Garden Design and Planning
A garden should be designed carefully as it is nearly permanent, and it is not possible to change the design frequently. This combines aesthetics, artistry, knowledge of plants and their growth and how to maintain the garden during different seasons. Landscaping is essentially designing and laying out of a garden in all its elements, which include the lawn, rocks, shrubs, trees, pathways, seasonal plants, etc.
There are various kinds of gardens and they are named according to their characteristic features like rock garden, water garden, wild garden, terrace garden, kitchen garden and formal garden. Kitchen gardens can be made both outdoors and indoors. Combinations can also be made, for example, a rock garden can be built in one corner, and the rest of the garden can be carpeted with a lawn, edged by flowerbeds.
The Lawn is the most important feature of any garden, as it covers nearly the entire area, and a well, kept lawn is the redeeming feature of any garden (see Lawn, in the following chapter). A large expanse of green is soothing to the eyes and nerves. Green is the middle color of the visible spectrum (VIBGYOR), so you can understand why grass forms an ideal background for flowers, which are the show pieces, blooming beautifully in various hues. The lawn 'should be visible from the house. It can be of many shapes, not necessarily rectangular as in formal gardens. The size depends on the amount of land available, and which element of the garden is to be its main feature.
A Rock Garden may be built to look like a mountain or a hill. Whatever is the shape, the rock garden should look natural and have planting pockets filled with rich soil ensuring that there is adequate drainage. The rocks should be buried two,thirds in the ground and the visible portion should look like a natural outcrop. A good suggestion for the rock garden is to have it facing south,east. It should not taper off suddenly, but merge gradually into the ground, as it is in nature.
Plants suited for rock gardens are small shrubs and bulbous plants like freesia, narcissus and zephyranthes; annuals with low lying branches, creepers and succulents. The criterion for plant selection is that they should be small and hardy; not too water,dependent.
A Water Garden provides a refreshing change and gives a special quality to any garden. A stream, pond or waterfall is very soothing and attractive. If a pond is a part of the garden, fish and water lilies can be grown in it. Fish also serve the purpose of eating the larvae of mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water. Fountains can be added to enhance the beauty of the garden. A rippling fountain produces a soothing murmuring sound, which is very pleasant to the ears and a sight to behold.
Man needs to communicate with nature directly, and planning a Wild Garden fulfills this need. Ferns, climbers, trailing shrubs, flowers and other plants can be grown together to give an informal look. This type of garden looks best in a large area, and it requires imagination and knowledge of plants, which would look natural when grown together.
Due to the increase in multi-storeyed complexes, Terrace Gardens have become an increasingly important feature of modern homes. Design of a terrace garden depends primarily on the amount of sunlight the terrace receives. Many terrace gardens fail because shade-loving foliage plants are not provide adequate shade. The reason why my terrace garden is flourishing is because of a simple thing like an overhang canopy. Mine is made of bamboo. It can also be made using agro-nets, which are available from garden shops. These come in two types, 50 per cent and 75 per cent sun blockage, and they can be chosen according to the level of sunlight in the terrace. The other essential point to remember is that terrace plants are subject to higher temperature and stronger winds. This dries out the soil of potted plants faster than if they were at ground level. What is needed is a balance of sun and shade-loving plants, flowering or foliage, and as long as the light arid water requirements are borne in mind the garden should flourish.
There is no limit to what can be grown on a terrace; there can even be a terrace lawn. The important consideration for a terrace lawn is professionally done water-proofing of the terrace floor and frequent watering, as the height of moisture holding soil used is not much, compared to the soil on the ground. A lawn would grow on a terrace, which has adequate sunlight.
Hanging baskets can be made using plants like tradescantia, chlorophytum, ferns and Portulacaria (tiny tears), which can be hung from a canopy, ceiling or from nails on the wall.
Pathways are used for walking, to prevent the grass from getting trampled while strolling in the garden. Seats can be provided at regular distance with shelters to create shady resting-places. Uneven paths can by corrected by placing steps wherever necessary, or they may be left at an incline as long as they are not too steep. Pathways can be made of gravel or stepping stones.
While making a pathway, it should curve around some bush or tree so that the curve in the path looks like a part of the garden and not artificially planned.
Fences can be made of wooden railings or flowering hedges. They can also be used as supports for climbers. They ensure privacy and can be a combination of stone walls, hedges and wires. They should also match with. the 'garden gates. The whole garden must blend with the house, and the fence and gates should look a part of the whole.
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