Your landscape design picture should reflect your unique personality for your dream house to be complete. But it is essential that you have a clear idea of your landscape design before you even consider buying plants. Of course you will certainly want to work your entire design into what is already in the natural landscape. This is one of the most wonderful things about locating and purchasing the type of property that appeals to you personally.
While you certainly do find some developers attempting to work with the existing terrain and maintain a more natural landscape design picture, it is certainly not the norm. Frequently, the topsoil is all scraped away and if any existing trees are left, they are in danger of being up-rooted in a wind storm. I recently visited with a lady who had to remove several 80 foot Douglas Fir trees from her property that were disturbed when an adjacent property was developed. One of them fell right on her house.
Sadly, she and her husband had lived on the property for many years and their back yard was park-like. It clearly mirrored their desires…
Here is an example of working with the existing landscape. These Western Red Cedar trees couldn’t be replaced with something new. Certainly one clever way to create the type of landscape design that will work well with your custom dream house and the natural terrain is to use 3d landscape design picture software. I like it because it allows you to integrate all the different factors involved in landscape. Factors like form, texture, color, ultimate size and shape can be seen with almost a limitless number of combinations in just a few hours. You can save ideas and come back later. And clearly working with three dimensions is not only more accurate, but more fun. Creation of your landscape dream doesn’t have to be a chore…
When deciding what kind of software to purchase, it’s wise to choose one that has a large plant data base available. This way, once you have decided on what you prefer and you have fully developed your landscape design picture, you will be able to either take your list to the local nursery or present it to your gardener to fill.
Try to avoid foundation plantings. I see so many people plant trees and shrubs a foot or two from their foundations. Even if it would still look good pruned to keep it away from the house (it won’t), the roots are eventually very likely going to crack your foundation. Even small shrubs or perennials are not something to put next to your house. They are going to need to be watered and that water is going to run down beside your foundation. Great effort is made when building to deter water from being up against the foundation. Don’t thwart all of that by putting plants there.
If your contractor did his job correctly, the soil around your foundation will be very porous anyway. Your plants won’t like it. And don’t think that you can escape this by planting drought tolerant plants there. They must be well established with extensive root systems before they will be drought tolerant – and that means adequate watering for the first full year.
Then there is also the security problem – places for burglars and such to hide… They have no place in a safe landscape design picture.
If you absolutely must have something planted next to your house, plant in pots that can be moved away when you water or place them on something like a piece of roofing material or metal in such a way to channel the water away from the foundation. Another alternative is to have a container under the pot to catch and hold the water. Be careful trying to use this though. If the pot is located where the rain can fall directly on it, your plants will suffer from too much water when there is a lot of rain.
Avoid having anything like “beauty bark” or other flammable material up against your foundation, too. There is just too much of a fire hazard. Use materials that don’t burn if you must put something around the foundation. In fact, you should be creating your own wildfire project into your landscape designs. You have spent too much time creating your dream landscape design picture to have it go up in smoke.
If you have been able to purchase your dream property and are working with it to create your personal landscape design picture, don’t be too quick to remove native plants and replace them with something that you have seen in the latest glossy color gardening magazine. Those natives usually survive under the most difficult conditions and your expensive shrub grown in some carefully tended nursery may not.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to drool over the plant catalogs and magazines every winter. My wife works in a nursery and I just have to stay away from there to keep from buying more plants that I don’t have the time to plant and take care of properly. I fully understand the tendency… But the natives will still be there after you take that 2 week vacation in the summer. Try to work them into your dream home landscape design picture.