Before and after – green alley

This is a good time for a before and after look at the alley next to the Green Garage. We bought the building on December 31 of 2007, and as winter made its way into spring, it became evident that something had to be done with the alley between us and the Blackstone. It looked pretty bad. John and Dan from Motor City Brewing Works approached us with the idea of working together to improve the alley, and we agreed, but only if we could turn it into a 'green' alley. They were fine with that, and so we spent about a year in design work. We designed a community space for walkers and bkiers, lined with native Michigan plants and permeable pavers to absorb the rain water, lit it with high induction lighting, and the resultant space well exceeds our initial dreams. We were curious as … [Read more...]

Hot (Planting) Fun In The Summertime

Last week was the week we Green Garage gardeners had been waiting was finally time to plant the alley. Our poor plants were supposed to be planted the first week of June, but delays in the construction of the alley caused us to plant a month late. So our plants were nursed along by Bill and his team at Wildtype Nursery in Mason, MI, and we waited nervously, knowing that we would be receiving plants that would be quite root-bound. On the day we got the go-ahead to begin planting, we planted on one side of the alley while the guys from Classic Landscape literally ran through the alley with wheelbarrows full of dirt, trying to fill the other side. Every once in a while you would hear 'Watch out!' as a clueless planting volunteer was near to being run over by men with overflowing … [Read more...]

June 11 Construction Update

The main action right now involves alley and the windows. If you live near to the alley, you are well aware that it's in full construction mode right now. This past week Redford Cement finished removing the cement and grading both the alley and the back of our property. Classic Landscape stepped in next to apply the sub-base. First they laid down a permeable geo-textile material that looks like a tarp. It will allow water to filter through but will prevent the stones from becoming embedded into the clay. Next, Classic Landscape had to move this pile of stones into the alley.... using this little front-end loader. By Friday morning, the alley looked like this: Smaller stones came next. This is a good spot to mention that this is back-breaking work for these … [Read more...]

An update on the alley

he alley is progressing, but we are a couple of weeks behind schedule. The reasons are typical for any construction project: it's just taking longer than expected. First, the city water department repaired leaks in the water main and leaks in the sewer itself. It ran a little long. We had rain days that also put us behind. Then we had Inland Waters Pollution from Detroit work on improving the sewer by putting a fiberglass liner in it. This was going along well until their little robot, working to open the 24 leads into the sewer, got stuck in the pipes. This happened yesterday, and Inland worked through he night to fix this problem and get the leads all opened. All is well today. Mike Mancini from Redford Cement will finally be able to begin removing the cement next Tuesday. Jeff Klein … [Read more...]

Alley Update

Here's a video update on the Green Alley project. Tom Brennan and Dan Scarsella talk about moving the alley project through the city, and how trash/recycling will work. … [Read more...]

Plant Selections for the Green Alley

Here is a segment of the Green Alley, drawn by Woody Melcher, so you can see each part of the future walkway up close. The middle will be lined with sections of concrete and historic brick, surrounded by permeable pavers (open-weave concrete pavers that you plant ground cover in - strong enough for trucks, but able to drain water back into the ground), and all of this will be bordered by 3-ft and 5-ft garden beds. We spent quite a bit of time this fall planning which plants will go into these beds. There's quite a bit of of room - the alley extends 220 ft - so we had an extensive palatte to work with. Our goal was 90% Michigan natives, and we have met that goal easily. The only plants that we currently know will not be native are the spring bulbs, and we're adding those simply because … [Read more...]

Green Alley Funding

We received good news this week about the funding of the Green Alley project. Sue Mosey of the UCCA called and told us that then final portion of the money, $20,000, has been allocated to us from the Americana Foundation. This joins $20,000 from the Kresge Foundation and $10,000 from DTE (for the lighting), and we are done! We are so grateful to these organizations for their generosity and for recognizing our project. We are also once again thankful to be working with Sue Mosey, who has been invaluable in connecting us with resources. As an update to the progress on the alley, the survey is done and we are waiting for the architectural plans from architect Michael McClear. We'll be reviewing the plans next Wednesday, and then shoot them off to the DPW. The alley as it currently … [Read more...]

Alley Project Submitted

The green alley project has been submitted to the city. We're also on track to propose the idea to the Historic Commission in May. Tom describes the process. … [Read more...]

Green Alley update

This past Thursday we met with Susan McBride of the Historic Commission to discuss where we've come with the plans for both the Green Garage and the alley. Because our building is designated an historic site, our construction will need to stay within the guidelines set forth by this organization. In other words, we can't do significant changes to the exterior without approval. For the most part, we're OK. We still have a couple of areas to hammer out, however, like solar panels on top of the building's addition - definitely not a historical element! During our discussion of the alley, we were joined by Ashok Patel of Traffic Engineering for the city. Once again, we're in the ballpark - we just need to consider a couple of minor issues, and we should be good to go. A couple of … [Read more...]

Green Alley Groundbreaking

If you have visited the Green Garage, you have probably already seen the alley on the south side of the building. It is 100% concrete, if you don't include the stubborn weeds that make a home next to the building every summer. One of the first things we decided to do once we bought the building was remove the concrete and make the surface permeable - in other words, allow enough space for the rainwater to become absorbed back into the ground, with a minimal amount heading for the storm sewer. We have been discussing this project for a while, and had a sketch of the greener alley done a few months ago. The center part is composed, alternately, of historic brick and pavement, and is bordered by permeable pavers, which is bordered by 3- and 5-ft garden beds holding native plants. … [Read more...]

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