Thursday, November 15, 2012

A New Gate… or One Thing Leads to Another

November 15, 2012

By Sheila

We live in what is called a “Walled Villa” in the warm desert of the southwestern United States.   The best way I can think of to describe it is a single family home within a large courtyard.  We have virtually no front yard whatsoever.  This is unusual even where we live.  We like the privacy and security it provides, as well as the ability to really use all of our outdoor space, as it is completely enclosed within our walls. 

My most recent project outside has been a pretty dramatic change to our entry. This all started, as these things often do, with a completely unrelated issue; my husband got a new car.  The problem is that we park in our enclosed carport, and the “old” entry was in the carport.  The new car is wider and we were not getting narrower, and so the shuffle to get past the cars was annoying.  So I decided to move the entry.  And if I am going to do that I will need a new walkway, and so the outdoor fountain will need to find a new home, and so on, and so on.  These things are never as simple as they first appear, are they?

The challenge in this project is creating some kind of curb appeal on a 20 foot span of seven foot tall block wall.  Sounds a little like being incarcerated, doesn’t it?  I started searching for the look I wanted for our new gate entry everywhere. I took photos of gates while on vacation, flipped through lots of magazines and design books, and searched photos on the internet.  My first step was to find or create a gate for the new entry.  After some scavenging, I found what I was looking for at my local salvage yard - an eight foot tall solid wood door with an arched top.  I love this place (Stardust Building Supply) and it is on my regular circuit.  I stop in several times a month, just in case they have something really cool I could use.  They know me and usually give me extra discounts, which I really like!  I then rebuilt the 2 foot stacked block walls for the raised beds inside the wall and transplanted the plants that I could salvage from the beds.  I rearrange plants like some people rearrange furniture.

Although I am a pretty avid DIY’er, 7 foot block walls with arched gate openings are not at all something I would consider doing, so after several bids from folks I found on Craig’s List, I explained my design and selected my crew to do the changes.  They had to wall up my old entry, cut a hole in the block for the new entry and stabilize it, and add an arched top to follow the lines of my new gate.  In addition, they laid a new paver walkway and get ready for this … new artificial turf.  I know, I am a gardener, blah, blah, blah.  Well, the thing is, we live in an environment where water is limited and expensive.  I wanted the look and feel of green without the maintenance and high water usage, so there you have it. These products are pretty impressive and I am pleased with it.  You judge for yourself.

The last phase was to finish up the exterior wall with a little curb appeal.  We moved cement planters into place on either side of the door, and in went ficus trees.  I then painted an old bench and a large birdbath planter and moved them into place.  White geraniums will be pretty planted in the red birdbath for the winter.  A small bale of hay and a few pumpkins will make it feel like fall until the temperature starts to reflect that.  Am I ever glad it was time for a new car!



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