Redesigning your landscape [UPDATED]Published 9:30am Monday, May 14, 2012 Updated 11:31am Monday, May 14, 2012
Landscape designer Don Engebretson apparently doesn’t like grass. His philosophy is “if the kids are gone why have any lawn at all except for an accent?”
In the early 1900’s a city lot rarely had more than 40 percent lawn. That changed in the 50’s when lawns took over 90 percent of the space.
With the “green revolution” people want to do less lawn mowing as lawn mowers are quite polluting for their size.
Mr. Engebreton advocates using just thin slivers of grass as defining edges and pathways through and around flowerbeds. To achieve this look he thinks the homeowner needs to really look at his mature trees, especially the conifers.
Yews, arborvitae and junipers tend to outgrow their spaces, and get really ugly and misshapen as they age, especially those planted originally as foundation plantings.
If this is the case in your yard, don’t feel bad about removing them. They are probably overgrowing the driveway or the sidewalk anyway.
You have grown used to the way the place looks but really take a good look at it. Is the shrub a nice shape? Is it too big for its space, or shading a flowerbed, or encouraging moss to grow in a space you don’t want moss? Dig the thing out.
Don’t put another shrub back in the same place. Instead, plant, starting at the lot line. Design from the front of the house to the back. Plan gently curving paths that lead to the backyard.
Don feels the side yards should “nestle the home in nature.” In other words, small ornamental trees, dwarf evergreens, upright perennials and groundcovers fill the area that used to be grass.
None of the trees he recommends is taller than 15 feet. Many of them will do well in light shade, like that cast by a large tree half of the day (do keep the healthy well shaped trees).
For sunny areas, three crabapple trees: Candymint, 10-feet-wide and 15-feet-high; Cinderella, 8-by-5; and Lollipop, 10-by-10 foot will add color and light shade. There are several magnolias: Ann, Jane and Riki; serviceberry (June berry) Seven Son flower and Pee Gee hydrangea, the tree form, that are also flowering small trees to consider.
The new crabs don’t drop their apples. They stay on until the birds pick them off. No mess. If you want fruit, there are always plum trees.
For a green accent, there is Slim Jim pine. He grows to 10 feet but only 4 feet wide. Silver Whispers pine is two feet bigger both ways.
There are dozens of conifers that stay small to add that all year round bit of green. Just go into your favorite local nursery. The tags will give the size at maturity to help your planning.
Even newer home landscapes need a bit of tweaking and older ones occasionally need a bulldozer. It’s time to give your house a new setting. Just don’t get run over as you stand in the middle of the street to get a real good look at your landscape.
If you want to find exactly what your zone is , there is an interactive feature to the USDA map that lets you put in your zip code to pinpoint your personal zone.
If you have garden questions, tune in KBRF 12:50 radio Saturday mornings at 8. a.m. (You can listen from your comfy bed, we won’t tell.)
Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.