Traditional Garden Layouts

Traditional garden layouts are simple to understand and
can also easily become a butterfly garden plan.

Discussed also are layouts for larger properties
to create a natural landscape.  These areas also require
planning  depending on one's long term goals of property.

Traditional Ornamental Gardens -
                                           A three tier structure:

Visualize any garden layout in three blockings.  Experienced gardeners can easily visualize but any gardening for beginners it is always recommended write it down.

  • The Foundation, or Background.

    The foundation is the area where the taller plants provide a backdrop.  Back border plants are usually 30 inches tall or taller (76 cm).

    These are larger perennial plants, trees and bushes that are trimmed regularly to control shape and growth.  They can run along a house, properties edge or create their own border.  Conifer trees, or cone-bearing evergreen trees and shrubs, are often used for the foundation.

    For the butterfly garden foundation trees and shrubs also act as a windbreak so butterflies feeding don't get blown away.  It's best to plant trees where they block northwesterly winds.

    Depending on perennials, these background plantings also are butterfly host plants.  This is a good area for host plants as a butterfly caterpillar eats a lot.

  • The Support, or Intermediate area.

    These mid-border plants are about 15-30 inches tall (38-76 cm).  They also are mounding perennial plants along with smaller shrubs and bushes.  They can sometimes be annual plants that grow tall throughout the summer. The intermediate area defines the garden and it's borders.

    Any flowering blooms in the bordering support area provide nectar sources for butterflies.

  • The Foreground, or Flair.

    This is the front border.  These are annual plants and a smaller perennial plants that don't mound and grow up to 15 inches (38 cm).  The flowers in the foreground is where many pollinators feed.

    This is the eye-candy of the garden.  Many gardeners get into the habit of planting the same flowers in an area yearly.  It is recommended to rotate different plantings here.  Get creative with your butterfly garden designs, butterflies can see color, only differently than we humans do.

Other considerations are textures and colors.  When applying textures and colors one can successfully cross over into the above three blockings.

Natural Landscape Garden -
                                   Freely growing habitats:

As natural gardening grows in popularity creating the landscape is different than designing a traditional ornamental garden layout. 

In this case canopy trees create the ceiling and the floor is made up of ground-covers.

  • Canopy, or Overstory Tree Zone - Horizontal Lines

    These grow to become the largest life forms of tree life in any landscape.  These are the shade trees.  Usually Overstory trees already exist on preferred landscaping area.  They can grow to heights of 200 feet or higher and take years to establish. 

    Large Evergreens, Oak trees and the famous California Redwoods are examples.  Other common Overstory trees are Maples and Beeches that work well.

    If not certain what would work for your area contact your county extension office.  They can offer suggestions best suited for your planting zones and soil type.

    If property isn't large remember that these trees can shade out growth of Understory and Ornamental trees.

  • Understory Trees Zone - Vertical Lines

    These follow the Overstory Trees in height.  Understory trees depend on the larger Canopies for shade to survive.  A Dogwood Tree would be an example (not the more ornamental varieties).

    In the landscape garden Understory trees function as Baffle or Screen Trees and Shrubs.  These are the vertical walls of the garden.

         Screens provide shelter and partitions with a mesh
         appearance but can also be dense.

         Baffle Trees and Shrubs obstruct and deflect visual focus.

    Other Understory/Shrub Ornamental tree examples are Redbuds, Saucer Magnolia trees, Flowering Crab trees and Japanese Maples.

  • Seedling Tree Zone - Vertical Lines

    Seedlings depend upon both the above zones to germinate and grow.  As seedling trees mature they can become taller Over or Understory Trees.

  • Shrub Zone - Vertical Lines

    Dense large and small shrubs.  Larger can also be Screen trees while the smaller can function as a barrier plantings in the wild while in our landscape gardens these are easy to handle.

         Barrier's are plantings that prevent humans from walking
         through area.  In the garden use these walls to re-direct
         people to other locations. 

  • Ground-cover Zone - Horizontal Lines

    These are natural ground-covers like mosses and lichens in the wild.  Landscape gardens can include wild flowers to ornamental grasses.  Ground-cover is visually below eye level.  Because of this it is also creative to use rocks, stumps or fallen tree limbs to make area more interesting.

When buying trees Bare-root trees are less expensive but will take longer to grow.  Other options such as Container or Balled and Burlapped will grow much more quickly, especially those having a good 4" diameter.  These will cost more but will jump-start any garden layout.

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