Landscape problems fall naturally into groups or classes, and the landscape-designer is bound to come into contact with a greater or less number of these groups. Within the groups themselves there is sufficient similarity to render decidedly worth while a thorough knowledge of general, though definite, methods of approach; for familiarity with a type problem, and success in its solution, will be of great assistance in attacking other problems of the same class. Several problems from different landscape groups are accordingly presented here, with the idea that their solutions may be helpful in the solving of problems of a similar nature.
One of the great needs in America to-day is the improvement of cities by a better arrangement of available space for the bringing in of more country-like conditions. The crying need seems to be either a better use of the unencumbered space about the home and along the street or a more intensive landscape development. The city-dweller should strive to attain more the healthfulness and charm of the country than the average home-seeker can possibly secure in the average city at the present date, and he has a right to much more healthful and congenial surroundings (Fig. 38).
One of the solutions of the problem of civic betterment has been the building of garden cities. These cities are generally laid out and owned by a corporation, and all its inhabitants accept the houses and grounds just as they have been designed by the corporation architects. The result is of course a much more harmonious scheme than could have been attained in any other way. There are many successful communities of this sort in England. The scheme has made better headway in Europe than in America, however, for the objection of the average American to the garden city is that it is too paternalistic and proprietary. What the American people demand in any cooperative scheme for the improving of the surroundings of their homes is, first, that their own individual ideas regarding the main features of the proposed scheme be given careful consideration.
Individual control of all land from the curb-line to the back of the lot-line has become with us at present a recognized right.
The usual solution of the problem of the arrangement of the landscape with regard to the average city street is for the municipality to control the paving of the streets so far as to regulate the width and sometimes the type of materials used, though in many cases even this is left to the property-owners. Often the question of tree-planting, the width of sidewalk, and the prescription of the kind of material to be used in the construction has been controlled by the city. Other than this, the problem has been left to each individual lot-owner; but the result of such a type of design has been the loss of virtually all the individuality and interest that one should find in the development of the landscape along our streets. In its place appear mediocrity and monotony; long rows of houses rigidly adhering to a set building line (Fig. 39), lawns entirely bare of shrubs, and the street trees, if there are any, selected without regard to their fitness for the needs that they are supposed to satisfy.
The possibility of an extension of intelligent municipal control so as to include all land from building-line to building-line has been shown favorably in the development of garden cities, and it is this idea that will solve the problem of a more intensive use of the land about our homes. Such extension will not mean replanning, but planning, since, as a rule, no plans had been made in the first place but the surroundings had merely grown unkempt, ugly, monotonous, and entirely lacking in any idea of unity (Figs. 22, 40).
By the carrying out of a simplified treatment for the more public portions of the home grounds, the individuality that we should expect to find at the present time will not be lost, but will actually be acquired, because any scheme, to be successful, must represent the united thought of the people interested for a definitely planned result, and not the possible injustice of some experiment by one person for philanthropic or altruistic purposes: it should express a sort of collective individuality.
The idea of community cooperation has indeed been used successfully as a basis for the solution of problems for street improvement in several American cities. In the working out of these problems the aim has been to secure the greatest amount of individuality for every separate home, and at the same time provide for an appearance of continuity in the street as a whole. Each part of the landscape work has been studied not only with the idea that each separate house should have an individual interest and furnish a setting for the buildings adjacent to it, but also that there should be provided a continuous and uninterrupted scheme, tying the whole composition together, accentuating its principal features, enhancing the salient characteristics of the individual buildings, and adding color to the street view, at the same time maintaining the scale of the whole.
In the organizing of this work a general meeting of the residents of the street in question is held, the plans for the redesigning and beautification of the street are outlined as a whole, and an effort is made to get at individual preferences in regard to the replanning of each place. A "street-improvement committee" is then elected, and the general working out of the scheme is placed in their hands, with the understanding that each individual property owner will be consulted with regard to the improvement of his home grounds as a unit. The final plans are not of course the work of this committee, but are designed by an expert landscape-gardener who works in consultation with the committee.
A landscape survey is next taken to show the general conditions of the trees and shrub plantations and the arrangement of the walks and drives, with notes as to the advisability of changing any of these features for the increasing of their efficiency. This survey is made by notes and sketches, from which the survey plans are worked out in the drafting-room. These plans show the location and size of the houses, width of the street, the positions of all buildings, the walks, arrangement of walks, and position, area, and variety of shrubs used in any existing plantations. The plans are usually drawn at a scale of forty feet to the inch, each sheet showing one block of the street, and the information thus presented is adequate for completing the work.
In the working out of the design the first question to be studied is that of circulation. The main walks and their relations to the service walk should be carefully considered not only in relation to each individual property, but as regards the street as a whole. The question of the street trees comes next in respect to their general location. Care must be taken to locate them in such a way as to satisfy the individual needs of each separate property, to provide shelter from the sun as well Volcanic area in Japan as screening, and to emphasize circulation, scale, and open spaces.
Figure 37. REPETITION OF GEOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS IN TREE FORMS.
In the actual location of new trees a blue print of the street survey should be taken out in the field, and the actual positions of the proposed trees determined with it. In this way it is possible to locate all trees carefully and, with the essential points in view, determine the advisability of planting.
The next step is the arrangement and planting of the shrub growth. The schemes, as generally worked out, provide for park-like planting of filler shrubs, with the accent shrubs varying to suit the taste of individual owners. The larger masses of trees and shrubs are not used for the value of individual specimens, but for the primary purpose of back-ground shrubs in any garden-like treatment, where herbaceous plants and accent or specimen shrubs require setting off to advantage. This gives to each place an individuality all its own, and at the same time lends a character to the design that will within a few years give the street a unified scheme of planting.
Wherever competent landscape-designers have been employed, cooperative planting has given satisfaction. The cost is minimized by the purchase of wholesale quantities of shrubs and the division among many of the expense of design.