The Tree Lawn

You do not have to be a gardener to enjoy and appreciate a park.  A simple landscape with trees and grass is a place to meet, to read, to relax, to while away a few hours, to appreciate the natural world.  The ultimate tree lawn-a golf course.  Though I doubt any serious golfer would admit to loving the land forms, lawn and trees better than the sound of his club striking a ball true and square, there is no doubt that golf courses are beautifully maintained parks. This client is fortunate enough to own a large piece of property in a densely populated urban area.  I landscaped it as a park-lots of lawn, and trees.  The sweep of meadow-not so unlike a golf course rough. 

Our country is blessed with an embarrassment of riches in land. From sea to shining sea describes no other place on earth but ours.  Though I live in a gritty city, I have places to go where I can partake of big spaces.      

Mature trees-mature people treasure them, as well they should.  A giant maple on my property draws water away from what is planted underneath, and drops debris every day into my fountain.  Would I ever consider doing without it?-not a chance.  The shade in this client’s garden requires a buffer between the tree trunk and the lawn-Gold Standard and Gold drop hosta light up that trunk with a chartruese skirt.     

An open tree lawn asks for but one thing-the lawn right up to, and fringing the trunk of the tree.  So natural, and so beautiful. This arrangement of grass and trunk says “park”.  Many suburban landscapes feature round rings of bark around the trees.  Americans are a practical lot-the lawn crew armed and eminently dangerous with a string trimmer can quickly kill a tree.  That bark ring speaks and shrieks to “landscape”., and convenience. I will admit I have hosta around the trunks of the maples in my right of way at home; they came with the house, and I rather like the look.  But my urban garden is anything but a park.  

Though few gardeners have large properties, there are very good ideas that can inform the landscape design of a small patch of land.  A tree set in lawn up to its trunk speaks strongly to peace and reverie. A tree trunk in dense shade, plant as much ground cover as you can muster.  Be simple about it. Save your intricate or tricky moves for sunny spaces.  Sweep those bed lines, and breathe.    

 Look at your garden at all times of the day.  Early, and late.  Make much of the long views.  Should your long view be but 15 feet-so be it.  Mulch your beds to conserve moisture-do not mulch defensively.  Breathe.  Making a decision to leave something be can have as much impact as that which you touch.

I am a landscape designer first up, and through and through.  I am biased-no doubt. I look at every move I make with my hands- with my eyes.  The hands and the eyes need to speak in concert.  No matter how big or little your garden, no matter how little or how much you choose to do, your garden will speak back to you-should you be listening.  A great landscape has eveything to do with the length and breadth of one’s listening.


  1. Gayle in GA says

    What a beautiful post. I enjoy reading your blog everyday. Thanks so much your efforts. I have learned so much.

  2. The Tree Lawn. I had to come see what that meant.

    Sometimes I still can look at or even copy a design element and not be quite sure what it is that makes it so appealing or interesting. A single tree in a large expanse of lawn has always had a kind of mystery to its seclusion. To most, there’s usually not much thought about it beyond that. Anyway…

    To hear a passionate designer explain what they see and design is almost always a learning experience. It can make you see it in a whole new way.

    Your writing style is very easy to visualize.


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