Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lake Landscaping

Last week I went away for a few days for the holiday, down to my brother's weekend house, which sits on a lake along the Virginia/North Carolina border.

If you're familiar at all with the mid-Atlantic region, then you know that our soil is predominantly red clay, a particularly unforgiving dirt.

So, if you have a home you only visit on weekends, with a yard that's 100% red clay and sits in blazing sun and gets very little summer rainfall on its fast-draining, very steep, 30ยบ slope, what do you plant in this difficult landscape?

Why, ornamental grasses of course:

They planted this yard about five years ago, and it has filled in quite nicely, I think. In and among the grasses they also have Knock-Out Roses, Stella d'Oro daylilies, Cannas, Crepe Mytles, Buddleia and a Japanese maple. When it's all in bloom, it's really quite lovely, but even when all you see are the different greens of the grasses, shrubs and trees, it's very pleasing to the eye.

My brother and his wife are close friends with a couple who own a garden center in Cary, NC, (just outside Raleigh), and their friends laid out the design and picked the plants and helped them put it all in one weekend. I wish I had friends like that, (but perhaps a little closer to home)!

When we take the pontoon boat out around the lake and look at what other people have done with their steep slopes, you see a lot of expensive retaining walls, many of which are nothing short of butt-ugly. We're talking $100K eyesores. Those folks hired contractors with little sense of design, which is a shame when you're spending that kind of money.

Probably the loveliest landscape I saw last week was this very Italianate planting:

These folks obviously hired an incredible designer. I really love the contrast between the tall evergreens (reminiscent of Italian cypresses), the shorter, heavily pruned shrubs, and the graceful rounded forms of the grasses. Nicely done. That's what good landscape design is all about.

Next time I'm at the lake, I need to remember to take pictures of the eyesores, to better illustrate my point.


At 1:24 PM, Blogger Hen Clicks said...

What a nice weekend get-a-way.
Water in a landscape adds to much to the beauty and feel, and especially the fun.

I can't image trying to mow a slop like that, and the grasses are beautiful. In Texas we would have to do zeroscape stuff because we are always short of water...except this year.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Carole said...

Oh waow, I love these houses and would give anything to have a peek at the decoration !! The gardens look good as well, though the first pic shows freshly planted things ? Another shot in a couple of years would be different, wouldn't it ?

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Cecile said...

What a nice place to have for a vacation. The lake is awesome, too. A few more years will surely make the make the place captivating even for tourists. It would also be nice if you would put a railing all through out the stairways just to make it safe.

snohomish landscaping


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