Sunday, October 25, 2009

Landscaping Rules - General Use For Landscape Plants

By Kent Higgins

When developing the public area, we need only keep in mind three fundamental landscape principles that concern this particular part of a property. They are: (1) soften the architectural lines of the building by placing plants where the strong vertical lines meet the ground; (2) frame the building with trees; and (3) maintain an open lawn area.

We could state the first principle even more simply by saying that the plants should be located at the corners of the building and at either side of the entrances.

Architectural Lines

Height of Plants

In nearly every case the plants to be used at the corners of the building should be of a type that will naturally grow larger than those to be used at either side of the doorway. Generally speaking, the ideal ultimate height of a plant at the corner of a one- or two-story building should be a little less than half the distance from the ground to the eaves.

In deciding what plants to use, we must find out what their ultimate height must be if they are to soften the lines of the house. First, sketch the front of the house to scale (or use a photograph and tracing paper).

Then, following the above method draw straight lines from points on each outside edge of the house slightly less than halfway to the eaves, to the center of the front door sill. Note also that the plants on either side of the door should eventually reach only about as high as the line is at that particular point.

Plants at the corners of the house are always taller than those next to the front door. The one exception to this rule occurs when the house has corner windows that wrap around both sides of the house. Many times you will see that although the plants immediately under the windows are lower than, or just about the same height as, those at the entrance, the original thought of having taller plants at the corners is carried out by the addition of small flowering trees or larger shrubs at a distance from the window. This gives the same effect, but does not sacrifice ventilation or light through the corner windows.

Pointed Plants

If possible, do not use plants which come to a sharp point at either doors or windows. But there is rare exception to this rule: Suppose that you have a house with very tall, narrow windows, or high-peaked gables or dormers; the natural surroundings include sharp-pointed evergreens and jagged mountain tops. In this case pointed plants like ficus alii at doors and windows would fit the environment.

Another exception might apply to the owner of a modern ranch home. He might use sharp-pointed plants to break long, straight roof lines.

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