Two of the functions of good planting design that work together to marry the house to the site are:
- to complement the home
- to have the home appear integrated (connected) to its surroundings
There are certainly other functions accomplished by good planting design, like creating spaces, directing views and traffic, screening, etc. But this “complementing and integrating the house to the site” is major.
In the picture above, this house is desperate for both hardscape and landscape planting design. The house dominates the relatively narrow property and to make matters worse, the grade drops off steadily on the right.
We know this house is “off-balance” and the right side is just dominating the view with its tall expanse of siding and windows.
You’re probably thinking what I first thought. Why couldn’t there be a huge 80′ shade tree on the right side front? Can you imagine how that would change the whole picture?
It was not to be. The new homeowners had come from a previous property that had loads of large trees and they did not “want to go there…again”.
Think long-term, think work-in-progress.
I mentioned it before in previous posts – these landscapes are works-in-progress. Provided you do a professional job from day one, odds are good you’ll be adding to and modifying this landscape in the future. For example, I’m thinking that someday I’ll be helping this homeowner select a nice, big shade tree for the right side front.
But in the meantime…
Never underestimate the effectiveness of mid-size ornamental trees, especially in close proximity to the house.
The homeowner welcomed the idea of ornamental trees. I suggested Purpleleaf Plum off the right front corner. It’s planted approximately 15′ from the building giving it room to develop.
Now brace yourself because I recommended Japanese Red Maple for the side of the house. I know what you’re thinking: “What are you crazy? There isn’t much room for that tree to grow!”
Before you report me to the “Better Plant Use Bureau” let me explain. Japanese Maple is one of those trees that by shape and form is very “malleable “. What I mean is the growth habit and branch structure respond and react really well to pruning.
Oh, and one more point to make with regard to using the maple close to the house. We searched for this plant looking for a particular shape and branch structure. It stands about 18′ high. Dave Kennedy, our contributing landscape contractor, used one of his mechanical tree spades to dig the plant and place it in a wire basket. A skid steer was used to bring it to the planting spot.
The house has a home.
The two ornamental trees add much needed weight to the right side of the house. Their height breaks up the broad expanse of the windows and siding. Notice how the tree canopies soften the transition from the flat plane of the property to the vertical lines of the building.
I should mention too the improved psychological feeling particularly when you drive or walk down the driveway. Just having the tree branching reaching out overhead helps immensely to make you feel more comfortable.
The foliage colors, flowering and textures of the trees and the understory plantings complement the home. Add 2 to 3 years of growth with proper care and this home will be even more integrated with its surroundings.