Yards are landscaped to extend the living space and to provide a pleasing view. Like fashion, how a landscape changes depending what is trending but one thing all good landscapes have in common it the flow between one end and the other. The flow is what joins different sections of the yard together making it one. Each yard, and in some cases, section express a mood.
Yards that feel sheltered even in urban sprawl are enclosed on at least one side giving it a protected feeling. Either trees or tall structures work well to block out the neighbors and the outside world.
Calm yards have more curves than straight lines. The plantings are in groups and similar colors and shapes are used throughout the landscape. Contrast that with a yard where there are many different items to look at in a small space. Each is different and unique and demands the eyes attention encouraging the visitors and inhabitants to move and be energized.
Landscapes formal ones that are dominated by straight lines. They do not encourage people to linger but to finish their business quickly and move along.
Regardless of the mood chosen for the landscape, or the theme, they are only cohesive if everything placed in the landscape has a purpose. The location of the item must also be purposeful.
Trees give shade, provide food, bird and animal habitat, privacy, add color, and can be used to block or enhance a view. To enhance a view a tree is planted one or both sides of the view which directs the eye in one direction. Trees should not be placed in such a way that they hide the house or front door from view. They should be used to enhance the house.
Plant smaller trees close to the house to make the house look larger. Trees are often planted further away from a two story house to bring the height down by moving the eye sideways thus making the house and trees part of the overall landscape.
When choosing a tree, consider the area that it is to be planted. Many of the larger varieties will dwarf town lots. Yearly pruning will diminish the size of a plant but not forever as the trees will keep putting out new growth until they reach their natural size. Look to newer, smaller varieties that are suitable for smaller areas.
Shrubs are used similar to trees, except they are smaller with more than one stem. Shrubs are traditionally used as foundation plantings, softening the square lines of the buildings and linking them to the rest of the landscape. Be sure to plant them far enough away from the house so they are not scraping the building when they reach their mature size. Check the height of the shrubs before planting them in front of a window. It is easier to lower the height of a shrub than a tree, but it requires pruning once or twice a year. Once again, there are dwarf or smaller varieties of shrubs available.
Evergreens, large or small add color all year. They tend to fade in the background or work as a backdrop to enhance other plants during the growing months and become the main feature when the other plants are dormant. Know their size at maturity before purchasing.
Some of the best landscaped yards are not the ones that everything is viewed from one vantage point, but ones that have plants blocking the view encouraging people to walk and see what is behind the trees or shrubs.
One of the best ways to figure out what should be in your yard it to look at other yards.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org