Welcome again from north Idaho, where summer has been teasing us in between very cool spells of rain, thunder and lightning…we worked much of the holiday weekend to finish planting the vegetable garden just before a heavy thunderstorm Monday afternoon.
Overgrown Landscape Design Theory for Homeowner Design
A couple of correspondents have found themselves new owners of very overgrown properties and have asked for my overgrown landscape design theory. The tendency in this situation is to rip out everything and start fresh. However, much might be saved with a careful assessment of existing plant material: My overgrown landscape design theory would require I root out the obvious weeds and dead or diseased growth, prune the existing trees and shrubs and then take another look. With some TLC, the ugliest, overgrown shrub or tree can become an attractive member of the garden. This work does take time and patience…perhaps the owner will need to learn the names, habits and preferences of the plants before deciding which course to take. The main point here: it takes years to develop a mature landscape – if possible, gain a head start by renovating some existing plants.
Overgrown Landscape Design Theory for Professional Design
I was fortunate in May to work with a client who took a very hands-on approach to her landscape design work. In order to communicate her vision, she submitted 27 photographs, with notes, that gave me an excellent insight into her existing landscape and desires for the new landscape . This photo essay allowed us to work on the same wavelength; coupled with the interactive file sharing online, the design process went smoothly and efficiently. Though only five of the photos were used to create photo-depictions, they all contributed to my overall understanding of the landscape. If one picture is worth a thousand words…
Another Design Consideration: Plant Groupings
On another matter, I was asked to comment on the convention in landscape design of using plant groupings only of odd numbers; I won’t attempt to explain the reasoning here, but it has to do with how the eye and mind perceive groups. The same person asked why an asymmetrical planting was preferred over a symmetrical planting. Well, the answer to both questions was similar; a rigid adherence to convention stifles creativity. If there’s only room for two plants of the same type, don’t worry about it – and there’s nothing wrong with symmetry if it evokes the required effect. It’s good to study the theory of design (or anything else), but the learning must be used in the context of the existing project. As we used to say: “Different strokes for different folks.”
Subscribe to our Sustainable Gardens Newsletter and Receive a
About Dan Eskelson
Dan has had his hands in the soil for most of his adult life as a gardener, landscaping contractor, golf course superintendent and landscape designer. When the ground freezes, he builds websites, produces video and plays the hammered dulcimer. Full bio here.