Plan Example 2 - NS-Restoration
The NS-Restoration example is for
a front lawn that is approximately 25' wide x 20' deep
that is bordered by a house to the west, a front walk
to the south, a sidewalk to the east and a neighbor's
front yard to the north. For design purposes (and note
that this is merely an example of one approach), the
area may be divided into a couple of sections or "zones."
These include a "house front" zone; a central
zone; a southeast zone; a northeast zone; and a bio-swale
zone. Criteria can be set for each zone and then each
zone can be designed. This makes the design process
less overwhelming, though care should be taken to assure
that the design of the zone has some common thread and
transition plants are provided that "connect"
one zone to another. Design consideration for the zones
listed here might be as follow:
House front zone: Select trees/large
shrubs that provide desired properties, e.g., permitting
light passage, providing privacy, etc. Assure that plants
are sufficiently spaced from the house to prevent rot.
Southeast zone: Select a principal
deciduous tree or trees for summer shade, but winter
sun, and then "design down" by selecting corresponding
shrubs and smaller plants. An appropriately place shade
tree can significantly reduce air cooling bills (or
simply provide a cooler house for those without air
conditioning or other air cooling systems).
Northeast zone: Place your principal
conifer tree or trees in this zone (i.e., to the north)
so they do not block sun in the winter months. Conifers
and other evergreen plants are also good for blocking
unwanted views such as power lines and poles, unsightly
neighbor' yards, providing privacy, etc. Select corresponding
shrubs and smaller plants.
Central zone: Select grasses, meadow
wildflowers, low shrubs, or smaller plants, to give
this zone an "open" feel. Maybe put a bench
here. The original grass of the lawn can provide a foot
path to or through this zone.
Bio-swale zone: This zone is provided
to accommodate stormwater run-off during rains. The
zone is configured to receive water from one or more
down spouts, is often formed in a depression and typically
contains a variety of wetland plants. The bio-swale
acts as a sponge, absorbing rain water and slowly releasing
it, thus more closely approximating pre-human disturbance
conditions and minimizing stormwater run-off into streams
In the present example, the homeowner
selected a house front zone that included vine maple
associated with Indian plum, red osier dogwood, snow
berry, and nootka rose. Cascara or black hawthorn could
be substituted for the vine maple because it has similar
properties. Several smaller plants were selected for
use under these small trees/shrubs. The vine maple and
associated shrubs were selected as a compromise between
light and privacy, and because they are sufficiently
small that they may be placed close to the house with
minimal risk to the house from rot or a falling branch.
A Big Leaf Maple (BLM) was selected as
a predominant tree of the southeast zone. This is a
wonderful tree that once grown-in has a graceful, sweeping
canopy and a warm character. It tends to become the
center piece of any yard it adorns. It is also a very
valuable wildlife tree, for food and shelter purposes,
and seems to have been created with a chair swing in
mind. BLM are also advantageous in that they grow quickly,
hence giving some "form" to your naturescape
while other slower growing plants grow-in. Corresponding
shrubs, including Evergreen Huckleberry, Red Huckleberry,
Red Elderberry and others, are provided under or around
A Hemlock or Hemlocks were selected for
planting in the northeast corner. Note that other conifers
or conifer deciduous mixes may be provided with or in
place of the hemlock. Conifers are important trees for
"air cleaning" and wildlife purposes (they
are particularly important to migrating song birds).
They can also be quite beautiful. In the present example
the conifer(s) were located as shown to (1) block a
utility pole and (2) provide a desired conifer north
of the house where it would not shade the house in winter.
Understory shrubs for a hemlock are similar to those
for a BLM.
The central zone was configured
to provide space between the plantings. It is
important to recognize that a newly planted naturescape
may resemble a clear cut grow out, i.e., a bunch
of newer plants battling amongst one another for
resources. As these plants "grow out"
your yard can become a "shrubby mess."
This can be avoided by designing in some open
space and culling (i.e., removing) plants that
become undesirably over grown or "thicket-ish."
The open meadow of the central zone also provides
an opportunity for added color and different types
The bio-swale was configured to
receive downspout run off. It begins a minimum
of 10' from the foundation of the nearest structure
with a basement (and more if there are concerns
about basement leakage) and runs away from the
structure. A 6' minimum is often adequate of a
structure has no basement. A plurality of wetland
plants are provided and these are listed in the
diagrams. To learn more about wetland plants please
examine the list of native plant Nurseries provided
here for those which specializes in wetland plants.
Some wetland trees may be added to a bio-swale
to provide color or ambiance, but may have to
be culled later if space is limited. Several "wet-liking"
shrubs such as Douglas Spirea, Salmonberry and
Pacific Ninebark could also be provided.
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Notes for Example 2 - Naturescaping-restoration:
- Implementation may be staggered, trees first,
then shrubs, then smaller plants. This staggering
could take place over years. Grass or other
pre-existing plants could similarly be removed
- Some plants such as red elderberry and ocean
spray would do well planted on opposite side
of a path because their arching branches would
form a natural archway.
- The basic design can be repeated with the
following or other substitutions (though efforts
should be made to "mix and match"
trees, shrubs and smaller plants that grow under
- Substitute for Big Leaf Maple: Any other
mid-to-large native deciduous tree or trees.
White Oak, although slow growing, is good
for drier locations.
- Substitute for Hemlock: Douglas-Fir, Western
Red or Incense Cedar. Sitka Spruce if close
to Pacific Ocean.
- Countless smaller plant combinations are
possible. Treed zones (SE and NE) are good
for shade liking smaller plants and the
open zone (central) is good for sun liking
smaller plants (until the trees of SE and
NE grow up - in 20-30 years).
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