window wells: our first major project

October 1, 2015

We are not basement people.  And when we bought the house, we cringed and relished our new, finished basement.  I actually prefer to call it the lower level.  It has a great laundry room, full bath, nice playroom and also two ‘bedrooms.’  Eva volunteered to take one of these bedrooms with the promise of her own bathroom. We regularly use the second bedroom for extended visits from both sets of parents.  Our priority for renovation was to make these much used rooms more habitable, so we have been trying to find someone to create (2) 5 foot deep window wells, so we can then replace the ‘basement window’ with a nice, 4′ tall egress bedroom window looking out to a natural ‘terrarium.’


After meeting with several contractors and being asked, “why don’t you just want a pre-fabricated, plastic window well?” I was starting to feel a bit frustrated by my vision of a stone, wood, steel, planted terrarium.  I finally thought to ask my landscape architect friend, Jeff Plusen, if he could recommend a landscaper that would realize my vision.  I met with Planted Earth Landscaping and the first thing said was “sure we can come up with something!”  Chris’s idea was to use boulders to retain the earth rather than posts, footings and walls.  I loved the idea and within a week they had started. These are our boulders and we actually uncovered a naturally occurring boulder that will remain in place in one well.


A bonus of this project was the relocation of the large grasses.  We lined them up along the side street retaining wall in hopes of gaining some privacy and cutting down on street noise.  It has made an amazing difference in how the yard feels, and I’m looking forward to hanging out there once the work is done.


Another bonus – depending on how you look at it – is that we realized that the pipes that take the roof water from downspouts to below ground out to the street are either completely clogged, broken or otherwise non-functioning.  After bailing and trenching in the rain Tuesday night, we had to come up with a new plan to drain the window wells as well as move “new gutters, downspouts and rain barrels” to the top of the renovation list.  This has resulted in the digging of a drywell and essentially destruction to the yard.  I’ve been told I should expect nothing less from digging 5′ x 5′ holes in the ground…We shall see.  I’m really looking forward to posting pictures of my terrarium wells and new zen garden!



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