The top corner project – part 1 – 11/10/2020

It was 29th September that I showed the sheet disappearing from the polytunnel that has adorned the top corner of our garden since 2014. I knew at the time that it wasn’t going to get any easier.

The tunnel came down very easily, was transported up to my allotment and erected without incident. I had to get new timber for the door frames, the old frames were rotten; but that was done and yesterday I erected the doors. Today I have been sorting out laths to tension and attach the polythene but there seems to be moderate wind for the next week or two, so sheeting is currently on hold.

The top corner of the garden is what was once the corner of a farm field, bounded by a Cornish hedge; something of a catchall expression for a bank consisting of soil and stone, with vegetation growing over it. Sometimes there is a well constructed dry stone facing to both sides of the soil bank, sometimes not. In our case it’s one side, so a soil bank, around 10m long and 0.7 m high on our side, around 1.3m high on the other side, their garden being 60cm lower, with their side being neatly faced with stone. On top of it, for around half the length, was a conventional hedge consisting mainly of hazel, with sycamore, blackthorn, hawthorn, ivy and brambles mixed in. Along the base of the bank, on our side, I had planted beech some years ago, to try to make it a denser barrier.

The plan was to cut down the hedge, drill it and treat it with glyphosate to kill it, then to replace it with a fence. I eventually decided I would carry on more or less with the style of fence that we ended up with on the next neighbour down, round topped wooden pales arranged hit and miss style. When that was done, we could still see more of our neighbours than we wanted to, and they could see us, so I put a strip of wood between the pales on our side. This time, I plan to put the pales closer together to start with. I worked out what I needed and placed the order a week ago. It will be around two weeks until it is delivered as they didn’t have the pales in stock.

In the meantime, I cut away our side of the hedge to see if I could see more clearly where the fence line would be. The hedge was covering up the shaky state of our side of the bank and I had to decide what I was going to do to shore it up. It was also clear that putting a fence through the hazel stumps wasn’t a runner, so they have now been removed. I decided to face our side of the bank with stone and ss luck would have it, Lantoom Quarry is less than a mile away and supply walling stone, their own 395 million year old slate. I have measured up and ordered three tonnes, to be delivered on Friday. Getting that from the front of the house to the top of the garden will be fun.

I have been measuring up very carefully to try to work out where best to run both the wall and fence. Should they be straight or dog-legged? Nominally the boundary runs down the middle of the bank so I’m trying to work out where they would originally have been. I also did a plan of the whole piece, thinking to start planning what I was going to do with it, but until the boundary is sorted out and the space cleared, that’s going nowhere.

My plan of the area
25 September 2020 The tunnel still standing in all its ugliness.
2 October 2020 Tunnel gone leaving half the plants that were in it behind. Timber is for new doors.
9 October 2020 Looking along the boundary from the top corner. Our side of the section of hedge has been cut away. To the right of the fence the grass slopes down, then drops nearly a meter to the lawn.
10 October 2020 The hazel hedge had to go, which wasn’t fun. I broke the spade.
10 October 2020 View along the bank from the top corner. If I run the fence straight I give away half a meter of garden at the widest point. Why would I do that? Dog-leg it is, marked by the string.
10 October 2020 Looking towards the top corner. I need to align the wall so that I neither have masses of soil left over nor do I have a gap needing filling with soil I don’t have. It will have a batter but a lot less than the angle of repose of the soil.
11 October 2020 All the debris has been bagged up ready to go to the tip tomorrow morning; just the roots left, a second car-full. Not much I can do now until the stone comes on Friday.

16 thoughts on “The top corner project – part 1 – 11/10/2020

  1. Hope you find a time to put up your feet, and revel in the fact you are probably now as fit as a flee. It will be raining tomorrow…but then you have all those glasshouses which may beckon you.

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  2. With such a wide fence like structure as a Cornish hedge, how do you know where the property boundary is? It seems like it would be easy to install a fence well into one garden or the other.

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      1. Discrepancies would not be such a major loss or gain on larger parcels. When I lived in town, I needed to fence an unused alley behind the garage, because if I allowed the neighbor to the rear to add it to her garden, and she sold the home, that space could be ‘assumed’ to the other property! It was too risky. There was less than a quarter of an acre to work with there, so even little spaces were important. I later used the alley for growing yucca for other projects. I the home after that, we did not really know where the property lines were, but could have found them rather accurately if necessary. Such measurements are so precise that they can be compromised by earthquakes, and the western side moving very slightly to the north.

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      2. I suspect that there is no really precise record of where the boundaries of our property are. We adjoin 8 other properties so the potential for disputes is quite high, but at least we don’t have to worry about earthquakes.

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  3. I think the wall looks very nice, (no point wondering if it is worth all of your hard work!) and I can only imagine how good it will look when planted up and bedded in, so to speak. I look forward to seeing how it all progresses.

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