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Tag Archives: landscape
Landscape is not just about living plants. People are very vocal to speak about how important the soil conditions, light, temperature, biota, etc. are to plants and landscape. While all of these are extremely important to the long-term sustainability of your garden, they are not the complete package. To really pull together a landscape to remember you need something special. Bare in mind that this ‘something special’ does not necessarily have to be a high culture, elegant design element – it could be something to add a moment of comic relief or give your eye a break from what it is expecting. The follow two images show one of these moments.
Recently I was at a hotel that had an entryway that spanned two sides of a street with a walkway between the two. Along with the typical hotel landscaping, the facility also had some practical utilities that had to be accommodated in the walk area. Instead of simply trying to hide the electrical box with rangy plants, the designer painted the box to look like it grew there. It is silly and I love it! It is disguised just enough to make you look twice, but not so overdone that you see it glaring at you.
Special moments in landscape do not have to take over and overwhelm the whole view. Nor must they be avoided to make the landscape look nice. The more important point is to place elements well and do it with intention.
People keep telling me that fall is coming, and the last few nights here in seattle it certainly has felt that way. In addition to the back to school sales and cooler temperatures there is that special ‘smell’ of fall in the air. I like it even though I wish for a little bit longer Indian Summer! All of this ‘fallness’ has gotten me thinking about how one might combine landscape and school – I do this often, trying to mix things that don’t normally go together.
My thinking today tends toward how families can make the most of this end of summer/beginning of fall and the precious time they have together outside of work and school. My suggestion is family yard clean-up & leaf raking! Now don’t all groan at once 🙂 This group activity has a whole host of benefits if you are willing to indulge me.
1. Its gets you off the couch or chair and outside in the fresh air
2. It uses up physical energy which can also be called exercise – this is good for health and also for encouraging your kids who are now cooped up all day in a classroom to run around and burn off youthful extra energy (far better than simply diagnosing them as ADD or ADHD)
3. It gives all of you something to talk about/complain about/bond over together
4. It helps make your property look awesome
5. It makes your neighbors jealous of your great landscape
6. It enables you to see how your landscape survived the summer and gives you lots of time over the winter to plot and plan what changes you might want to make for the next season (this also gives you plenty of time to work with/hire a landscape designer or contractor to make those dreams come true)
and dorkiest of all – and something I did as a very school-loving high school student…
7. It gives you the chance to practice your homework/study for tests by creating in ‘yard scale’ visual images of what you are studying! For example, if you are studying the movement of the Roman Empire across Europe and Asia, you rake piles of leaves to look like the geography of the region and then you can walk around the ‘map’ and discuss what you need to know for the test. Instead of sitting at a desk trying to memorize the conquest of a city at a place and time, you get to jump in a pile of leaves that denotes that city. Plus, teaching your other family members about it while doing the raking helps insure that you both recall it better come test time and that you actually learn it rather than simply cramming for a test. Plus as a bonus, the leaves get raked…
While a somewhat silly idea, it is a great example of a way in which people can embrace their landscape in a non-traditional way. We spend so much time working to keep our property looking maintained and loved, we should make sure that it loves us back!
If you happen to venture out into you yard and having a scholastic raking adventure, I would love to hear about it. Share your pictures!
Often times I find that clients have trouble visualizing what is possible with their landscape. To help people get a little feel for what is possible I’m presenting two before and after image pairs. Most times that people want to embark on a landscape project there is a specific reason that pushes them from ‘just putting up’ with what is there to spending the time and money and changing to something new.
In this first pair, my clients had a free-standing garage that they were converting into a work studio. There was an ugly, not-flat slab of cracked concrete directly in front of the carriage doors. To make the studio feel more inviting, we broke up the concrete and planted grass between the pieces to soften the look. We also planted lush and colorful plants around what became a cozy outdoor sitting room between the home’s kitchen and the new studio.
In the second pair of images, the family I worked was very active and had twin middle school aged daughters. The family inherited a huge backyard overgrown with a mess of old fruit trees, vines and weeds. Basically they had no usable space even though the back yard was close to 70′ wide by 40′ deep. We did a huge clean-up of the space and discovered enough usable space to give each member of the family a space to play (dad’s bocce ball court, mom’s croquet and lush grass area, trampoline area for the girls and a fire pit for the whole group to enjoy together). The initial picture of this pairing is mid-construction. Large projects like this take time and tend to be messy before they are finished but the end result is worth it!