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Past Articles Library | Landscape Design Principle-The Depth Principle

If you are a painter, you are familiar with the concept of the three depths. This includes the foreground, and background, which any gardener is commonly known. The depth that many gardeners miss is the middle ground. Why is this? Well, it is simple. Many times the middle ground consists of grass or the ground. It is not viewed as a space that should be landscaped and without it; the landscaped area only highlights the foreground and background. Below are some suggestions by which you too can follow to turn your everyday landscape into a Monet painting.

Foreground Landscaping Tips

First, when it comes to landscaping the foreground we must first understand what this area refers to. The foreground is the closest area to you when you are standing in the landscaping. Just to drive the point home, let’s consider the landscaping of one’s back patio. If you have hanging baskets or planters on your porch then this becomes the foreground when you are facing the patio. This is one of the easiest areas to landscape when it comes to landscape design.

When it comes to foreground landscape design ideas/tips, consider the whole space. Unlike other areas of the landscape, you can utilize all ranges of the space. Hanging baskets and other vertical plantings can not only add height but also color to draw the eye to this space. Planters on the ground are another good choice but be careful with this approach. You do not want to keep the eyes looking on the ground. Instead, you want the “eye” to go up thru the landscape to the areas you want to highlight.

Middle Ground Landscaping Tips

The middle ground is one of the hardest areas to handle. You want to do enough to draw interest to the area but not so much that you take away from the other sections. The other problem comes from the fact that many times the “middle ground” is simply the ground or grass. This can create a whether boring area but there are a few tricks that you can use to create interest in the area without distracting from the rest of the design.

The middle ground is a wonderful place to play around with the senses. First, add some visual interest by adding some texture to the space. This can include different types of living ground cover and/or a ground cover that blooms. Another idea is to add colored mulch, which will give texture along with color interest but…….consider what your focal point is before using the colored mulch. While natural colored mulch is less distracting, a non-natural color can draw the eye away from the landscape design.

Another idea is to plant the middle ground with ground cover type of plants that have an aroma, such as creeping thyme. While this may seem a bit odd, consider the impact that “smell” has on one’s landscape. Taking advantage of this fact, adds another design element to an area that many simply view as the ground or grass.

Background Landscaping Tips

The background of any landscape design is what it sounds like-the back. When one is planning a design for their yard, the background is normally something that really is not considered. The foreground, most of the time, is what is considered important but believe it or not, the background is the most important of the three. Why is this? Well, the background is not really an issue if the view is ideal. On the other hand, if the background is far from picturesque then a new environment (landscape) needs to be created. In some situations, the background becomes the foreground. An example of this is if you drive down a long driveway. As you are going down the path, the house begins as the background but as you get closer, it becomes a foreground as you approach the door.

Since the background can become something else in the landscaping depending on the perspective, the ideas are limitless. The key though is to make sure that the foreground and middle ground frame up the background. One idea is to use the terrain of the landscape to carry the eye up through the foreground and middle ground to which the end is the background. This is easily accomplished by having a path, such as a trail or driveway. Another idea is to also use steps, which lead to the feature that is being framed.  

If you are having a hard time visualizing this strategy, let’s cultivate a picture. Say, you have a large backyard with a sitting area that contains a decorative fire pit. While any path will do as far as getting to the sitting area, you really want to guide the visitor through a sensory experience to this area. Guiding your visitor can do two things. One, it takes them to areas by which you want them to experience and two, it provides safety. You do not want someone tripping over something or a project you have been working on. The simplest way of guiding your visitor is by way of a path that can consist of plants, mulch, stepping stones or any other type of walking surface but…….along the way you will have a deferring in terrain. Sometimes it slopes down while other times it slopes up. Either one of these situations provides a wonderful opportunity to incorporate some horizontal lines such as wooden planks acting as stairs. Adding these simple stairs, break up the visual picture and takes the visitor along a path to a focal point that is also the background. The path and the horizontal lines force the eye to move upward to the background, which completes the journey.

But……what if you do not have that type of terrain or not enough space? Well, the illusion can still be achieved by using different colored mulches and/or plant material in the middle ground. This will still encourage the eye to follow the visual path by which you have created.


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Growing Caladium

Caladiums grow from tubers sold in the spring.

You can buy the tubers and plant your own, but buying a full-grown plant is the easiest way to know what color the leaves will be.

Give your Caladiums high humidity or the leaf margins may turn brown.

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