Make the Most of a Tight Spot
Here’s how to tackle this common landscaping challenge.
It's a no-man's-land most of the time, the narrow alley that stretches between a house and the side property line. Tommy and Michael Porter, with Porter Bros. in Birmingham, took on the challenge and turned this area into a functional, attractive part of the home. Adapt their design ideas to your own space, and enjoy the results.
While mature crepe myrtles add magnificent structure down the fence line, their expanding roots made an old rock pathway unstable. The area’s usefulness was diminished and clearly visible from indoors. “Glass doors open from the dining room and the kitchen has solid-pane windows, so everything in that area is right in front of you,” Tommy says.
Fortunately, the crepe myrtles were healthy and a fabulous Japanese maple anchored the garden’s long end. Tommy and Michael made the area usable and beautiful, from both inside and out.
1. The design: They replaced the rocky walkway with a mosaic path. “I wanted the new path’s design to mirror mosaic patterns I saw when traveling abroad. It needed to be simple and sophisticated in layout and slightly aged in texture,” Tommy says. While the stonework process is not difficult, it is time consuming. (Along with instructions, you can see step-by-step photos on our Web site.) “If we hadn’t done the walkway like this, we could have reset the old stone or carpeted the area with mondo grass,” Michael adds.