The vegetable garden should be located whenever possible on land upon which the sun shines at least five hours daily, where there is plenty of moisture, and on soil which is free from rocks beneath the surface. Vegetables should not be planted near large trees or on low land where crops may be washed away. However, in the small grounds there is little choice of location. The garden should be so arranged that tall growing plants will not shade smaller ones. Since the location of the garden, preparation of soil, seeds, planting, and specific crops are discussed by W. R. Beattie in the United States Department of Agriculture bulletin, The City Home Garden,1 the subject will not be discussed in this chapter.
Landscape architecture is an art of design - the arrangement of buildings, drives, walks, gardens, lawns, and planting in the landscape. The house plan should be considered, whenever possible, with reference to the plan of the grounds. In the small grounds planning for space is a chief consideration, and it is well to keep in mind that too little is better than too much. A small place cannot be a large estate in miniature. Narrow beds and paths and diminutive detail should be avoided in small grounds. Straight lines emphasize long dimensions.
Direct access from the living area of the house to the lawn and garden is advisable. The smaller the lot the higher must be the boundary hedge to secure seclusion and the narrower it must be to save space. The presentation of the garden from the house should be a general not a detailed picture, and unsymmetrical arrangements in small grounds are preferable. Such service features as delivery and work yard and clothes-drying yard should be hidden from general view. Roads and walks should be few and inconspicuous, and they should leave the lawn areas as unbroken as possible. A straight walk usually is advisable when the house is closer to the street than the width of its front.
Lawns should occupy as large areas unbroken by other features as the limits of the place will permit, and as much as practicable of the area between the house and street should be in turf to form the foreground of the picture. The line of the rear lawn should be parallel to the property line, and the major part of the rear yard should be kept open. Although it is desirable to have all possible lawn area in the rear in general view, best results are obtained by having some features or areas wholly or partially hidden. The foundation for a good lawn is rich, deep, well-drained soil, retentive of moisture. The grass to be used depends upon the section of the country.
Trees should be located to frame the house with the space at the middle in the front of the house left open. In selecting trees consider exposure, ultimate size, rapidity of growth, length of life, adaptability to the soil, and general landscape effect, freedom from disease and insect pests, long-lived and tough species that will not break or drop branches in a high wind. Shrubs should be planted against the foundations of the house, at corners, and in angles including angles of steps, porches, and at intermediate points of long straight sides, in clumps along boundaries, and at junctions of walks and drives. Clumps of shrubs used in small grounds should not be uniform in size, height, or breadth, or composed of the same kinds of plants. Vines may be used on fences, arbors, or trellises, against the buildings, or on porches.
Herbaceous perennials may be used in the edges of the shrubbery groups or in special borders. Annuals may be used in small clumps in the edges of shrubbery, in the flower garden, or to supplement perennials in borders. Flower gardens are preferably placed on the sides of the house adjoining the living room if the width of the lot permits, otherwise at the rear or as a border on the side of the lawn. Too many flowers are undesirable. It is advisable to keep the front lawn unbroken.
In foundation planting, the most important locations for plant groups are the prominent points - the front corners of the house, or porch, a large wall unbroken by windows. Plants should not be placed under window sills that grow higher than the window or along a porch that will exceed a height of thirty inches above the porch floor, if it is desirable to maintain a view. It is advisable in foundation planting to use plants varying in height to keep the top line irregular. A row of plants of one kind along a porch wall is inappropriate. Continuous planting along a foundation wall also is undesirable as best results are obtained when some of the founda-tion wall is in view. Variety may be obtained by using plants of different forms of growth and various sizes and colors of leaves - spreading, drooping, large and small leaves, leaves of various shapes and color.
Too great variety of plants for the small grounds is not in good taste, and one type of plant or foliage should predominate. Also, plants should be selected that are known to thrive in the locality.