Too Many Trees for One Front Yard?
I’m a huge fan of trees in a garden. And any new house can certainly benefit from planting with an eye to the future. That’s why a recently-installed landscape at a new house in my neighborhood caught my eye, and caused me to contemplate the question of how many trees might be . . . too many. First, some background. I live in an area that most people would consider fairly traditional in terms of architecture – mostly brick Colonial houses (like mine) with, more recently, tear-downs that “eat the lot” even if they are attractive Arts-and-Crafts style (large) bungalows. About five years ago (I think), an extremely modern house went up on a large, deep lot. It was really different. I’m sorry I don’t have any photos of the house before the front yard’s plantings went it, but suffice it to say it was the talk of the neighborhood. In any event, the house was finally completed after some starts and stops, but the front yard was simply over-seeded and left alone for a very long time. My designer’s curiosity was peaked – what would happen in front of this black/gray stone fronted house that looked unlike anything else around it? The front yard was terraced, but for a long time decorated only with weeds. Then, very late in the fall last year, trees and shrubs started arriving. They were left lying around on the ground for so long I feared they wouldn’t survive until they were planted. But before Christmas, they went in. So here is the front yard in its winter glory.The landscape design is simple and striking: trees, only a few shrubs (a line of yews at the top of the second terraced level, where the driveway meets the house’s facade, and some inkberry hollies near the street on the lower left side of the lot), and liriope for groundcover. There are seven Betula nigra (river birches) and three maples – all planted on a front yard that is about 80 feet wide. Even though the site faces north, it gets a moderate amount of afternoon sun. The river birches are beautiful, with exfoliating bark, and will grow relatively quickly if they get enough water. (I don’t think the garden is irrigated). I don’t know which variety of maples were planted. My concern is that these are both tree species that can get huge, and quickly. The birches can’t be more than about 10-11′ on center, and the two maples on the left side of the lot, near the property line, are even closer together. Right now the effect is balanced, but five years down the road, I think, the canopies of these trees will be fighting with each other; river birches can reach 25-35′ wide, and maples even larger. I’ve had my own experience with planting trees too closely together, as my Okame cherry post demonstrates. So I wonder what the landscape designer/architect was thinking when he or she designed this space. I’d be interested in my reader’s reactions. Explore posts in the same categories: landscape, Landscape design solutions, photography comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.