Creating a Natural Garden
Every region has its own possibilities for natural gardens. But rather than copy nature, try to learn from your local environment. Learn the basics of how to create a natural garden that is right for your particular region.
The key to a natural garden is adapting the attitude of a natural landscape. Such an approach works in any region in North America. To start, consider four key principles:
- Natural rather than artificial materials.
- Curving, irregular lines rather than straight or sharp-angled corners
- A flow of plants in naturalistic groupings, rather than individual specimens.
- Layered plantings with groundcovers, flowers, shrubs and trees.
When you decide to co-manage your property with nature as a partner, you adopt the role of steward, artistic director, and trustee. Landscaping with nature means giving up some control It is a outrageous experiment and an act of faith in nature’s process. The steward’s role is unique for each garden.
Here’s how to be a garden steward:
In the West where rainfall is naturally low, many common landscape plants are unfortunately adapted to chronic over watering from sprinklers. Gradually reduce the amount of landscape water you use until it approaches what is normal for your region. Use your irrigation system only to supplement rainfall during prolonged drought.
Some plants will suffer from reduced watering. Transplant them to a corner of the garden you intend to water, or give them away. Replace these with plants that are more in keeping with reduced irrigation.
Mow high, Less often:
You could mow the lawn only once in fall, to stimulate the effects of a prairie fire.. Scatter seeds of a few wildflowers that are native to your area. Specialty seed growers have wildflower selections for each of the major regions.
Stop Shearing Hedges:
Shearing forms a dense, twiggy cluster at the ends of the plant stems, making hedges nearly impenetrable by most birds, thereby preventing nesting. If pruning is necessary, do it selectively with hand shears.
Create Areas of Exposed Water:
Wildlife needs and appreciates water. It can be in the form of a natural pond, birdbath, garden stream, or waterfall. Water can make your garden a favorite place for wildlife to visit or to live, but keep it circulating to avoid pests such as mosquitos.
Thin our Existing Trees:
If your existing tree canopy is dense and casts heavy shade, open up the canopy with selective thinning. Light and air encourage undergrowth and appeal to a wider variety of birds and other wildlife.
From Creating Natural Landscapes. Ortho books