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Acreage Landscaping Part III

Now that we have covered the basic concepts of design, shelter and water sources we can look at the really fun stuff, the ornamentals. When I think of ornamentals I think of all the plants that add color and pizzazz to a landscape. Let’s look at some opportunities gardening on an acreage provides.

Big and Beautiful

With an abundance of space acreage gardeners can seek out and plant those trees that demand a lot of space. There are many large beautiful trees hardy for our area such as Maple, Burr Oak, Spruce, Siberian Larch, Pine, Elm, Ohio Buckeye and Butternut (depending on area of the city) that are rarely seen and can be choice candidates for a large property. Groves containing several large specimens are possible and for those who like to collect, their own private arboretum can be created.


When we moved to our acreage the first thing I wanted to establish an orchard. Having grown up in the Fraser Valley I missed picking fruit from my own trees. Apples, pears, plums, sour cherries and apricots have all proven to be very hardy in the Chinook zone given the right conditions. Orchards should be positioned on the north side of an east to west shelter such as a fence, house, barn or hedge to keep the bark from being exposed to winter sun to prevent sunscald.

Fruiting shrubs should be included in orchards as well. Saskatoons, Nanking and Mongolian Cherries, raspberries, currants, hazelnuts and Highbush cranberries are all good candidates for hedges as well as providing outstanding fruit. Strawberries act as great edible groundcovers beneath fruit trees. Plant all three types for a continuous supply throughout the summer. The one downside to growing your own fruit is keeping the birds from getting to it first!

Flowing Borders

Garden designers often speak of creating flowing mixed borders with drifts of perennials and the repetitive use of similar plant material to link the border together. Large-scale gardeners have the opportunity to create such borders on a grand scale. I have never met a plant I didn’t like so large borders are a godsend for plant collectors. Borders should be made quite deep to accommodate really large perennials and shrubs to fill in the back. Fill in the middle with sweeps of mid size perennials and shrubs and finish the edge off with small plants and ground covers. A good design plan will allow such borders to be viewed from the house and patio areas.

Garden Rooms

Incorporating different styles into one garden can be difficult. A large garden area can be divided into separate garden rooms each with a different style or theme. To be effective these spaces need to be separated from each other using hedges, fences or ornamental structures. A more formally designed room might contain clipped hedges, a small knot garden or a potager for your vegetables. Secret gardens and Japanese style gardens are also popular! Link the different rooms together through arbors or arches, by utilizing well-placed screens or trellises, or by repeating woody plant material.

Lawns, Meadows and Woodlands

If you live on a large acreage consider leaving or creating wild meadows and woodlands. Too often I see acreage properties with nothing but mown lawn. In a time where city dwellers are decreasing the size of their lawns should acreage owners not be doing the same? The diverse variety of native plants and grasses that grow in natural meadows and woodlands provide habitat for birds, bugs, and other creatures. These areas also act to protect the native soils, absorb runoff to prevent erosion, keep weeds down and provide the ambience that people move out to the country for.

Acreage gardening provides gardeners with so many opportunities that it may be hard to not get carried away and try everything. The only limitation may be your energy level and enthusiasm!