Landscaping Lessons-Proper Placement Of Trees In Landscape Design
Landscaping and landscape design goes beyond just creating beautiful designs. As a professional designer, it’s not only my job to create designs but also to envision every possibility of the mature landscape in years to come.
And while most elements will remain what they are for years to come, the one thing that most do it yourselfers and some professionals overlook is the space that tiny little sprouts will occupy when they become mature plants and trees.
Trees serve a number of obvious purposes in the landscape. Creating shade, wind blocks, noise reduction, boundaries, and focal points are just a few. Once I have established where I’ll need trees for these purposes in a design, I have several other considerations before I can designate their permanent home.
Planting without considering the space that the mature full grown plants and trees will occupy can become more than just an inconvenience. It can be costly.
Things to consider.
Around Play Areas
A shaded canopy over play areas, sand boxes, etc. may be desired for shade from afternoon sun. However, you need to consider the mess that birds and other critters will drop right into your childs play area if the canopy extends over it.
The solution to this is to place large shade trees a distance from the area in line with the travel of the sun. If you know the trees you plant and how far the mature canopy will extend, you can still plant for shade without exposing your kids to unsanitary conditions.
Keeping a pool clean is hard enough without a mess of leaves and branches. And while most pool areas are sunny locations, it is sometimes desirable to have a space near the pool where one can escape the sun.
Unlike play areas though, you may not want to shade the entire pool landscape from the afternoon sun. Therefore you shouldn’t plant large shade trees in direct line with the travel of the sun. Design as to create a shady area to one side or the other. This is also another spot to eliminate top rooting trees around concrete. Evergreen types are usually your best bet for around pools.
Roots And Concrete Footings And Foundations
While infrequent deep watering as opposed to frequent shallow watering will help deter top rooting trees, some trees are still determined to seek out other sources of water which may be on the surface or moist areas under structures.
The seeking roots of large trees are a powerful force that can break sidewalks, foundations, and even lift walls out of place. This is the biggest and most costly mistake I see. Know your landscaping trees before you plant them next to your home.
Under Power Lines
Know what’s overhead.
Property Lines And Easements
This one can make enemies out of neighbors.
Underground Utilities, Sewers, And Septic Tanks
Besides the roots being able to break pipes and lines, you don’t want to have to move or destroy a mature tree to fix a leak. Locate lines and plant away from them. Some trees can spread out much further underground than they do up top. Know what’s underground.
You need to keep in mind the mature size of trees in proportion to the size of your home and other landscaping elements. Large trees can dwarf a small home and small trees can look like shrubs placed around a very large home. Know the mature size of trees and keep them in perspective.
Hiding or framing a home
Consider the view from the street and other areas and consider the purpose of your trees. If you wish to seclude your home, you don’t need much thought for that. However, if you only wish to frame or accent your home, you’ll again need to consider the mature size and placement of your plantings.
Here’s another opportunity for birds and critters to make a mess of things. If possible, plant in accordance with the travel of the sun. And once again, know the mature canopy of your trees.
Usefulness And Cost Effectiveness
If you’re going to make an investment in landscaping, look for ways to make it work for you. Placed properly, large trees can shade your home and reduce your cooling costs and vise versa. You can intentionally create shade for your shady garden, screen and divide areas, reduce noise, and a world of other applications if you just give it some thought.