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Beautify Your Home with Landscape, not Cram-scape

11.11.2015 · Posted in Gardening

Few things can do as much to beautify a home as a well done landscape. It can transform what is essentially a large boxy structure of wood or mortar into a scene of striking picturesque character. Many consider it to be an art-form unto itself.

While landscaping is not impossibly difficult, it is not an endeavor to be approached in a perfunctory manner, with casual disregard. A poorly done, haphazard landscape can actually detract from the appearance of a home and property, rather than add to it. A home with no landscaping at all might cause us to think “that place has potential if someone would take the initiative.” A poorly done landscape may cause us to think “someone ruined that place.”

I am certain that no one sets out to ruin the appearance of their home. Whether large or small, most people would likely choose to live in an attractive home. Yet, if you’ve paid attention, you know that there are a lot of really ugly homes with equally ugly landscapes. So how does it happen? While there are probably many different factors involved, I am certain of at least one. It is called “cram-scape!”

What is cram-scape? It is simply when someone “crams” plants and shrubs into the ground, and keeps cramming until they simply can’t fit any more. That is a problem. First, it neglects the aspect of planning. Planning is essential for any well done, attractive landscape. Landscaping is nothing if not a sculpture composed of living things. Second, it neglects the accounting for growth and maturation. Something that is so cute and little and pretty today might be something approaching a small tree in five years. If you haven’t thought about and accounted for that, you may be well on your way to a cram-scape!

I have known people who had an otherwise beautiful property, but because of years of cramming, had a landscape that was overgrown, random and, well, ugly. I would occasionally compliment them on a particularly beautiful specimen of one type of plant or another (even in a cram-scape, individual plants can still look beautiful), to which they would typically reply “Oh, I have one of those?”  They didn’t even realize what was growing in their own yard! Perhaps is was because they put so little thought into the initial planting. Perhaps it was because some things grew to completely conceal other things. Likely it was both!

I think there are two main ways a cram-scape evolves. The first is the somewhat naïve belief that since plants are good for your landscape, more plants are even better. In this way of thinking, the more things you plant, the more beautiful it becomes. That idea, in my opinion, is just plain wrong. Unless you are trying to achieve the look of an overgrown hedgerow or a field that has gone fallow, this is a situation in which less can truly be more. When a landscape is carefully planned to achieve a certain look, each thing added beyond what was planned detracts from the appearance.

The second occurs when we receive plants as gifts. Once it becomes known that you have an interest in plants, trees, foliage or landscaping, it follows that you may receive plants or shrubs on various gift giving occasions. For many, once you start receiving them, the only thing to do is plop them in the ground! Over time this strategy leads to cram-scape!

How, then, does one avoid a cram-scape? The first way is to simply become aware that it exists! Once you are aware of it, you will find yourself increasingly perceptive, and able to distinguish between cram-scape and good landscaping. You will know which things work together in complimentary fashion, and which things look crowded and unattractive.

The second way is to have a design for your home landscape. It’s always a good idea to have a design for the look you want to create in your landscape, and if you do it will be easier to stick to it.

Stay strong. Resist the pressure from others to just keep putting more and more stuff in the ground around your home.  You do not want to get to the point that the foliage around your home gets so out of hand that you either give up, or ultimately decide to rip everything out and start over. If you do stay strong and resist the pressure, you will be able to have a well done, nicely structured landscape for years to come.

I have applied these principles to my own landscape with a tropical theme, including many tiki themed items. I get many, many compliments about how good everything looks, and how unusual it is. It is not really that I did anything special. I simply stuck to my tropical design, and avoided a cram-scape.

If you would like more information about creating a beautiful tropical landscape, be sure to visit Tiki Island Life, where the goal is “Helping Bring a Tiki Island State of Mind to You.” You will even find information about having a Tiki Party if you’d like to celebrate the success of your beautiful landscape.