Home Garden Planning: The home garden Is for beauty, utility and personal enjoyment. In our busy life of the present day, the home garden provides a place to relax and forget our worries for some time. A few moments spent in a home garden has tranquilizing and healthy effects. A home howsoever beautiful it may be from the architectural point of view, will look drab without a garden around it. On the contrary, a well planned garden may enhance the beauty of even an ordinary house. Pollution in cities has endangered human life and its survival. In this context the association of man with Nature becomes essential and the home garden provides this useful link.
The garden may enliven the surroundings of any dwelling place. The home gardens, in general, play an important role in landscaping of a city by imparting beauty, colour and variety to it. Trees and other plants in the home garden also act as filters of dust and dirt and lessen the noise which are common pollution problems in big cities.
A home garden has its utility too. Besides being economical, the kitchen garden provides fresh vegetables and fruits which are often not obtainable in large cities. Kitchen gardening is a healthy and interesting hobby for children and other members of the family.
The Home Garden Planning And Landscaping :
Planning a home garden in a city has its own problems like polluted atmosphere due to smoke, lack of or poor sunshine because of tall buildings around, poor soil, limited garden space, menace of birds, cattle, goat and other animals and lack of water for irrigation. Nevertheless it is a challenging and creative pursuit.
A well planned garden, which is a lifetime’s delight, is a restful expression of one’s creative art. Before laying out a home garden careful consideration must be given to its planning. In a private garden the house is the nucleus and a dominating feature in its composition. The garden is like a painting with the house as its central theme. A home garden should be planned for privacy, beauty, pleasure and convenience.
Whether the garden is to be formal or informal, it is never advisable to copy any particular style, such as the English, French, Italian, Mughal, Japanese or Scandinavian garden designs. A garden must believable and better suited to our culture and climate. Home garden design has changed with the developments in architecture and social customs.
This, however, does not preclude the adoption of some special features of these well-known garden styles which may be compatible with the general composition of our own gardens. The home garden which generally characterizes the personality of the owner must con-form to the needs of the family. The other basic considerations in planning are the use and economics of the garden.
A prior decision regarding the use of the garden would always be helpful whether it is to be used for sitting, playing, utility or a combination of these. However, all these must blend with the house itself. Generally, in a home garden there are three main areas, namely
- Approach area
- Private outdoor living areas, and
- Play and utility area.
In many cases all these are required but not in others where space for a garden is limited.
In a utility garden adequate attention has to be paid to the layout of the fruit and vegetable gardens. The kitchen garden is usually at the back of the house. The personality, which determines the use of the garden, is also important in selecting the plant materials for growing in the garden. A garden can be static or fluid depending upon its economics. The static garden having permanent plantings with almost a negligible workable area for flower beds requires high capital cost but little for its upkeep.
A garden is fluid when it has less permanent plant materials but more area for flowers and annuals. In the latter case the initial cost is low but its upkeep is difficult, it is labour and time consuming and more costly. However, it has two advantages, of undergoing changes and additions frequently and providing opportunity to the owners to do the gardening themselves, if they are interested in it.
In planning, the other important influencing factors are the characteristics of the individual site including size, shape and level, soil, aspect (sunny or shady situations) and climate. Many of these factors will also determine largely the plant materials to be selected for the garden. Basically a home garden is in looking or out looking. The in looking or introvert garden which is static has no relationship with the neighboring landscape and it is a world within itself.
Such a garden is generally enclosed within the boundaries of a wall or hedge. This is the type of the garden which is commonly planned in cities or towns. In the countryside the extrovert or out-looking garden can be laid out which will be progressive and its composition arranged in such a way that it will lead the eye gently on to the landscape outside giving it an expression of unity. This can be achieved with the congruity of planting material and harmonizing the tone, colour and texture, using dominantly the blues and greens which exist in the neighboring landscape outside.
Unity and Scale:
With modern architecture in which more glass is used in designing houses there is an imperceptible merging of the garden with the indoors and the garden is like an outdoor room. However, those who would like to keep the garden demarcated from the house can plan it accordingly It is a matter of personal taste but it must be kept in view while planning the garden. The basic principles of the garden design like unity, seal and proportion, space division, light and shade, texture and tone and colour should invariably be taken into consideration in the layout of the garden.
Unity is the essential feature of a good garden in which everything should be interlocked. The sloping and sweeping green lawns, recurrence of the same plant species or form like tall trees or groups of spreading trees, repetition of colour and texture, the flowing water stream of fountains and some other dominating features usually help to unify the landscape. Each garden feature like a lily pool or rockery if planned, must appear as closely knit in the composition rather than placed as separate entities.
Scale and Proportion:
These are the attributes of unity, that are important in determining the size of the sitting, play or kitchen garden areas, size of paths and size of trees or other planting materials to be grown in the garden. A certain size of path is necessary irrespective of the size of the garden. Similarly in a small garden large trees may not be proportionate to the planting area. Generally in a small garden compact and short growing plants are commonly planted but an occasional large species may also sometimes be useful. Scale and proportion are essential in visualizing the ultimate growth of the plant material as it will appear at full maturity and if kept in view will avoid overcrowding the garden. The effective division of space into open area and planted or closed area is often proportionate and related to light and shade.
Light and Shade:
Light and shade have the same significance in the garden as in a painting and must be balanced to create pleasing and artistic effects. A delicate-leafed plant when put in front of light will glow while a bold specimen silhouetted against the light provides an attractive display. This is also important in selecting the sites for different plant species, particularly the shade-loving ones. Texture and tone and colour of the plant materials used in the garden should not be ignored. These factors may distort the landscape when not employed correctly or unify it when used effectively. A broad-leafed plant may serve as an attractive foil to the plant having delicate and small leaves.
Tone and Colour :
The tone and colour of the building must be in harmony with those of the flowers and plant materials. Against a background of white or grey walls contrasting and bright colours give a pleasing effect, while whites and yellows are usually attractive against a red-bricked wall. For instance, the bougainvillea variety, Louis Wathen, having light orange flowers, when planted in front of a red building or weathered brick wall gives a soothing effect. Similarly the bougainvillea varieties with magenta coloured flowers like Mrs H.C. Buck, Splendens, Glabra and some others are effective against a white or grey wall. In a landscape composition, the hue, value and intensity of colour are of considerable importance.
Balance, Repetition, Harmony, Sequence and Rhythm:
The number of variety of plant materials to be used should be in balance . Overcrowding of plants must be avoided. A garden with only a few varieties of plants can be far more attractive than one containing several different kinds. In a small garden keep only a few varieties planted at appropriate sites so that their beauty can be spot-lighted. However, variety is essential to enliven and unify the landscape.
Besides these, repetition, harmony, sequence, rhythm and balance are also important aspects of the landscape composition. Repetition is often necessary to create harmony, sequence and balance. It may be a repetition of certain objects (like plant species), certain characteristics or certain shapes, sizes, textures, and colours or the interval which separate them. Harmony of colours is an important consideration in landscaping. Colour harmony can be achieved through its hue, value or intensity.
Sequence is the progressive change of one or more characters like shape, size, texture or colour in a series of objects giving a feeling of movement in the composition. To make the sequence interesting the movement should be gradual and not abrupt. Alteration in sequence produces harmony and rhythm. The breakage of sequence at equal or regular intervals results in rhythm while continuation of sequence characterizes harmony.
A continuation of the regularly recurring breaks or accents gives a feeling of rhythm. In case of colour, progressive rhythm is quite interesting. Balance is the equilibrium of attraction or attention on the vertical axis. It may be symmetrical or accult, in the former, both sides of the vertical axis have similar or similarly placed objects of attraction. In accult balance one can create formal and informal design in landscape composition respectively.
Plants In Landscaping:
The garden is like a canvas on which one by planting at appropriate sites the right type of plants having harmonious colour, sculptural form and texture. Plants have both practical and aesthetic values in a landscape design. In limited garden areas plants affect climate as they create their own micro climate. The are also used for screening, for food (vegetables and fruits), and for their aesthetic values for their multitude forms, texture, colour and fragrance. It is always a good practice to draw the plan of the home garden to the scale on a drawing paper indicating the sites of planting and the plant materials to be grown. This help to visualize what the garden would be after it is completed and avoids unnecessary changes and shifts of plants from one site to another.
The choice of plant material is of considerable importance in landscaping the home. The family preferences and the local climatic conditions are the two main considerations in choosing the plants for the home garden. Besides these, the height, form, pattern texture and colour, which are the chief attributes of the so-called personality of a plant, are also important in selecting the plants.
In the garden the plants can be grown either single or in groups. In landscaping each plant should maintain its individuality and at the same time form a unified part of the whole garden composition. The plants must be compatible with each other in respect of stature, form, texture and colour. Whether plants are grown single or in groups, they should serve as attractive foils to others growing close by and unify the landscape. Plants with contrasting characters, like tall and dwarf stature or vertical and horizontal forms can also be grouped but they should have at least one or two characters in common such as colour and texture of leaves or colour of flowers.
The tall Ashok (Polyalthia longifolia) with Chandani (Tabaernaemontana coronaria) or the linear pine (Pinus longiffolia) or cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) with the flowering peach, Lantana or Ixora, though contrasting and dynamic groups, possess the same colour of leaves which unifies their composition.
In respect of colour almost the same principles are involved in landscaping as those adopted by an artist to paint his pictures. Harmony in colour is essential I and complimentary colours like green and orange, red and yellow or grey and blue are pleasing combinations against a backdrop of trees having lush green foliage the orange flowered Lxora, Crossandra or Bougainvillea Louis Wathen can serve as attractive foils.
Sometimes a contrasting colour may also be used effectively if it does not detract from the attention which should be on the landscape. Often artists too dab a bright hot colour on appropriate spots in the painting which helps it to glow effectively.
The Jacaranda with blue flowers, the Gul-Mohar having bright orange flowers, the Erythrina indica with scarlet red flowers, or the yellow Gul-Mohar (Peltophorum ferrugineum) with spikes of golden yellow flowers when planted individually are often one of the best accents in the garden. The white flowers of some plants like Murraya exotica when planted in a dark corner or shade will glow better than when placed in a sunny situation. The light and shade needs to be balanced properly to produce charming effects.
Texture is also important in determining the type of plant to be used and its location in the garden. The delicate leafed pine, cypress, Thuja or Jacaranda should be placed in the foreground to frame the house and give it a perspective while the trees with matt-textured leaves like Ficus can be planted behind the house. Usually at a distant focal point a specimen tree or shrub having bold and broad leaves will be ideal. The attractive fine foliage can be appreciated better from a short distance when planted near the house.
The plant material in a garden usually comprises trees, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous and ground cover plants.
trees are useful in providing shelter and shade and are used in landscape for space division, scale perspective and framing the house. If there is any tree already growing in the area where one is planning to have the garden, it would be better to utilize it in the landscape than to remove it. The existing tree will impart scale and maturity to the garden which may take a long time to attain with the newly planted trees. The ultimate height, size and form which will be attained by a tree should be borne in mind before planting.
A tree should not be planted just in front of the house as it will ruin the perspective and view of the house. If the building is low and spreading it would be effective to grow tall vertical trees like Eucalyptus, Polyalthia longifolia, trees like the Gul-Mohar with umbrella-like form or the pink Cassia (Cassia javanica, C.nodosa). The tall and shade trees like Ficus or Sausage Tree (Kigelia pinnata) should be planted at the rear of the house, Preferably on the west side to serve as a backdrop and top provide shade to the house, much desired during the hot summer months.
Tall trees grown on the corners of the house help to give a “tree dimension” perspective to the building. The Bottle-brush (Callistemon citrinus) or the Weping Willow (Salix babylortica var. pendula) with drooping branches can be planted at the back or edge of a water pool to give the weeping effect.
Shrubs are needed for space division at a lower level and irate decoration. Low growing shrubs, such as, the yellow-flowered Galphimia nitida the blue-flowered Plumbago capensls, Russelia Juncea having red tubular flowers or Crossandra with orange spikes may be planted near the house. The dwarf shrubs with fragrant flowers life Gardenia, Cestrum nocturnum or Jasmines are best planted near the windows of the bedroom to enable one to enjoy their fragrance at night. Shrubs can also be used as a backdrop for the herbaceous border, as fillers along the drifts of clumps of trees or in a curving shrubbery border. If a shrub is to be planted in a lawn, care must be taken to maintain the unity of the landscape. Shrubs planted along the sides of a lawn also appear attractive.
Climbers are mainly utilized to adorn the bare walls or serve as screens. The colour of the flowers must be complimentary to the tone of the walls. The magenta or deep purple coloured Bougainvillea, the blue-flowered Petrea volubilis or the scarlet flowered Clerodendrum splendens look attractive against a white or cream-colored wall. On a brick wall, the orange coloured Pyrostegia venusta or Campsis grandiflora (C. chinensis) are ideal climbers. Similarly, the colour of flowers of the rambler and climbing roses must also be taken into consideration. Climbers are also commonly grown on arches, pergolas, posts, screens, trellis or even on dead or alive trees.
The hedges, whether of flowering or foliage type shrubs, are helpful in demarcation and seclusion of different areas in the garden and are particularly useful in separating the kitchen garden from the flower area. Thorny hedges may be planted along the boundary walls and low thornless hedges can be used effectively for space division. Hedges should be used in the landscape with discretion and restraint.
For interior decoration of the garden the herbaceous plants, both annuals or perennials, including the bulbous and rhizomatous plants are used advantageously. The harmonizing of colour is very important In the herbaceous plants. The beds of annuals must be placed at suitable locations and their colour scheme should blend with that of the neighboring plants. Some of the hardly bulbous plants like Nar-cissus, Zephyranthes, Amaryllis, Crinum, Nerine, Tuberose, Hemero-califs (Day Lily) and some others can be used effectively for naturalization in the garden.
The Gerbera with other perennials like Coreopsis and Zinnia linear is may be planted at permanent and suitable sites. Cannas, roses and Jasmines are the three best plants for permanent plantings. For covering the slopes or ground, the yellow-flowered Oxalis or the mauve coloured Verbena erinoides and Lantana sellowiana are excellent plants. Bougainvilleas can also be used for covering the ground by pegging down their branches to allow them to trail on the ground.