Get it all in your landscape!

Get it all in your landscape!

Landscapes can offer significantly more than just lawn and plants and bark mulch.  When well designed, they offer comfortable outdoor living supporting your family’s life style.  They offer us refuge from the sun, wind, rain, heat, and cold through the year.  A well designed landscape supports the many functions that you want to occur on your property. So how do we get it all? By considering everything that we want to do, store, and produce in our landscape before we start planting.

Now is a great time to think about how you and your family spend time outside.  Consider where you are sitting in the hot afternoon of the summer or its cool mornings. Are you comfortable here or are you squeezing into a small area and shading your eyes? Is there room for your children and pets? Is it dusty? Do you need support items such as a paving? A beautiful plant composition to regard while it shades your porch?  Your responses will be the beginning of determining what you want in your landscape. Repeat this exercise at various times through the year noting where it is comfortable or what is needed to make it a more comfortable space.

Consider also the active areas.  Do your children have a comfortable and safe place to play?  Are your pets provided for? Would you like to c cook, dine, dance, or play games? Make a list of all of the activities you would like to have. Next make a list of all of the support items needed for those activities.  Don’t forget storage for toys, furniture cushions, and tools.

Finally, we can think about plants.  Plants can provide us shade, food, color, texture, sound, flowers, habitat, and stunning winter silhouettes. Our choice of plants will determine how much maintenance will be required.

Now that you have outlined all of the things you want in your landscape start developing a plan.

Make a scale drawing of your property. Locate the elements you want in places most appropriate for them given your criteria.  Then start connecting the elements with pathways.  Notice that as you layout paths, you are creating planting spaces.  Move the paths away from structures to provide adequate planting space for the featured tree or vegetable garden you want.  Adjust path alignments as you select plants for your landscape.  Keep massaging your plans until you get the landscape that works for you.

As an example, one of my clients wanted a patio on the side yard away from her home in a specific location so that she could enjoy the mountain views without being completely visible by her neighbors.  She wanted her guests to arrive at the patio through the front while she would arrive via the kitchen and garage. Additionally, she wanted to entertain, water plants, and hang clothes in bare feet.  Once we established each of her uses, we began to connect them with a variety of paths.  The paths were adjusted to create useful planter spaces.  One section of the path moved further out from the house to provide for her favorite shrubs while another section of the path was swooped out and through a wildflower garden directing view to a series of treasured garden features.  Path surfaces were selected that would be comfortable on bare feet.

So you can see how landscapes are so much more than just plants.  Thoughtful consideration of each of the elements you want in your landscape can result in an enjoyable and beautiful environment. If you would like help designing your landscape, Dappled Earth offers landscape classes, consultation, or full design packages. Contact Eileen@DappledEarth.comfor more details.  Enjoy summer!

First printed in Central Oregon Family News August 2010