FOR LANDSCAPING KEEP IT SIMPLE
This headline should be taken seriously in laying out a landscaping plan for your property. The picture and headline are for shock value showing the very simple view of a stark land that can be made into a simple area which will be admired by all of your friends. It can be complicated by many exotic plants with vast gardens or can be made into a very beautiful simple garden with expanses of green lawn inter- mixed with garden props and flowers and lights without going over board or breaking the budget. I admire either choice but I think I want to stick with something between exotic and a plain field of grass and minus the snow pictured above.
You can certainly have a tremendous looking garden and lawn and one that fits well into your neighborhood without having to spend nearly as much as some people. However you do need to know the physical characteristics such as soil,climate,topgraphy,sun exposure and wind movements of your intended landscaping area.I have pictured below a little graph of the United States mainland including Alaska and Hawaii showing the climatic conditions which affects the strategies you may use. This little map is courtesy of the US Department of Energy-Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and how it impacts your regional climate. So you have the desire to design your own home and landscape go here:3D Home Architect provides full suite of software - Design your own home of your dreams. 3D Home Architect has what will make yourhome interior design, kitchen remodeling, room design, interiordecorating and landscaping a whole lot easier.
EXPLANATION OF CLIMATE MAP TO ESTABLISH YOUR LANDSCAPING NEEDS
GREEN-TEMPERATE REGION 1.Maximize warming effects of the sun in the winter 2.maximize shade during the summer 3.Deflect winter winds away from buildings 4. Funnel summer breezes toward the home. RED-HOT-ARID REGION 1.Provide shade to cool roofs,walls,and windows 2.allow summer winds to access naturally cooled homes 3.block or defect winds away from air-conditioned homes ORANGE-HOT-HUMID REGION 1.Channel summer breezes toward the home 2.Maximize summer shade with trees that still allows penetration of low-angle winter sun 3.Avoid locating planting areas close to the house that require frequent watering. BLUE-COOL REGION 1 Use dense windbreaks to protect the house from cold winter winds 2.Allow the sun to reach south-facing windows 3.Shade south and west windows and walls from the direct summer sun, if summer overheating is a problem
This is the US Department of Energy advice but if you look at the data closely some of it applies to all regions of the country. Many people in the northeastern section of the country have air conditioning so you have to mix and match.The point here being the identification of your conditions.
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Is there a knot garden in your future? Find how and why your landscape needs this garden
DEVELOPING A LOW MAINTENANCE LANDSCAPING PLAN
It is not necessary to have a fancy drawing depicting the outcome of your landscaping plans but if you feel it is essential by all means do it. It could be expensive in both the creation of the plan and the plants shown in the drawing. Developing a low maintenance plan is just as much what you don't want as well as the things that you do want.You should have handy a notepad and a tape measure then stroll around the landscaping area keeping in mind the climate advice above. Before mapping out the drawing that you may finally utilize as your guide,note all problems you find. It may be some low lying areas,a steep grassy bank,or an area full of rocks. Think about what may have to be removed in your new design or the plants or trees that can remain in your final plan.This of course is assuming you are not starting from scratch which is much easier. It saves you the pain of agonizing over what remains and what is going to leave.After you have made your list of do "wants" and don't "wants",go over your list and put an asterick next the problems you feel need to be addressed right away. This is essential in keeping your priorities in focus when you are either converting or building a low maintenance garden.
STARTING LANDSCAPING FROM SCRATCH
This depicts what my lovely garden looked like circa 1986. I was forced at the time to replace the entire yard after a battle with the willow tree roots climbing into my drain fields and causing a geyser in our down stairs laundry room. A lot of sorted tales with that calamity needless to say. After the replacement of the entire drain field system,the yard was left in a total mess and so I rototilled the entire one-half acre under leaving a few trees not pictured above intact. I later regretted that decision of leaving a few trees. Once I had the entire area leveled and raked I drew up a how I thought the entire project should look when completed. It is important that the landscaping drawing be designed to fit entirely on one page such as 1 inch =5 0r 10 feet. It is cumbersome to have it on multiple sheets however if you must then by all means do it.An important thing to observe from this drawing is how to reduce mowing time by planting shrubs or making flower beds and just install mowing strips. I have a fence across the back portion of the garden(see below) with garden in front and brick cover under the fence which meets the lawn in back of the fence. This does eliminate grass growing under the fence. I put cloth under the brick which stops most weeds from growing up through the brick. However you cannot stop some of the weeds from landing and growing in the bricks. It still provides for low maintenance because it only needs weeding in the spring and with an application of a weed preventor you are home free.
See BELLCORE FOR OUTDOOR LIGHTNING AS WELL AS INDOOR IDEAS:
Garden decor will give you ideas for decks,lights and more
IN DEVELOPING YOUR LANDSCAPING SET YOUR PRIORITES
It is good idea in your landscaping plans to start with permanent elements first. These are items like fences,walls,paths,irrigation system,ponds,top soil and flower bed outlines especially if you will be bordering them with wood or plastic. My first priority here was top soil and the digging of the gardens deep enough to apply at least 24" OF new top soil to each garden. There are always those surprise encounters on a property when digging to any depth.I encountered hundreds of rocks,later I found out this lot was filled in with tons of rock,yes things you should know before you start. I also got excited about "double digging" the garden running along the front of the white fence. This is a method by which you dig at least three to four feet down and remove all of the soil put in small stone for drainage, lime,fertilizer and mix the old soil with new topsoil and fill the cavern you have created. I am not sure I would do that again. It is wise to also place any large planter boxes in the garden first and in that way you do not waste valuable top soil underneath the box and the same goes for walk ways.These are all important fundmentals in landscaping planning.go to interesting incorporation of topiary into your landscape - many ways to add attractive topiary to your garden and return to here
AS you can see these pictures were taken this spring as I am writing this web page.This I consider one of the most important aspects of landscaping choose your plants wisely by analysis of both growth rates and mature sizes. Your plants need room to develop without crowding and you will have healthier plants that need minimal pruning and without causing significant plant diseases to develop.(see below for link to common plant diseases)The real problem here is foundation plantings please look for dwarf species of a shrub or tree you so dearly love. It is nothing worse then to drive by a house with eight to ten foot pines growing next to the house not only does it look unsightly but those branches growing over the roof provides for development of roof moss and unwanted moisture. If you donot like the sort of barren look,as your dwarf shrubs or trees mature,then supplement these spots with annuals or perennials to give color for a few years. With this accomplished you will have truly provided for low maintenance landscaping.
See plant diseases for prevention of moisture related diseases
LANDSCAPING AN EXISITNG LAWN AND GARDEN
I suppose I may contradict my previous thought here. After giving it some review it may be more challenging to overhaul an existing landscape then start from scratch. The existing landscaping may have some excellent features including large trees,beautiful shrubs which are out of control,or a well established lawn to contend with that needs considerable attention. Personally I would live with the landscaping for at least a year taking you through all seasons,I lived with mine for eight years much too long,this will enable you to discover the high maintenance points. It may be easier to save some existing trees and shrubs but first check for age or diseases and eliminate those that may cause you future trouble. It may only take some pruning to give the shrub or plant a new look. If you do remove either the tree or the shrub,make sure you remove the stump(s) or have someone remove them for you. I know leaving the stump is a real pain when replanting and you have to deal with suckers shooting up from the roots. I also acknowledge that removing a stump yourself is a tremendous amount of work. You could take the easy way out and apply stump root but that could take more than several years for the stump to rot away.
It would be wise to dig out any plants that are overgrown and if possible divide them and replant them with new top soil and fertilizer. In addition if through your survey of the landscaping,you think the plants are in the wrong spot by all means move them in the spring. I would also add annuals to this make over because of their season long color. If you donot like the aggravation of digging flower beds than try some container gardening. You will need to do a little extra watering with this method. If you depise both of these methods,you need a gardener.
See garden decor for ideas about fencing,arbors,walkways and more
A FEW LAST WORDS OF LANDSCAPING WISDOM
The left picture is another view of my redesigned garden and the center picture is one I didnot create but is an excellent example. Yes landscaping your own yard is a great deal of work. However if you think it through,plan it,and draw it,you will go away with a great satisfaction of creating your own work of art.Remember NOW it is low maintenance so enjoy!
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