JoAnne Skelly: A long-term landscape
I found photos last week of our landscape when we bought the house in 1988. There were trees lined up like soldiers along the borders of the property and lawn everywhere else. No flowers, no shrubs. Everything was flat. Although this was boring, it certainly was easy to maintain. Thirty-two years later, I look back at that landscape and think, why did I plant so much?!
The landscape now is often attractive when things are cleaned up and blooming, but what a lot of work! The older I get, the less work I want. That original landscape would be so much easier to keep neat. However, there was little shade since the trees were located away from the house. There was only one apple tree that often didn’t fruit. Yet, I never had to dead-head flowers. We could mow from edge to edge and never have to weed-eat. There was also much less pruning.
However, this was our first home and the digging was easy. I was ready to create the most wonderful landscape. Of course, I wanted a garden… and flowers… and currants for the birds. Someone gave me lilac starts and grapevines. Another friend gave me horseradish. Others supplied red hot pokers and daisies. One gardener gave me lilacs. Not only did I plant all the gift plants, I also planted dozens of one-gallon junipers along a distant fence.
What was I thinking? Twenty years later I had all the huge junipers removed after I realized what a fire hazard they were. I’ve had numerous trees removed to give the remaining ones room. I can’t keep up with the weeding, the pruning, or the raking. I can’t keep up with the number of apples. The irises need dividing again. The bluebeard and catmint have gone crazy seeding everywhere. The grass has invaded the flowerbeds. All these plants have created multiple hiding places for the ground squirrels, voles and rabbits.
It sounds as if I’m unhappy with my current landscape, but that’s far from the truth. When things are blooming, it’s beautiful. With the lawn freshly mowed and edged, it looks like a park. It’s a bird watchers’ paradise. The shade trees are awesome. However, I do have some advice. If you plan on staying in your home for a long time, think ahead when you plant. Less is definitely more, definitely easier. I’m at the stage of removing more and more plants to simplify my life.
JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. firstname.lastname@example.org.