Monday, April 5, 2010

Building Blocks of a Landscape

Landscape Ideas to Begin Your Garden Project

One of the first toys we played with as very young children was blocks.  We stacked them, lined them up, knocked them over.  These block were the foundation of our learning, reasoning, and hand/eye coordination. The same foundation is needed in our yards.  Before we get too excited about putting in plant material, we need to set the foundation.

Landscape ideas that include Hardscapes such as patios, walls, walkways, and paths need to be planned and implemented before the plants.  I know!  That is the hard work part; but this step is essential for the future use, convenience, and visual appeal you want in your yard. The process doe not have to be extremely expensive either.

We've used hard wood mulch for paths, with the edges lines with 'found' rocks.    The sitting area can be just a patch of grass that you plan to set a table and chairs on.  The walkways that invite folks through you garden can also be turf shaped between beds that is easy to travel and cool to the eye.

Another easy, inexpensive material  for a path is gravel.  Decomposed granite is a powdery material with a powdery blend to 1/4" in size. This can be tamped into a sturdy surface that will also drain water.  This drainage will allow plant and trees roots to get water that would otherwise be heading for the nearest sewer.

Larger sized gravels can also be an economical option   The gravel we used was tamped down with a tamper. The gravel and tamper were not too pricey and we make the weekly trip to Lowes for these supplies.  I have to say, however, that the larger gravel paths were not comfortable for the dog.  She struggles finding her footing and often resorts to walking in the beds.

Making areas that you want to plant may require you to 'build up' a raised bed.  This will allow you to put in lots of compost, and ensure good drainage.  Whether you are preparing this bed for vegetables, perennials, or shrubbery,  I find building up is easier than having to dig in heavy soil.  In our yard we used stackable blocks just like the good old days!

The stepping stones used here were needed because of the heavy foot traffic in an area that retains water.  Take a good look around your yard for these types of issues too.  Planning ahead will allow you to really enjoy your space.
Of course if you envision a bigger project , it is always wise to consult a professional landscape designer or architect. Depending on your skill level, you  may attempt some of the projects yourself. And a word to the wise, too often the budget can get out of hand quickly! So envision your space, enrich your space, but most of all, enjoy your space.

I've touch on a few items that I'd like to address next time.  The building of 'good soil', and  conserving water.  Hope to see your soon. Thanks for visiting.

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