Consider these factors when planning a landscape that meets your needs and fills your dreams
By Laura Fisher Kaiser
Privacy. If one of your goals is more privacy, there are many options that combine practical and aesthetic considerations. These range from fencing and treillage (latticework for vines) to dense plantings and green screens.
Storm Water Management and Erosion Control. Where does the water go in your yard when it rains? Does your basement feel damp or flood? Does water pool in certain areas of the yard or wash away mulch? To improve storm water runoff and direct water away from your house, you might need to regrade the area around the house and install a dry well, tiering and water-harvesting equipment. This might be done in conjunction with a patio or hardscaping project.
Efficiency and Sustainability. “When it comes to landscape elements, efficiency and sustainability reign supreme,” according to a report by the American Society of Landscape Architects. That means a yard that is low-maintenance, conserves natural resources and is environmentally friendly. Maybe it’s time to think about alternatives to a conventional turf lawn, a notorious guzzler of water, gas and chemicals.
Energy Conservation. The kinds of trees you plant and where you put them can reduce your energy costs all year long. Shade trees can reduce surrounding air temperatures as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit—and as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit directly under a tree—and reduce solar heat gain on a house. Strategically located deciduous trees cool the yard and house in the summer and allow daylight into the house in the winter. While homes in cool regions might not need shading, they might benefit by having a windbreak of dense evergreens as homes exposed to direct winds use more energy to keep the inside warm.
Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping—landscaping to reduce water use—is not just for arid climates, but should be incorporated into every landscaping project, no matter the scope or scale. Using native plants that require little or no supplemental irrigation might mean skipping some thirsty exotics but there are plenty of smart plant picks to choose from. Ask your local cooperative extension office for a list.
Reducing Fire Risk. If your house is located in an area prone to wildfires, firescaping should be at the top of our priority list. This means designing the landscape to reduce house and property vulnerability to wildfire by creating a minimum of 30 feet defensible space around structures, surrounding the house with things that are less likely to burn—like pools and higher-moisture content plants—and leaving space between plants and groups of plants. According to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office: “In firescaping, the open spaces are more important than the plants.”
- Xeriscape is NOT Zero-Scape (landscapegardenleisure.wordpress.com)