Friday quiz – landscape design

Down the street a ways from where we live is a relatively new condo complex wedged between a hill and the street.  A narrow planting strip separates the sidewalk from the street, as shown below:

The driveway at the top of the photo bisects the planting strip and dead ends in the parking area for the condos.  I have photoshopped this a bit, for reasons you’ll see on Monday.  But this is a true representation of the landscape.

I’d originally taken photos of this area for my ongoing “why trees die” collection (since all but one died within 2 years), but there’s something else wrong in this landscape related specifically to the design.  Can you figure out what it is?

Answers and more photos Monday!

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

8 thoughts on “Friday quiz – landscape design”

  1. Looks like rain/irrigation water flows across the sidewalk from the landscape area on the left, through the section on the right (with the tree), washing mulch & soil into the rain gutter.

  2. The planting strip between the sidewalk and the street look a bit like a ditch. Also, there’s not enough of a groundcover to prevent erosion.

  3. Tree is shaped too low for street/sidewalk.
    The branches will interfere in future with passersby.
    Also,no leader, and branching off like that could cause breakage in future.

  4. I agree that the tree is planted too deeply. It’s hard to tell whether the soil is rubble/hardpan excavated for the condos, but I think I’m seeing a lot of rock that might indicate so. As for the low branches, depending on the tree, they can be pruned to make room for passersby. Another issue is that the soil level is raised above street level by the curb, so the roots are likely to not grow on the street side. MY ANSWER: I would say that the driveway coming from a higher-elevation, impermeable parking lot could cause a veritable river to charge down that driveway, in addition to water flowing over the sidewalk. Possible results: erosion, raised pH from the massive amount of concrete around the tree, and possible tumbling of the tree into the street with flooding and roots missing on the downhill side.

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