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My Pittsburgh Project

Started by Geoffrey, May 31, 2011, 06:00:14 PM

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May 31, 2011, 06:00:14 PM Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 06:13:11 PM by Geoffrey
Greetings -

I have been spending time in the forum reading through many of the posts and taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge here.  I was born and raised in Massachusetts, but I now live in Pittsburgh which is great because I work as a bridge engineer, and we have lots of bridges here.

I have long admired the Japanese sense of design in general and Japanese gardens in particular. At the end of last winter I decided to bite the bullet, and commit to converting my back yard to a Japanese style garden.

I was fortunate to find a designer (Alison Beeghly at MTRLA) who came up with a super design (see below). Her major design driver was the need to overcome the dominating mass of the house.  She accomplished this by careful alignment of the sight lines.  One feature that I am particularly fond of is her integration of the machiai (my "cedar bus stop") into the stone wall (which serves as its foundation).

Because April and May have been so rainy here, things have been going slowly.  I have an excavator sitting in my backyard, boulders in my neighbor's yard, parts of stone lanterns strewn about, bamboo and cedar everywhere, and 25 tons of turkey grit on order.

I look forward to any comments or questions members may have.  You can be sure that I will be asking for specific input as things progress.  If anyone wishes to see them, I have been taking pictures.

For higher resolution:

For higher resolution:


Welcome to the forum and you have quite a project!


Welcome to the forum.  A new garden installation is very exciting.  My garden is now 12 years old and now needs work on negative space.  Please  post as may pictures as you are able,  everyone likes to see as much detail as possible.


Geoffrey,  Welcome, photos are always good, it sounds like you are ready to rock and roll!



Geoffrey, welcome to the site.
You had asked for comments, and after considering for the night I am still of the same mind:
Please seriously reconsider refining the pathways, their position and use* when you are building the garden.
(*texture: those are pretty big hailstones    ;D   ) ( this is closer to 'tobi-ishi pathway: http://windsmithdesign.smugmug.com/Portfolio/Windsmith-Design/15046829_4eypn#1123991421_kU5MY   ) (Windsmith Design : Mark Bourne)

Quite critical is that the 90 degree angle of your 'hailstones' pathway island nexus is out of place. As is the 'direct in front' path to the machiai, as well as the planting. The machiai would be best partially obscured,.. etcetera.
The line of the main 'nobedan' pathway + corner as viewed from the machiai causes the greatest alarm, as it runs in line with the main view: this is like an arrow in the eye and will make it very difficult to relax in the machiai (unless that is the purpose+ we would need elevation atmosphere drawings).
And this also shows up as a 90 degree entry to your 'private' sitting area. These 90 degree entries are avoided as they are too abrupt.
The best solution is to move the pathway 'to the right', or far to the left through the bamboo forest, being ideal, however the mass and number of the stone setting should change.

May I ask that you post the elevation drawings that indicate the 'atmosphere' of the garden?

thanks..   enjoy the project, and thank you for sharing...        edzard


Welcome Geoffrey, from another immigrant to Pittsburgh! :) I imagine you have plenty of work because not only are there a lot of bridges here, they are all pretty darned old, are they not?

I haven't had time to really ponder your site plan, but I wanted to welcome you before I get pulled away again by a small insistent toddler. ::)

Edzard, I don't know whether to bless you or curse you for posting the link to Mark Bourne's web site, as that is a rabbit hole I do NOT have time to fall down, but I'm not sure I can resist it. ;)

Cheers all,
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
-- Dr. Seuss


Thanks to all for your input.

Here are some recent photos:

Progress seems to be happening at an accelerated rate.  The next major tasks are to construct the nobedan path and enclose the entirety of the site in the bamboo and cedar fence.



Terry.. as usual in a round about manner I believe the fault would be mine.
I mentioned that on dial-up internet speed the grouped photos in the thread itself is exceptionally long, about a half hour download, and there is more than one person that I know of whose participation becomes limited as a result of imbedded photos.
'Round about', as I gather that Geoffrey thoughtfully disabled the links to the files and hopefully will place them in an inner thread or a Gallery that is available to anyone who so generously shares their project photos.
and, if he has an inside thread going, perhaps we can ask him about bridge design... I think that his considerable expertise would enable a lot of folks with their own projects.


Geoffrey,  I am disappointed in not seeing your photos,  I had not realized there was a problem with posting photos in the intro section. 

I hope you re-post your photos so we all can see them. 

I am looking forward to it.



Geoffrey, you links do not work. Could you repair them?