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Landscape Design What Makes Your Yard Unique
Landscaping design trends seem to ebb and flow through cycles where naturalism is in one year and the next year well manicured lawns are all the rage. Personally I feel landscaping should reflect your personal style and be unique to each homeowner. The inside of your home should reflect who you are why the outside shouldn't also is beyond me. The perfect place to begin exploring landscape ideas is by taking a "Sunday drive" exploring options of other people's landscape design that you like and don't like. Make sure to document with photos and descriptions so that when you are staring at your own home you are able to visually see what you desire.
Money is tight everywhere right now. Personally my budget for landscaping needs is very small but I still want the space to look and feel like me. In order to do this I went for a ride in the canoe. We are fortunate to have a beautiful river in our backyard to help accentuate our landscape design. I was so inspired by people's creativity. The houses were all beautiful and the landscape of each home seemed to directly reflect the home and what I imagine the people inside were like.
There were several trends that I noticed in the homes along the river. They all seemed to make sense to me. People were conserving rain water, growing gardens and lit up with natural lightening. The landscapes were simple yet elegant, resourceful yet de-cluttered and beautifully natural. Here are the things that caught my eye the most.
- People reduced the amount of grass they needed to cut by placing large "gardens" throughout the lawn. I saw bird house gardens, rock garden, weed gardens that were full of beautifully colored weeds and one hose which had a tire garden. It was so neat and resourceful giving definite personality to the lawn.
- Many gardens were full of Michigan native plants. Being close to the water I saw many yards with cattails, loosestrife, lilies and other weeds that grow naturally with water. Many new weeping willow trees were spring up and I could tell people weren't bending over backwards to make their lawns beautiful they just were naturally.
- I saw several rain water collections going on within the landscape designs. People had large containers made out of different materials that were linked to the gutters inconspicuously that would trap water for use later in the garden.
- Many neighbors had large vegetable gardens, tomatoes, beans, squash and melon made their lawns and gardens look fabulous while also being resourceful and help to feed their families.
- Lightening was also huge. Solar lights and hanging garden lights illuminated the area without the use of an energy source saving money and the environment. Often spotlights were used to emphasize trees and larger ornamental grasses.
- Many landscape designs defiantly served a purpose. The tire garden that I loved definitely did double work as a play/climbing area. Hammocks were placed between two shade trees for a nap area and one yard even played double duty for a place to practice yoga. Their yards said something about their personalities.
- Another thing I really liked is that our neighbors all incorporated the natural critters into their landscape. Bird house, bat houses, and squirrel feeders were abundant. Along with hummingbird feeders, butterflies, birdbaths and toad houses scattered through people's yards.
The one thing that is truly noticeable is that people really used the resources available to them and accentuated upon the details. It was a great site to see. Many of the landscape designs were low key and maintenance looked routine. I was glad I took that trip down the river because instead of bringing in land fill and building a break wall I am going to enjoy the natural landscape that surrounds my home and make it my own with the finer details.
By: Kevin Germain
Department of Landscape
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University of Sheffield