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You can find hundreds of garden design books and Web sites, but often, the best place to start planning a design is your neighborhood. What yards strike your fancy as you drive by Visit public gardens in your region they're ideal for getting ideas about plants that thrive in your climate. Keep a small camera with you, and snap shots of plant groupings and color combinations that you'd like to replicate in your landscape. Tear pages out of magazines and catalogs, and start a scrapbook. Plan for abundance. Think about how your landscape will look in all four seasons, and include plants that will provide interest year-round. Consider all the things gardens can provide. Add a cutting garden for indoor bouquets plant extra herbs for drying add gourds and berry-filled shrubs for crafts. Install a cold frame and have fresh produce from early spring to late fall. Plan for energy conservation. Strategically placed shade trees help keep your house cool in summer. Proper landscaping can reduce...
Optimizing what goes into your landscaping and what comes out Finding the sources of sustainable materials Buying into biological solutions ne of the coolest things about landscaping your property sustainably is that you, personally, benefit from it. Heck, even if you don't give a hoot about the environment, you're going to save big bucks and avoid having to do a whole lot of hard work that you didn't really want to do anyway. Sustainable landscaping is good for your selfish side and for the planet. In this chapter, I tell you how to make good decisions about what to include in your landscape. I help you select materials and features that make sense for you and the environment, and I show you how to create a dream landscape that's beautiful and easy to live with. The whole idea of sustainable landscaping is creating a practical, well-thought-out landscape system that works for everybody including the environment. The total impact of your landscape, both on- and off-site, should be...
Sustainable landscaping isn't about a look. A Japanese garden can be sustainable. So can an English garden or a desert garden or a woodland garden. A sustainable landscape can be formal or informal, geometric or naturalistic, simple or complex. Other than planting vast swards of mowed lawn in a dry climate, you're pretty much free to choose whatever look you want as long as you follow the principles of sustainability, setting up a smoothly functioning ecosystem that makes minimal demands and creates minimal problems. The key ideas that make sustainable landscaping work are simple and easy to put into practice Living system Nature is a system of interrelated subsystems that work together to form a smoothly operating whole a living, functioning ecosystem. There are many examples of living systems, such as your body (made up of various organs), a forest (filled with many kinds of plants and animals), and the ocean (teeming with millions of interdependent life forms). If you make your...
If you want to create a highly tuned, efficient landscaping system that rewards you with decades of pleasure and beauty, you need to create a landscape that minimizes the need for inputs (the things you bring in) and uses the most efficient and earth-friendly materials when you do need them. It should also generate few (or no) outputs (things that leave the system erroneously called waste ). In this section, I focus on the inputs. Check out the later section Generating Few (or No) Outputs for more on minimizing outputs. Landscaping inputs fall into two categories Maintenance materials that are required to keep your landscape going You have to build your landscape out of something, but there are huge differences among the materials, and many really great sustainable options are available. The more efficient your landscape is, the fewer maintenance materials you'll need.
Before the advent of cheap and readily accessible heating and air conditioning, people used common-sense landscaping to increase the comfort of their homes and to reduce heating and cooling costs. A well-planned landscape can reduce a home's summer air-conditioning costs by 15 percent to 50 percent. Windbreaks can save up to 25 percent on heating costs. Here are a few energy-conservation tips Some municipalities offer financial incentives to homeowners who use water-conserving landscape plants. Consult your local conservation commission, community conservation district, or state department of natural resources to see whether such a program exists in your area.
That word sustainable is everywhere these days. It has a warm-'n'-fuzzy feeling, but you may not really understand what it means when applied to landscaping. Part I is the place to find out. It helps you understand what makes a landscape sustainable, what a sustainable landscape looks like, why it matters, and what it's going to cost you. It also introduces you to the sustainable materials, practices, and principles that go into a landscape system. Finally, Part I helps you decide what you can do yourself and when to call a pro.
When it comes to making your landscaping work properly, good design is everything it determines once and for all how the system will work. Design is especially important when you have big plans in mind. It's detailed, but it's a lot of fun too. Sequence of landscaping operations, start to finish Here's an overview of this whole big monster of a process of turning your nasty ol' yard into a sustainable landscape. Every project has its own particular aspects, quirks, and special needs, but some universals apply to all projects. Landscaping isn't an exact science, and many things can alter the passage from ugly to lovely. You may already have guessed that some of these steps are done concurrently with others. You may still be designing certain aspects of the project while you're building others, for example. (In fact, you probably will be.) Whatever the particulars of your project,
If you're a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, don't be afraid to tackle your whole landscaping project by yourself. This book won't make a seasoned landscape architect or contractor out of you, but it gives you the information you need to be successful. It also warns you about doing anything that's really dangerous. There's a time and place to turn to professionals for help with the design or construction of your landscape. Noticing your weak spots and getting help is key. A good landscape architect or garden designer can turn out a better landscape design than you probably can, and the fees can be a good investment in creating a project that costs much less to maintain over time. Similarly, a qualified landscape contractor can get the job done better, faster, and sometimes cheaper. In the following sections, I fill you in on who the various landscape professionals are and how you can find the ones you need.
M n my many decades of creating and maintaining landscaping, no client has ever asked me for a high-maintenance garden. Never. It's safe to assume that few people see weeding, mowing, pest control, and pruning as fun lifestyle elements, yet people accept these chores as though they had no choice. Even avid gardeners grow weary of some of the maintenance tasks their gardens require. Most everyone accepts the myth that a proper garden needs a lot of care and nurturing, but such high maintenance is unnecessary. Instead of playing God with your landscape pruning things into submission, deciding what lives and what dies, and arranging your little world just the way you want sustainable gardening recognizes that your garden is part of a larger, natural system. A sustainable landscape, by contrast, exists in a peaceful state within its boundaries and causes no harm to others. The strongest smell escaping from it is the fragrance of the freesias the loudest noise comes from the songbirds....
Some people love 'em some people hate 'em. The truth is that you probably don't want to attract bears, wolves, or rattlesnakes to your backyard they're better off in the wilds. But lots of other animals, birds, and insects are an important part of a sustainable landscape. Maintaining a wildlife-friendly landscape isn't just about attracting beneficial insects like honeybees, which pollinate your food crops. Foraging animals, such as skunks and opossums, can help keep the pest population down. Provide food, shelter, and water for native critters, and the whole system benefits. For an example, see the Missouri Department of Conservation's Landscaping for Backyard Wildlife page at mdc.mo.gov nathis backyard backwild. Check out Figure A-4 to discover ways to attract wildlife to your yard.
The color of your plantings as well as your hardscape features works to create many different effects. Use color to generate a look and mood that's appropriate to your particular situation. For instance, I like to use plantings in bright yellows, oranges, and reds in front yards to create a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere. A single bold red plant can really liven up a portion of your landscape. And something variegated (with multicolored leaves), such as a spider plant, can brighten a shady area under a tree where it's difficult to get flowers to grow. You can use these simple strategies in many contexts with many kinds of plants. From a sustainability perspective, the color of pavement can affect the liv-ability of the area you're landscaping. The relative reflectivity (or albedo as we fancy-pants landscape architects like to call it) of a surface can make it literally hot or cool. And very few people enjoy having to sit or walk on a surface that's too hot.
Shrubs are often the easiest group of plants to care for, assuming that you've chosen well. When properly used, shrubs demand little in the way of fertilizer, water, and other resources. In fact, a good shrub is as sustainable as anything you can imagine, getting all it needs from sun, soil, and rain. If I've convinced you that you need to include a few shrubs in your landscape, read on for more information.
There are three things to consider in selecting plants. They are, in the order you should consider them plant hardiness, site conditions and suitability for your landscape design. Plants vary in their sunlight requirements. For example, the Japanese yew does well in shade, but junipers need full sunlight to grow well and look their best. As you evaluate alternative landscape designs, consider shade patterns created by buildings and existing plants. Extension publications A2865, A Guide to Selecting Landscape Plants in Wisconsin, and A2970, Salt Injury to Landscape Plants, contain more information on these subjects.
Part II gives you in-depth details on designing a landscape. You discover site analysis (a fancy term for looking at stuff with your brain in gear) screening for sustainable features and basic principles of landscape design, including some of the tricks the pros use to create those killer gardens in the fancy magazines. This part provides information on how to handle special situations and how to stay safe and out of trouble. It also provides you with plenty of information on creating a great landscape plan.
Going through a sustainability overview Creating a sustainable landscape Good design The key to success Working out your plan Making maintenance easy and safe m ook at nature. Nobody gardens nature. Nature quietly thrives, while A down in town, everyone takes up arms every Saturday morning hacking, decapitating, shearing, poisoning, ripping, and tearing their yards, not to mention sweating and swearing. Lucky for you, this book is all about how to develop your landscaping along natural models so you can enjoy lovely, environmentally friendly surroundings and get a break from the battle. This chapter gives you an overview of what sustainable landscaping is, why it matters, how it works, and how you can transform your property into a beautiful, functional sustainable landscape. If you start with this chapter, you'll have a good grasp of the basics, and then you can move on to whatever sections of the book apply to your current situation or whatever you're curious about.
0esigning a landscape that looks great and also works well (that's the sustainable part) can seem intimidating and mysterious if you haven't done it before. But if you follow the steps in this chapter, you shouldn't have any trouble putting together a beautiful, sustainable landscape.
GARDEN design The presence of outdoor furniture at the show is deceptively small some 25 dealers at most. But among them are the cr me de la cr me of the European market Dedon, Royal Botania, Kettal, Sifas,Val-Eur, Domani. Because historically European exterior design has led the way for innovations in outdoor furnishings in the United States, it was great fun for the editors of Garden Design to catch a look at what the future holds for our own backyards drama, color, brave new forms and inventive technology. And be assured there are no Don't Touch signs anywhere. Most of these firms have American distribution, and some are willing to ship direct. So don't be shy.
Knowing the nonsustainable landscaping pitfalls Avoiding resource- and money-sucking mistakes a onsidering all the nonsense that's out there about landscaping and gardening practices, I don't think you need to feel bad about committing some of the gaffes listed in this chapter. After all, it's human nature to think that if everyone's doing something, it must be right.
Home landscape designs vary according to family needs and preferences, but successful designs have certain underlying principles in common. Plants and landscape structures of similar visual importance help create balance in a landscape design. With color, form, texture, size and other features, you can direct attention to several areas of the yard. Balance may be symmetrical ( formal ), in which each side of the yard is similar in pattern, or asymmetrical ( informal ), in which each side attracts the same attention even though objects and spacing are not repeated. Lines may be straight or curved. Landscape designers frequently lay out patios, decks and planting beds using straight lines that extend - or parallel - house and lot lines. Equally successful - and more naturalistic designs can be created with curved lines. Straight and curved lines can be combined in a design, but it is difficult for the beginning designer to do this successfully. Both plants and building materials can be...
Many people enjoy gardening as a hobby, and residential gardens have changed over the years in a way similar to how fashions change, since new cultivars are introduced and others fall out of favor. Although the design of a garden is a matter of personal taste, a few guidelines can be followed. The success of your garden design depends mainly on how well your chosen plants fit with your soil and climate. What do you think are important factors to consider when choosing plants for the garden
A well-landscaped yard adds greatly to the enjoyment of one's home. It also adds to the value of the property. It is difficult to put a dollar value on the landscape, but most real estate agents agree that the value can be somewhere between 5 and 20 percent of the value of the property. An average value is about 13 percent. From this, you can see that landscaping is good business. Most homeowners take several years to plan and plant their yards. They may seek the help of a landscape nursery or prefer to draw their own plans and buy the plants that are needed. Landscape architects occasionally design home landscapes, but they are usually kept busy on larger commercial and public projects. Books have been written on landscape design and persons planning to do their own landscaping should study the topic as much as possible. The first step in landscaping is drawing the plan. This is followed by selecting materials and finally by planting and maintenance. Each of these steps is...
After you know exactly which plants you want to use (check out Chapters 16, 17, and 18 for ideas), you draw them to scale. The planting plan accomplishes three things. First, it helps you to see how many plants you'll need to purchase. Second, it helps you visualize the final planting design. And third, it becomes a reference that you can use at planting time to remember exactly what you had in mind. Oh, and if you're getting a permit for your landscaping, you need a planting plan to submit to the agency. To draw a planting plan, get out a piece of tissue paper, place it over your base sheet, and draw a final planting plan like the one shown in Figure 6-5. (If you haven't created a base sheet, check out the earlier section Using your measurements to create a base sheet. ) Use a circle template or a compass to draw each plant to scale at its mature size. Planting plan.
Landscaping, like life, has its ups and downs literally, in the case of steps. Negotiating the journey safely and comfortably doesn't mean throwing environmental considerations out the window, however. First refer to Chapter 12 to pick out the sustainable material you want to use, and then head to Landscaping For Dummies, which tells you how to build garden steps out of stone or timber. Here I provide tips for putting steps together safely and sustainably
Very few landscaping emergencies exist at any time and none at all exist during the early stages of your project. The best gardens have been developed over years, decades, and even centuries. Take your time. You're going to live with your new landscaping for a very long time. Why not do yourself a favor and give the design phase all the attention it needs You'll be happy you did. The chapters in Part II can help.
Plantings, hardscape, and other landscaping features create lines of sight. Lines of sight can be explicit, such as elements arranged strictly along an imaginary central line called an axis or perhaps an all e (a long double row) of trees, or it can be subtle, such as a gently curving path. Lines lead the eye through the scene and help make sense of the elements it contains. Have a look at Figure 5-5 to see what works and what doesn't. Sample landscaping plans showing bad (left) and good uses of lines. Sample landscaping plans showing bad (left) and good uses of lines.
When you've decided that you want to hire professionals to help with all or some part of your landscaping project, you have plenty of choices. There are lots of players on a landscaping team. Here's a quick primer (in the order you may hire them, from design through construction and maintenance) Gardener Even sustainable landscapes require some maintenance. After your landscaping project is done, you may want to hire a gardener to maintain it. Most gardeners aren't capable of doing much landscaping work beyond putting in some plants. Finding qualified gardeners is difficult most have no formal training and are more outdoor housekeepers than horticulturists. And few of them pay attention to sustainable-landscape maintenance. You may also want to turn to your local nursery for help. Aside from selling plants and supplies, nurseries can offer advice on planting design. Another possible resource is landscape supply stores, which sell tools, equipment, and landscape materials such as...
Many sustainable processes don't just make things less bad they make them a lot better than how they started out. If you really take this advice far enough, your landscaping will go beyond sustainability to become a net producer of great stuff food, fresh air, cooler homes, more wildlife, happier people, and more. All kidding aside, I consider it an honor to share my lifetime of experience in and passion for sustainable landscaping with you. I wish you the most fun ever in making your dreams come true. Best of luck Sustainable Landscaping The Basics
If you're planning to do some or all of a project's construction work yourself, it certainly helps to know how. Many basic tasks of landscaping may seem like menial work to you shoveling, digging holes and trenches, and grading soil, for example but even they must be done properly to achieve success. Other landscape elements, such as constructing arbors, patios, and walls or installing irrigation and lighting, require different skills carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and others.
Know that they can pose landscaping difficulties. But be assured that they also can offer tremendous opportunities. Properly used, slopes add interest to a landscaping plan. They can screen views, buffer noise, and direct the eye. They can even create illusions a rail fence along the top of a gentle slope can make the yard within seem to extend to the edge of the world. Slopes, though, can be limiting. For instance, if your site slopes so much that you'd use the word hillside to describe it, you'll want to choose a natural, flowing landscape design instead of a symmetrical, formal plan.
If you hire a landscaping company to do a major landscaping project, that company will send a crew of maybe four or five people who, depending on the scope of the work, will put in perhaps 1,200 hours of time. Divide that by the 10 hours you'll realistically have on the weekends, and you're in for a rude awakening. That comes out to 120 weekends, which is about 3 to 5 years of work time, depending on how much rain or snow you get where you live. Is that what you had in mind How much of this project are you really going to do You may want to put in some plants, spread some mulch, and maybe do a brick walkway yourself. But unless you're qualified, hire a landscaping company to take care of the complicated or labor-intensive tasks heavy grading, woodwork, and masonry structures to name a few.
If you're planning to do the work of building a whole new landscape, you can look forward to a lot of physical effort. Even a smaller project can be hard work. Landscaping isn't crocheting doilies. On the other hand, it can be a wonderful opportunity to get outside and get some exercise, and it can be a lot of fun too. As with anything new, concerns come up. You'll be making a big, expensive, long-term commitment to your landscaping, and you need to know that this isn't some goofy New Age idea that doesn't really deliver the goods. Here are some facts to set your mind at ease Myth Sustainable landscapes are ugly. Truth Plants in a sustainable landscape are healthy and vigorous, and have room to grow into their beautiful natural forms. Structures are made from natural materials, with their inherent beauty showing through. Sustainable landscapes are green, flowery, fresh, and lovely not parched gravel beds with thorny, nasty-looking plants (unless that's what you want, of course). Myth...
I know a few landscaping pointers, and I'm not holding any of them back. Paragraphs with this icon next to them are places to get the inside scoop on doing things right. Sustainable landscaping isn't for sissies. You can get smacked down in lots of ways. Heed the warnings, and nobody gets hurt.
Weeds are difficult to control because they evolved to be aggressive, sneaky, virile, and just plain annoying. If you don't get the weeds under control before you install your landscaping, they'll come right through and make a mess of your lovely work. Annual weeds will come back from seed, and perennial weeds will poke up from old root systems. The easiest and best way to tackle a weed problem is to get 'em during the site prep stage. Beating weeds early saves time and effort you won't have to fight them after your landscaping is in place. Just remember that herbicides damage the environment, so you want to practice sustainable weed control instead. I explain everything you need to know in the following sections.
A landscaping project really is many projects rolled into one. Depending on the scope of your project, you may be doing demolition, moving and grading soil, installing irrigation and drainage systems, building all sorts of structures, planting plants, mulching, and doing a lot more. Some tools, such as shovels and rakes, are common to many of these tasks, and you'll get to know them quite well indeed. Other jobs particularly hardscape construction (see Chapter 14) require special and sometimes costly tools. You probably already have the basic tools others can be rented or borrowed. (Buying tools that you only use once or twice isn't very sustainable, is it )
Landscape construction is heavy work involving tools and equipment that are often much bigger, harder, sharper, and more powerful than you. Because you'll be doing your landscaping sustainably, you won't be using toxic chemicals, so that problem's out of the way. But you have to deal with numerous other considerations to stay in one piece and to keep your family and others safe
After you've completed your landscaping, it will still require maintenance. After all, there's no such thing as no-maintenance landscaping. But by designing for sustainability and building things so they last, you'll be reducing the materials, effort, and money that go into keeping the place in shape. Water is in short supply in most places now, and it just isn't right to use potable water to irrigate lawns and decorative plants when people in other parts of the world are going thirsty. Fortunately you can greatly reduce your landscape water use without compromising the appearance and function of your garden. Check out the Cheat Sheet as well as the chapters in Part III for everything you need to know about the big subject of water conservation. Have you ever wondered why we need to fertilize Nobody fertilizes the mountains or the forests, yet they grow perfectly well century after century. If you suspect something strange about the constant need to feed garden plants, you're right....
Outputs, the so-called waste products of landscaping, occur because of inefficiencies in the design of the system. When a landscape is designed as a linear system (where materials are taken from nature, used once, and then thrown away), it's inevitable that a lot of waste will occur. On the other hand, nature itself is a cyclical system. Each element in a cyclical system stays within that system, eliminating the need for both inputs and waste. The goal of sustainable landscaping is to develop a minimum-waste, minimum-output system. You can eliminate (or at least minimize) negative outputs by optimizing your inputs. This kind of efficiency is the synergy of a finely-tuned system at work. (Check out the earlier section, Getting the Most Out of What You Put Into Your Landscape for more details on optimizing your inputs.)
Contemplating how much time and money you want to spend in the garden Preparing a sustainable landscaping toolkit Getting professional help when you need it J landscaping project calls up numerous resources. This is less true of the sustainable landscape, of course, but you still have major demands on your time, money, and abilities. If you're considering doing all or part of the work as a do-it-yourself project, you need to get an idea of how much time and energy you have. You also need to examine your ability to do the work. And if you plan to work with professionals in the design and construction of the project, it really helps to know who the players are and how to work with them. In this chapter, I fill you in on all this and more.
Instead of treating the unwanted parts of your existing landscaping as waste, see whether anything could be useful in constructing your new landscaping soil, trees, broken concrete, bricks from your old patio, useful plants, or artsy junk. Set these reusable castoffs aside for later use.
When most people hear the word landscaping or garden, they think of plants. Plants are the heart of the garden, and with the underpinnings out of the way, the fun of populating your property with trees, shrubs, perennials, and other plants begins in this part. Here you see how to design gorgeous plantings that also really work, demanding little care and few resources. You get the dirt on soil, composting, and mulching. You find out how to buy, install, and care for plants. And of course, you read all about lawns but not just any old lawns you find out about alternatives to conventional lawns and lawn care.
Quality landscaping can be a substantial investment. If you landscape your entire property, assuming you live on a typical suburban lot, you'll spend between 10,000 and 30,000 on materials and that much again in labor if you hire the work out to licensed professionals. However, you can spend much less on materials if you use what's on site and tap the waste stream for materials such as broken concrete and salvaged timbers. The trick is to have a satisfying, durable end result that justifies what you've put into it in terms of both time and money. In the following sections, I help you get an idea of how much time and money you can expect to devote to a sustainable landscaping project.
Most people are overwatering their landscaping, and lawns are getting most of this largesse. Good water management involves a bit of education and some careful attention to changing conditions, not simply watering on a fixed schedule that ignores actual water need. Water management doesn't cost a penny, and you'll start seeing lower water bills right away. Visit Chapter 9 for complete information on ways to manage your water properly.
Consider the scope of the work and how much time it will take you to do it or have it done. It's amazing what you can accomplish in a weekend or two, if you've planned things out thoroughly in advance. Not every sustainable landscaping project has to take months out of your life. Looking at the sidebar on the sequence of landscaping operations, you'll see a lot of tasks. Evaluate how many of those tasks are part of your project. A smaller job may involve only a little demolition, some planting, and a layer of mulch. A full-yard remodel could require work in every category and therefore call for some serious advance choreography. Whatever the scope of your project, keep in mind that many landscaping tasks are dependent on the time of year. If you'll be getting professional help with some or all of the job, talk to your contractor about the timing from his or her perspective. Think about your cash flow, too, if that's a consideration.
As the permaculturists always say Use biological approaches to landscaping before technological ones. (Not sure what a permaculturist is Check out the nearby sidebar, What's permaculture ) In other words, use plants to do the job that hardscaping might. For instance, a 50 tree will shade your house more effectively than a 5,000 aluminum patio cover. Besides, it also uses no energy, absorbs pollution, creates oxygen, provides a home for birds, and creates a couple dozen other benefits. Choosing biological solutions before technological ones and stacking functions (making each element serve multiple purposes) are ideas that come from the rich and fascinating world of permaculture. Developed in the 1970s in Australia, permaculture is a design system much like sustainable landscaping. The term is difficult to define, but many practitioners have taken a shot. For example, here's one definition by Graham Bell in the book The Permaculture Way (Permanent Publications, 2005) It sounds a lot...
Faulty drainage can play havoc with the best-laid landscaping plan, so pay close attention to where water on your property is coming from, and where it's going. Correct any drainage difficulties before you begin a project, and consider how the project will affect existing drainage patterns when it's completed.
Water comes in many forms natural water, applied water, harvested water, problem water, and lack of water. Water is obviously important to your landscaping. It supplies plants with one of their basic needs, and it can also cause damage if you don't deal with drainage issues. By harvesting rainwater, you solve both problems at once. You're moving water safely away from trouble spots like your living room and into parts of your property where it can grow plants and reduce your dependence on city water.
You may come to your landscaping project as a seasoned landscaper or maybe even as a professional. On the other hand, you may not know what a rake is used for. Whatever your skill level, you need to inventory what you bring to the project and then decide how much to do yourself and how much to hire out. In this section, you do a little self-evaluation.
Trace over the base sheet onto another sheet of paper (drafting paper is semi-transparent). Use Figure 6-3 as a base sheet model. You use this base sheet as a template for the actual plans concept plan, planting plan, irrigation plan, and so on. If drawing a base sheet is a bit much for you, you do have other options. You can hire a surveyor or landscape architect to create your base sheet. You may also look into landscape design software (check out for software recommendations). You'll still have to go through all the measuring and plotting, though, so those programs don't really keep you from having to do that work.
You wouldn't think of building a house by gathering up some lumber, concrete, and roofing materials and then making the house up as you went along. First you need a plan to direct the course of the work and ensure a satisfactory outcome. Landscaping is no different. In fact, the landscape, especially the sustainable landscape, is complex, and it demands a great deal of thought if you want to end up with something that works well and looks good. When most people think of a landscape design, they imagine a set of plan drawings showing where everything is going to be located the trees and shrubs, the patio, the paths, and all the rest. When you hire someone to design your landscaping for you, this is one of the things you get for your Drawing full-blown landscape plans If you'll be laying out an entirely new landscape, with paving, retaining walls, outdoor rooms of various kinds, and lots of details, draw it all to scale using the techniques and plans I describe throughout this chapter....
Unfortunately, tractors, skid-steer loaders, trenchers, and other heavy-duty landscaping tools are hard on the environment, and they really aren't very efficient when you factor in the effects and costs of making, buying or renting, fueling, repairing, and disposing of them. In their landmark book Sustainable Landscape Construction A Guide to Green Building Outdoors (Island Press, 2007), J. William Thompson and Kim Sorvig point out that an earthmover can move 20 cubic yards of soil 600 feet in less than 2 minutes a task that would take eight workers using hand tools a whole day. But the machine's energy consumption is four times that of the laborers, and food to fuel the workers is renewable, whereas fuel for the machine is not. Workers generally don't spew diesel smoke or make a big racket, either.
When you think about those massive beds of marigolds and petunias that some gardeners laboriously renew every spring, you may conclude that annuals and biennials are about as far from sustainable landscaping elements as nuclear-powered riding mowers. But some of them are most welcome in the sustainable landscape.
Lawns use tons of water and create other problems as well. In fact, lawns are the most consumptive of all landscaping features. If you can't eliminate your lawn, make it smaller. And if you can't make it smaller, at least manage watering well. Aerate your lawn and remove thatch once or twice a year to allow water to penetrate.
I'll be the first to admit that this book is almost all you need to create and maintain a sustainable landscape. Nonetheless, there are some other great resources out there that you should know about. Local government agencies, such as the public works department, often have community-specific resources and tips on water conservation, waste reduction, and other aspects of sustainable landscaping. Visit the gardening section of your local bookstore. Talk to local nurseries and landscape supply stores. And of course there's the Internet, which is rich with timely information on all aspects of sustainable landscaping (but also rife with unreliable and inaccurate information). I refer you to reliable Web sites throughout this book. But you can also search on a particular topic, such as integrated pest management or water harvesting, and turn up more information than you could ever even read. To cull out the junk and find the best information, focus on university
Demystifying deep design Looking at your land with design in mind Examining the elements of your landscape Considering what you want hat if I told you I know a technique that can help you design a garden WW that's more sustainable, more beautiful, and more fun than any you've ever had You'd be pretty excited, wouldn't you Well, you're in luck I've got the goods The wonder-cure that can help you create sustainable, beautiful, fun gardens is what I call deep design, and it's simply the practice of combining the art of making your landscaping look good with the science of making it work properly it's design that considers more than just appearance. Most of what passes for landscape design is about exterior decorating the art of putting pretty plants around in color-appropriate combinations and accenting them with attractive lawn furniture and accessories, much as one decorates a living room. Skillfully done, exterior decorating can make for some lovely effects. There's nothing wrong...
That's what sustainability is all about. Gardens can be that way again. All over the world, people are getting wise to the fact that they have an alternative to the dysfunctional industrial commercial landscaping model that's been jammed down our throats by advertising and ignorance.
Whether your project is small or massive, the practice of deep design (refer to What the heck is sustainable landscaping, anyway earlier in this chapter) demands careful observation and attention to detail. I've been told that in ancient times, Japanese garden designers sat on the site every day, all day, for a year, carefully noticing the way the sun moved how the trees responded to wind what animals visited and many more subtleties that can
So before every rainy season, grit your teeth, get out your ladder, and clean the gutters. When you're safely back on the ground, run a hose down your catch basins to dislodge any trash, rat carcasses, sidewinders, or small kids from the drain pipes. Check your surface drainage and make any corrections, remembering that the grades you carefully set up when you put in your landscaping may have changed due to intentional or accidental soil movement, sedimentation, settling, plant growth, trash buildup, or other causes. Look at erosion control blankets, wattles, check dams, and other erosion control structures to make sure they're still in place and working properly. It sure is difficult to work on this stuff when it's pouring rain.
Microorganisms also are an immensely important element of living soil. The billions of beneficial bacteria, fungi, insects, and other critters that live in just a handful of soil are responsible for the health of both the soil and the plants. Protecting and nurturing these microorganisms turns out to be one of the most essential tasks of sustainable landscaping. Nothing is better than vital, living soil to make plants grow well.
When I show people what I use to maintain my garden, they stare in disbelief. I love tools, and over the years I've owned nearly everything made for gardening and landscaping work. But can you guess what I use in my own garden A pair of hand pruning shears, a small trowel, and sometimes a weeding tool known as an asparagus knife. Oh, I have other tools. I use a shovel to plant big things, and a hose to water. I have lots of stuff out in the garage, and once in a while I actually use something for a special task. But mostly, the pruning shears and the trowel are it. Together, they cost around 80. I have to laugh when I look at these gardening catalogs full of gadgets that I have no use for. Then there's power equipment. Do you need to eliminate it from your tool kit if you want to garden sustainably The best answer is that by creating a sustainable garden, you've eliminated so much of the usual work that tools both manual and powered are much less necessary.
In the ideal scenario, your house is on top of a hill, and the landscaping is downhill from the house. The tank should be located next to the house so that it can gravity-feed into the yard. If the tank is lower, count on using a small electric pump to send the water uphill.
Having drawn your base map, you now have done more professional landscaping than most people ever accomplish. The next step is to tape a piece of tracing paper over your base plan and go outside again. This time, on the tracing paper, make notes about your yard, similar to those shown below. Indicate any feature that may affect your landscape decisions sun, wind, good and bad views, privacy needs, soil, topography, and any other problems or special features your yard presents. Put in arrows to indicate directions or intensity. Only after doing such a plan can you put the information in the rest of this book into the climate and context of your yard. Combine the possibilities with your own realities, and you will make decisions that will enhance the best and change the worst landscaping features.
Don't be afraid to repeat design elements in your garden repetition makes the design that much stronger. Think of a forest with thousands of the same kind of tree, each with the same vegetation underneath. A forest like this beautiful, yet most people seem timid about using repetition in their landscaping.
7he science of sustainable landscaping isn't a closed book. We're still learning, and some problems are harder to solve than others. Irrigation is a tough one, because unless you live in a wet climate or want to carry water up from the river in your hat, you may have to depend on some kind of technology. Even sustainable landscapes need some supplemental irrigation, if only to get plants established. Most plants, even native ones, perform better with optimal watering, and if nature doesn't provide it, it's your job to take up the slack. Finally, if you have to purchase and distribute municipal water, I show you how to do it as efficiently as possible. You have to weigh the benefits and drawbacks to decide whether a conventional high-tech plastic irrigation system is right for your sustainable landscape and, if so, what kind.
Living lawns are a huge part of the negative environmental impact of landscaping, but substituting a sea of plastic is going in the wrong direction. A far better alternative is to install a meadow of native grasses or other perennials. Better yet, put in a diverse garden of useful plants that wildlife will appreciate and that you'll enjoy for food.
You have lots of variables to consider, and costs vary wildly depending on the kinds of improvements you'll be making. A flagstone patio can cost 20 or 30 times what a ground cover would for the same area, for example, and generally speaking, landscaping an entire yard front and rear can set you back the price of a new car or two. But many smaller projects and improvements won't break the bank.
One of the best ways to mess up your sustainable game plan is to mindlessly drive over to your local garden-supply store and get a bunch of the same old stuff without asking yourself or the clerks where it came from and what the impacts of the purchase will be, both in your landscape and at the source of the materials. You need to ensure that you're keeping your impact on the environment to a minimum. Additionally, some of the building materials common to landscaping projects present toxicity problems such as offgassing of chemicals into the atmosphere, leaching them into the soils, and in some cases presenting significant risks to people and animals through direct contact. And don't forget toxicity to the workers who make and use the materials. Table 2-2 shows some toxic and harmful landscape materials and their nontoxic alternatives.
Climate affects nearly every aspect of the sustainable landscape. Choose strategies that are best adapted to your climate so that not only is the end result more useful, but it also makes fewer demands on resources. Tuning your design in to the local climate can even make your house more comfortable and save energy inside. For example, you can determine where the prevailing winds come from and use that information to locate outdoor rooms in calmer areas, develop windbreak plantings to improve overall conditions on the property, and perhaps even funnel summer winds onto your land for natural cooling. An important application for climate data is in selecting plants that will survive and thrive. This consideration is so critical that all gardening and landscaping literature, sustainably oriented or not, addresses it in detail. One of the most important pieces of information about any given plant is its hardiness, which is how well it tolerates cold. (Despite the connotations of the term,...
The implications for irrigation (and for many other landscaping practices) are significant. If you've been deep-soaking your yard, you may have been wasting a lot of water or recharging the groundwater at your own considerable expense. If you water only at the base of plants and ignore the soil out in the open, you've been doing the plants a terrible disservice. Effective watering covers the entire root system and goes no deeper than the roots do. That means wide, relatively shallow coverage, which can be done with sprinklers, drip on a grid, or hand watering.
The traditional cycle of fertilize, grow, prune, dispose of the prunings, and fertilize some more is wasteful, expensive, and damaging to the environment. Americans put more fertilizer on their landscaping than is used in all the world's underdeveloped countries to grow food. It's shameful, especially considering how unnecessary it is. A sustainable garden doesn't get pushed hard to grow only so you can cut it all down and throw it away. Plants can live quite well on their own droppings. This is nature's way stuff falls off the plant and returns to the system. Hauling it away and then importing synthetic fertilizers is cuckoo. True, there are times when you should fertilize (to give your plants a boost or to stimulate growth of young plants). But if you help the plant recycle its own waste, it will reward you with steady, healthy growth.
As your landscape plan develops and the woody plants grow, you will have to adjust your gardening below and around them. Every plant has different sun and shade needs. Some thrive in a wide range of light conditions others perish in the wrong exposure. Some survive in shade but need sun to bloom and bear fruit.
Sun moves in a specific and predictable way each day, and each room of your house is exposed to the sunlight in a unique way. Your landscape can work to make the house more comfortable. You may want to shade the east and west sides to protect against hot morning and evening sun, for instance.
You wouldn't wear a hot pink shirt with bright orange pants unless you were headed to a Halloween party, right Well, similarly, being careful to coordinate the colors of your plantings, hardscape elements, and house helps everything to look attractively harmonious. That's unity in action. (For more on color, turn to the section titled Color Letting your landscape's true colors shine through, later in this chapter).
A zone is a particular physical area of your landscape, served by its own separate zone valve that turns it on and off. Zone valves can be operated manually or automatically by a controller that sends 24 volts of electricity to the valves via underground wires. Valves are grouped in manifolds (branched pipes) in one or more locations throughout the landscape. Manual valves are installed aboveground so they can be operated conveniently automatic valves are placed underground in plastic valve boxes.
Every element in your landscape should fulfill some purpose. Nothing should be there just because some clever advertising made you buy it or because you're trying to impress the neighbors. For example, a ground cover planting may help control erosion on a slope, a patio can offer a place for you and your family to hang out, and landscape lighting makes your property safer at night.
Gardens are places for lingering, and it's difficult to linger unless you have a comfortable place to sit or lie down. So you'll probably want to include some furniture in your landscape. Purchase commercially available green furniture. Many manufacturers now offer well-designed, carefully built sustainable garden furniture of all kinds and at reasonable prices. Spend a little time on the Internet to uncover all sorts of possibilities.
Incorporating small livestock into your landscape system may sound outrageous, but it makes sense to balance the extraction of food crops with the input of animal-based nutrients such as chicken manure. This arrangement replicates ancient agricultural systems and is one of the core principles of permaculture. On this planet, plants and animals support one another leaving the animals out of your system forces you to import expensive (and inferior) fertilizers to make up the difference. But when you add animals to your sustainable landscape, you get to enjoy the benefits of both plant and animal productivity.
One of the key strategies in a sustainable landscape is making use of what you have to work with on the site. Irrigation is no exception. Harvesting the rainwater that falls onto your land is the primary means of ensuring that your plantings have the water they need. Using water from the sky has several benefits It's relatively pure, it picks up nitrogen from the atmosphere on the way down, and it's free. Instead of developing a drainage system that efficiently throws all the rain away, as most landscapes do (see Figure 7-1), develop your landscape to conserve that water.
You can choose to create a sustainable landscape that needs no irrigation system and no water management. First, evaluate the native plant communities in your area (hint take a hike) and decide whether they meet your property's needs. If they do, you may be on your way to achieving the deepest level of sustainability the no-water native landscape. Your landscape doesn't have to be strictly native to do well without watering. Plants from any region of the world where the climate is similar to yours can work. Choose your plants carefully Chapters 16, 17, and 18 can help.
KBEff The bottom line is that people respond strongly to design and to how it's carried out in the actual landscape. So if you make a place that's unsettling, nobody will want to use it. No doubt you've seen and visited places like this. In fact, your backyard may be one of them. On the other hand, you can use design to create a place that evokes positive feelings, such as safety, calm, curiosity, peace, or delight. As a designer, you have incredible control over how people feel and behave. Use your power wisely, and your landscape will be a source of joy for years to come.
Unless you live where no open ground is available, don't depend on potted plants to form the backbone of your landscape. No plants are native to pots, and most plants wouldn't be caught dead in a pot. Well, actually, they're caught dead in pots all the time that's the problem. A plant in a pot is slowly being tortured to death, because there's just not enough root run for any but the smallest or most highly specialized plants.
The vertical plane, or walls, in your landscape can be made of plants or manufactured materials. A wall may be connected to a floor and a ceiling of some sort to create an outdoor room, which I discuss in Using Sustainable Hardscape Features to Build an Outdoor Room, later in this chapter. Walls don't have to be restricted to the outer boundaries of your property. Use interior walls to create outdoor rooms and break the space into interesting subspaces.
The dance between repetition and variety in landscape design is a delicate one. After all, repetition is important for unity, but including elements that contrast with one another in color, form, shape, and overall character can add a lot of life to the composition. For instance, if you want to create a lively scene, plant light-colored foliage against a dark background, place rough natural stones against refined smooth concrete, and use trees or overhead structures to produce patterns of sun and shade. These are just a few ways to add variety to your design.
Landscape architects have cool drafting equipment, including computer-based drafting software, but you don't need that much to develop a good landscape design. In fact, good design is about thinking, not about drawing pretty pictures. And all you need to think is your brain.
Every landscape designer has a toolbox of sorts. Inside that toolbox are things like color and texture and balance. Each item in the toolbox is a way of looking at the arrangement and character of a landscape. These items are the elements of design, and if you take them into consideration, your project will be that much better for it. Making your landscape safe is a part of good design that you shouldn't overlook. You can avoid, eliminate, or prepare for common problems such as killer plants and slick sidewalks caused by a poorly-designed irrigation system. Be sure to ponder the potential for mayhem when you design, and keep an eye out for developing problems as the landscape matures.
You don't have to be a great gardener to have a great garden. Caring for a sustainable landscape should be much easier than caring for a conventional one. It's been designed with low maintenance in mind, remember Even sustainable landscapes require some maintenance, but it's along the lines of removing dead flowers, picking fruit, tidying up a bit, and gently nudging things in the right direction now and then. The work is nonviolent, quiet, and fun. For more information on maintaining your sustainable landscape, flip to Chapter 20.
When I look at garden catalogs, I have to marvel at how little of the stuff they sell is really necessary to manage a well-designed garden. After all, by developing a stable, sustainable landscape, you eliminate most of the maintenance and most of the tools that go with it. You don't need anything else if you've successfully created a sustainable landscape that's easy to care for. You won't be pruning to control size (your plants are the right size already), you won't be trimming hedges (you don't have trimmed hedges), you won't be mowing the lawn (you have a meadow instead), you won't be spraying for pests (your plants are pest-resistant), and you won't be doing much weed control (the mulch and tall plants smother the weeds). If your trees need pruning, stay safely on the ground and let a professional care for them. The bottom line You've set up a system that's easy to live with, so now's the time to start enjoying it
The truly sustainable landscape doesn't need an irrigation system, and depending on your climate, this ideal may be easily attainable for you. In drier climates, though, it's difficult to have a nice garden without some supplemental watering, which is best accomplished with a well-designed, water-conserving irrigation system. The following tools can get you through a typical irrigation system installation
One of the most important elements of your sustainable landscape is the underlying earth. How you grade your property determines how long water remains on the land how it travels across the surface and whether it soaks usefully into the ground or runs off to cause erosion, flooding, and pollution. Grading keeps your house safe from flooding, creates usable areas, and sculpts dull terrain into elegant sensual forms.
The most sustainable option is the landscape that's so well adapted to your conditions that it requires no irrigation system at all. The fully sustainable landscape, like wild natural systems, thrives on natural rainfall only. A completely sustainable landscape certainly is possible anywhere on this planet. Lovely native plants grow pretty much everywhere, and nobody waters wilderness rainfall is sufficient for the most beautiful places on earth. Check out Chapter 9 and Part V for advice on creating a no-water native landscape.
Weeds are plants that people moved from one place to another on the backs of domestic animals, in soil used as ballast on ships, or as imported garden or farm plants that didn't know where the property lines were. Some weeds are native, but most are imported. Knowing all this doesn't change the fact that weeds will enter your life even if you have the most sustainable landscape on the planet.
Double-check your plans to be sure that water goes where you want it to and that excess water leaves quietly. Your plan should look like Figure 7-2 (see Chapter 7). If, with your plan, you'll turn your property into a big sponge, with no appreciable runoff other than excess water, congratulations You're on your way to a truly sustainable landscape that operates mostly on natural inputs and that keeps stormwater from damaging the environment.
Imagine yourself on vacation sitting under some palm trees on a tropical beach with your favorite beverage in hand. You're totally relaxed, and you feel a sense of connection with the place. You're experiencing it with all your senses. Doing site analysis is a lot like sitting on that beach. First, you have to understand the place itself, which means perceiving it on a deep level. You have to slow down enough to see the details, such as how the sun moves across the land, how neighboring houses impact your site, and which areas feel good to hang out in. You give yourself time to ask and answer important questions about your site that will later inform your design decisions. I refer to this process as making friends with the site, and I consider it one of the most important steps on the path to a beautiful, sustainable landscape.
Even though sustainable landscapes rely primarily on plants and other elements of the biological world, you inevitably need some of the hard stuff concrete patios, stone retaining walls, fences, arbors, steps, and lighting systems. Here, you find out how to assemble sustainable hardscape elements into outdoor rooms to serve your family's needs as well as how to construct and maintain them. Just to show you that I'm not all business, this part also addresses fun stuff, such as art, water features, outdoor kitchens, and facilities for animals all done with minimal nasty impacts.
Fresh ideas can be difficult to come up with. Even seasoned landscape professionals can fall into the trap of plugging in the same old ideas living space in the back, patio directly outside the house, and so on. A key part of the design process is asking the right questions to get inspiration. What if you put the living space in the front of your house Suppose you place the patio farther back in the yard how would that look Ask questions that help break your mind out of what it thinks are limits. kBEfl Keep in mind that unconventional thinking can go too far when it violates design principles. And remember that someday, you may want or need to sell your house. Consider the effect of your landscaping on marketability and property value don't make things so weird that you can't sell the place.
Choose climate-appropriate plants that also have recognized potential for erosion control. Generally, these plants have roots that are deeper and stronger than those of average plants, can thrive on little or no supplemental watering beyond what nature delivers, and are long-lived and dependable. How do you find such plants Your best bet is to talk to a local horticulturist or landscape professional who's knowledgeable about such situations. Gardening books help, of course, and so does the Internet, but there's really no substitute for local experience.
Develop a system of swales to move the water back and forth across the land and add basins and ponding zones at
Checking these features by eye can be difficult. You need to check the elevations throughout the system by using a sighting level or transit (surveying devices that measure the elevations of the land) to be sure that your swales run downhill. If you don't have a lot of surveying experience, you may want to work with a landscape professional.
A well-planned landscape has little need for conventional pesticides, which cause pollution and health risks. Still, even in the most sustainable gardens, a plant may suffer an attack of some kind. Your first line of defense should be to evaluate growing conditions and make any necessary improvements. Then sit back and watch for positive change. More often than not, the newly healthy plant will defend itself without any further help from you.
Sprinklers are generally more wasteful than drip systems (which I cover in the next section) because they apply water in less efficient ways. However, they still have a place in the sustainable landscape. Overhead sprinkler systems are designed primarily for watering lawns, which need even, shallow If you talk to enough people in the landscaping business, sooner or later you'll run across an anti-drip zealot who jumps up and down about how bad
SMALL GROUNDWORKS, LANDSCAPING AND GARDENING Spon's Estimating Costs Guide to Small Groundworks, Landscaping and Gardening Spon's Estimating Costs Guide to Small Groundworks, Landscaping and Gardening Part One Unit rates 1 Soft landscaping Hard landscaping This is the second edition of Spon's Estimating Costs Guide to Small Groundworks, Landscaping and Gardening and is intended to provide accurate cost data for small landscaping and ground works contractors to prepare estimates and quotations more quickly and accurately. A new section has been added dealing with groundworks covering the construction of foundations for houses and roads and sewers that would be required on small housing estates.
Homeowners Guide To Landscaping
How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.