We must consider function

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist



As we look at landscape design, we must consider function. This is usually why you called me. Either you want shade or you want something that will grow in shade. You may want a privacy screen or maybe you feel your landscape is old or boring and just doesn’t function aesthetically for you anymore. For whatever reason, it’s usually about function and maybe it’s an upcoming social function that makes it happen at your house. Learning the site and your client are the primary objectives. Once you know what they want and what the site lacks – you know how to make it all happen.

Let’s say that the site looks good in general but they want year round color. This is not an unusual visit and request. Most people that want a nice landscape usually already have an above average landscape. They might already have the green landscape that most neighbors have but they want more. Some people try to tell me they have it landscaped if they have a lawn. People are funny.

With color enhancement, let’s look at your landscape on a monthly basis, I think most of us remember many, many spring blooms as heralding in the landscape season.

Fall bulbs make for spring blooms. The daffodil, tulip, hyacinth, and crocus are sure signs of spring and in some country settings, that was enough. They had Mother Nature’s forest to take up the slack with flowering crabapple, red bud, service berry, and dogwood, not to mention the fragrance and bloom of honeysuckle. If they had all this, a lawn, and some green round bushes, they had it landscaped. That was then.

Today’s landscape most often doesn’t have the surrounding forest, it has surrounding streets and neighbors, so more is expected of today’s landscape.

Trees are now needed on site to either enhance the house or screen a view. If it’s enhancement, you might think of diversified color and texture. They may be any combination of evergreen and/or red, green, or gold leaf deciduous trees. If it’s privacy you’re after, evergreen is normal and occasionally combined with deciduous trees. These trees are needed for function and aesthetics so size matters (both now and later). Buy trees that are 8 foot evergreen or 14 foot shade trees. You’re buying time.

Evergreen trees that we normally use are Norway spruce, Canaan Fir, white fir, or white pine. For an 8 – 12 foot screen we would use “techny” emerald arborvithe. Good choices would be autumn blaze maple, golden locust, golden weeping willow, and willow oak for fast growth and good color.

Ornamental favorites for color and form are Red Japanese maple, white weeping cherry, red leaf red bud, red leaf flowering crabapple, weeping blue atlas cedar, upright blue atlas cedar, and katsura.

Evergreen needle leaf shrubs would include yew and juniper. We would more likely use blue holly, boxwood, rhododendron, azalea, and variegated leucothoe and pieris. They’re broadleaf evergreen shrubs.

Deciduous red shrubs are Coppertina and Little Devil Nine Bark. Gold deciduous shrubs would be Gold Mound and Magic Carpet Spirea.

For flowering deciduous shrubs Hydrangea is hard to beat. They’re now compact and available in Dwarf White, red, pink, and blue.

Colorful evergreen shrubs include Gold Mop and Gold Charm False Cypress, Blue Rug Juniper, Blue Star Juniper and Emerald Garden Juniper.

Perennials are too numerous to name all but some of the best would be lavender, sage, daylilies of any color, Coral Bells of any color and many colors of cone flower.

Speaking of lavender and sage, let’s talk fragrance and include numerous lilac shrubs.

You can’t say enough about the form and naturalizing effect that boulders and ornamental grasses can have on your landscape. Add sage, lavender, daylilies, etc. and what’s to shape or prune? Now we’re talkin’ low maintenance.

Most customers today want low maintenance design and that usually brings up weedmat, stone mulch, and maybe a brown or black bark mulch to enhance the stone mulch and house.

This is a plan and it meanders. There are no straight lines or 90 degree corners. There are groupings and there is happiness. If you want to see some of these landscapes, look at the intersection of happy and unique.

This concludes the “Landscaping 4 U” series. It’s been fun but it’s done. Next week we will dwell on another subject. May the forest be with you.

We could end this with, “This is the Ol’ Landscaper roundin’ third and headin’ home.” or “And this one belongs to the reds.” Either way, it’s colorful – right? Right.

I don’t think I’ll go with Joe or Marty but rather Jimmy Durante and say, “And goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” “Ah, cha-cha-cha.”


By Dudley Wooten

PDT Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.