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Landscaping guided by a series of arbitrary “rules” such as “always plant shrubs in groups of three or five” and “never plant annuals in public places” does not take into account the needs of individual families and sites. Such landscaping rarely gives good design. Good design should not be limited by such stipulated rules. Our goal in landscape design does not just create good visual relationships.
Do you have a big dog that needs space to run? Do you want to have a covered seating area? Do you dream of a large vegetable garden? Is it planned to add a swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen or a fireplace? Do not forget the paths. List all these things. Remember this picture. This is our original drawing for the backyard landscape. We spent a lot of time thinking about what we wanted and how we would use it.
Landscapes are ecosystems. Ecosystems need a diversity of plants of different layers or levels to provide an adequate habitat for wildlife. Consider including a body of water with shallow edges to provide drinking water and swimming for wildlife. The selection of native plants helps attract birds, pollinators and beneficial insects to the yard. See Chapter 20, Wildlife, for specific tips on wildlife attraction and management in the landscape. Edible products that meet most of the design criteria for plant selection are available.
Draw oval-shaped areas on the map to define areas for specific purposes such as patio, playground, flower bed, shrubs, service area, hedge, lawn, etc. Once the basic plan is developed, one can choose which best suits the use and conditions of an area. The land around a house should have a slight slope away from the house so that the water runs away. Lawn areas should be smoothed to make mowing easier. The floors surrounding the houses are sometimes very poor and will require modifications to improve them. Improve the existing soil with organic matter, etc. can be a long and expensive job.
The bricks used or the broken concrete can be used for retaining walls. Recycled plastic can be an appropriate choice for decks or fences. Consider the safety of the repositioning elements before including them in the landscape. For example, chemicals in railway sleepers impregnated with creosote or treated wood with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) can seep into the ground. Better options exist, such as untreated cedar, for use in gardens and in close proximity to food crops. Consider the potential environmental impact of the selected materials, both the impact of their use and the impact of their production, packaging and marketing.
A landscape can be informal, formal or a combination of both. Informal landscapes tend to have curvilinear lines and winding paths. Formal landscapes have more formal planting beds and paths with straight lines. A mixed landscape may have a formal layout, but informal and loose plantations in the frame. The selection of the general layout of the landscape is essential because it helps to define the mood and energy of the space. It is important to get the right layout the first time because it can be long and costly to start over. The overall goal of this step is to bring together all the elements of design as if it were a puzzle so that the final landscape, even after several phases of installation, seems to be a unified and well thought out concept.
Evergreen wild species generally become too large to be effective in a foundation plantation. The back yard is usually the most active area for many families. It should be provided for the practical use of all outdoor installations. This area offers space for outdoor cooking and entertainment, a playground for children, a garden, a clothesline, garbage cans, etc. It is often a place where privacy is preferred.
While a front lawn is a very common feature, consider reducing the area planted with sod. Unless there are designated uses for a lawn area in the front yard, the costs, labor and chemical inputs often involved in the maintenance of a lawn can be avoided by planning a frontal landscape without turf. Incorporate masses of ground coverings or mulched areas into the front landscape to create interesting lines.