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The Rocky Landscaping Structure
The lure of rock gardens and rocks in the landscape have captivated people around the world. In China, rocks are piled high with twisting pathways that lead you past these heaps of boulders, grottos, stunted trees clinging to their crevice homes. The theme is one of "miniature mountains".
And in Europe thre are formal Roman gardens with geometric grace...and Medieval gardens of shade and mystique -- nature plucked out of the deep forest and tamed just a bit for mystical escape to one's roots.
And America embraces all these styles...and more. Our own vast landscape encourages a range of designs from relaxing poolsides, to native plantings that preserve the most humble of grasses and trees.
Rocks are often central to the designs, just as the mountains are the skeleton of a region, providing stability, water flow, and height to the horizon.
The kind of soil and rocks in your yard make a big difference in the kind of landscape design you can enhance...as well as the kinds of plants you will want to choose.
Rubin suggests that you consider how you will water the plants before you start digging. Most plants require six months to establish their roots, and if the slope is too steep, erosion will be a problem.
Some sites are fortunate to have beautiful boulders that can be enhanced with some smaller fill-rocks..and padded with deep pockets of soil to match the desired plants.
Rubin, who loves to see cascading plants in a rock garden, also suggests that you made each basin of soil as wide and deep as possible. This will retain moisture and provide maximum room for root growth. If you turn over the soil, it will aerate it -- and the little pockets of air will also become a reservoir of water to lengthen time between waterings.
Other sites can be described as "gravel"...at best. And this rough soil requires careful removal of the gravel...or amendment with organic matter (such as compost, green compost or peat) to create enough water-loving humus for plants to last through dry periods.
The "rocky" landscape is a natural for that "rustic look". Native plants. Rugged rocks. An old log. Puddles, waterfalls, and trickling streams.
And you can provide a variety of shelter, as well. Deliberate little caves between rocks, toad houses nestled among the plants and shady overhangs. Butterfly houses. Bird houses for wrens and other birds that like to nest close to the ground. And shrubs that provide additional low nesting sites.
Pathways can provide visual variety, as well as turn an "outcropping" into a walk in the park (and Joy tells you how)! Natural stone, bricks, cement, even logs can help you delineate space, draw the eye into your garden, and provide easy access for your gardening pleasure.
Tuck some early blooming bulbs in the crevices...and some favorite vegetables for the little critters. They like Ceasar Salad too! And common vegetables can create uncommon beauty as edgings and along walkways. Think about lettuce, chard, spinach, parsley, marigolds, chives or mint...even cabbage or ornamental kales. Remember which plants attract the most unwanted bugs in your garden -- and share the bounty with them in your habitat garden :-)
Walls and terraces can divide space into human-scale nooks, and provide windbreaks, shade for tiny animals during how summer months...and provide space for vines and cascading plants to skip through your backyard sanctuary (and Joy tells you how). Terraces can be close to the house, centered in your space to pull diverse nooks together, or nestled under a shade tree for easy entertaining. Water is a natural companion for these terraces. A birdbath, a fountain, a pond, or a reflecting pool will bring sparkles from the sky as well as the sounds of life to your shared habitat.
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