Picking up from last week, we are in the process of limiting the lawn to only clearly defined places for play, entertaining, and transitioning. Also, many homeowners live in neighborhoods with homeowners associations (HOA), so a front yard lawn space is probably not only desirable but necessary. The rest of the property will be layered with plants.
Along with defining lawn spaces, the locations of additional trees should be considered simultaneously. Trees feed healthy ecosystems, especially the Oaks, and the shade they cast reduces the ability of weed seed to germinate both in the beds and in the lawn. It takes a long time to realize these benefits, so trees should be planned for and planted early in the project.
To sculpt new beds or enlarge existing beds, I use at least 6-8" of tree chips from a local tree service, requesting a "clean" load after a recent chipper blade-change. I go right over the lawn, creating a slightly raised area. Bed curves are long and smooth so they look more natural and less contrived. If I plant right away, I add top soil in the planting hole, and then closely watch the moisture levels around the plants, especially shallow rooted plants, such as perennials.
Some will argue that the decaying process of the chips robs the soil of nitrogen, a valuable plant nutrient. However, more recent studies have shown that, although the front end of the process draws out nitrogen, the back end of the process delivers nitrogen at the same rate so there is no net deficiency. I have never had an issue.
When we first moved into our home, we quickly reworked the front foundation. We then sculpted lots of backyard beds, planting them as the budget allowed and refreshing the chips as needed. Today, the beds are comprised of rich black soil just teeming with life from years of decaying tree chips, and only the front edge is mulched with tree chips.
Next week, we'll continue to break down the design process into more manageable pieces. Until then, enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
Welcome to my journal. For over 20 years I've created original landscape plans to help homeowners increase property value and really enjoy their yards. I approach every project as an unique opportunity to develop a work of living art, one that will require minimal care and age beautifully with time. In this journal, I will share some of my field experiences and tricks of the trade with you. Feel free to email questions. Thanks for visiting.