Good Planting Design Not Beyond The Amateur
Lest you feel that this sort of planting design is too difficult for you, let us state emphatically that it is not. Of course not everyone will be an expert at it immediately, but with practice your knowledge will increase and your skill develop. At first try a few simple combinations or groups. See how they work out. The second year correct last year's mistakes and go on to larger or more difficult problems.
CAUSES OF POOR PLANTING
Poor planting may result from other causes than lack of sufficient thought having been given to the basic design. Lack of knowledge of what plants will grow into after they are set out will lead to the use of the wrong things. This is particularly true of some evergreens. In the nursery the young plants, carefully sheared and tended, are much too attractive. The fact that they will grow into huge spreading trees and bushes is not evident in their demure appearance. But plant them under your windows or close to a pathway and see what they will do in five years time! If you know your plants both as infants and as mature specimens, you can more easily select the right plant for the right place in your compositions.
Avoid quick-growing shrubs and evergreens which are inexpensive because they do grow quickly, and choose the slower, longer-lived sorts that will not outgrow their places too soon. Avoid over planting and remember always that a small shrub grows into a big one. Provide in your plans ample space for future development. Don't get sentimental about plants any more than you can help and use only those that will carry out the design effectively.
Since landscape gardening is a fine art and not a science, as is horticulture, planting design, which is the carrying out of the basic design in terms of plant material, is no less an art. It must be approached with the underlying principles which govern good design, whether it be painting, architecture, sculpture, or gardening, in mind.
Avoid too much emphasis on raising perfect specimens, and keep away from minute subtle combinations in small groups which may be charming if you happen to notice them, but which are usually lost in the largeness of the garden as a whole. Avoid too becoming a hobbyist in plants. Grow many varieties rather than just one or two, for only with several sorts of plants available can you do much in a pictorial way. Keep in mind always the over-all picture of the garden, and create a series of small pictures within that framework which harmonize with each other and with the design as a whole and you cannot go far wrong.
Carrying out a design by using inexpensive plants, bargain lots, or truck loads of small evergreens bought from some peddler is not a good idea either. Rather do part of the job at a time, and do it well with material from a reputable nursery than try to do it all at once and make a mess of it. All leading nurseries will be glad to sell you the better sorts of plant material. They grow the inexpensive varieties because of the demands of an uneducated public. Nurseries are years ahead of popular taste in their lists of material and are often disheartened by lack of public support in their efforts to provide plants better suited to our climate and the usual requirements of home grounds.
- Good Planting Design Not Beyond The Amateur - Since landscape gardening is a fine art and not a science, as is horticulture, planting design, which is the carrying out of the basic design in terms of plant material, is no less an art. It must be approached with the underlying principles which govern good design.
- Garden Patterns - Successful gardens are designed and planted according to patterns, and each pattern is based on principles of design, which are common to all the arts — unity, coherence, and balance. For the purpose of study and comparison garden designs may be classified as formal and informal, conventional or naturalistic, geometric or of free form.
- Locating Your Garden - The location of your garden necessarily depends upon the shape and topography of the lot, the type of house, its position in relation to property lines, and the location of garage, driveway, walks, and service area.
- Simple Versus Complex Patterns - Too often the beginner selects for his first garden the most complicated pattern he can find. As experience increases he simplifies until finally a simple and direct scheme is produced.
- Asymmetrical Patterns - There are places where simple schemes are not suitable. Perhaps, the axis cannot be laid out so as approximately bisect the available area as on a narrow lot. Perhaps one side of the area is much sunnier than the other, or perhaps a symmetrical scheme would seem too rigid, or out of keeping with the design of a rambling house.
- The Importance of Planning - Since landscape and garden design is primarily the arrangement of land for use, planning must precede planting. The two must be integrated, the one to serve as a basis for the other.
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