THE location and laying out of the grounds which he has to cultivate are important factors in the success of the gardener in California, as elsewhere, a few practical suggestions upon these points are deemed advisable and in keeping with the general plan of the book. Before the best selection can be made, one must have a general knowledge not only of the locality where he intends his home and garden to be, but also of its surroundings. Many important points should be taken into consideration - especially the aspect and the altitude - in deciding whether the top of a hill, or a hillside, or a flat, low, sheltered spot is to be preferred.
How much not only the locality but also the aspect (that is whether facing the North, South, East or West) affects the culture of the garden can scarcely be appreciated by those who have not studied this very important subject. For example, few may realize the difference, in the one point of shelter, between a garden laid out facing the North and one facing the South, or (particularly in San Francisco where the prevailing wind in the Summer season is from the West) between a garden facing the East and one laid out so as to face the West.
In choosing a site for a dwelling-house and garden, an aspect facing the South or South-east should be preferred, as it will be better sheltered from the prevailing winds and have a much warmer temperature than one facing the West or North. Land facing the South will have earlier flowers and may be more comfortably visited and enjoyed at all seasons, as the ground and walks will dry more quickly after watering or after rains than they would if facing the North.
Another exceedingly important point to be kept in view is that water - and water in abundance - must be provided for a garden, for unless there is an ample supply during our long Summer, gardening in general cannot be successful. Therefore it is necessary, before selecting a site for the garden, to see that water may be had in generous quantities and at all times, either from wells, by pipe from a reservoir, or by ditch from a stream. In the neighborhood of cities and large towns it may be procured from public works, and, of course, within the cities water can be had in any reasonable quantity desired, but in the country or where there are no public pipes in the vicinity, wells will have to be bored or dug, or a supply procured by the other means suggested.
After the site is selected, the next study should be the preliminary plan for the improvement of the ground, the first and most important point to be decided being upon what part of the site the dwelling-house shall be built. This requires long and careful study, for the ground must be visited frequently and at different times of the day, in stormy weather as well as when the days are warm and sunny. Consideration must be given to the views that may be enjoyed from the windows of the different rooms, and, in connection with this, it is necessary to anticipate the possible use to which the adjoining properties may be put, especially as to whether there is a likelihood of buildings being erected so as to interfere with or be a blot upon expected views. Then if there are any objectionable features on neighboring properties, this is the time when the plans should be prepared so that, in the arrangement of the building and planting of the grounds, these objectionable points may be shut off from view as much as possible.
When the part of the grounds upon which the house is to be built has been determined, it should be staked off with strong stakes (say four-inch by four-inch pine), driven in three feet and standing five feet above the ground, so that the four corners of the proposed house may be seen from some distance, and that thus the effect of the building may be studied from the street, or, if the grounds are of large extent, from different points along the lines of the projected drive or walks leading to the building. Where very large grounds are to be laid out, flags set on tall poles will be necessary to properly define the outlines when the effect is viewed from a distance, and, at this time also, the sites for stables and any other necessary outbuildings should be staked off in similar way. It is hardly necessary to say that such buildings as the stables must be placed at the rear of the house.
The house must, of course, be connected, by either a walk or driveway or both, with the street or public road, and an entrance gateway provided at the most convenient and effective part of the frontage, so the next step to take is to determine where the main gateway shall be located. This, if possible, should be at a point where the street or public road is on the same level.
After the spot for the gateway is located, the approach to the house should be staked off by a center line of stakes. The principal roadway should be carefully studied from every viewpoint, that is, from the house site, from the gateway and from other points where the effect will be seen, no pains being spared to insure this being planned out in the best possible manner and along the best possible line. When the grounds are of considerable extent, it should also be made sure that a glimpse of the house will be had from one or two points along the road. The side lines for the principal roadway should then be staked off, these, if a driveway, being at least sixteen feet apart, or, if a foot-path, not less than eight feet. The stakes should be at least one and one-quarter inch square by about three feet in length, and driven one foot deep, leaving two feet above the ground to mark the lines of the proposed drive or walk.
After the principal approach to the house-site has been decided upon and staked out, the necessary walks and roads connecting the house-site with the sites of the stables and other outbuildings must be marked and staked in similar way as for the main approach. It is strongly urged that care should be taken to have these walks in reasonably direct lines, for unless they are direct, they will not be followed, and those who are compelled to go to the outbuildings many times a day will be sure to make short cuts, trampling down grass and perhaps fine shrubbery, such foot-paths and trails always giving an uncared-for effect and being blemishes in any property.