We are continuing through a 4-week step-by-step guide to starting your own sustainable garden.
This week, we are going to cover some landscaping options for your new garden.
3 Tips for Landscaping your Garden
Landscaping is usually a fairly big task, consuming much time and energy. But before you hire that professional, here are some tips that could save both time and money.
1. Spend some time thinking about exactly how you want the final design to look. You need to take account of the style and function of your general space. Do you want to include an area for entertaining in the same space? Is there to be an area for children to play, a fishpond or a pool? If so, you will want to be sure to plan good “buffer zones” to avoid harm to sensitive plants. An idea of the plants you want to be there will also help. Focus on the area where you spend most of your time. That’s a good place to start.
A good place for a flower garden is generally at the side or rear of the house. The flower garden may be laid out formally in neat little beds, or it may be more of a careless, hit-or-miss sort. Both have their good points.
Great masses of blooms can be lovely, but you should have in mind some feeling of the blending of color. Nature appears not to consider this at all, and still gets wondrous effects. This is because of the tremendous amount of her perfect background of green, and the limitlessness of her space, while we are confined at the best to comparatively contained areas. So we should endeavor not to blind the eyes with clashes of colors which do not blend well at close range. (In order to break up extremes of colors you can always use multitudes of white flowers, or something green like mignonette.)
2. The style of your home must be taken into account. If you have a rural cottage, formal gardens surrounding it could look out of place.
In terms of landscaping a garden that runs alongside your house or other building, a building often needs the help of vines or flowers or both to tie it to the grounds in such a way as to form a harmonious whole. Vines lend themselves well to this work. It is often best to plant a perennial vine, and so let it form a lasting part of your landscape scheme. The Virginia creeper, wisteria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose, the clematis and trumpet vine are all very satisfactory for this use.
Of course, the morning-glory is an annual vine, as is the moon-vine and wild cucumber, and these work as well, if you just want a temporary cover, while on an old fence a hop vine is a thing of beauty.
Flowers may go well along the side of the building, or bordering a walk. What lovelier in early spring than a bed of daffodils close to the house? Hyacinths and tulips, too, form a blaze of glory. Bulbs such as these are little or no bother, and start the spring off in a lovely way.
3. Think also about your lifestyle. Do you want to spend hours caring for many beds of annuals or pruning beds of roses? If so, go ahead and plant them, but if you’d rather spend your free time at the beach, then go for an easy-care garden and landscape, as discussed in our recent newsletter on plant choice.
Here are some different landscape styles you can choose for your own garden:
a. Formal. This style uses lots of straight lines and perfect geometrical shapes. Orderly arrangement of plants instead of random positioning is employed. Close arrangement and pruning is seen on many landscaped gardens with this style.
b. Informal. This kind of landscape gardening works well with cozy cottages. Beds with curved edges instead of straight lines and random placement of plants suit this landscape style.
c. English Garden. This style emphasizes the harmony between the house?s architecture and the garden.
d. Formal/Informal Garden. This style often comes with a brick walkway that exudes formality. This walkway leads to the rear with a circle of plants. The organization of plants resembles the English garden style but it has no formal borders.
e. Oriental. This is often the kind of garden found in small backyards. It often uses lots of rocks, evergreens and water. A wide variety of plants create several interesting angles with this style.
f. Woodland. This landscaping suits a house that has a wooded backyard and sloping ground. It is more wild and unruly, but can look quite sensational if done well.
A Note on Paths:
As far as paths go in general, keep this in mind: a path should always lead somewhere. That is its business — to direct one to a definite place. Straight, even paths are not unpleasing if the effect is to be that of a formal garden. The danger in the curved path is an abrupt curve, or an uneven effect. It can be better for you to stick to straight paths, unless you can make a really beautiful curve.
Garden paths may be of gravel, of dirt, or of grass. One sees grass paths in some very lovely gardens. I doubt, however, if they would serve as well in your small gardens. Small garden areas are so limited that they should be re-spaded each season, and the grass paths are a great bother in this work.
Of course, a gravel path makes a fine appearance, but again you may not have gravel at your command.
If you have the space and will not be re-digging your paths each year, it may be a good idea to put in semi-permanent paths. It’s a bit of work, but offers good and lasting results. To do this, you would scoop out the path for about two feet in depth. Then put in six inches of stone or clinker. Over this, fill in the dirt, rounding it slightly toward the center of the path. There should never be depressions through the central part of paths, since these form convenient places for water to stand. The under layer of stone in this method makes a natural drainage system.
So there you have some choices for your landscaping.
Next time, we’ll be discussing raised beds, which can be a great way to make even a troublesome garden much more successful. You especially won’t want to miss this if you have a poorly drained area, or difficult soil.
So be sure to check back shortly for the next post!
P.S. For more resources to help make your own sustainable garden the best it can be, please visit http://www.newholisticliving.com/sustainablegardening.html. You can also subscribe to our free Sustainable Gardening Newsletter, and get these lessons delivered directly to your inbox!