GARDENING: Find harmony in landscaping

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By Jeff Floyd

Certified horticulturist and arborist

All landscape design is a study of how the mind gives meaning to various shapes, colors and lines. The human eye does not readily accommodate sudden visual changes. The more the designer understands this, the more harmonious and pleasant his design will be.

There are three key properties that the eye focuses on in a landscape. These are texture, shape and color. For the eye to move comfortably from point to point, there must be a measured change in these elements. If everything changes at once, too much variation is created and the landscape will appear to be a mess rather than a well thought out landscape.

However, variety is desirable as it adds interest to the landscape. Therefore, designers have cleverly learned to adjust one element at a time, let’s say shape, while maintaining texture and color. This way they can gradually increase the assortment of plants without losing order.

Let’s say we decide to plant a row of yaupon foundation shrubs from one corner of the house to the entrance. One can choose dwarf “stokes” yaupons for the first two or three shrubs starting from the corner. This shrub has an average maximum height of two and a half feet. For the next choice in that same row, we could plant some “nana” yaupon hollies that can grow up to four feet tall. Finally, we could plant a “Pride of Houston” yaupon closest to the door.

Pride-of-Houston reaches a height of about fifteen feet, which is perfect for announcing the front door of a house at the end of a row of hedges. Plus, it would be a great choice to introduce another design element in the fall as it practically guarantees to delight viewers with an abundance of little red drupe berries.

In our next article, we’ll see how hardscape features in the landscape can add to its overall appeal.

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