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A landscape contractor must pass examinations covering soils, grading, plants and various other subjects. Be aware, however, that anyone who thinks they can do landscape work can settle in as a "landscaper", "landscape installer", or "landscape designer". Be sure to check the references, visit other facilities by the contractor, and check with the Business Ethics Office to make sure the contractor is licensed and bonded.

If trees are desired near the structure of the house, choose a tree with a small canopy at full growth so that the branches do not interfere with the porch or roof. Placing tall trees in the yard and medium or small trees on the sides and front makes the house stand out (Figure 19-37). The dogwood (Cornus florida), the Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume), the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), the eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), the deaf wood (Oxydendron arboretum) and the lettuce (Amelanchier) are examples of small trees in the canopy.

Bridging the foliage to hide the corners will make a house wider and more compact. Evergreen plants are often chosen for foundation planting because they retain their color throughout the year. Deciduous plants also have a lot to offer, as many have interesting foliage, colorful bloom, berries or bark. A combination of evergreen and deciduous shrubs can make an attractive foundation planting. Foundation plantings should not be planted within 1m of the house and tall shrubs should be planted further away if necessary. This distance allows the shrubs to grow sufficiently to keep out of the house and minimize possible damage to shrubs caused by snow falling from the roof.

Focal points are made up of carefully placed objects that direct a person's line of sight. Their goal in the garden is to propel the movement and prompt the user to make a decision: How to proceed with this turn on the road? Do I continue on the path that offers the same experience or choose the one that teases the senses by offering an interesting sculpture, tree specimen, bridge or rock? When a focal point is well placed on a user's course, it does not feel manipulated.

Provide intermediate spaces in the newly planted garden so that these open areas are not overgrown with weeds. One option is regular mulching with an organic material, such as pine fines, jagged leaves or double-hammered hardwood mulch. All of these mulches suppress weeds, appear attractive, retain moisture and protect and build healthy soil. Deficiencies can also be filled temporarily with annuals for a few years, provided they are not overcrowded or compete with permanent plantations. Do not over-populate plants during initial planting to create an "unstable landscape" (Figure 19-45).

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