A GROWING CONCERN: Start planning now for big yard energy

WELL, HOPEFULLY EVERYONE survived and had a great holiday season — I sure did.

As you will recall, I promised (resolved) to write more articles on sustainable, organic, responsible stewardship practices for our yard and land.

So let’s begin.

Size Matters

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

As we begin a series of discussions on landscaping and how it involves you and your way of life, along with this particular time of year, let’s first focus on perspectives.

One of my favorite definitions of perspective is “The representation of space by gradations of the strength of light, shade and color of objects, according to their distances and the quality of light falling on them, and to the medium through which they are seen.”

This meaning of perspective is what really defines me as an ornamental horticulturist and not a typical practitioner of American landscaping, which consists of the orderly placement of trees, plants and grass, all neatly arranged in exact distances from each other, perfectly the same size and symmetrical — allowing you to observe and grasp its entirety in one quick moment.

This would lack perspective, which is further defined in the dictionary as a distant view or vista.

Distance and position

The proper evaluation is with proportional importance given to the component parts. And then back to size, my second favorite definition is “The appearance of objects or scenes as determined by their relative distance and positions,” or “The effect of relative distance and position.”

Now, why does size matter?

Size is what determines the relation a perspective with your yard.

Key phrases

Notice the key phrases in the clinical definitions — space, proportion, distance, position, and always in terms of relative viewpoint.

The typical American landscape, especially in the corporate world, is all the same.

The mix of materials are spaced out in perfectly straight lines with little variation in varieties.

But the importance of size in your dream yard begins now, as you sit in your nice comfy chair, gazing over the gray drizzle, small rainbow fragments showing against the frosted mountains, while you look out over your yard.

The big perspective

What size is the grass area, filling such a large space with the mundane?

Is the stark, tall fence dominating the view as you try to meditate on the scene?

Do those inexpensive one-gallon plants from the sale last week disappear from your prime viewing spot 75 feet away?

Well, in 10 years they will look marvelous. We’ve all got that kind of time, right?

Is the topography clean and lifeless in movement during your observation? How about contrast?

Can you tell most things were planted at the same time in the same size containers or all in the same shade of green?

What about your rock scree or dry creek? Is the only variation in using three grades of rock, giving it an aura of a false, man-made appearance?

All these questions are relative to size.

So where does one begin?

Well, first and foremost, you must continue to sit in that cozy chair and jot down the parameters that will define the ideal size you desire.

If your home is your castle, then your yard is your soul.

It is what greets you, surrounds you and is the imprint your mind receives as you gaze out from your fortress.

Reflect lifestyles

It should be reflective of your lifestyle and the associated cadence of that style.

Think very carefully.

Do I have a tractor? Will I ever get one? Will I or someone else ever need to drive around to the back?

Will I ever own a pool, jacuzzi, gazebo, greenhouse, rose garden or large pets?

How will the views change as people keep moving here and building?

Do I want a lot of work, a little work or various forms of paid labor?

What about boats, planes, RVs, kayaks and canoes that are so prevalent on the Peninsula?

Future storage of these items tends to questions of convenience and loading, cleaning and repair.

Then the issues of a future shop, garage, barn or kids’ basketball court might come into play.

So size is the question and winter is a great time for projects big and small.

Go treat yourself.

Get a nice tape measure, even splurge and get one of those wonderful walk behind ones on a wheel with the tall, adjustable handle.

Start measuring and plotting on paper the relationship of trees, property lines, a future whirlpool or the turning radius of the riding mower — and then measure your own patterns of movement.

Think about the future

Think about future vegetation growth, loss of views, sunlight and how the neighborhood will look in a decade.

Plan in a new berm or two, and add a pathway, patio or deck.

Place tables, chairs, bird baths and orchids all around, and see how quickly it becomes too small.

Beef it up and watch how you can’t mow around it, or get the garden cart to pass through.

See for yourself how a greenhouse with cold frames and a small, raised vegetable garden nearly eliminates mowing while still leaving a charming, glowing green mall of grass for a very lovely perspective.

Or in the rain, go out and plan that water feature you have always dreamed of with big boulders acting as great lawn chairs for prime viewing of the waterfalls.

Paint all this in and dwell on it for a week or two.

Use those lines as though there were real.

See for yourself if the new traffic patterns works for the household, and be amazed at how many times you edit.

It really is all about size.

And if I am to really size up the matter … please stay well all.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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