Is The Garden Minding the Viewing Speed Limit?

Imagine you’re the landscape architect for the street department. You are stuck for ideas for a new stretch of the interstate, which means you click your browser shortcut, go to and property on a cute-as-a-bug’s-ear window box agreement.

Warning! Assuming the traffic engineers have done their job, the normal viewer would buzz beyond a window box planting in a mile a minute. What are the odds anyone would love that brilliantly conceived combo of chartreuse coleus cleverly paired with luscious lipstick-red canna lilies and accented with a burst of silvery oat grass?

Only so much visual information could be consumed at any time. This idea applies not just to highways but also to backyards, where the viewer is sitting on the terrace looking in a focal point bed 100 feet away. With a little planning and foresight, you can create the ideal landscape for every situation.

Elements Landscape

When designing for curb appeal on a residential road, chances are the person you’re expecting to impress is cruising past at 20 miles per hour, meaning there’s approximately five minutes to take on your handiwork.

The developer of the garden shown here demonstrates a solid understanding of how scale affects makeup. The design is unfussy and so is the garden, which is based on a wide swath of lawn to offset the mass of the home. Only a few varieties of plants have been used, and they’re deployed in massive groupings. Bold colour is lavished in the doorway, visible in the road while providing an eye-popping handle upon arrival.

Ecocentrix landscape design

Using the same concept, but on a smaller scale, this easy three-plant combination has sufficient textural contrast to stand out in a distance, while incorporating a monochromatic foliage palette to prevent it from overpowering when viewed up close.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

From the road, this front yard reads as a mass of yellowish with splashes of silvery grey. But it is a rich brocade of colours.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii is the dominant player, supported by the taller kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos ‘Harmony’) and a striking gold-tinged decorative New Zealand wind grass (Stipa arundinacea). The grey is a subtle duet of Agave attenuata and blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae).

Wallace Landscape Associates

You can have it either way: sophistication where it could be appreciated in the foot of the path and a bold punch of colour (in this case red) contrasting a black and white facade. Yet even the elements of the foreground composition are left with bold strokes, making them simple to comprehend regardless of the area of the viewer.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Think about the majority and traces of the home when deciding how busy or restful the garden ought to be. Bold modern structure creates a bolder impression when it is not competing with a fussy landscape. Let low-lying plants produce a spacious foreground, then apply restraint by embellishing the garden with a couple of well-chosen accent plants.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Where normal vistas take the starring character, the landscape needs to match and frame the view. Attempt to mimic nature’s planting approach, making harmonious colonies of the same plant to prevent competing with the view.

Johnsen Pools & Landscapes

Imagine how chaotic this restful tableau would feel with a fussy flower bed for a distraction. Rather, generous dollops of all Miscanthus grass create a soft backdrop. Upon closer inspection, we see three different kinds — one with near-white leaves to combine with the chaise longues — adding just enough attention to prevent monotony.

Johnsen Pools & Landscapes

The more intimate the space, the stronger the justification to strut your planting layout stuff. Feel free to poke a special plant here and there, like arranging bric-a-brac on a household room shelf. Placing plants where you dividers also invites you to love a more comprehensive layout.

Elemental Design Group

Here is a great example of a 2-mile-per-hour garden. Upon approaching the doorway, someone can appreciate the fine details of this free-form planting. The easy cottage design is perfectly paired with a rustic, exuberant array of wildflowers and perennials.

Ami Saunders, MLA

Simon and Garfunkel suggested, “Slow down, you move too quickly.” Informal stepping stones usually signify a slow, contemplative pace through the garden. What better place to present subtle plays of foliage and texture? This shift in scale, from broad brush to romantic detail, makes a trip throughout the garden a richer experience.

Billy Goodnick Garden Design

Time to hit the brakes, slowing from two miles per hour to getting back on your hands and knees to love the simplicity of this mixture. Pink is the element. Contrast comes in pairing floating puffballs of pink sea thrift (Armeria maritima), but maybe it ought to be renamed Horton Hears a Who plant, perched above grass-like foliage, together with pink cranesbill (Erodium x variabile) from the foreground. A vignette like this can only be appreciated up close and personally.

Billy Goodnick Garden Design

Zooming in even closer, look at using two plants together with almost identical forms (leaves arranged in easy rosettes) and harnessing the subtle differences of the scale and foliage color. From a few feet back, the marginally larger, yellow-green Aeonium and blue-grey Echeveria blend together into a single mass. But these chubby little drama queens add an excess dose of charm to the garden once we slow down and respect them.

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