Make Your Backyard Landscape Your Weekend Retreat (Part 2)
October 7th, 2010
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Yesterday we talked about why we might want to turn your backyard landscape into a weekend retreat. We talked about the need for planning and research in coming up with some great backyard landscaping ideas.
Today we discuss steps to follow to develop your backyard landscape plan.
Here are some important steps to follow:
Choose your trees
Tree landscaping is a critical piece of your backyard landscape. Trees should be planted in the fall – several weeks before real cold weather arrives.
If your backyard has enough space, add one or more large shade trees. Many of these trees produce beautiful foliage in the fall in addition to shade during the hot months of the summer. Of course, you must be willing to do a lot of raking of leaves in the fall.
Flowering ornamental trees make a great addition. Many of these trees have beautiful flowers in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Do your research. Some of these flowering ornamental trees need partial sun rather than full sun.
Choose garden shrubs
Garden shrubs can be planted in the fall when you plant your trees. Or they can be planted in the early spring after any danger of a heavy freeze. They must establish root growth before hot summer days arrive.
If you are not sure what garden shrubs to plant and where to plant them, you may want to wait a year. Put in a flowerbed or two. See how your backyard looks before making an official decision on shrubs.
Decide what annual and perennial flowers to plant
If you are like me, I like to have flowers growing throughout the entire growing season. Perennials are great flowers, but they only bloom for a short period of time. For example, I love chrysanthemums in the fall. But for the spring and summer, they are just an ordinary non-blooming plant.
Come up with some good flower garden ideas. Determine where you want your flower bed(s). Will your garden get full sun, partial sun, or full shade? This will tell you what variety of flower to plant. Take a look at garden centers, nursery catalogs, and magazines. Journal the types of flowers you like.
Do a lot of planning and research. Determine those flowers that do best in your geographical location. Your garden center or nursery catalog can help you.
Your First Steps in Choosing a Backyard Landscape (Part 1)
September 13th, 2010
I have said this before. Coming up with backyard landscaping ideas is one of my favorite aspects of gardening.
One of the important factors in choosing a backyard landscape is that you can start small. In fact, I encourage you to do that.
When I put together backyard landscaping ideas for my yard for the first time, I didn’t have much knowledge and absolutely no experience in doing that. That was many years ago.
Today, I find it a real joy to research different plants that will make up my landscaping design. I spend time during the winter designing and coming up with new ways to improve my landscape.
As I stated in Tree Landscaping, it’s important to decide on the trees to plant in your yard before anything else. When you first move into a house, you may already have good shade and flowering trees in your yard. They may be located in the perfect place in your backyard.
If not, then follow the instructions I give you in the posts under Tree Landscaping.
Your house may already have a deck or patio. If not, then you need to design one and have one built. If you are handy, then you may want to do it yourself. If not, I highly recommend that you hire an expert to accomplish this.
A good deck, patio, or porch is a key element to your backyard design.
You want your deck, patio, or porch to provide a seamless bridge between your house and your backyard.
You must determine the purpose of your structure. Will you be entertaining and having parties? Or will you be using it primarily for your own personal use – sitting in a relaxing, peaceful environment?
I do a little of both. But my main emphasis is on a relaxed setting used for reading, meditating, writing, and other enjoyable things.
My preference is a screened-in porch that leads onto a deck or patio. In that way, I can use the porch in the periods of the year when mosquitoes and other bugs cause problems. I use the patio or deck when insects are not a problem.
In my next post, I will give you a few backyard landscape ideas on things to consider in building a deck or patio.
Flowering Ornamental Trees – A Beautiful Choice
August 27th, 2010
Flowering ornamental trees are extremely important to your backyard tree landscaping.
They provide value through their showy blossoms and unusual features. They add interest and variety to your landscape.
Shade trees provide the basic framework for the landscape. They provide optimal shading in key locations.
A small backyard should have both large shade trees and flowering ornamental trees for optimal effect.
Flowering trees should be chosen carefully using the same process I have recommended in choosing a tree.
It’s important that flowering trees not be randomly planted throughout the yard. They should be grouped according to size and canopy form. The color and abundance of the flowers should also be considered in tree landscaping.
Flowering trees can be used in small and large backyards. Grouping of similar trees in a large yard is just as important as in a small yard.
Most people choose a flowering ornamental tree based on the beauty of the flower. The color of the flower, the seasonality of the bloom, and the duration of the bloom are generally the most important considerations.
This could be a huge mistake. The flower may last only a short time.
You must consider other qualities of the flowering ornamental tree. Some have uniquely colored foliage or attractive bark. Others have beautiful fall foliage. Still others have fruit that that adds beauty plus attracts birds and wildlife.
On the other hand, fruit can cause some messy problems. You may have no interest in attracting birds and wildlife.
Consider other negative qualities before choosing a tree.
Some trees have major problems with disease and insects. Any tree that is known to have problems with mildew, fireblight, or scab should be avoided.
You may choose a beautiful flowering ornamental tree with other desirable qualities. But if the tree doesn’t get the proper light, is not grown in the desired soil conditions, and is not provided the required water and nutrients, you may be greatly disappointed in the quality of your tree because it doesn’t live up to expectations.
There are many flowering ornamental trees that I really like.
Some of my favorite include the Cleveland Pear, the Eastern Redbud, the Flowering Dogwood, the Kousa Dogwood, the Sourwood, the Prunus Snow Fountain (white cherry bloom), the Punus Autumnus (pink cherry bloom), the Carolina Silverbell, the American Snowball, and the Japanese Stewartia.
Obviously, I like a lot of them as I work on tree landscaping my backyard. If you have any questions on how to choose flowering ornamental trees, please contact me.
Best Large Shade Trees (Part 2)
August 24th, 2010
It’s not easy choosing the best large shade trees. There are many trees to choose from. Here are my personal favorites.
1. Scarlet red maple (Acer rubrum) – This tree will provide great shade and grows up to 40 to 60feet tall or sometimes more. It has a good growth rate of 2-3 feet per year and should be 10 to 15 feet tall after 3 years. It grows in different types of soil and has beautiful red foliage in the fall. It does not have insect and disease problems.
2. Autumn Blaze maple (acer x freemanii) – This is the fastest growing maple with annual growth of around 3 feet. It should be at 15 to 20 feet at 3 years. Its maximum height is 40 to 50 feet. It has beautiful red foliage in the fall.
3. October Glory maple (acer rubrum’October Glory’) – Its growth is 3 feet per year, should be 15 to 20 feet after 3 years, and have maximum height of 40 to 50 feet.
4. Red Oak (Quercus borealis) – This tree is one of the fastest growing oaks. It is free of insect and disease problems. It develops into a large, broad, round topped tree. It can grow to 70’ tall (maybe too large for a small backyard). It has good summer foliage and deep red fall color.
In my tree landscaping, there are other trees I have liked over the years but have problems.
The sugar maple is a beautiful tree. But it can grow to 90’ tall and can have insect and disease problems.
The Norway maple has very nice yellow fall foliage. It is fast growing to a maximum height of 40 to 50’. But this tree has insect and root problems.
Based on my own experience and research in tree landscaping, these are by far the best large shade trees I have found. In future posts, I will go into more detail on some of them. I will also discuss other types of trees that will add beauty to your backyard.
Best Large Shade Trees (Part 1)
August 23rd, 2010
In tree landscaping, the best large shade trees provide excellent shade for your yard.
When I talk about the best large shade trees, I’m talking about trees that grows to a minimum of 30 feet tall. Many of them grow much taller.
The major consideration here is whether your backyard can handle a large, wide-spreading tree.
In tree landscaping, it is extremely important to go through the correct process of choosing a tree. Do not choose a tree that you want and then try to fit it into your backyard. Instead, go through the process of choosing a tree and then choose one that meets your requirements and the conditions in your backyard.
Why even have a large shade tree in your backyard?
Here, I can only speak to my preferences. For me, I have two main reasons.
1. I enjoy the beauty of the shade tree’s foliage in the fall.
2. I want shade on my patio, my deck, or my screened in porch in the late afternoon during the warm months of the year.
I like to sit out on my porch in the afternoon and read, write, meditate, or just relax. I don’t want the sun glaring down on me. I’m not at all interested in getting a sunburn or having a heat stroke while I am sitting there.
For that reason, when I buy a house, tree landscaping is one of the first things I consider. I prefer that the house have afternoon shade, either from trees or some other structure. If the house doesn’t have that type of shade, I will purchase one or more shade trees to provide that shade.
This means that I would purchase trees that I would plant on the southwest or west side of the patio.
Make sure you go through the step-by-step process in choosing a tree.
Consider the height and width of the space you have available. Analyze the soil condition in that area. Know the hardiness zone of your area. How much sunlight will your shade tree(s) get?
A very important consideration is the width of the tree at maturity. If a tree is expected to grow to 50 feet wide, you must allow for half of that figure (25 feet) in considering how far a way to plant. In other words, never plant the tree any closer than 25 feet from your house, a driveway, a septic tank, or some other structure.
Once you have the answers to these questions, determine best large shade tree that is most suited for you.
You must be patient. It will be a few years before your tree provides much shade.
Keep in mind that fast growing shade trees might give you shade faster. At the same time, that type of tree will probably have a weaker structure. It could cause problems as the years go by in terms of falling limbs and twigs, splitting, etc.
In my next post, I will list a few of the best large shade trees I particularly like.