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Landscape design on a farm
April 24, 2013
10:13 am
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Peach
Banty
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April 24, 2013
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We have just moved full time to our farm, and goodness does it ever need some landscaping. But I think landscaping a farm is very different from landscaping a city lot. The driveway is gravel, and it is 1/2 mile long. There are outbuildings. And since there us a lake in front of the house, the driveway, and the door where guests enter is in the back of the house.  And, did I mention that the back yard adjoins corn fields and soybean fields. If there are any farm dwellers who have dealt with this and have suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  Thanks

April 24, 2013
12:37 pm
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Miss Judy
West Central MO
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We lived on a farm once that had a long drive/lane…it had trees up the lane. A country home near me has maple tree lined drive. Beautiful in the fall.

April 24, 2013
5:05 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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I think that as long as it’s just a question of there being fields, trying to cover them up is not just unnecessary and a bit of a contradiction.  Trying to block the view is a bit much!  You live on a farm… it’s a farm, there are fields!  I remember some lovely farm properties where ok, that soybean field is there, but having some very strong point of interest is great and makes a huge fence (or whatever) totally unnecessary.  A trellis, a fountain, a nice herb garden, maybe a gazebo if it’s practical etc… pulls the eye away from the empty, or muddy, or weedy, or whatever it is field of soybeans or corn etc.  Think about what kind of a focal point would make you happy and put it where it will please you and draw the eye to IT instead of the less pleasant view.

I think if it were me, I’d pay very close attention to where the wind comes from first, because you may need to plant some kind of wind break so your home is protected.  This can change in various seasons, so talk to your County Extension office about windbreaks and seasonal heating/cooling issues.  That leads to the need to keep in mind that you want the sun to be visible in the winter, so don’t put anything like pine trees that will block the sun in the winter too close. 

I live with several trees MUCH too close to the house, and it’s very scary during storms.  Don’t discount that with the thought that, “they take too long to grow to worry about that now.”  Some of these didn’t seem scary at all not that long ago! 

Also, some kind of windbreak along the driveway may be good too, but it can get awfully expensive down a 1/2 mile driveway.  You can at least break it up with some lower shrubby plants alternating with trees further apart.  Our County Extension office sponsors an excellent sale of low cost fruit, nut and landscape trees and shrubs which are native or nearly native plants for our area.  I really do suggest you go in person instead of just calling.  Many pamphlets, more info, personal care given etc, our Extension office is a real gem.

Located in N.E. Ohio

April 24, 2013
5:51 pm
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Pete
WV
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Not sure that landscaping on a farm differs much from landscaping in a city except perhaps in scale. You still need to start with what you are trying to accomplish and work from there into how to do it. And set priorities based upon what is important to you – for instance if “curb appeal” is most important to you, then you would start out on the main road to make your decisions. Or, if what you see from the kitchen window is most important to you, that is where you would start – looking out that window, then deciding what you want to see from there.

As a general rule, I like to live in a space before making too many decisions which cannot be easily reversed. BG has some great suggestions about wind breaks, for instance. But I would want to wait before planting trees the length of the driveway until I knew for sure that I didn’t enjoy an unobstructed view of traffic on the road and driveway.

You really have some great possibilities there with the main entrance in the rear instead of the front. And the lake in front? All sorts of goodies to ponder there!

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

April 25, 2013
4:30 am
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kathy
San Augustine, Texas
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It does differ from a city lot, the size of the project alone in addition to cost can be overwhelming. But I do agree that you might want to look out your windows for a bit before you obstruct what might end up being a view you enjoy. I am in the process of landscaping a home on a near treeless hill (it has one). Luckily I waited a couple of years after moving in (for all sorts of reasons) to start planting. Early this spring we planted 11 really large trees like oaks, maple, Bradford pear, and a maple. We are working on the four flower beds near the house this very week. I did one thing that might help you. I stood at each of my windows and looked out, thought about where I might want a tree, then went outside and placed a stake with a small orange flag on it. Then I sat on the porch in my rocker and looked at those same flags and decided if any of those flags (trees) would obstruct the view of the hayfields, garden, ponds. Then I went to the mailbox and walked the driveway to the house to see if any of the locations I’d flagged seemed out of place. I then drew it on paper, somewhat to scale, and tried to envision each of those trees almost mature. Not easy for me. I then went about 100′ from the house and walked all the way around it, thinking about the proposed tree sites. I ended up changing 2. Being pretty sure of the placement really helped when it came time to plant. The trees were delivered at the same time the backhoe arrived and we had two tractors and 3 friends (thankfully) here to help. The plan was to get them all in in one day. We nearly made it. We got everything in but the crepe myrtles. I bought the biggest trees I could find and afford because I’m 60. Trees are truthfully planted for the next generation. That time spent planning paid off though, some of the trees look like they’ve always been here, especially the 3 bradfords that line the drive. The suggestion about the extension agent was spot on, if you’ve got a good one, there’s not a better resource for a rural homeowner. Good luck to you Peach.cool  

April 25, 2013
11:58 am
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Peach
Banty
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April 24, 2013
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Thanks to all who provided comments. It was fun to read them. In my initial post, I probably should have included more info.  We have owned this property fo 30 years, but it was used only for crop production, and duck hunting by my husband. Three years ago, I decided I wanted to grow organic vegetables, so we tore down the hunting shack and built a 1600 sq ft weekend place, and installed about 1500 sq ft of raised bed gardens. After 3 years, I concluded that if I was going to grow food, I had to be here full time. So, we sold our suburban Kansas City house, put a 1200 sq ft addition on the farmhouse, bought the adjacent farm, and moved here full time. It was a great decision.

i mentioned the adjacent crop fields, not because I don’t enjoy  looking at them–it is fun to watch your investment grow– but because in this area, herbicides (think Round Up), are used on crops, so I can’t plant shrubs/trees in those areas. There are also farm fields on either side of our driveway.  I would lover to plant trees along their entire length, but to leave sufficient room along the driveway for the huge combines to get access, I would have to reduce the amount of crop land (and income production) to plant trees. 

We mow about 3 acres around the house,  and that is what I want to landscape. The County Agent idea was a great one–husband ands I are currently enrolled in Master Gardening classes so we see him every week.  I created a small butterfly garden in front of the lake to anchor a wind spinner sculpture.  I have thought of making other flower gardens in other areas of the mowed area but am afraid it will look funny and choppy.  What do you think.

thanks for the feedback. 

April 25, 2013
12:34 pm
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Miss Judy
West Central MO
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if you like visuals …Pinterest has some beautiful ideas.

April 25, 2013
1:27 pm
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Pete
WV
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Ah, yes, the additional information does clarify quite a lot!

Sounds like you have a lot to work with here. One general “rule” I would throw out to you would be: making curves most often ties things together while straight lines makes them look more patchy. Depending upon how everything else is laid out, curves of lawn connecting the various beds might be more appealing. But, depending, a more linear approach could make eveything feel neater, more planned. Only you can make that decision.

Is the lake shaped such that you might be able to echo it’s curves in one or more direction? Could be an interesting place to start.

Oh, and I keep thinking about the rear entryway. Would a landing pad of some sort fit in there? Am picturing a combination parking area, deck/patio eating area, play spot, just a friendly area with some seating that would welcome visitors (and yourself!), make very clear where to leave the car, but seperate parking from the entry itself. Soften it some.

Good luck with your project. Sounds like fun!

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

April 25, 2013
2:26 pm
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FarmGrammy
NE Arkansas
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These are great comments.  We moved in on ten acres more than 20 years ago.  One of the trees planted about 15 years ago, a full sized cherry tree, fell over last year. I miss that tree and did not know how much shade it provided. I constantly complained, since I never got one cherry…the birds ate them all.  Should eat my words.

Now I am dealing with straight sunlight into an open deck and the kitchen and breakfast area, and that heats up the whole house.  Need to replant something, but roots would get into septic system.  So, will probably have to put a roof or awning on the back deck so the windows will be sheltered and I can afford to pay the cooling bill.

Short version of this is to consider where your shadows fall in the heat of summer.  What is great most of the year may be unbearable in July and August. 

Also, labels on trees lie.  A Japanese maple that was supposed to get ten feet tall is close to 30 feet and does not color up well at all.  It looks more like a regular maple.

Retha – soon 69 and happy to be here. 

 

April 25, 2013
9:12 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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I agree with what Pete said about curves vs straight lines, and if you’re leaving lanes of grass, you want to be able to mow around corners/curves easily. 

I was thinking about tractor space with a hedgerow along the lane, not herbicide.  That’s not a pleasant thought really…  guess a windbreak there is out of the question! 

I’m thinking I’d start with a drawing of the layout of property around the house and sort of tracking the seasons and making some movable cutouts so you can move potential shrubs, garden plots, herb plots, hedges, trellises and such around.  You can sort of track the prevailing winds and the sunshine too, FarmGrammy has some really good points about window views and what you’ll be looking out at.  A pack of colored construction paper to cut shapes out of isn’t very expensive and you can think of it as one of those layout boards for decorating a room, but it’s a yard instead!  It’s a bit of a blank canvas.

Located in N.E. Ohio

April 30, 2013
10:28 am
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Ag Adventure
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March 20, 2013
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Wow! There have been so many good points made! I think I am going to have to rethink my usual “purchase a bunch of plants and then figure it out” method! This is fantastic! I wish I would have read it before I hit up the STL botanical garden’s herb day last week. Ah well, next year!

One point that I would like to make is that the use of Round Up doesn’t always mean you have to avoid shrubs and trees. I haven’t intentionally planted anything in a spot that gets overspray, but most of our fields are surrounded by woods, shrubs, and wild blackberry bushes that have survived if not thrived for at least fifteen years. It isn’t optimal, but it isn’t impossible either. :) Good luck!

May 12, 2013
11:38 pm
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Ross
Bel Air Maryland
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If I had a farm and I don’t. Two things I know would prevail; The demands upon my time and energy and the consideration of the balance between ascetics and useful production. Could I landscape the lane with fruit trees?  Do we have time to deal with the crop and is it worth while. Some flowers are nice as are flowering schrubs. Do I have time to tend them? Should I plant my veggie garden for show or for the kitchen? This is how I would consider all of the questions.

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