Thursday, October 16, 2014

Landscape Design Tips - Planting in Layers

Landscape Design Tips: Planting in Layers

To keep your garden full of color, texture and plant variety, try a new approach to gardening, planting in layers.  Planting in layers is an idea that drove the gardens of the 20th century. Traditionally the English Garden consisted of three layers, specifically three layers of perennials.

Today the theory of layering focuses on the idea that plants grow in clusters and drifts and overlap and interlock as they merge. This adds a greater level of interest to the garden.

 Planting in layers allows for trees and shrubs to be located in the back, intermediate plants in the middle and shorter plantings in the foreground. Not only does this type of planning avoid monoculture design, but it provides greater habitat and food sources for bees, butterflies and birds but it staggers blooming, making your garden color last all summer.  

Vertical layering is the staggering of plantings in height, while horizontal layering adds variety on the ground plane. By grouping your plantings in clusters of 3 to 5 plants, each layer provides greater interest. Overlap the plantings for a flow, but remember to give the plants enough room for their size at maturity. By grouping the planting, a pattern can be created of texture and form. Use a zig-zag pattern to draw the eye into the design.  While playing with the idea of layering in your yard, try substituting a large hedge or tree for a trellis in the third layer. Pick a trellis with an artistic design or a simple trellis for use as a growing medium. It can be used as a focal point and add more variety to the design.

Are you an apartment dweller and want to try these layering techniques but don’t have a yard? Try layering in a container. Introduced by the Dutch, bulb lasagna is a way to bring the garden to your apartment window or balcony. 

Bulb lasagna is the layering of bulbs in containers. When using this method, choose bulbs with less foliage so the bulbs are not competing for space. Using a large pot, or garden container, put a layer of compost or soil rich in organic matter and the base of the pot. Layer daffodil bulbs at the base, and then add a layer of compost. In the second layer add tulips and again cover with compost. Finally add dwarf bulbs and cover with another layer of compost or soil. Then follow a once a week watering schedule and wait for buds, then blooms. This process works both in traditional gardens and container gardens and extends the period of blooming.

 Leave comments to let us know if you have ever tried this method or if you will attempt this method of layering and bulb lasagna this fall!

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