Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Is Best?

What is the "right" way to achieve natural landscaping? There are as many answers to that as there are people and landscapes. The only true right answer is "Whatever next step you are ready for."
If 'best for the environment' was the only criteria, then the following would be true:
1) Traditional landscaping where no lawn chemicals are used is better than a traditional landscaping where chemicals are used.
2) Traditional landscaping that is mowed later in spring, mowed less often, and where mowing is stopped earlier in fall and no chemicals are used is better than 1).
3) Traditional landscaping where those steps are taken and all new plantings are native is better than 2).
4) Traditional landscaping where old non-native plants are replaced by native plants is better than 3)
5) Landscaping that is redesigned with very minimal lawn and the rest of the plantings are native plants is better than 4)
6) Naive landscaping with no lawn is better than 5).
If human use is the only consideration
1) Adding some benches and picnic sets to a traditional landscape is a good starting point.
2) Adding good enclosure around living spaces is better than just adding some furniture.
3) Making a serious study of how the family spends their time and designing living spaces that meet those needs is better than just randomly adding living spaces.
4) Planning for purposeful circulation makes the adding of living spaces in 3) even better.
5) Using only native plants in the design will lower the need for maintenance and increase the interest due to increased insect, bird, and wildlife presence.
If fitting into the neighborhood were the most important criteria
1) Traditional landscaping would be the best answer. Period.
If budget was not an issue we would
1) Redesign and install the whole thing this coming spring.
Since all landscapes are influenced by a combination of environmental factors, family needs, a desire to conform to the neighborhood, and family budget, there is no perfect answer.
So the answer right now is the next step that you are ready for that fits your particular combination of conditions and needs and factors. It doesn't matter so much where you are on the continuum of making changes toward a more native natural landscape, but rather that you are identifying which step to take next and making plans to do it. Every change you made is an improvement over what was there before and so should be celebrated even it if does not meet someone elses ideal criteria. A bit a at time, or slow and steady wins the race. You know what I mean, so get on with it!

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