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Natural Landscaping, Obstacles to Change

by James P. Engel, © 2003

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For most people aesthetics is an insurmountable obstacle when considering making what they consider is a dramatic change to their home landscaping. I am very sensitive to this issue and I have developed ways to make this transition from a highly managed and defined landscape to a natural looking and carefree one. Our suburban culture will not tolerate for a landscape that does not fit with the community norm. Our group sensitivities will not embrace what is considered weedy, unsightly unmanaged landscapes. If these sensibilities are not addressed in the planning stage few homeowners will get to enjoy a beautiful natural landscape.

To make the transition from formal to informal it is necessary to define the boundary of the new landscape. This side is informal this side is formal. The line is clear and unmistakable and this is an important point. There must be a clear sense of separation and distinction between the natural landscape and the lawn or managed landscape. This creates purpose and intent in the plan. Your neighbor must be reassured by your actions that you know what you are doing. Tearing up your precious grass could be very disturbing to a grass loving person. I am only being a little facetious here. It is better to be prepared and armed with knowledge and confidence in your plan.

I encourage every homeowner to take the long view when thinking about natural landscaping. A newly planted landscape will be a thing of beauty when complete, but it is nothing compared to what it will look like in 10 years, 20 years or 100 years but this will not occur if you do not begin the process. Lacking vision and patience will prevent many homeowners from reaping the benefits of natural landscaping. Take a look at a nearby arboretum or mature woods and dream of what you can create in your own back yard. A mature oak required that someone had the foresight and vision many years ago to plant that sapling.

This page updated September 10, 2004