Gisella Aleshire. Garden Design. April 20th , 2018.
Imparted by Ralph Snodsmith, my first official gardening teacher at the New York Botanical Garden and talk radio host (a character whose working uniform was always a forest green three-piece suit), there is no greater planting wisdom. No matter how brilliant a plan one conceives, if the plants are not well planted at the right height, in a sufficiently sized, and properly amended pit, the results will likely be poor. Some rules just can not be broken.
That means that if the riser is 5 inches, the tread (what you walk on) should be 16 inches. All I can say is that the rule is true, and I have used it from steep canyon faces to gentle changes of patio levels. A useful corollary states that 5 feet is the minimum width for two people climbing steps side by side.
I remember as a beginning garden designer in California being taken aside by my mentor, a transplanted Englishwoman who owned the nursery, walking through a vast block of salvia, and being told that I could, if I liked, use 30 of them, not the three or five I had typically been planting. It was a liberating moment.
Think big. Ample pathways and gathering spaces are inviting, and large features are engaging in any size space. You can maximize the livability of a small yard by taking advantage of changes in terrain to segment the space into different living areas.
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