By Elizabeth and Crow Miller

Landscaping Guidance For The Organic Homeowner

There are many homeowners who are unfamiliar with plants and trees, but take great pride in their homes here on Long Island. When flowering trees blossom in the spring they take notice and learn names, then try to buy one for their yard.

Now, the trouble comes when these plants, shrubs and trees get to be a yard full without a pattern, like a room full of cluttered furniture. It is better to have some sort of plan in mind so that as things are added one by one they will total up to an attractively planted home and yard.

The planting around the home is as important to the beauty of the home as color and feeling and artistic technique are to the beauty of a painting. Planting around the home can get out of balance in the course of time. Yearly pruning helps. Actually, though, a lot of trouble can be avoided in the first place by using evergreens with the right growth habits for the locations where they are to be used.

Why do we use evergreens so much for foundation plantings

Well, shrubbery that sheds its leaves (deciduous) often appears dull and unappealing in winter if planted right next to the house, for the ugly foundation will show right through the leafless shrubs. On the other hand, evergreens are green the year round and even in the dull of winter will decorate and improve the looks of your home.

It is best not to clutter up your front lawn with too many shade or flowering trees unless you have a large yard and feel a real need for them. Most front yards will benefit, though, by one lone eye-catcher flowering, berrying or unusual foliage-type tree. This tree should be your absolute favorite of favorites. Dwarf, semi-dwarf or slow-growing types are often best for this spot, especially in small yards. Quite often .used are white or pink dogwood, Japanese red maple, weeping Japanese cherry, flowering crabapple or red-berried holly.

This, your special tree, often looks attractive on the street side of the front walk about halfway between the front door and the driveway, out in the lawn far enough to allow for growth without crowding the path. The object is to place the eye-catcher tree where you will see and enjoy it looking out the front door, walking the front path and coming in the driveway.

If you have young children it is often wise to leave the foundation planting incomplete at the back of your house. Sometimes a flower bed can be made along the foundation and though it may get battered a bit, it will be cheerful.

A rose trellis or a vine or two are nice along the house at the back, too.

Everyone should have a fast-growing shade tree or two in the back yard. Do plant your shade tree where it is handy for you to sit under and where you can see the youngsters when they are climbing. Buy a big enough tree (10-feet) so that you do not have to wait too many years to use it. Most shade trees planted in toddler years are good for climbing during the grammar-school years. Weeping willows are quite fast-growing and climb well.

The back yard is a wonderful place to plant your favorite flowering tree here and there along the fence or property line is often attractive.

The back yard's the place for fruit trees and for vegetable and flower garden laid out in rows, too.

After you learn the more basic evergreens and flowering trees of your area you will automatically begin to hunt for different or unusual things to fill blank spaces about the home and yard.

For example, did you know that red cedar is really a juniper and that our cedar chests are really juniper chests ? The white cedar from which fences and lawn furniture are made is also masquerading, for it is really, an arborvitae.

Doing your own home landscaping is a lot of fun and very rewarding. it gives you adventure, education, beautifies your home, and the exercise is good, too.

Crow Miller, Syndication /

Copyright o 1995 / On-Line / Landscaping/Grounds Maintenance