Decisions, Decisions

THESE DAYS, I’M FACED WITH CHOICES I couldn’t have predicted a few months back, when I lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn.

They’re fun choices, not matters of life and death. Still, they are perplexing. For example:

  • Fencing: how high? I’d like it six feet high across the front of the property, for a feeling of seclusion, but East Hampton says no more than 4 feet, and I dare not break the rules – they’re pretty fascist around here when it comes to fencing. It will be cedar, to match the house. But what kind of design – plain or cute? mckinley

Above: The McKinley from Wayside Fence: Rather whimsical, with those little cut-outs, but they’re not really going to be seen (they’ll be hidden behind my ‘mixed hedgerow,’ which is in the pre-pre-planning stages), so do I want to bother with that little detail?

  • What kind of gate across the driveway-to-come? Big enough to drive through, or merely to walk through? When it comes to deer fencing on the other three sides of the lot, I *am* planning to break the rules. Nothing short of 8′ will keep those big bucks out. But that’s wire and in the woods, less likely to attract official attention (I hope no Town people read my blog). I’ve had two fencing guys here — both scoffed at the idea of applying for permits of any kind — and one estimate so far for the deer portion: $4,200 for 470 linear feet. Is that good or bad? To be determined.
  • Driveway: how big? What shape? I’m now thinking ‘parking court’ rather than driveway. I don’t absolutely need to drive up to the front door, so why not keep the car(s) tucked out of sight on the other side of my planned gate? I looked up standard driveway measurements: for two cars, a simple 25’x25′ square should do (got one estimate for about $2,000, including excavating 5″ deep and a layer of crushed concrete). I already know what kind of surface I want: gray/beige 3/4″ gravel — larger than pea gravel, which is squishy to walk on. Then there’s the edging question. I don’t want brick or cobblestone. Too urban. Steel would be functional, unobtrusive, and keep the stones from ‘migrating,’ but I could save a grand by skipping it. Would it be so terrible if a few stones migrated into the road or my forsythia hedge?
  • Fireplace. Since I’ve now decided to stay here in the boondocks for the winter, f_14344a fireplace has become a must. Not a wood burning stove; this will be strictly for atmosphere and a bit of extra warmth. I’m ordering a Malm Zircon freestanding fireplace in white, left, from Design Within Reach. The decisions here are size — 30″ or 34″ wide? — and location. Which of two corners in my living room? Also to be determined.
  • Tree removal is underway and going well. Decisions here have already been made (and these were life or death decisions, for the trees), with the wise counsel of Eric Ernst of Montauk, known as “Tree Man.” He and his son Ethan, 19, are out there buzzing their chainsaws as I type. Soon, my yard will be less five or six diseased, struggling, leaning, or unfortunately placed trees (and I will have lots of firewood and wood chips for mulch). A white oak that overhung the yard oppressively is gone already, as is a front-yard pine that got no light. Now its neighbor, a blue Atlas cedar, has a fighting chance.

6 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. I definitely like the “before” better! As far as fence, I don’t like the cutesy cutouts.

  2. Cara, I do not know if you can get around fence regulators this way but, I was just on a website and they had an interesting idea for roses, but you could use it for another vine (maybe wisteria LOL), if you do not have enough sun. It is essentially your McKinley fence, but the end posts with the finals are taller then the fence, say 8 feet. They drilled a hole through the post and are running a cable from post to post. They are going to train roses to grow up the posts and then run along the cable. This sould give you privacy all summer, when is when it is needed most. And it is a plant providing it, not a wooden structure.
    their blog is and the post was March 8, 2009

    hope this gives you a bit of help

  3. You want to have access for a vehicle, so do car-size gate alone or do that with a separate, human-passage size gate as well. One day you’ll have men unscrewing a section of your fence if you don’t.

  4. I agree – plain fence & you will need to have a big gate for vehicular access in the future if necessary. I am not sold on the cars being out by the street – if you do that make sure to leave room for snow banks generated by the plows.

    Great fireplace!

  5. Good point about the snow – I’ll make the parking court 30′ deep from the road instead of 25′. I’m not sure about a big gate for vehicle access, because inside the gate there will be a path only wide enough for walking, not for a car, with planting beds on either side. Unless I rethink that too. Re the fence design, I’ve now discovered that only the cliche stockade fits within my budget – but it also seems to be a local vernacular, and I can live with it. (The fancy designs are 2 or 3 times the price – definitely not worth it!)

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