Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some Miscapes

There are many things to consider in building a landscape. The problem that most people have, and even some of the professional people, has to do with mature plant size. In my yard, I have moved plants to a different location because they were planted to close together. There are a bunch more that need to be moved. Smaller plants cost a whole lot less money, and for most of them it doesn't take very long for them to grow bigger.

There is a breezeway between my house and the garage with a block path that goes to the backyard. After I put in the walking blocks, I planted several shrubs. They really looked nice for a couple of years, and still look nice, but the shrubs have grown over the path. I can still walk on it but when I do I brush against the shrubs. That's OK except when it rains or snows. Then I have to go off the path and walk across some flower beds to keep from getting wet. To fix it I could move the shrubs or move the path. I ended up moving the path which was a whole lot easier. That is just one of many examples.

When one installs smaller plants. You can get more plants for the dollar. However, with the smaller plants the yard looks pretty barren the first couple of year because there is a whole lot of space between each plant. The temptation to put them closer together is very great. I started a small dry garden that looked pretty bad because the plants were very small. My wife saw that and had me plant annuals in the bare space. The annuals required more water, but the first year for perennials also requires the same amount of water. That garden looked really good. We will see how it looks this spring.

Another problems is zoning your garden. Many gardeners do not consider the water requirement of the plant material. Most yards with sprinklers have several zones for the lawn. There would be some shrub zones and then some zones for the annuals and perennials. The problems is having different water requirements plants in the same zone. One plant may require watering every other day and then another one that does well by being watered once a month. Even natives plants have differing water requirements.

Consider natural landscapes. There are some that have a dominant plant like sagebrush, pines, or rabbit brush, but they are pretty boring. They may all have perennials that bloom at different times of the year and are of different heights. There are some annuals that bloom in different times of the year. The natural landscape is more interesting where the desert plants meet the pinions and junipers. Or where the pinion/junipers meet the mountain trees and shrubs. All the plants in the natural landscape have the same water requirement. Years of higher rainfall produce a greater floral display than the years with lower rainfall.

Generally speaking annuals bloom all summer and perennials bloom for one to four weeks. They bloom, go to seed, and then they are done. Therefore, one should plant some perennials that bloom in the spring, some in the summer and others that would blooming the fall. Flower color should also be considered. Planting a few annuals among the perennials will give nice color all summer long.

Plant height is another consideration in the landscape. Usually tall plants are in the back and short ones in the front. But that doesn't always have to be that way. If there are short plants in the back, There has to be some opening past the taller plants so that the short plants can be seen. I don’t like to see plants in rows with tall row in the back and each row getting shorter until the shortest plants in the front row.

A landscape should be attractive in winter or summer. Consider how a plant looks in the winter. Evergreens look good in the winter. Shrubs that have pleasing color bark or contorted branches have a high winter impact. Great Basin Natives

Monday, January 18, 2010

Starting a Native Garden

A couple of days ago I received the following email:

I need advice on what to do with horrible patches of salt grass in my yard. I envision cosmos and lots of wild flowers, buckwheat, rocks, but what I have are a few trees and salt grass. Any tips?

Saltgrass, Distichlis spicata, is native to Utah and many other western states. It is very stiff grass that can grow in various soil types. It can grow in the dry desert and in mud and water. It is not a grass that children would like to play on or go barefooted. There are several positives for it. You don't have to water it, and it can hold the soil together to help prevent erosion. I would consider using some of it in the landscape. You could consider using it as walking paths where you could walk through your native landscape. The following plants arranged in your yard will leave you with beautiful, sustainable native landscape. All would have to be watered weekly for one full summer after planting. After that one watering in each of the following months of June, July, and August.
  • Gaillardia aristata, Blanket Flower
  • Antennaria parvifolia , Pussytoes
  • Arenaria fendleri, Shrubby Sandwart
  • Argemone munita, Prickly Poppy
  • Dalea purpurea, Violet Prairie Clover
  • Eriogonum jamesii, James Sulphur Flower
  • Eriogonum ovalifolium, Coin Buckwheat
  • Eriogonum racemosum, Pink Smoke Buckwheat
  • Eriogonum umbulatum
  • Linum perenne, Lewis' Blue Flax
  • Mirabilis multiflora, Desert Four O'clock
  • Oenothera casespitoso, Tufted Evening Primrose
  • Penstemon barbatus, Scarlet Bugler Penstemon
  • Penstemon eatonii, Eaton Penstemon
  • Penstemon palmeri, Palmer's Penstemon
  • Penstemon angustifolius, var. dulcis
  • Perityle stansburyi, Stansbury's Rock Daisy
  • Solidago canadensis, Golden Rod
  • Sphaeraicea munroana, Munroe's Globemallow
  • Stanleya pinnata, Prince's Plume
  • Bouteloua gacilis, Blue Gramma
  • Bouteloua curtipendula, Sideoats grama
  • Elymus cinereus, Great Basin Wild Rye
  • Sporobolus airoides
  • Chamaebatiaria millefolium, Fernbush
  • Ephedra viridis, Mormon Tea
  • Gutierrezia sarothrae, Broom Snakebrush
  • Rhus aromatica var. Trilobata
  • Ribes aureum, Golden Currant
  • Sheperdia argentea, Silver Buffaloberry
  • Yucca Kanabensis, Kanab Yucca
  • Yucca utahensis, Utah Yucca
  • Acer negundo, Box Elder
  • Celtis reticulata, Netleaf Hackberry
  • Juniperus osteosperma, Utah Juniper
There are some other plants that might fit, but I don't know how they would do in your climate. Also there are cacti, cholla, bulbs that do well with only the winter rain and snow. Great Basin Natives