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Tune your landscape like an instrument

By Ray Ridlen

Landscaping is like tuning an instrument. Most of us know when a piano or guitar is out of tune, but we don't have the ear to tune each string. We can look at a landscape and see that changes need to be made, but not know what details to change. Read on to find out some of the basic features to consider when you need to tune your landscape.

As we develop a landscape plan, there are three primary areas we need to consider. Our landscape needs to be functional taking into account usability, people and pet movement, and ease of maintenance. We want to provide interest by varying color and texture and involving as many senses as possible. Last, a landscape needs to impart harmony in style, shape and proportion. How can these principles be applied to a typical home landscape?

First, we need to consider functionality and take into account how our landscape will be used. Do children need a play area? Does a deck area need to be added for entertainment? Are lights needed for night-time use? Another aspect of landscape functionality is planning for people and pet movement through the landscape. We want to have easy access to different areas of the yard. This is most often accomplished with grass, but our tendency is to have huge lawn areas that provide little interest. A more inviting way is to plan footpaths that gently curve through shrub or flowerbeds, in addition to lawn areas. We also want to consider how much time we want to spend in our landscape. Selecting hardier, pest-tolerant plants will require less care on our part. Installing bed borders also helps make maintenance easier.

Providing interest is a key component of a good landscape. Color is the most visually attracting landscape aspect. Thoughtful plant selection can insure color somewhere in the yard year round. Another way to provide interest is to vary plant texture. Adding an ornamental grass is an excellent way to add texture variety. Stimulating senses in addition to sight and touch adds more landscape interest. Falling water adds sound, while fragrant flowers produce wonderful aromas to tantalize our sense of smell.

Visual harmony is a critical component of a good landscape. The first consideration is shape size and placement. Shapes are selected and located to harmonize with the main property feature, your home. Shape size and placement must provide a sense of proportion. Thirty feet tall trees work well to frame a single story house, while multi-story homes look better with taller trees. The landscape also needs to harmonize with the architectural style of nearby structures.

Addressing each of these landscape issues can provide you the keys to creating a landscape that delights the eye and garners rave reviews.

Date: 2/4/2013


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