Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Around My House: Backyard Landscaping

What was the most important thing on your "must have" list when you were buying your house?

For us, it was a backyard with total privacy. 

We were lucky to find just what we were looking for.

But then… on.

We first saw our house exactly 11 years ago. It was one of those perfect May days. I stepped out onto the back deck and said, "We'll take it." You just know when you connect with the right house. 

The backyard was completely private. Beautiful woods ran behind the property. 

I sat down on the bench, closed my eyes, and imagined waking up in this house, having coffee on the deck, looking out at nothing but trees...and nothing looking back at us. 

Only the deer would see us sitting outside in our pajamas. 

You have to understand where we were coming from to appreciate our craving for privacy.  

Our "yard" was a small terrace off the 26th-floor apartment we owned in New York City. Granted, we had amazing views of the East River, but private?  Uh, no…not with all the high-rise buildings across the way with a perfect view of our little balcony. When we sat there, it always felt like thousands of eyes were peering at us, with binoculars, no less.  

We bought the house.  We relished our privacy…

Reading the Sunday papers
Catching a football,
Watching Junior Goo Shoes run around the backyard...

Until ….

You know where this is going, don't you? A few years ago, a developer bought the wooded property.  It's a long and complicated story, but we had thought the land could never be built on because it was classified as wetlands.  

We were wrong.

We fought it. 
Our neighbors fought it. 
Hundreds of people in the town fought it.  

The local planning board voted in our favor, but the developer appealed, and he won. 

We lost our woods. 

I'll admit it…we had hoped that no one would want to buy the land. It took a long time, but eventually it sold. 

One day, Mr. Goo Shoes called me at work to prepare me for what I would see when I got home that night. 


I cried. 
We all did. 
Even Sadie.

More trees came down; the house went up. The people who bought it are very nice, but it doesn't change the fact that we now have a house in our backyard, instead of woods…not to mention new shades on all our windows, too.

To add insult to injury, Super-Storm Sandy had some plans of her own last October. Two of the neighbor's big trees came down that night. One totalled their car (thankfully they were not in it); the other split a third tree, half of which fell on our property. We were lucky to escape with such little damage, but it did take out most of our bushes in that spot. (There's that ugly fence we just got rid of).

This will be our first summer without backyard privacy. We are grateful that the new neighbors did a nice job on their landscaping, and put in a good number of trees. 

We met with a landscaper, and we're going add more trees and shrubs on our property. It's money we wish we didn't have to spend (money doesn't grow on trees, you know)...  

...but privacy now comes at a price

It will take about 30 or 40 years for the trees to grow tall enough to block out the house. By then, Mr. Goo Shoes and I will probably be frequenting early-bird specials someplace way south of New Jersey; knock on wood. 

The landscaper should be here any day now to do the job. Updates to follow.

Ms. Toody 



  1. Good Luck Ms. Toody Goo Shoes!

  2. So sorry. We have a park behind our house and have been told the same thing. But we will see... The landscaping is beautiful.

    1. Hope your park stays forever…We are fortunate that the neighbors did a nice job with their landscaping.

  3. It's unfortunate that you had to let go of your much-wanted privacy in such a manner, not to mention having Hurricane Sandy put an even bigger damper on it. I do think the yard still looks great though. Any updates on that new landscaping of yours?

  4. I'm sorry that happened to y'all. :(

  5. Awesome tips!!! I had a dead tree in my backyard; called as well as somebody came out within 2 days to evaluate and provide me an estimate.


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