Before beginning the planting of the trees and shrubs for sheltering and ornamenting the grounds (this subject being fully considered in other chapters), the grounds should be carefully surveyed and platted, the house-site, the sites of the outbuildings, the approach and roads of all kinds being marked on the plat.
When the grades and positions of the different buildings have been established and marked, and the approach and other roads staked off, all the building-sites should be roughly graded, and the fills, if any, on the roadways and walks leveled up.
But first, before beginning this rough grading, careful provision must be made for saving all of the good top-soil which may be found on the sites of the buildings, the roads and the walks. The importance of this will be realized when the work of planting the ground is taken up and when this good top-soil will be of the greatest value. How often do we find that this exceedingly valuable natural soil has been carelessly used for making fills or road-beds and embankments, instead of having been saved for improving the many pieces of poor soil for which this natural top-soil would have been the covering. Every yard of such good soil saved from grading operations can be used at some point of the grounds where trees, shrubs and plants are to be set out.
After the survey of the grounds has been platted, (as suggested above, the sites of the main building and outhouses as well as the lines of the roads and walks being marked on that plat), the next important work will be preparing the plan of planting, and this, in its turn, will require the most careful consideration.
If the grounds, which are to be planted, are exposed, strong-growing hardy trees which will stand the harsh, drying winds will have to be selected for the outer planting or sheltering groups, reliance being placed upon these hardy, sturdy, vigorous growers to give shade and shelter to those tender but more ornamental kinds which cannot stand so much exposure.
Should the site be well sheltered naturally by trees or by neighboring hills, or should it be in a flat open country, it will not be necessary to plant the common, hardy trees in such large numbers for that purpose.
Outline of Lawn and Grouping of Tree*.
In preparing the plan of planting, care should be taken to connect the different groups under one general plan, and not to gather the trees and shrubs in spots or in stiff, formal lines at equal distances apart. Perhaps the best place from which to study the plan (of planting and grouping the trees and shrubs) is from the house-site, the effect being judged from the points on the house-site where the principal windows and doors and verandas will be. When the grounds are large enough, the main lawns or grass plots will, of course, be located immediately about the house, and the groups of trees with their undergrowth of shrubs can be massed round and about the lawns, these forming the outlines for the grassy surface. These outlines should be made as informal as the nature and size of the grounds will permit. Bold points of trees and shrubbery should project into the lawn space, and again the grassy surface should be allowed to run deep into, as if getting lost among, the tree groups, the plan always avoiding anything formal either in the shape of the grassy inlets or of the shrubbery groups.
In this connection it is suggested that some consideration be given to what may be termed the happy accidents of Nature's planting, for in some of the untouched virgin spots in Nature's garden there are scenes more soft and more beautiful than anything our gardening has yet produced. Those who have undertaken to do what we are now considering - that is, to plant a pleasure-garden and lawns - and are in doubt as to how to establish the lines of the lawns or the groups of trees, shrubs and flowers, may get invaluable suggestions for the arranging of them in harmonious composition if they will, as our greatest painters do, go into the natural forests of our hills and hillsides, or the meadows and haughs of our valleys, and select, from the innumerable beautiful scenes, the one whose beauty most appeals to them and which seems to best fit the general outline of the site for which the plans are being prepared. Then let the measurements of this part of Nature's garden be carefully taken, figuring what are its length, and its breadth, what are the depth and width of the grassy bays which seem to meander through the forest, also the form and shape which these bays assume. It will be found that Nature seldom runs straight lines and shaped curves. Let the woody promontories be measured, figuring how far each one projects into the meadow and noting how Nature has done its planting, - how far one tree is from the other and how harmonious the whole plan is.
After all of the trees with their names and characteristics have been sketched into a rough map, the different shrub-growths should next be similarly studied and sketched in, how they are distributed being specially noted. After these, and any other data which seem to be of importance in the general effect, are carefully platted, let this rough sketch be laid out to scale and reduced or enlarged to fit the plan for the proposed grounds. If the proportions of the original are faithfully carried out and imitated in the form and outlines of the lawns and in the character and planting of the trees and undergrowth the result will be a delight to the owner and an artistically laid out property.
There are numerous instances of such spots in our redwood forests and in the Sierras. Some of the sweetest landscapes are to be found in these mountain meadows, and they always afford the greatest delight to the eye of taste when they are unexpectedly discovered, enriched, as they are, with beds and tufts of wildflowers, grasses and ferns.
The form and outlines of the different groups of shelter-belts being platted, what to plant in each and what character of picture to aim for are treated in detail in Chapter II (Planning The Pleasure-Garden And Grounds) (Planning The Pleasure-Garden And Grounds). When preparing the plan of planting, it should be considered of the utmost importance to break and soften the hard lines of groups by planting single trees apart from the main bodies in the groups