inkognitoJune 12, 2011

Imagine a real 'blank slate'. This was once much larger than we imagine today but imagine a football field..flat..grass. You own it, you have some money saved and a regular income, what would be your first move?

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My first move would be to plant trees - the biggest ones I could afford that I would expect to live there. They take so long to grow that if you don't have any you'll want to create shade and interest ASAP (and I'm assuming your football field is adjacent to other football fields owned by other people).

If you are lucky enough to own a football field in the middle of forested acreage ... so you don't care about privacy and have shade when/where you need it then my advice changes. Then I'd start with some hardscape elements (patio, firepit, paths, whatever you need) and a shed first. Then landscape around it. I'd put those in first because they require heavy equipment or trucks, and if you landscape first then it's harder to fit that equipment in the yard (IMHO).

Oh, and I'd fence it because I have a dog and a cat (the cat uses the dog door so the fence has to be cat-proof to keep her from getting hit by a car, or worse). That would probably eat a good $10k chunk of money right there.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:21PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Does the 'football field' have a house attached or is it a vacant building lot? What are the conditions around the lot - i.e. suburbia? open fields? forest? What is the soil condition?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 9:15PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I had to look it up. A football field is 360ft. x 160ft. I would first determine the use of the area. Will there be a home? What is the weather like? What is the water source? Where in the world is it?

This is a vague question as it is presently stated. A similar size piece of property came under my ownership within the last 18 months, although it was not flat and empty. I selected it for its unique location and characteristics, which says a lot about the land to begin with. What you have laid out is indeed very blank.

Are we to take the ball and run with it, or will you answer questions? :-) Shall we use football analogies throughout the discussion to keep the theme going?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 9:52PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I would contour it with heavy machinery to control the water flow and add interest.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:37AM
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My - not-so-adult - dream:
I would start by creating relief - digging lakes, canals and hills. Bridges are a must-have, and also a pier for boats. I would plant willow trees to swing from, bring in some big boulders - one large enough to be a picnic place - and the house will be either a tree house suspended between three large oaks (I suppose since everything is possible trees can magically grow up in a week) or one set partially in a hillside, with a grass roof. Or both. What about plantings and their maintenance? I would probably let shrubbery take over in some areas, just keeping paths open, while in some spots I'd be forever experimenting with new plant combos... Cliche, huh?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:20AM
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I'd stripe it and wait for the ghosts of dead football players to come out of the surrounding vegetation to play ball.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:47AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I've decided to put the land to work for me. I'm going to run a few head of cattle on it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:04PM
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I wrote this yesterday after staring out my window for a long time. This is an agricultural area where corn and soy beans are grown, it is flat and the farmers have treated trees and hedgerows with disdain in a single minded attempt to make their fields as big as possible. It got me to thinking or fantasizing, like timbu, about what I would change in that view if it was within my power. I realise that this landscape is the exact opposite to my ideal and Mike points to how it could be made more interesting. In fact the other view behind me is has a river and willows and contours.

What has this got to do with landscape design?

I think it has something to do with creating a comfortable environment rather than a garden, this is not to say that plants and flowers should not be part of it only that there are other considerations. I feel more comfortable in an undulating landscape with water and rocks and trees than in a flat as far as the eye can see land with corn in rod straight rows.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:54PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Speaking as someone with an agricultural background, grain in 'rod straight rows' as far as the eye can see has its own particular appeal :-) Mind you, the farm houses usually are surrounded by trees and plantings. In part that's a necessary windbreak, but it's a psychological shelterbelt too. I actually come from a mixed farm backgound so am more used to pastures with trees and fencerows to break up the scene. DH is from the prairies though.

This past Friday we visited a garden/garden center in Ontario tobacco country. The property owner feels he has a 'mission' to create a 'destination garden' - i.e. a tourist attraction. One of the things he's building/creating is a formal garden. Now that's an odd sight - a formally laid out garden in the midst of mostly open fields (with some older trees though), with no formal architecture anywhere in sight! (Lots of weeds in sight though...) I suspect this place might end up being referred to as 'Darren's Folly' :-)

If you were looking for interesting trees and shrubs, particularly evergreens, it was a great place to get them.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 4:44PM
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So, are you going to buy the field?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:31AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

My last post about running cattle on the flat piece of grassland may have seemed frivolous, but my point was that sometimes you have to accept the land for what it is, or move on.

This thought is reinforced now that ink has described where his question came from. Imagine flying over this area, an expansive, flat, grassy plain. Suddenly below, you see Timbu's dream: the tiny lake with boats tied to a dock, a miniature river with waterfall and bridges, hills and boulders, and a density of green trees and vegetation, all confined to this little square. From the aerial view, it might look like a miniature golf course plunked down in the sea of yellow grass. So much time, effort, and money to completely transform a speck of land, and the endless pouring forth of time, effort, and money to keep it from returning to a flat field of grass.

Would it not be better to sell the flat rectangle of grass and buy a parcel on the back side of ink's view, where there are already contours and willows and a river? Start with something closer to your heart's desire? Or use the rectangle of grass for a purpose to which it is already suited, to feed cattle? (or grow corn and soybeans) How much battle do you want to do? Man vs. nature...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 11:09AM
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