Landscape Ideas For Backyard And The Modern Home

beginnings of landscape walkway

Planning and landscaping ideas for backyard gardens is like planning a house. Both must have entrances, exits, rooms or areas of certain sizes and forms.

They must be functional, and both should reflect the personality of the owner through the use of color and the choice of materials.

The very term contemporary landscaping has come to suggest the use of landscaped areas as additional rooms.

The use of line, form, and color is not controlled by tradition or based on formal precedent, the planner’s backyard landscape ideas and imagination may run wild.

In traditional backyard gardens of days past, it was customary to have each type of gardens separated from the other with longitudinal and latitudinal axes controlling the location of each.

In contemporary landscape planning, due to the dictates of economical upkeep and shortage of space, it has become the practice to integrate all garden areas.

Thus terrace/patio, lawn areas, and gardens become a closely knit unit, the parts not only complementing each other, but also tying in closely with the living-room and other enclosed sitting areas.

Garden Type – You Must Decide

First you must decide on the type of backyard landscape or garden to develop – evergreen, rose, perennial and annual, or a combination.

This may eliminate some the backyard landscaping ideas you may be considering, but it will allow you to focus in on the ideas you can put into action and make your backyard fit you.

For example, once the made the choice on the type of garden. You can make decisions on whether the landscape grade of the existing terrain demands the use of walls, contoured slopes, steps and the like, and then develop those landscape ideas.

With these backyard garden ideas and considerations in view, the next step is to make a general layout with regard to line and form, locating all architectural ideas and features such as terraces, walls, marquees and walks you want to incorporate.

Only when you’ve completed this step should you as a homeowner proceed with selecting the materials for the architectural features, planning the garden areas, locating hardwood trees for shade and shadow, and last of all, choosing the plant material itself.

To design a layout with pleasing line and form it will be helpful to study architectural and sculptural shapes and masses in publications; frequently adaptations can be made.

Masculine or Feminine Textures

As a key to such perusal, this might be helpful: lines and forms have shapes and texture that may be classified as masculine or feminine.

Masculine Textures

The straight line, the right or obtuse angles, the gnarled or roughly textured materials may be termed masculine.

Feminine Textures

The curved line, rounded form and smooth, sleek surfaces are feminine.

A balance between the two must be found to achieve a design that is pleasing and complete.

In all cases materials used in the architectural features should not clash with materials already used in the construction of the house. If flagstone has been used in the foyer, use flagstone for the terrace and not slate. Do not use natural wood for a marquee if all wood throughout the house is painted.

New Materials and Colors Add Unity

It is possible, however, to introduce new materials in combination with those existing. Correlating indoor and outdoor colors also adds unity.

For cork or wood floors, yellow gravel or crushed maroon shale outside will harmonize. The color of various tiles can also be repeated in crushed stones of similar hues. Or the gravel spread on garden walks can be used with concrete as an admixture for indoor floors.
crushed stone & brick
For today’s modern home, new uses of stone have been found.

As an example, exterior partition walls now run through large window areas into the house, covering an entire wall of perhaps the living-room area. This indoor-outdoor treatment can be accentuated with planting boxes; but more important, the type of stone and the pattern should be used for low walls or other architectural features on the exterior.

Flowering and Shade Trees

The use of shade and flowering trees is of the utmost importance but a note of caution: the average 6-inch caliper hardwood tree will more than double its size in 10 years. If such a tree is planted too close to another tree, it will become a drawback instead of a virtue. In general, three hardwood trees are sufficient for a small plot (approximately one-fourth acre).

A shade tree may be used within the terrace area itself to take the place of some type of canopy. By all means have a tree on the lawn, so its shade and shadow will add the dimension of depth to an otherwise flat expanse. Flowering trees should be used for additional spots of color and for screening.

Small Plots – Emphasis and Power

landscaped back yard and patio

Small Garden Ideas #7 – On a small plot, hedges are best for screening as they consume at most 3 or 4 feet of space, whereas shrubs require planting depths of 8 to 12 feet. Hedges may also be used to repeat the line of the garden, lending emphasis and power to the line and serving as an excellent backdrop for the flowers.

Except for use in hedging, and a few other places, evergreen trees in conical shape are outmoded. Espaliered evergreens, shrubs and flowering trees have taken their place.

For instance, where a large expanse of stone or wood is to be treated, a more unique and interesting planting can be achieved by using a flowering crabapple and training it in a flat, informal arrangement over this area.

Pruning and training should be done once a year. The long list of plants which may be used in this fashion runs from weeping beech to spreading yew.

Selection Of Landscape Plant Materials

After completing the overall plan and determining the general size and shape of the planting required, the actual selection of plant material begins.

Approach this phase with an open mind as playing your favorites in vine, tree and shrub usually doesn’t pay off. Choose only for effect and the lasting qualities of the plant. Foliage is more important than flower as it is viewed over a much longer period of time. Don’t forget that plants are four-phased: branching habit, foliage, flower and berry.

And a word to the dollarwise: choose the best of all varieties and fit the more expensive plants into your budget by cutting sizes.

Images: Walkway Anika Malone | backyard patio wlcutler

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