Softscaping as we have learned is using plants, trees, shrubs and mulch to beautify your overall landscape. Plants are the building blocks of any landscape design. Their shape, height, color, and texture are combined in ways that draw our attention, and affect our moods. Plants can be used as focal points, or just as easily become screens for areas of the landscape we don’t want to see. The importance of plants in a landscape design dictates that we use great care in their selection. Let’s examine the basic role plants play in landscape design.
Some landscape plants are so superior that they command our immediate attention, insisting to be seen and appreciated. Such outstanding landscape plants are referred to as specimen plants. They are the very best representatives of their species. These plants usually become focal points in the landscape, while other landscaping plants simply serve to provide accents of color or texture that support the specimen plant’s presentation.
Plants that support the underlying design around the focal point and accent plants are known as foundation landscaping plants. These plants are often chosen for their color and textures, making good ground covering to carry our attention from one area within the landscape to the next.
Border plants define one landscape area from the next, and generally use color as their tool of choice to signal the transition.
No matter what function you have in mind for the landscaping plants chosen for your design, you must consider their growing requirements if you want them to survive and thrive in your landscape. The term “hardy” is applied to landscape plants in varying degrees to show whether they are heat or cold resistant.
The USDA Hardiness Zone Map shows the average high and low temperatures within every region of the United States. Finding your zone on this map will help you make landscaping plant selections that are right for your climate.
Further consideration should be given to a landscape plant’s needs for light and moisture, as well as the type of soil required for optimum growth. The adult size of landscaping plants should be figured in when deciding on space requirements within the landscape design plan.
The art of landscaping takes all aspects of plant life into consideration and weaves these elements into one harmonious design. The overall effect is a landscape that invites you come spend time, whether that involves relaxation or play. A good landscape design plan will help you make the most of your home and surroundings.
Battling Weeds In Your Landscape
As every landscaper knows, weeds are inevitable, but there are products and tools on the market that can give you some real ammunition in the battle against weeds in your landscape.
While you can certainly pull weeds from your landscape by hand, these products can save you time and effort. Let’s look at a few.
Landscaping cloth is inexpensive and indispensable in the battle against landscape weeds. This fine plastic landscaping mesh is made to be laid down on bedding landscapes before planting in order to form a barrier to weeds trying to take root. Be certain to prepare your soil for landscaping and then lay the landscape cloth down over the area you want to cover. Pieces of wire bent into U-shapes can be used to anchor the landscape cloth edges to the ground. Once you have secured the mesh, you are ready to begin planting your bedding landscape.
The landscaping mesh cloth is easy to cut with a utility knife. Simply cut an X, lift out some of the soil and set the landscape plant into the ground. Fill soil back in around the plant and smooth the landscape cloth around the base. Cover with mulch and you now have a highly weed resistant bedding landscape.
Hoes, both large and small are great tools to keep around for removing weeds from your landscape. Smaller hoes are good for getting around tight areas in flower bed landscapes while rake style hoes are terrific for weeding larger areas like vegetable garden landscapes.
Sometimes the job may call for chemical weed killer. Herbicides can be somewhat effective when used correctly on weeds in your landscape. There are two main types. Pre-emergent herbicides stop weeds from even germinating because they form a gas barrier in the top layer of your landscape soil that the weeds can’t penetrate. Be sure to water the herbicide in well to activate it.
Post-emergent weed killers eliminate established weeds. Some formulas target specific types of weeds, while others will kill anything sprayed on your landscape. And don’t forget, there is another weapon in your arsenal for battling weeds in your landscape; your local landscape company. Most landscaping businesses have a residential landscape division that provides weekly or monthly landscape maintenance to customers on a contract basis. The battle against weeds in your landscape requires vigilance, but it will pay off in the satisfaction you’ll feel every time you look at your lovely landscape.
Bonsai landscaping is the fascinating art of cultivating miniature trees to mimic the age and characteristics of full size trees found in the natural landscape.
Fine green moss is used as a landscape ground cover to mimic grass, and even tiny figures and buildings are used to create the illusion of a normal landscape in miniature.
This form of miniature landscaping was originated by the Chinese, but it was taken to new heights when it was adopted by the Japanese. Rather than simply mimicking nature’s landscape in general, the Japanese developed very defined landscaping styles and methods to achieve them. The process is a long and very involved one that incorporates pruning and wiring to achieve the desired final effect. Let’s examine how Bonsai landscape trees are developed.
To begin, Bonsai landscaping plants are not naturally miniature, they are the same stock as regular landscape plants and will reach full growth in your landscape if left unaltered. Pine and juniper seedlings, and azaleas all make fine stock for Bonsai landscape subjects.
The first step is to artificially stunt development of the root structure. A young landscape plant’s main tap root will be pruned as close to the base of the plant as possible to stunt upward growth. The rest of the roots will be gently teased out and clipped back to a uniform round or oval shape. This promotes the growth of fine feeder roots that are essential for drawing nutrients from the gravelly soil, and also ensure the roots will fit into the minimal style pots that traditionally inhibit excess plant growth.
Next, the landscape plant must be carefully scrutinized to determine which traditional form of Bonsai best suits it. This is where artistry takes the major role in Bonsai landscaping. The structure of the main trunk and branches coming from it determine which form the landscape plant is most easily adapted to.
Landscape plants with very straight trunks and even distribution of main branches growing from it are best suited to the formal upright style of Bonsai.
The informal upright style is similar to formal upright, but the main trunk has more of a wandering style, as though the landscape plant has had to grow in search of wherever light has filter through the canopy.
The slanting style of Bonsai looks as if the landscape plant as had to grow at an angle to reach the light. This is the easiest form to perfect by simply fixing the pot at an angle and providing strong light directly above the landscape plant, which will naturally grow toward it. As the tender shoots harden with age, the form of the Bonsai is set.
Cascade and semi-cascade are quite similar. Tall narrow pots provide the base for landscape plants that either trail downward past the bottom of the pot (cascade) or wander down and away from the base of the pot (semi-cascade). Both styles are very attractive in a Bonsai landscape.
All of these Bonsai landscape styles share two things in common; pruning and wiring. Trunks and branches that are still supple will be wired with anodized copper and gradually be bent into desired placement. Once the final form is set, these miniature landscape plants will require periodic pruning of new growth to maintain form.
Bonsai landscaping offers the opportunity for anyone to enjoy landscaping, even if physical disabilities or lack of space are concerns. The hours spent calmly working with your Bonsai landscapes have a great therapeutic effect, something the Asian culture has recognized for thousands of years.