Landscaping is land shaping. It is bringing your garden and property
into order with a design suited to your likes and needs. It needs
to suit you, your lifestyle, your time and your neighborhood. One
of the primary considerations is the maintenance level and how much
time and energy you have available. The first step is to draw your
property to scale, showing what you already have, such as trees
and shrubs, and what you want to add. This can be a long term work
plan if you can not afford to do all that you want at once.
Principles of design for your landscaping are much the same as
for art and flower arranging. You will want a unified design, one
that flows from one part of the yard to another, it should pull
you along. Focal points, such as a bird bath, a flower bed or a
good view can be central to your design. When laying out plans,
be sure to keep in mind areas for utility, work and play; your yard
should be functional for your lifestyle.
Landscaping can do much to modify your environment. Hedges and
shrubbery can break the wind, and reduce your fuel bills in winter.
Deciduous trees and vines can shade in the summer if planted on
the hot side of your house. Then in winter, after loosing their
leaves, they will allow in needed sunshine and warmth.
Keep scale in mind as you plan. The trees and shrubs you choose
need to suit the house and characteristics of the land. Before planting
that cute, tiny little tree, know the adult height and spread of
it. Big overpowering trees dwarf a small house, smaller trees make
the house appear larger. Foundation plantings, which soften the
outline of the man made materials and serve as an anchor for the
house, are particularly important to keep in scale. Small, compact
shrubby types of plants, usually evergreen are a good choice. Cedars
and arborvitae are popular for the corners. Keep low growing plants
under the windows and be sure to leave room between the plants and
the house so you will be able to paint and maintain the house.
The texture of the plants is important to consider when planning.
A variety of textures and shades are visually appealing. Do a graduation
of plant materials not sudden changes, like big course trees next
to delicate little shrubs. A variation of size, appearance and shape
among the parts of plants produce texture, with smooth and rough
appearances. Color is also a big consideration, and not just seasonal
color with flowers, but varieties of shades of green and grays are
Paths need to be included in your plan. They can be of any material
that fits into your plan; concrete, stones, brick, or nice grass
paths. Be sure to make them wide enough for people to walk several
Nonliving elements can be attractive in your landscaping, such
as statues, wagon wheels, logs and rocks. Be careful, however, it
is very easy to overdo decorations. Better too little than too much.
The form your garden takes is a personal decision and most people
have their own opinions on this. The kind of plants you choose will
do much to determine the form and layout. For example, my approach
is to have a combined garden of flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits
intermixed both in the yard and in the allotted garden space. This
is just confusion to some people, and they prefer to have their
plants in a much more organized form.
Yards are often surrounded by borders and the plants laid out in
drifts. Lawns form the central portion of the landscape in American
gardens, although this is changing as people recognize the resource
waste involved in expansive grass growing. Lawns are shrinking and
vegetable and herb plots are increasing.
Flowers are food for the soul and an important element of a garden.
Even if you do not have formal flower beds, you can tuck flowers
in here and there. Intermix them into the vegetable garden, either
as companions or in rows for cutting. Whatever your overall plan
and design, there are flowers that can be worked in.
Even in a short growing season you can have a long season of bloom.
Perennials can be the base of your flower bloom and then you can
fill in with biennials and annuals. Early spring flowers begin with
the bulbs: crocus, daffodil, tulip, hyacine and grape hyacine. Primroses,
creeping phlox, pulmonaria and violets are some other perennials
that bloom very early. Late spring has too many flowers to name,
but some you may enjoy are iris, peony, lily-of-the-valley, lupines,
all kinds of poppies and many flowering shrubs. By July, delphinium,
day lily, daisies and baby's breath are blooming. By August the
annuals really come into their own and the phlox put on an outstanding
show. September will probably bring frosts, but you can still have
asters, early chrysanthemums, autumn crocus and goldenrod.
The trend is away from large expanses of lawn. As water and resources
become more scarce and expensive, people are planting golf course
size lawns less and less. Lawn can be great for spots, play areas
and paths. Although my lawn seems to shrink some each year, it is
nice to have some grass. To be able to lay on the grass and just
let it absorb your cares of the day is a wonderful treat.
You may opt to lay sod for a quick result, or if you have more
time than money, seeding a lawn is less expensive. Whatever your
choice, seed or sod, the soil should have plenty of organic matter,
and the pH should be slightly acid to neutral.
Grass seed usually has several varieties of seeds mixed, there
are "nurse grasses" mixed in with the permanent grass
seed. Bluegrass is a good choice for sunny areas with high fertility
and moderate moisture. The fescues are also popular and are particularly
good in areas that are shady, sandy and dry. Lawns can be planted
fall or spring.
Compost is excellent for adding
organic matter, manure is also good,
but will give you weeds to pull. Cottonseed meal, five per 100 square
feet raked into the soil is another soil enricher.
Areas of Central Oregon are becoming at serious risk in forest
fire season. As population growth continues and as more and more
people want to live in the "woods," this will become an
increasing problem. Especially for those developments with unrealistic
requirements for the safety of their inhabitants.
You can decrease the flammability of your home with nonflammable
roofing and siding. Everyone should have an emergency plan, know
who (if anyone) is your fire protection agency, and have the tools
that are necessary to fight a small fire.
The forest service says that most homes surrounded by at least
30 feet of defensible space can withstand wildfires. Additional
clearing may be necessary in a heavily wood area or on a hillside
(fire goes uphill like a chimney). To create a defensible perimeter
around your home, it is recommended that you:
- Clear all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet from around
your home. Remove dry grass, underbrush and other combustibles
from the area bordering your structure.
- Trim large trees near your house, pruning the limbs that overhang
your house and that are dead. Large trees should be planted at
least ten feet from your home.
- A watered green-belt ten feet around your house will serve as
a fire line. A green lawn, a tidy rock garden, ornamental shrubbery
or well-spaced trees with branches pruned to a height of eight
feet can all serve this purpose.
- Landscapers with native plants need to be aware that bitterbrush,
manzanita and sagebrush are quite flammable. Scatter them throughout
out the landscape in such a way that they are not in a direct
line leading to your house, giving fire a straight shot. Also
be wary of using too many of them for foundation planting. In
general break up fuel continuity and eliminate the fuel chain
between structures and surrounding forest vegetation.
Flammability of plants depends on age, vigor, moisture content
and chemical characteristics. Some plants used in landscaping can
significantly reduce wildfire hazard. Some recommended plants are:
- Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
- Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)
- Squaw carpet (Ceanothus prostatus)
In general hardwoods are less flammable than conifers.