Man has admired the nature since the earliest times. Alongside with decoration of his habitation and architectural embellishment, he changes the territory nearby. Beautiful wall lining and paving pattern is not the only feast to the eye. In the first place it is harmony between a house and surrounding landscape. That is why so much attention used to be paid to landscape gardening. Besides aesthetic aspect, there can be practical and even philosophical one. Everybody loves to lounge on the grass, breathe in lilac, and look after fish in the pond. However, very few people are able to realize whether it is difficult or easy to make their dreams come true.
Practical owner thinks over a plenty of issues before buying a site. For example, square, price, prestigious location, distance from highways as well as centres of population, service lines, nearest-neighbour buildings, etc. Don’t forget to look at the site from a gardener’s point of view.
If woodland gets the nod, you will have all problems connected with it. Nowadays woodlots attract many people for some reason, but only a few of them can save biocenosis to the full extent, i.e. large trees, a variety of bushes, undershrubs, and redivives. As a result such plot will demand additional planting all the same. Meanwhile, a range of plants will be restricted to shadow-loving ones. You will have to give up the idea of roses and lilacs, because only rhododendrons thrive extensively under the canopy of pines. You won’t be able to get thick lawn in the woodland. Thus it is impossible to achieve all your dreams on certain plot.
Relief. Water. Soil
It is important to pay attention to the following factors.
Firstly, it is site relief. Plane is the simplest variant with comprehensive capabilities. Slopes can differ in steepness and exposition. Respectively the southern one is always preferable. If you are indifferent to vegetable beds in abundance and want something exclusive, you needn’t be afraid of steep slopes. Retaining walls, grottoes, brooks, waterfalls are wonderful framing for thriving flora. All of them look more natural and interesting on the slopes.
Secondly, it is groundwater occurrence depth. Is there any possibility of reclamation works?
Thirdly, it is soil condition. Soils of Moscow suburbs vary greatly depending on grain-size distribution: from lightweight sand to heavy loam. We advise you to pay heed to physical soil properties in the first place and after that to the nutrient content and the organic one. Under grain-size classification, soils are divided into sands, clays, clay sands and light, medium, heavy loams. Even a layman can distinguish sand from loam, in other words, light soil from the heavy one. As compared to loam soil, sandy or light soils are well-drained, warmed up more rapidly, but carry moisture and nutrients badly. For this reason they fall short of watering and fertilization. Soil conditioning approaches differently to various soils. Unfortunately, peat composts have widely been used in verdurization. They are fine fertilizers and mixture components but being used alone they can cause harm. Peat exsiccates rapidly in sandy soil and becomes hydrophobic in planting pits. You hose a plant but water sinks into the earth and this peat ball remains dry. Peat can produce an effect of ‘flowerpot’ in heavy clay. Roots occupy soft and easily accessible peat compost but can not penetrate through hard pit walls and curl along them. Consequently this plant is mechanically unstable and germinates poorly.
Finally you have chosen a site and have thought of your future garden. Having read the above-said information you decided to apply to specialists.
Being a rational owner you will take on a landscape project alongside with a building project. Subgrading, drainage, service lines (sprinkling, lightening of garden, pergola, and other small architectural forms) are made in parallel with finishing works and after building work. Depending on volumes of earth to be moved subgrading is made with handcarts, tractors or excavators. While terracing slopes don’t forget that handcarts and lawn-mowers can’t easily move down the stairs. The soil dug out during draining or pipelaying is usually used for backfilling, man-made relief, rockeries and etc. In some cases soil transportation is required. You should remember that being dug and backfilled loamy soil settles only after autumn rains or spring floods, so it does not worth planting or paving here right away.
After creation of living environment, pits may be prepared for trees and bushes. Pits are laid out according to the draft; their sizes are also marked there. Imported vegetable soil with good agronomic structure, neutral reaction, and balanced composition of nutrients is used for backfilling. We recommend sod-alluvial soil from overflow land. Peat, sand (in some cases vice versa loam), superphosphate are added for organic matter enrichment and air permeability. Dolomitic meal is also added to reduce acidity.
A number of cultures demand special components of soil mixture, for example, acid sphagnum peat. The dug soil with its own properties may be used in the mixture. Heavy gleic loam (blue-gray clay) and yellow infertile sand should be removed from the pit totally. While planting trees it is important not to put root neck deeper than site subgrade (you should orient to paths height and make allowances for soil settlement). After planting, abundant watering is necessary for settlement of stoolbeds and abolition of air plugs under the roots. Beautifully blooming perennials and annuals demand soil preparation. Fertile layer has to be at least 30 sm. In some cases soil composition may differ.
There are also undemanding flowers. For example, stonecrops (lat. crassula, sedum) can grow on thin layer of loam and poor sandy soil. It is interesting that they become even more decorative there.
Trees and bushes
Trees and bushes beglamour a garden. They visually reduce sizes of nearby areas and walls that are boring for perception. In winter one may feast his or her eyes on the diverse texture and colour of foliage, bark, and architectonics of branches. Lawns and colourful parterres look extremely beautiful and natural against trees. The choice of tree crops should be made by taking into account territory peculiarity as well as already existing trees. It is desirable to incorporate natural motives into the large garden where natural relief and mature trees are preserved. You should leave open spaces to get a good panoramic view. Under the laws of development of landscape, the vast homestead land blending with the surroundings looks better when it is not walled, though, nowadays it is the shadow of a shade.
Choosing ornamental trees and bushes it is important to envisage those changes which will have taken place in several years. Beauty of plants differs in its dynamics from beauty of substances. Many species of hardwoods and conifers can be cultivated in temperate zone. Single plants or their groups look wonderful if they have been selected according to the basic laws of composition, colouristics, and texture. Evergreen conifers animate landscape in winter when leaf-bearing trees have lost their foliage and have become bare and dormant. Conifers are essential for highlighting when space is planted vertically. In a number of cases their dark green tonality cannot be substituted for any broad-leaved tree in contrast background to light green plants and creation of vista. However, you should try to avoid the abundance of conifers. They can make an impression of gloominess and monotony due to their more or less permanent forms and dark tones.
Parterres are suitable to arrange sites in different styles (forest border or high-tech). One should match the appropriate form of parterre and assortment of plants. Annuals, perennials and bulb plants usually grow there. In some cases bushes can be chosen. Roses stand apart because they used to be admired in single planting, though modern ideas admit concord of roses, perennial crops and ground-covering plants.
Simultaneous blossoming of two or three groups is achieved by the selection of perennials. They are complementary in respect of colour and shape and make a large colourful display. Generally one tries to choose crops flowering in turn from early spring to late autumn for each parterre.
Annuals differ from perennials in longer blooming period (practically the whole vegetation period, from May to October) but it is necessary to prick out or seed them de novo each year. Most perennials grow in one place up to five years without any replanting or division, e. g. peonies – 6-7 years, roses – 20 years. (Stricto sensu, roses are qualified as bushes not as perennials.)
Many flower species vary in ornamental form or foliage colour. They can help to create contrast spots or stripes on the lawn as well as they can be combined with decorative plants. A great variety of hosts with grey-, white- and yellow-edged lives, either large or lanceolate, look well in single planting near the porch, bend or garden entrance.
Plants of different height are commonly bedded out in ridges; higher ones are situated in the background, lower ones – in the forefront. As far as colour is concerned, plants are matched either by contrast shades (red and yellow, violet and orange) or vice versa by relative ones (salmon and mauve). Beautiful composition is made by uniting few tints of one species, e.g. multicoloured phloxes.
Blooming in early spring bulb plants are often placed in the foreground of parterres. Crocuses, muscari, narcissi, hyacinths, tulips et alias are planted in autumn when soil temperature drops to 10 degrees. Snowdrops, bluebells, fritillaries are graceful and look well near perennials sleeping in spring. It is better to plant tulips together, not one by one. You shouldn’t be afraid of striking contrasts. In summer you may replace them by annuals. It is permissible to plant crocuses and snowdrops straight on the lawn; they will have faded by the trim time.
The ridge with well-arranged annuals, perennials and bulb plants will be a pleasure to the eye from early spring to late autumn allowing you to admire the collection of various plants on the small plot.
It is difficult to imagine both landscape without open spaces and homestead land or small garden without the picturesque lawn surrounded by beautifully blooming bushes where groups of trees (or flowers) are skilfully placed. This produces a natural effect on site greenery. Colour and form of flowers, bushes, and trees become apparent against the lawn background; the territory seems to get certain depth and be vaster.
From 25 to 50 percent of site square is usually allotted to the lawn. While laying out the lawn you should be aware of its specific attendance (besides esthetical aspect). Try to avoid thin serpentine stripes where grass mower can hardly be driven. It increases the volume of slow hand work performed with grass shears.
A mixture of permanent grasses and various annuals are sown to create the Mauritian lawn. It is cut once or twice per season.
Laying out comprises subgrading, addition of sand layer (if the native soil is loamy) and topsoil. We recommend so called intrazonal soil from the high-water bed. It is largely enriched with nutrients. Unlike mixtures of peat and sand, this soil has good water and air permeability as well as specific water retention. The moulded soil demands levelling and slight packing wherefore special lawn rollers are used. Then you either roll out ready-made lawn or seed it (in the latter case you will need peat to mulch seeds for 1-2 cm and secondary rolling). Variety assortment of herbs is different in rolls and sowing mixtures. The unset or sown lawn requires full watering through spraying machines. If the weather is dry, you should water in 2-3 days.
Constant attendance for all components of a garden is required to keep the balance of such artificial system. Ex facte it may appear paradoxical but attendance for the lawn will call for the best efforts: watering, additional fertilizing, aeration, and shearing once in seven or ten days. It is necessary to earth the lawn, comb out it in autumn and spring, struggle against weeds and moles.
We hope that this summary of planting principles will help you to perceive what is needed for successful implementation of landscape designs.
Trees and bushes demand fertilizer application twice a year, trimming for crown formation, sanitation pruning of the deadwood and deadheads, protection from pests and diseases.
Flowers also need dosing, soil mellowing, protection from weeds and pests.
In late autumn it is necessary to cut off sprouts of perennials and leaves of roses. You should protect the latter from fungal diseases and cover for a winter period, like other frost-sensitive cultures, such as rhododendrons and magnolias. Then you have to remove virgins-bowers and climbing roses from supports and lodge their stems as well as stems of forsythias and weigelas.
Garden treatment comprises the whole spectrum of different works demanding specific knowledge, skills, and tools. That is why we recommend appealing to specialists.