Advice from a Garden Design Expert

This snippet has been taken from “Water- Conserving Gardens and Landscapes Water- Saving Ideas Plant Selection List Home Drip Irrigation Guide Easy- Care Landscapes All- Region Zone Maps” By “John M. O’ Keefe”. Advice from a Garden Design Expert will help you make your garden look beautiful. “Tree Trimming Stockton CA” renders you with such expert advice.

Because of the limited usefulness of plans and photographs of other people’s gardens since home owners differ in their likes, dislikes, needs, and desires, and since each site is totally different and requires different design considerations, I thought it useful to get the viewpoint of an expert garden and landscape design architect with extensive experience in low-water-use plants and garden design.

Advice from a Garden Design Expert
Advice from a Garden Design Expert

Shirley A. Kerins, ASLA, is a certified landscape architect in Pasadena, California, with degrees in ornamental horticulture and landscape architecture form the University of Rhode Island.  For the past 12 years, she has been a horticultural consultant to the famed Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena where she serves as the manager of plant production and plant sales and is the curator of the Herb Garden.  She designed the Kallan Memorial Perennial Garden at the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum and the New Zealand Garden for the Huntington Botanical Gardens, as well as a wide variety of conventional and water-conserving gardens for home owners with homes that range from tract homes to large suburban estates.  She is also a vice president and member of the board of directors of the Southern California Horticultural Society, past president of the Orange County Horticultural Society, and founder of the Orange County Herb Society.

Once you establish the purposes of your garden look at the various different areas and address each area separately.  If it is an area that is going to have a lot of furniture or a lot of hard cape, then decide on the type of hard cape-porous paving, granite, gravel, stepping stones, or paving with no mortared joints.

If the area is going to be plant-oriented, there are four aspects to consider:  the condition of the soil, the choice of plant material, the arrangement and spacing of plants with similar water needs, and the importance of mulching.

Starting first with the soil, incorporate organic amendments into the soil so that it drains well, yet retains moisture for the plants.  Organic amendments basically give the soil both large and small pore spaces. These pore spaces are necessary so that the plants can breathe and the soil retains sufficient moisture reserves to keep it from drying out between watering. There is nothing magical about the amendment that goes into the ground; kitchen waste and garden trimmings that are turned into compost are the best amendment. The key is to condition the soil so that it is as perfect as possible in the growing area.

Choice of plant material comes next, along with their arrangement in the garden. In addition to your usual favorites, you must consider the size of the plants at maturity, their requirements for sunlight, and their water use. Then group plants with similar water needs together. Grouping plants with similar water needs is one of the easiest things that the home owner can do to ensure a beautiful garden that also saves water. Once the soil has been conditioned properly, it is easy to grow almost any plant you wish. For example, if you want to grow roses, do not locate them near plants with lower water needs.

Advice from a Garden Design Expert
Advice from a Garden Design Expert

The spacing of plants also is important. A garden that is designed from scratch usually takes five years to reach its full effect. In high sunshine temperature areas that time can be as short as three years. Check the mature size of the plants and space the plants accordingly. If the plants are placed too close together, you will be endlessly pruning or relocating plants to avoid overcrowding as they reach maturity.

Mulching is another consideration. Whenever possible, Shirley Kerins favors the use of low ground cover plants that are used as mulch and set out in varying layers. The mulch plants keep the soil cool and reduce surface evaporation, while they provide the garden with a lush, green look. Mulch plants do not blow away as shredded bark and other light mulches do, and when you want to make changes in your garden, the mulch plants can be dug into the soil where they will condition the soil and help nourish other plants.

Kerins spends a lot of time convincing people that a drought- resistant or water conserving garden does not mean austerity or deprivation. She points out those home owners can have most of what they want if they follow the rules about soil conditioning and grouping plants by water needs.

In gardening, knowledge equals success. To be successful in any type of gardening, but especially in water- conserving gardening, an understanding of how and why plants grow, of the nature of the soil, and of the role of water and nutrients is essential. In the following chapters, we will cover the basics of plant growth and of the soil, nutrients, and water there are essential to their survival with particular attention to drought- resistant or low- water- use.

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