ARCHIVE below is officially entirely out of date.

As of 2021, only bits and pieces of the below work have happened.

The goals are still entirely the same, but the timeline has wildly shifted - not too surprising! The [Temple GitHub|] cover the majority of these issues. 1)

One modifier to the below plan that will be started Fall 2021 is that I am leaning into the natural structure of the front yard, which has a very steep slope. My plan is to purchase more of the same slate rock I have used in the past, and create a “built in” staircase look at selected areas to create more level/built in bed areas.


I'll be giving myself several years and several budgets to eventually work out the total landscape of the backyard at our fabulous house on Temple Lane. The driving philosophy is to create a backyard habitat that is friendly to both native North Carolinian wildlife as well as to humans.

I've been following several guides provided by NC State's Going Native information series.

The following time line shows an approximate idea of how long this will take 2):

  • Winter 2014/Spring 2015: Remove all growth from chain link fence 3)
  • Summer 2016: Remove all chain link fencing 4)~~
  • Summer 2016: Build new cedar privacy fence 5)
  • Summer 2016: Remove old decking
  • Fall 2016: Build new decking and lay stone areas 6)
  • Fall 2016: Build screened-in porch off library 7)
  • Spring 2017: Begin first round of planting - midstory foliage 8)
  • Spring 2018: Begin second and third round of planting - shrub and ground foliage

Selected native plants can be seen with this PDF.

The planned outlay for all plants and decking can be seen with this terribly watermarked image.

February 2015

I am reading my above plan and just laughing hysterically.

I have, however, been somewhat productive 9). I've developed a plan for what I want to accomplish this spring, as well as an overall goal for the front yard of Temple.

The biggest decision was that the vegetable garden will no longer be in the backyard. It will be in the front. This will likely mean two larger changes as well - primarily the removal of two large tress from the front yard. I'm meeting with an arborist to determine the overall health and safety of these tress (as well as the oak in the backyard) and talk about things like extreme pruning and potentially removal. We'll see how that goes.

I've also developed a layout for how I'd like the front yard to eventually appear.

The yard, house, and driveway are overlayed from the Durham city GIS map. Yes the yard is that large and oddly shaped 10). What's really startling for me about the size of the backyard is all the potential there, as well as all the work to be done. I think that the only part of my initial timeline that is off is the stripping of plants from around the chain link in the backyard. That's going to be a massive undertaking. Now that it's winter and I can see a lot of the plants that are there without their leaves, I'm really overwhelmed by the sheer number of plants there.

I also am going to have to address my intention of planting a backyard that is 100% native. I think it's safe to assume that the majority of plants currently in the yard are native 11). I had originally thought I'd follow a rule of only removing plants which had a trunk smaller than my wrist 12) but I will likely end up doing some serious consultation with gardeners in the area.

1) note that this is a private repo, so the link is more for personal posterity than anything
2) this is such a high reaching goal, I will be amazed if it is even close to accurate
3) probably with hired hands, perhaps TROSA?
4) will have to talk to both the Benton's as well as the family next door and see how this works; maybe also research Durham city ordinances about shared fences?
5) use something like this for inspiration - minimalist flat boards
6) see eventual overlap for deck design in the design section, eventually
7) like the deck, see designs up top
8) try and locate a local nursery that can be of massive assistance here - more and better info on native plants, double bonus for supporting local business
9) more productive than just finding previous versions of Me absolutely out of their gourd
10) hooray cul de sacs!
11) I know that not all of them are… I just don't know how to diagnose which are vs. which aren't
12) I have no idea where I got this idea from