Friday, June 30, 2017

Landscaping Revisited

Maybe I should have incorporated landscaping into my initial ADU development process after all.

Because it's now been six years since I finished the ADU, and I've just now gotten around to landscaping it in 2017. It took six years, but I'm finally spending a lot of time in the back yard this summer, and I love finally having a garden that we can enjoy.



Once we had removed a large dying Cherry tree from the yard last year because, it opened up the opportunity for a much more sunlight to penetrate the yard than it ever had before. The cedar fence that separated my property from my neighbors was old and rotting and desperately needed to be replaced. Lastly, I wanted to plant a new tree and the time seemed right to overhaul the landscape of the entire property. So, I bit the bullet, and hired a garden designer who helped guide me through that process.

I managed to do all the work for roughly $8K out of pocket, plus approximately $3K in sweat equity. The job required a surprising amount of work: probably 250-300 hours total. I did roughly 80 hours of work over a 2-week period, and hired help for much of it.

First, we removed the existing rotting fence, and built a new 80ft cedar fence ($2K). For landscaping, the first stage was to remediate the yard material which involved removing a lot of dirt that had weeds in it. Weed barrier was then laid down, and about 6 cubic yards of new soil was imported to shape a slight berm where the plants would go along the fence ($3K). The lawn size was reduced, then gravel was imported and spread out on top of more weed barrier. Then, we greatly expanded the footprint of a modest stone patio and created a walkway between the ADU and the main house ($1K). The garden designer purchased $2K of new plants, groundcovers, shrubs, perennials, ferns, and potted plants and we meticulously planted them in the berms. Lastly, cedar mulch was spread out on top of the soil between the plants.

Here's a short photo album of the landscaping process.

I've never had a green thumb, so I relied on the designer's solid vision of how the garden's plants would evolve over time---how much they would grow in height and how their colors would intermingle and compliment one another. The garden designer was very studious about the light conditions, and clued in to which plants would thrive and where.

While the plants are currently spaced 2-3ft apart, they'll eventually grow in to varied heights, and be lush, colorful, and flower at different points throughout the year. I'm watering the plants daily and it's thrilling to see how they are instantly thriving in this new fertile sun-rich environment.

In other ADU news, I've just purchased an investment property in my neighborhood. This is what it looks like now; I've got my work cut out for me.

Whereas this blog ( has focused on the development of a detached new construction ADU as our primary residence, this new project is going to be focused on the conversion of a daylit basement ADU as an investment property. It's a very different type of ADU project than my first one, and I'm expecting to learn a lot in the process and I invite you to come along for the ride. 

As with my first ADU, I'll be cataloging the development decisions, as well as the costs and the permitting and regulatory process on a new ADU focused website called I'll be actively posting to the ADU Odyssey blog for at least the next six months on a regular basis. 

If you've enjoyed reading, you'll love digging through the new site which includes a trove of actionable information, tips, ADU images, ADU cost information, small space design best practices, and much more. 
The ADU Odyssey blog is primarily a video blog that delves into the development process of a daylit-basement attached-garage conversion ADU


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