Thursday, February 18, 2010

How We (Should) Landscape - Diagrams

The pathetic state of landscape design means much of what is out there looks like this:
The default is turf grass lawn, accessorized with foundation plantings and a couple perimeter beds and shade tree here and there.

The future of landscape design should be a default of native plants from local ecosystems.
If there is to be any turf at all, that should be designed as an attractive simple shape, with all other land dedicated the default of native plants.
The native planting are should contain the functional ares.
This example has a living/dining space that would have a large picnic table to also be used for family games and crafts and computer use, and a smaller seating area for relaxation and conversation that would have perhaps an L shape of two benches. Paths connect the living spaces, the house exit doors, and the front drive for arriving guests.

Enclosure of the living spaces and screening to provide privacy and hide ugly views fill in the planting areas.
Tall shrubs and ornamental trees provide walls for the living spaces and to enclose the property as a whole. Remaining areas of the planting space are filled in with prairie grasses and forbs in the sunny areas and woodland understory plants in the shady areas. Native plants with especially pretty flowers or interesting leaf form or attractive seed heads can be planted to provide aesthetically pleasing views from the house and the living spaces and along paths.

Not everyone can afford the time or money to do such an extensive project at once, but having a design of the entire area allows the phasing to be done intelligently.
Key living spaces might be given priority to allow functional use of the outdoors as soon as possible, with other areas filled in as time and budget allow. An ideal last phase, after the native landscape is admired and accepted by the neighborhood, would be to replace the turf grass shapes with a mostly single-species mass of a native plant. Prairie dropseed or little bluestem would make a nice visually calm mass if there is enough sun, or wild geranium or wild ginger could be used if the area has become shaded by trees.

See the separately posted article under the same title for a detailed discussion of the topic of designing the landscape in an environmentally responsible manner with native plants.

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