Urban Renewal

By Cohoon, Sharon | Sunset, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Urban Renewal


Cohoon, Sharon, Sunset


Updating a garden takes vision and strategy

Imagine you're in the midst of landscaping that was pretty groovy when it was first installed in the '70s. The focal point is a Jacuzzi large enough to hold at least 14 people; everything else is woodsy and green. In the era when a hot dip after dinner was de rigueur, tubs like this were cool and perfect for parties.

But it's a new millennium now, and you'd rather sit outdoors and read than soak. Some of those sheltering trees have grown so much that they're starting to feel smothering. And you've seen enough green for a lifetime, thanks; you long for colorful flowers.

That's the situation Carol Brewer and her husband, Mike, faced three years ago. Though they loved their location in El Cajon, California, and had no desire to move, their landscaping lagged behind the changes they'd made in their lifestyle. They needed to move their yard from then to now, without breaking the bank. Their threefold strategy was to bite the bullet and get rid of the most egregious mistakes. Then, live with as much of the rest as possible. Finally, camouflage what they'd like to change but can't yet afford to.

Following this strategy, Carol created this showplace in a mere three years. She did much of the work herself, which saved money and, in the process, yielded the project's greatest reward-satisfaction.

[Sidebar]

solving the five toughest problems

[Sidebar]

#1: The Jacuzzi. It took four hours to heat and almost as long to clean. SOLUTION: Get rid of it. Fill it in.

#2: Overgrown trees. SOLUTION: Remove ones that crowd and darken the house.

[Sidebar]

#3: The stone-faced retaining wall that held their sloped backyard in place. SOLUTION: Live with it. Carve a new series of terraces into the slope for easy planting. …

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