Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Trees, Shrubs, & Vines

Landscaping 101 (page 2 of 5)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Three-Dimensional Thinking

Once you've collected your early memories and your present-day ideas, it's time to make use of that graph paper--as long as you heed a couple of important warnings.

The most creative people can become robots when faced with a sheet of graph paper. Just because there are little blue squares all over the page in a perfect grid pattern doesn't mean you aren't allowed to draw a curve, or draw a line in-between two of the printed lines. Remember, you are the one determining the plans, not the graph paper.

While virtually every book ever written on the subject of home landscaping stresses the importance of committing a plan to paper, the abstract, precise nature of the process presents some hazards to creativity. Yes, it is important for you to know the dimensions of the lot, which direction the prevailing winds blow, what the exposure of the yard is (morning or afternoon sun or shade), the location of water spigots, electrical outlets, etc., etc. But there's something in putting these hard-and-fast facts down on paper that makes it possible to design the life and spirit right out of the project.

If you think you may be subject to the tyranny of graph paper, neutralize its effect by starting the composition of the plan outdoors. To do this, take your landscaping scrapbook to the yard, along with a few dozen 12-inch wooden stakes, a half-dozen 6-foot, 2-by-2 wooden stakes (available at any lumberyard), a spool of heavy cotton string or twine (500 feet should do), a couple of long garden hoses, two handfuls of clothespins, and a few old bed sheets. An odd list of equipment, to be sure, but it works.

Put your equipment aside for a moment, and take a good look at your scrapbook. What have you got? You may have some ideas for fences, a play area for the kids, a deck or patio, perhaps a gazebo or an arbor, a really great tree house, an outside eating and cooking area, an expanse of grass laid out with lawn games in mind, or even a fountain, swimming pool, or spa. Your challenge is to arrange the elements you want in the space available. To successfully meet this challenge, you should know every corner of your yard intimately. You may think you know it already, but you'd be surprised at how many people are locked into only one viewing position, usually about 6 feet away from the back door!

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