Organic Maintenance Starts with Natural Landscaping... so...

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by JDUtah, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Kiril has stated a few times to dump the turf and install your landscape with plants and things that work naturally with your soil, climate, etc. (Sorry Lawnsite) Well, it has me thinking how I want my backyard to be someday. (part of it?)

    I have some years until I start to materialize the dream, but I don't believe it is too early to start thinking it up. I love the Rocky Mountains out here in Utah. I'm just a few miles away from the base of them (Wasatch Range). It would be soooo nice to live up one of the smaller canyons (no vehicles, a little stream, woot!). But in the vein that organic maintenance starts with natural landscapes, why couldn't I create a little canyon setting in the backyard? In fact, to pull it off successfully in a neighborhood stacked with the status-quo landscapes would make it that much sweeter.

    There are some MUST haves. I must have a little stream. Maybe pondless? It has to have enough flow and elevation change (rapid/fall) to give the soothing water noise. A little more then the sound of a trickle too. (suggestions how much flow that would need to be?) It's gotta have a quaken aspen grove. Such beautiful trees. Maybe a small pine or two, for the smell. A small hill with scrub oaks bunched from half way up to the top. It has to have a fire pit nestled nicely in the quakies, at the bottom of the hill, with the stream running by on one side. I use our current pit out back at least weekly. The pit needs turf around it so it may be enjoyed barefoot. (ideas to work it into the natural setting?) Maybe some nice landscape lighting on the trees... Oh I can enjoy it already.

    Anyways I got the idea while working today to observe little settings I enjoy in nature and start getting ideas. After work, a phone call to a friend, a ten minute drive, and I find myself at the trailhead of Adams Canyon. A two mile hike up the canyon to a little 20' waterfall. What a perfect hike to start gathering my ideas. Brought a camera and let it flash.

    I figured I would start a thread that would help reveal the process of designing organically maintained natural landscapes. Maybe catch a few principles that apply on the way. Heck, why not enjoy the dreaming too? I will post some pictures. Discussion, tips, dreams, other pictures, other natural landscapes around you guys, are welcome...


    (sorry some of them are dark)

    If it has a little pond at the end its gotta have the fallen tree halway in the water.

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    I fell in love with this rock. The water splits and goes around it. Then a mix of plants found a way to grow in the waterless area it created.

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    A close up of the plants

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    The rock also had some cracks with plants growing in them. It'd be cool to work that in somehow.

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    Under the shade from some trees. Moss. Gotta have the moss.

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    Maybe I can have the vines that cover this slope on the side of the hill.

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    Beautiful purple wildflowers.

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    Maybe a bridge, with a pine growing next to it.

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    The Scrub Oak.

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    And just some more for your enjoyment.

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    You can see my truck with the wheelbarrow in the bed in the parking lot.

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  2. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Lawn Tamer wrote (on the first try of this thread)

    No pics!
    One thing I would mention to take into account is elevation. Quakies for example, they are native to the area, but only grow naturally above 7-8,000 feet. The fact that they have been here for millions of years and never colonized the valleys tells me they can't hack it here. As I treat shrubs and trees in addition to lawns, I see more problems with quakies than any other tree. They always have borers, they get scorch very easily, aspen leaf spot about every other year. They just can't handle the heat, they have shallow rhizomous roots, usually less than a foot deep, no problem in a shady canyon at 9,000 feet, but a big problem in the hot valley. As the trees suffer, they send out literally thousands of suckers.

    Instead of the Aspens, I would suggest the pines, and perhaps scrub oak. A tree that is not native, but does extremely well in the heat and poor soil is the Russian Olive. I don't know exactly when they were brought in, but they will grow in the valleys like weeds, look kind of wild, and have a great smell when they blossom. Plus, most any farmer with pasture is bound to have a couple small ones coming up that he'd be happy to let you dig out and take for free.

    As for your stream, I would recommend a small waterfall somewhere in it. This will allow you to maximize the noise effect with less flow. Having grown up in the south end of the Salt Lake valley, before it was more than a few thousand people living in the whole south end; I spent a lot of time camping in the foothills and canyons of the Wasatch. My friends and I would just load packs and walk up into one of several canyons to camp. Nearly all our favorite spots were next to waterfalls, the sound is like a lullaby. It would also help to drown out the noise of traffic and neighbors.

    Once you get your stream in, I would suggest having a shady area. There is a red algae that grows in local streams in the areas with just partial sun, you'll need to have a bit of a pool area, that's where I always see it, never in the rapid parts. Do you know what I'm talking about? Very pretty stuff. You could probably just swipe some out of a local stream, put it in a zip-lock and start it in your own, a little N will cause algae to grow like crazy.
     
  3. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Then TreeGal suggested...

    (suggestions how much flow that would need to be?)

    put a speaker in the pond so you can play you water / animal track off the solar PC.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBGpy...eature=related

    __________

    Longboarding down Winchester Hills, Utah, that sounds cool, but a pond is alright also. this river? do you plan on running on solar power??? or wind??

    the speakers are a real added + we have done it before,w/speakers its like wow, wo/ speakers its still ok.....
    and if i had a real parrot, monkey, elephant, near my pond...................you know neighbors
     
  4. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Thanks for the input on the Quakies LawnTamer. We have about 7 growing in our yard now but you are right, they just aren't like the ones on the mountains. My grandpa built a solar home years ago, and manipulated teh landscape to create an envelope. I was thinking maybe I could do something like that, with wind modification etc, to try to create a small climate change. The stream should help drow the tempurature down a little, no? Its all real basic thinking now though. And maybe that is against the point of working WITH what you have.

    Russain olives do smell good in the late spring, when not too potent IMO. I wouldn't mind a nice pine grove.

    Not familiar with the red algae, but I sure will be. Maybe have the pond on the east side of the pit so we still get evening shade, but can give the pond partial sun.

    Tree, the speakers are a GREAT idea!
     
  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    the pics show what you want, now how many squares do you have to naturalize, that's a great idea. do you want to have an aspect of permaculture in this created wild of your own??? fish, foot, habitat, , , ,
     
  6. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    I plan on an acre. I'm about 5 years out till I can buy it. I would love it to be as 'permacultured' as it can be. Fish would be great, but I'm not sure if I want the pond that big. More like a little pool at the end of the stream. I wonder if Brook Trout could live at this elevation and amount of water flow? It would be cool to be able to pump water from the pond to water things. (The secondary irrigation water could keep the pond filled) That way each watering gives a little 'natural ACT'?? Anything to make it stand on its own is perfect. Like solar power for the pumps....
     
  7. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    Bill posted a pump source in the used pump thread i started, the ones i had we took to the recyclers 3$ a pound for unclean.......this economy......... the fish waste is all N that's what hurts fish and feeds plants, i don't know a fish from the pan, but Phil keeps fish in a tank about 9 feet tall and 10 feet wide, about 1200 at a time, and they make some N every 3 days a drum of lightly diluted fish manure?
     
  8. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

  9. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    yeah you got me to day dreaming, acres on a 5 year plan....

    well i would start now, collect some seeds or get a few good starts, nurture them along gently. START looking at different ideas and "waste" as you plan, we had an eye on this big rock, one day the demo crew was ripping and tearing, so I ask can i have this rock, the guy was confused and over joyed he did not have to haul it. its a nice water fall now. small water fall, inches tall water fall, but i love it. And the frogs have a great home away from feral cats. there has got to be a favorite tree you want, start it now in 5 years it will be a pain in the rear to move, but it will be worth it. what types of fruit trees do you grow there? any starts yet??? pine trees take forever to get tall, you said you like those? maybe there a place you can store for free some of the things you collect for your garden? my thing is glass objects art, mostly large blue glass. we helped a gentleman create an out door railroad setting and model train station, complete with model train. I gasp when he wanted 3 trees removed and he ask why do you sell trees also, he now has a native and fruit forest like nothing else i have ever seen, I had no idea he was a retired landscape architect. best buddy's now though. once had the opportunity to save some Thai black bamboo, still have it and love it a lot.

    any chance you have to grow something take it. if it was not meant to be in your yard sell it and expand your environment by having your plant grow some where else
     
  10. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,988

    Thanks for the pics, and pasting my first reply over to the new thread. I assume you are in one of the valleys along the Northern Wasatch front. Much of our work is in the foothills of Sandy and Draper. Many of our clients have areas of naturalized landscape. Scrub oak works very well, tough plant, easy to make grove areas with it. It is prone to looper worms, which will strip them bare very quickly. Easy to control though, about everything takes out looper worms. I'll look for some naturalized area as I make my next round through the yards and take some pics.
    Brook trout would be loads of fun in a stream. We have an acre, if I could talk my wife into it, I would convert about 1/4 of it into a pond, and I'd stock it quite generously.
     

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