NEVER THOUGHT I COULD GET SO EXCITED ABOUT PARKING, outside of finding a spot in the East Village on a Saturday night.
For the past two days, the construction of a parking court — that sounds pretentious, but it’s not a driveway, it’s a 25’x30′ almost-square and I don’t know what else to call it — has been underway in my front yard. The workmen just finished, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.
I had determined the standard dimensions from internet research. A spot for two cars ought to be 30′ wide — presuming car doors need to open, and people need to maneuver about. And I had decided it should be 30′ deep, measured from the road, to accommodate the occasional vehicle longer than my own Honda Fit.
When Joe Goncalvez, an old-school mason, and his son arrived yesterday, marked off the space, and started bulldozing the remains of the old black asphalt, I realized that was way huger than necessary. So I cautiously had them lose five feet of width, but it’s still 30′ deep, for a total of 750 square feet of parking. That’s almost the size of the house itself! It taught me something about proportionality: that it is very hard to get right without experience (and this is my first parking court, after all).
I’m hoping that with time, and encroaching greenery, the parking court won’t look so vast, and if it does, I’ll use it for additional container planting– put out barrels of annuals or evergreens, possibly even a bench. Turn it into an entry courtyard that happens to accommodate cars.
Meanwhile, it can fit four Fits, if not six.
I love the stone — 3/4″ pieces of local quartz and granite, a natural beige/cream/brown color, worn smooth by the glaciers that deposited it here 15,000 years ago (it’s dusty in the picture above; it’s not really that yellow). I used railroad ties as edging, an economical solution and one I think looks right for my humble cottage (Belgian block or any such fancy edging would have been too much).
Joe also brought over some smaller pea gravel, and suggested that, since I had a “credit” (the parking court being a bit smaller than originally intended), he pave me a pea-gravel walkway from parking court to front door. He told me they would excavate a couple of inches and lay down landscape fabric to keep weeds from popping through.
This morning, I got up early to fine-tune the curves I wanted for the walk with my trademark technique: sculpted piles of dead oak leaves. I went out for a bit, and when I returned, they had already done it. I found it mushy to walk on and not as wide as I wanted, closer to three feet than four. So I screwed up my courage — not being naturally that assertive with workmen (or hairstylists) — and told Joe this, feeling guilty because he had sort of “thrown it in.”
He was totally pleasant and professional about it — it wasn’t any big deal for him. Widening the walk and tamping it down took all of 15 minutes. The man is a prince. And I now have a proper place to park the car, like every American home should.