Continued from Elements of Garden Design – chapter one 4-19-09
It is always possible to upgrade a mulch path in the future.
In the beginning, you will want to put as much of your available budget into patio and plants than a boring walkway. Mulch is a great less-mud solution. Get the garden going for some enjoyment and emotional rewards, then worry about a investing in path paving later.
Lawn pathways will force you to bag mow between all your lovely planting beds. A lawn in seed will create a lot more weeding chores for you too. If mowed without it all being caught, your gardens will look like someone made an attempt to return them to lawn. A nightmare none of you will be happy to encounter. Mulch is definitely the least expensive and sustainable solution.
Seclusion will be important to anyone who lives close to neighbors.
Top of the list of needs for 98% of my design clients is privacy in the backyard. You have a few choices, such as fence, masonry walls and evergreen hedges. The amount of space you have will definitely dictate what real options you have. In a small yard, use of space will be hugely important and a big hedge could eat up your garden area quickly. A living wall means you will have to research to make sure the shrubs will not get too wide.
Small yards are usually best secluded with walls and fences. This is the only way to get instant privacy. A hedge will take years to mature and fill. Walls and fences never water, fertilizer or trimming. They cost more up front but nothing over the years. A really narrow privacy screen shrub will require so many to not have gaps they get very expensive to install. If space is at a minimum, your best choice will be a hardscape barrier. The added value is the heightened interest of leafy and flowering plants against a wall or fence.
Natural lighting control is of great importance.
The sweltering sun early evening sun is not going to set a lovely dinner location. You need shade for your living room. Remember you will spend the most time in it over the warm months of the year. Do you have a mature shade tree just waiting to be put to use? Newer homes may not have this luxury available until some years from now.
The fastest shade source will be a pergola, ramada or awning unless you want to be patient for a decade or so. For the most rapid tree shade you will want to make sure you pick one that will not take over your yard with roots. I suggest you check out Paulownia x elongata, a hybrid Royal Empress tree.
Not all gardens have enough room to add shade as large as a tree.
Think about what you want to grow in your garden. The small yard belonging to a person who longs for full sun flowering plants and fresh vegetables needs to think about the future availability of needed sunshine. A tree will create an ever-increasing shaded area that over time will force you to completely change the kinds of plants you will be able to grow.
If you have the space to allow a shady area and full sun, you will be able to grow a far larger variety of lovely ornamentals. Plus the added benefit of being able to cool off on a hot day. The shelter of a leafy canopy is the perfect place to put your feet up and relax while enjoying a lovely garden surrounding. There are few places you can experience that will give you this amount of peace and tranquility.
All backyards need some lawn space for pets and children.
A family sized home needs to have grassy stretches to give growing legs a place to burn off their energy. For empty-nesters, some lawn expanses will add an element of space that is very welcome to the eye. It all is very dependent on the amount of property you have and the uses you need to be able to get from the available area.
Even if all you children have grown and left home, the resale of your property will require it to be attractive to any buyer who needs the number of bedrooms you have. While it may be tempting to do away with all lawn expanses, it will be a wiser selling point if the new owner has a place for a dog or children to romp.