Geraldina Krantz. Garden Design. April 20th , 2018.
Small gardens have a lot more potential than you realize. Whether dealing with a long narrow space behind a vintage home, a cramped backyard that lacks privacy, or a shabby garden at the rear of a brownstone the possibilities are endless. So do not write off your 40 foot by 20 foot outdoor area just yet, with the right design, it could be an incredible garden.
Another ratio may even be platinum, That is what I have always called the rule for step design advocated by landscape architect Thomas D. Church, often credited with creating the California style. Laid out in his seminal work Gardens Are for People, it says simply that twice the height of the riser plus the tread should equal 26 inches.
Setting a big tree may require machinery or at least multiple gardeners and ample space for maneuvering and stationing amendments and soils, it would be sad to damage or undo some newly planted bed. This seems so obvious, but for lots of gardeners (the author included) a block of fresh perennials may be impossible to avoid planting right away. Be strong, resist the temptation.
While there is much to be said for the cottage garden, with a rich array of varied planting (indeed, it is the real master gardener who can pull this off), there is a power to seeing a quantity of one plant that is genuinely affecting. Russell Page, one of the great twentieth century landscape designers said it well: the most striking and satisfying visual pleasure comes from the repetition or the massing of one simple element.
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