. The entire tree was reused onsite, with the branches being chipped for mulched pathways, small logs used for firewood, large logs used for stump seating and ‘wood cookie’ stepping paths, and a 6’ tall stump left in place for a future wood carving project. The large roots of the tree were partially exposed to form the main structure of an aesthetic planting zone, and were integrated into a stacked stone retaining wall.

 

The old garage roof was replaced with a new metal roof for better quality rainwater, and the existing raintank system was moved from the house to the garage, ?with a proper tank overflow installed. The old wooden fence and deck were removed, and the fence was replaced with a customized design inspired by the client’s goals. Since it was important to reuse as many on-site materials as possible, so we broke up the existing 300 sq ft of cracked concrete pad (some of which was 7 inches thick!) and reused this to create the main path which leads from the front yard all the way to the garage door and back gate of the property. All in all, this provided about $1,500 in savings compared to buying new flagstone for the main pathway. Two flagstone patios were installed to provide a diversity of outdoor seating spaces, and the preparation of new annual beds was started via sod removal and sheet mulching. The perimeter of the property was protected from further creeping bellflower with a 1.5’ deep trench lined with landscape fabric and filled with mulch, and the old annual garden area was transformed into a low maintenance food forest and pathway network that provides access to all spaces in the landscape.

 

The clients have reported an immediate increase in functionality, beauty, and overall enjoyment of the rear yard, and will continue to implement aspects of their overall property design in the coming years.

 

Design for this project began in 2017, with the groundwork and hardscaping for phase one completed later on that year. In 2018, we worked with the clients to complete the planting of their new rear yard food forest.

Date:  March 15, 2019

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