Ornamental Trees – A Key Element In Landscape Design

Design, Plantings · Written by Roger

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birch.river6Used As A Corner Plant

This is only one of several ways an ornamental tree can be used in the landscape, and I look forward to illustrating others in future posts.  The basic principle behind planting on the building corner is to help visually blend the vertical line of the building with the horizontal plane of the land.  There are considerations that should be factored in when selecting the corner planting arrangement.  For example:

  • the height and “mass” of the building – What do I mean by that?  Take a step back, way back.  Too many people try to initially  contemplate design solutions from close-up.  From a distance you can appreciate the relationship of the structure to the  space & setting. Does the building seem exceptionally tall and possibly over-powering? Or is it less obtrusive and more in scale with the setting?
  • windows and other architectural details – Is the building interesting and appointed with nice features and details such as complementing stone work  or word trim?

The side of the home above partially faced a view from the street because of its orientation on the site.  There was not alot of property (or space) for the home as it was, and on top of that the building side itself was all siding…not very interesting.

By using one ornamental tree (River Birch ‘Heritage’), I was able to both soften the vertical line of the building and diffuse the expanse of siding. The understory plantings of Taxus (densiformis), Azalea ‘Poukenense’, and Hosta sieboldiana are low to medium in height. With this arrangement we get year round interest, color and plenty of textural variety.  Could we have used a different ornamental tree?  Sure.  Dogwood, Styrax, Hawthorne and others would have worked too.  I thought the birch with its branching and trunk architecture, interesting bark and semi-transparent coverage worked well.  What do you guys think?

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