Landscape Myths That Hurt Your Landscape Design
The art of landscape design has a long and famous history. Masters of the art have included an American, Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park in Manhattan and an Englishman, Capability Brown, who designed over 170 parks in Great Britain and is still renowned as England’s greatest gardener. While their designs and those of many others were great in their execution, many myths have grown up in the centuries since their debut. Here are just a few that the modern homeowner should be aware of:
Sunlight is constantly required
While all plants require sunlight to survive, some are not as dependent on it as you would think. For example, peonies require a yearly average of 500-1000 hours of temperatures in the 32-40 degree range to really thrive. Another example is the “winter burn” suffered by some evergreens. This ailment is not caused by the presence of cold. Instead, it is excessive sunlight that is the culprit. So, it is perfectly acceptable to plant the appropriate flora in semi- to full-shade.
Water every day
In short, more is not always better when it comes to watering your garden. Grass and other plants can easily be damaged if they receive too much water – in fact, you can actually drown a plant. Still, it is better to water infrequently but for a longer period of time rather than more often but lightly. The latter process encourages the growth of a shallow root system while the former encourages deeper – and healthier – root growth in a lawn or in a plant bed.
Incorporate “wild” plants if possible
Many non-expert landscapers confuse the terms “native” and “wild” when it comes to the plants in their garden. It is a fairly common mistake but one that can have striking repercussions for your garden. Native plants are indeed indigenous to wherever your garden happens to lie. Wild plants, on the other hand, can derive from any part of the globe. In fact, many of these “thriving” plant species are quite invasive and are actually killing the native species. In other words, be careful what you plant or it may take over.
Get it all done in the Spring
The weather is warm and the ground has grown soft – it may seem that springtime is the only time to start planting. Unfortunately
, this is just another myth. Knowledgeable landscapers understand that creating a magnificent garden takes effort on a year-round basis. Even the winter season can play a part as it is the best time of year to plant such things as bare root roses and dormant shrubs.
Fertilizer solves all problems
Another misconception is that an abundance of fertilizer can cure any number of deficiencies in the health of a particular plant. In fact, the addition of fertilizer to the soil around an ailing plant can actually have a harmful effect as opposed to a healthy one. Instead, look to more plausible reasons for the plant’s poor health such as lack of water, physical damage or the invasion of a pest or disease. A word to the wise, “less is more” when it comes to the use of modern fertilizers.
Keep the lawn as closely-cropped as possible
To a true landscaper, there is great joy in designing, laying out and planting a new garden around a home but the day-to-day maintenance can become a tedious thing. For the less than dedicated landscaper, this fact entails taking some shortcuts. A single case in point will excellently illustrate the point. It involves, of all things, mowing the lawn. It may seem that mowing your lawn – at the lowest height possible – on a weekly basis will decrease the number of times that you will need to mow it over the season. To the contrary, allowing your lawn to grow and bloom will lessen the time and energy needed to maintain it.
Ignore fallen leaves, they are free fertilizer
It is true that leaves can be a valuable source of fertilizer for a lawn or garden bed but it must be properly dealt with before being applied. That is, just leaving them to lay wherever they naturally fall is not sufficient and can actually cause damage to your grass, plants, and shrubs. Instead, fallen leaves should be raked up promptly – within 3 to 4 days is best – and placed in a compost pile. The leaves will then naturally break down and can be applied to the garden in a much safer and far more effective manner.
Curved lines are mandatory
These days, there is a great tendency to defer to the aesthetics of Mother Nature when it comes to landscape design. That is to say, Nature despises a straight line and they should be avoided at all costs when laying out a garden. However, the two landscape design masters mentioned at the beginning of this article were no strangers to the use of straight lines in their projects. Indeed, Capability Brown was famously enamored of the clean cut lines of formal English gardens. In other words, do not be afraid to use clean lines in your landscaping when it suits your purpose.
I don’t need a professional landscaper
Landscaping may seem like the perfect do-it-yourself project. You can do it at your own pace, there is not a whole lot of specialized knowledge necessary and Mother Nature does most of the work. Still, professional landscapers bring a lot to the table. They have a practiced eye so false starts – and the wasted money they cost – are avoided. In addition, they operate on a fixed schedule so your home garden will look good at the beginning of the season and throughout the rest of the year.
As you can see, there is a lot of false gardening information – from old wive’s tales through farmer’s rules of thumb to downright myths– that just do not hold up to the scrutiny of modern science. The soundest advice when you hear one of these old sayings is to check with a professional landscaping service – their advice is usually free. Ours certainly is. For further information on these myths and on getting the most out of your new landscape design, please contact us at Twin Oaks Landscape. Find us online at Twin Oaks Landscape or reach us directly at 734.213.6911.