Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Were They Thinking

I was asked to have a look at a landscape problem at a house on the market from a potential buyer, ie can you plant a vine over this eyesore? I need to know more before I make an offer.

Wow! I have never seen anything like it. A double row of five by five interlocking cement slabs with a texture like tree bark were laid against the slope that was cut for the house construction.

Now a slope and cut like this one is as common as dirt in these hills. And this here is some crummy looking saprolite dirt. Even so, properly mulched and planted it won't go anywhere and I just can't see how these half done huge blocks of cement can be serving any legitimate purpose. The ninety degree cut in the foreground of the slope needs attention. Why aren't there more slabs of concrete there?

I pondered these mysterious blocks of concrete for a while and think I know what can be done with them. The hillside can be saved from this "What were they thinking?" hideousness without just planting a vine over it.

What do y'all think I should do with these huge slabs of cement? I have a plan for them.

It's not unusual when a person is asked to renovate, repair or re-landscape an existing situation to come upon something and ask "what were they thinking"? But that is usually something like why did they plant this tree so close to the house or why did they do the irrigation valves like this or why did they pick that hideous color? I have learned over the years that trying to figure out what a long gone person was thinking is futile and a waste of effort. Other people's thoughts are so much mysterious fog.

But 40 half ton cement slabs plopped on hillside is very unusual. Someone went to a lot of effort to create this monstrosity. What were they thinking?

As long as I will be able to remember and for many of you, my thoughts in building a cabin and planting a garden are there for all the world to read. Hopefully with all your feedback we have avoided any egregious mistakes. There have been compromises and adjustments along the way to deal with circumstances. You aim for perfection and get as close as reality allows. When the time comes to fix something I will know how and why it was made that way.

Two of my doors have some 1/4 inch shimming between the door trim and door frame because the drywall didn't quite match the plane of the door frame. I didn't want to look into the gap at the nasty edge of the drywall so I closed it off. Not perfect, but it did the job.

At least I don't have 20 tons of concrete slabs slapped against my road cuts.

It has been a slow and steady path to a completed cozy cabin high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

What I have been thinking the whole time is soon, soon I will be able to really concentrate on my garden.


Siria said...

Wow...that is a very strange slope! I've never seen such a thing. It looks like you have kitchen cabinets in with doors! Looking great! I love that last picture of the cozy cabin in the fog too. I think those people were definitely in the FOG when they put in those slabs of concrete.

Randy Emmitt said...

Just curious what is your plan for these slabs? Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

David - Pinewood Cottage said...

i say those slabs would make a really sturdy patio surface... a stone wall or stacking concrete blocks would look and fit that space better.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Those concrete slabs are far beyond my imagination. I would run screaming from the site.

Carol said...

Maybe they got those concrete slabs for free, and so "made do"?

Love that last picture of the cozy cabin in the misty, fog.

Lola said...

I've never seen a slope problem "solved" in such a manner. Looks awful. I'm thinking they would make a wonderful floor for the patio. Some could even make a "throw rug" for the entry. Let you mind run wild, friend.
Love the last pic of the Cozy Cabin in the fog.

bev said...

OMG that is the ugliest thing I have EVER seen in a landscape, bar none. I look forward to your plan; I'm with Lisa!


Christopher C. NC said...

This house is half way up a mountain on a barely one lane crummy gravel road. It was hard to imagine these cement blocks hauled up there much less hauled back down. After looking at the pictures on the computer it finally dawned on me that these interlocking giant pavers must be meant for a driveway or parking court. Did the owner plan that, store them on site and just never get around to finishing the job before putting the house on the market? There are 1000ft2 of them to use.

I suggested to the potential buyer that instead of trying to "grow a vine over it", hide it, that they be removed and used for the driveway or a parking court and that the 90 degree portion of the slope in a narrow section between the driveway and road above needed a section of dry stacked boulder wall. The rest of the slope can be planted low maintenance for erosion control. It was too big of a problem to try and ignore it.

Now the potential buyer has some numbers to use in making an offer.

chuck b. said...

"What do y'all think I should do with these huge slabs of cement?"

Put a fence around it and call it a skateboard park. Sell tickets.

Les said...

My first thought upon seeing the slabs was how come no one finished the job. Personally, I would pull them out and make a patio or something with them. I like your idea of a dry stack wall, maybe softened with a few plants.

Though I don't comment often, I have enjoyed following the progress of the your cozy cabin.