Northern Albemarle County, VA: Deer Out, People & Plants In
Suburbanization of farmland near Charlottesville has its challenges: rural residential lots too big to maintain intensively as garden, but too small to farm, wildlife corridors compressed into deer thruways. The flow between outdoor rooms and indoor/outdoor rooms is, as usual, more important than the rooms themselves. 7 years after building, the homeowners could still not decide what to do with the massive mulched entry island that dominated the mood of the entire house and did little to relieve the runoff and heat from the surrounding street and driveway asphalt. First phase: create permaculture zones of use (herbs near kitchen, berry/edible plants also, forest/rain garden buffers at the edge), and use plants intensively and expensively to capture and control runoff from surrounding hardscape. And did we mention there was a wedding party coming in 8 weeks - early autumn? Trees spaded and transplanted by Instant Shade LLC - in high summer - never missed a beat. A bioswale was planted, sod laid, and slopes landscaped in summer and early autumn. A deck was built outside large enough for dining, and a new gateway to the landscape created for visitors, rather than the usual 'through the garage door or dodging the trashcans' tiny walk near the HVAC units, generator and foundation that the builder had installed. Planting design team included T.S. McCord, VSLD, VCH, of From Seed Design and Melanie Kearney, 2d year VT LAR intern. Future phases: Virginia Conservation Assistance Program to remove impervious driveway and replace with pervious pavers, roof rainwater catchment in cisterns to feed/assist the drip irrigation system that operates on zoned evapotranspiration sensors, darker/neutral downspouts and garage doors for better first impression.