Beauty, function landscaping keys
ANN M. O'PHELANIf you've ever seen a yard, a garden, a plot of land, or a grove that looks meticulously laid out, no doubt there was a good amount of landscape planning considered before anything was ever planted into the ground.
Published: February 27, 2013
Published: February 27, 2013
When it comes to landscape planning, there are two main things to think about: beautification and function. While it's important for a landscape to look nice, it's equally important that it works effectively.
Plants, trees and shrubs can add to the color and greenery, and they can create balance. However, they can also create windbreaks, set up barriers from the sun, help with noise reduction, assist with water issues, aid in privacy and establish buffers.
When planning, you want to first consider what your particular needs are, as well as deciding what kinds of plants and trees are visually appealing to the location. The first step in planning a landscape is to understand the site conditions you are dealing with.
"This includes soil type and drainage, sun/shade patterns, wind direction, and any other microclimate issues that might be present," said Brian Niemann, statewide builder and developer coordinator, of Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, University of Florida.
He explained that once the site conditions are determined then it's just a matter of choosing plants that grow to the size you want and that will thrive in your site conditions.
You would also want to consider the shape of the plant or tree and the types of leaves it has in order to ensure that it balances well with the other vegetation already in place. Also, if the plant or tree flowers, you would want to think about the color and size of the flowers as well as the time of year it does flower.
If you are looking for wind protection, a few trees that are perfect for central Florida are fine-leaved evergreen plants.
"Southern red cedar, Eastern red cedar, and podocarpus all make excellent screens for wind protection," said Niemann, who suggested that when it comes to shade, live oaks are good choices, while red maple and bald cypress (plant near water) are perfect for smaller versions of shade trees.
Slash pines planted in groups can also create shade. If you would like to add color along with shade, consider the Southern magnolia (large, fragrant white flowers) or a smaller sized redbud (red/pink flowers). Your local country extension offices can be contacted for more information.
Ranchers, growers and farmers benefit from landscape planning in even more ways, as function can be key to the success of a garden, grove or field. For example, planting windbreaks in citrus groves can help prevent the spread of disease that is carried in the wind both within groves and between neighboring groves.
Other uses of windbreaks include creating pollinator habitats, adding visual screens, assisting with noise reduction and implementing privacy fencing.
Corridors, buffers, and greenways — each associated with a specific resource issue — such as assisting with water quality and wildlife, are also examples of functional landscape practices.