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How To Design A Garden

Oct 12, 2007
There are always the few in every community who strive to excel. When these folk apply their diligence to gardening, either they have a superlative generalized garden or they specialize in one type of plant. This is not so with the vast majority of home-dwellers. They have a garden of many types of plants, but, almost invariably, roses are the most highly prized. It is often said that roses will not thrive in beds with other plants, but some of the finest blooms I have ever seen have been on rose plants surrounded by small annuals or vegetables.

It is hard to argue against such results. In fact, I think it is statements of the former kind that make people believe that roses are hard to grow and that the successful grower is akin to a magician. Any good garden soil will suit most garden plants, and the rose is the most common and most desired of them all.

In laying out a garden there are many guiding principles, observance of which will give better results by way of both growth and effect. Before proceeding with any lay-out of your garden, test the natural drainage of the area. Most gardens will benefit by artificial drainage, though few have had this preparation. It is essential in cold, wet, heavy soils.

General Arrangement

The area in front of the home and any other part that is exposed to public view should give an attractive display and should enhance the general appearance of the house. Other parts less likely to be seen by passers-by should be carefully planned with much the same motive, but from them the gardener will expect to gather most of his indoor decorations, and in them he must find space for such things as a garage, a tool-shed, a compost heap, and a clothes-line.

A good garden-planner will convert secluded areas into small vistas conducive to relaxation. Advantage should be taken of any fall of the land or other natural features, such as a projecting rock, to build terraces and grassy banks. If the area is too small for such schemes a small retaining-wall will allow a change of level in two adjacent areas.

Most soils need digging about eighteen inches deep before any planting is done, even the lawns; some soils need trenching. At the same time one must attend to removal of weeds, drainage, and addition of plant foods. The weeds should never be burnt or carted away, but thrown in a heap to rot. Allow the whole area to settle well before attempting to level it. Meanwhile more weeds will appear, and a little surface-digging to remove them while they are still small will help in soil preparation.

Shape And General Care Of Lawns

Small beds not only confuse a plan but greatly increase the length of lawn edges and the difficulties in watering. Edges are much more pleasing if curved.

Design the shape of the lawns rather than that of the beds. The contour of the lawns will always be conspicuous, but that of the beds will soon be obscured by plants, except in the case of small feature-beds. These are seldom attractive and are suited only to low-growing plants, but if one is desired, place it, not in the centre of the lawn, but towards one corner, thus helping to create an illusion of distance. This impression is never easy to obtain in small areas, but no detail should be overlooked in striving for it.

In the same quest, lawns can be made to look longer and bigger by running them nearly to the corners of the area. This will leave short narrow parts of beds at the ends of these lawns. They must be filled in with climbers or with dense vertical shrubs to hide the fence or wall.

With a little thought and planning the most beautiful gardens can be designed to enhance every dwelling. Happy gardening!
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