Time for some landscape truth. In the interest of families, energy bills and busting-at-the-seams schedules everywhere, I have some landscape secrets to share. And let me apologize in advance for potentially offending landscape designers and architects, but this is that important.
I am time starved. I enjoy playing golf, spending time with my children and grandchildren, gardening and landscaping. I would love to grow my own fruits and vegetables. But I don’t have enough time to enjoy it all. Sound familiar? We have to make choices every day about where to spend our time. And let’s be honest—working in the yard and garden and getting (and maintaining) great results takes a lot of time we do not have.
But I found a way to spend time with my family, play golf a few times a week, run my business and have a beautiful landscape. I discovered something years ago that has set me and my yard free.
1) I landscape and garden with trees like others plant annuals. Just trees. Small ones, big ones, funny ones, funky ones, colorful, weird and crazy ones. Together they make a beautiful treescape that requires minimal to no attention.
I plant purple beeches, sugar maples, sycamores and white oaks for my grandchildren and their families. And I plant some trees I know will grow to be too large for a particular space knowing I will remove or transplant them. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy them for the next 10-20 years.
2) I plant for fall color. This may admittedly be a personal preference, but trees’ fall transformations still completely amaze me. It’s my favorite time of the year. And I do very little to keep my landscape colorful spring through fall, aside from choosing the right trees. I may throw a few colorful mums or marigolds into the mix, but the trees steal the show.
3) I always keep winter interest in mind. I plant for winter interest by choosing trees with interesting, even peculiar and colorful branch architecture. I choose evergreens in special forms, colors and sizes and even in the winter, my treescape performs.
4) Spring blooms are icing on the cake, but never the first priority. I always start with fall color first and if the tree happens to flower in spring, all the better. But I rarely plant a tree that offers only bloom. A tree must offer seasonal attributes that enhance my landscape year round to become part of my tree garden.
5) I plant for wind protection, summer cooling and winter warming. I shade my car, my house and plant to enjoy looking out the window and at the window. I plant for birds and pets. I plant to benefit all.
6) Aside from choosing trees for my landscape, the most important thing for me is to plant in a way that creates outdoor living spaces for my family. Tree climbing, picnics, fire pits where we sit on the trees, tree swings, tree houses…you name it, we live in, on and around trees. My landscape supports my time priorities and the top of those is to enhance my family time. Even in the heat of summer, we enjoy cool outdoor spaces. My favorite is the horseshoe pit shaded on both sides by rows of white pines.
Once you start paying attention to your surroundings, you realize many of the most beautiful landscapes in the world are made up of trees or framed by trees. Some would not be possible without trees.
People say that beauty comes with a price. But with trees, you always out come ahead.