A bland and uninteresting landscape is often the result of failing to plant in more than one or two layers. A flat lawn with a single tree is boring, but a lawn with layered plants of various sizes and textures is attractive and welcoming.
1. Soil Region
The one layer that you can't see but that which is most important is the soil layer. All landscape planning begins with the soil. You want well-drained but organic material-rich soil that can support a range of different plant types. This often means amending the soil layer with compost, fertilizers, and organic materials before planting can even begin.
2. Ground Level
In many home landscapes, the main part of the ground layer is a lawn. It also contains the lower growing seasonal flowers, such as your summer annuals, as well as any leafy groundcover plants. Mulches can also be considered part of the ground level of the landscaping since these will provide coverage over the soil layer for a variety of garden beds and planting areas. Generally speaking, the ground-level layer provides the background for each subsequent layer.
3. Shrub Zone
The shrub zone consists of those plants that grow from about knee-high to the height of a person. Small shrubs, low hedges, fountains of ornamental grass, and large foliage plants can all be considered part of the shrubs zones. Shrubs provide the middle layer that makes a landscape seem filled out and more visually interesting. It is also the main layer for attracting desirable wildlife, such as birds and pollinating insects.
4. Under Story
The understory consists primarily of small trees. Dogwoods and fruit trees, both edible and ornaments, often make up the understory. These trees typically top out between 15 and 25 feet so that they are easy to prune and shape. A few taller shrubs, tall hedges, and even vining plants that are trained up obelisks and trellises can also join in with the understory, especially if they are used as visual anchor points for the landscape design.
5. Top Story
The top layer in the landscape is made up of the tallest trees on the property. Height can vary, but in residential areas, this would likely top out around 30 to 40 feet tall in the interest of being able to maintain the trees. Large shade trees such as oaks and maples are common top story trees, as are tall conifers like spruce and firs. Not every landscape has a true top story, and some only have one top story shade tree.
Contact a custom landscaping service to design a multi-layered and attractive yard.