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The other day, I was driving home from a landscape consult and as usual – I was on the lookout for examples of good and bad landscaping.

This particular day, I saw some great examples that  I would love to share with you.  

First the good…

 Isn’t this landscape grouping, attractive?

There is great texture and color.

The Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is one of my favorite flowering shrubs, which can be trained as small trees – I have 3 at home.

The spiky foliage of the Red Yucca help to provide contrast with the softer edges of the tree and Lantana.

Speaking of which, you cannot beat Lantana for summer color.

Here is another good example of landscaping…


Although, the Texas Sage, above, is planted a bit too close together, the homeowner has solved the problem by pruning them back severely to approximately 1 ft. using loppers.  Notice that they did NOT use hedge shears or trimmers, which is a good thing!

What this does is to keep the shrubs within bounds, but since they weren’t sheared, the flowers and natural shape of the shrubs can be enjoyed.

You can really tell the difference when you see the photo below from the house next door – which is a bad example by the way…

The same shrubs, planted too close together.  But, the homeowner elected to shear them back with hedge-trimmers.  
The flowers and absence of the shrubs natural shape make these look like green ‘cones’.
Finally, I saw this really bad example of landscaping… 

Isn’t this terrible?
Believe it or not, this is a Mesquite tree that has been ‘poodled’ – meaning sheared into a round shape.
Pruning trees this way is very unhealthy for them for many reasons:
– Shearing trees actually stimulates excess growth meaning that you will need to prune them more often then a properly pruned tree.
– Sunlight has difficulty penetrating the interior, which can lead to the eventual death of interior branches.
– New branches will grow at a ‘weak’ angle, which makes them more susceptible to breakage.
These are but a few of the reason of why not to ‘shear’ or ‘top’ trees.
**How about you?  What examples of good and bad landscaping have you seen this summer?
You can learn more about why it’s wrong to ‘top’ trees in this article from the International Society of Arboriculture.

Last week, I was visiting one of my favorite communities visiting a client’s sick Hibiscus plant.

(I’m not kidding about making a ‘house call’ about a single, indoor plant.  I will tell you more about that story in another post).

So, I was finished with my visit and decided to drive around the neighborhood.  This particular community has many beautiful examples of landscape design and great opportunities for taking pictures of plants.

On the other hand, this same community has many examples of “What NOT to Do” to your plants and I like to capture photos of those things as well.


As I was driving, I saw the following example of improper pruning of shrubs.  But instead of round green balls, I saw this….


 At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Then I tried to figure out what the purpose of the unusual shapes were meant to be.

I slowly drove back so that I could take a picture.

Now, I have spoken at length about the unhealthy and sometimes unattractive results from pruning using hedge-trimmers for flowering shrubs.

But I must admit that if I had to choose between round, green balls or a “modern shrub sculpture”, that I would probably lean towards the “shrub sculpture” because it is way more interesting 😉
What do you think?  Would prefer ‘green balls’ or more of a ‘free-form shrub sculpture’?