working again at the Georgia lake house. This week we're
concentrating on the "green space" or "common
area." The lots of several homes feed into and look
into this area. It has been declared "green space"
because water from the surrounding hills channels into this
space, then goes into the lake. It is a rugged area, overgrown,
some of the neighbors have been using it as a dumping ground,
even damming the flow of water in an attempt at reducing
the flow of silt into the lake. Instead of planting unnecessary,
high maintenance plants we will attempt to take advantage
of the many native plants, let people view the lake and
generally create a beautiful, park like setting.
Jim Almand is with Earth Products in Marietta, Georgia.
Earth Products supplied the rock for this project. In the
creek bed Jim chose river flats, their thickness and shape
is similar to what would naturally occur in a dry creek
bed. He chose river slicks because of their bulk and ability
to keep sticks, leaves, etc. out of the creek bed. Both
are reasonably uniform in size and provide a nice base on
which to walk as well they slow down the water flow. The
key point is to slow the water as it moves through this
area. By slowing it down erosion should be less of a problem.
The path of the creek bed was determined, then a landscape
fabric was placed to block weeds, yet allow water to drain
through. There is space between the rocks, this will allow
silt or smaller debris to fill in between the rocks. If
desired some plants could actually be planted in the creek
bed cracks. Since this area is lower, moisture will be present
allowing roots to grow. The rocks are light colored but
will naturally darken over a few months because of the tannins
in the leaves. Lichens and moss may also grow over time.
Earth Products has rocks in different colors - reds. blues
and purples - from Arizona, for example. It is more economical
to buy rocks from your area, it saves on shipping and fits
with the environment. Jim has used pea gravel - some also
call this river rock, in the stream. It creates a natural
filter and helps collect silt. It also fills the bottom,
not allowing standing water, which is helpful in controlling
Another rock used is called gray crab orchard. Jim chose
it because it is thick. In the boggy area it doesn't sink
and it is sandstone, thus not as slippery as other stones.
He spaced them as one would normally walk which is about
2 and 1/2 feet apart. Again these were placed on top of
the fabric. In between the stones the area has been mulched.
The fabric keeps the mulch above ground, keeping the area
from becoming too mushy.
Bill Hagen's company Anything Under The Sun designed this
green space area. His thinking behind the design was to
keep everything natural. He created a cathedral feel by
limbing up the trees, which also increases the view in the
Bill chose to keep the natural plants and remove the weeds.
He shows us some of the saved plants. Flaming Azalea is
native to our part of the world, it blooms towards the end
of spring before the leaves pop out. Since he wanted this
tree to be a focal point he mulched around the tree to draw
our eye to the area. As well he cleared out surrounding
brush, providing the plant with more water and nutrients,
it will then hopefully reproduce.
Bill points out wild ginger, it is a smaller plant, but
unusual. It is glossy green, an evergreen and a low ground
cover. A tea could be made from this plant according to
Bill. Its' scientific name is Asarum Hatwegii, it produces
a small flower although hidden underneath the leaves.
Ferns are plentiful. They are natural, they're informal
and relaxing. The Christmas Fern, Polystychum, is very hardy,
is reasonably drought tolerant and may even be present in
winter with snow on the ground.
Andy Givhan grows and sells aquatic plants throughout the
southeast. His company name is Givhandy's. Andy started
in his backyard developing a wildlife habitat that required
a source of water and a birdbath wasn't enough. They turned
that into a pond and it grew from there. What started as
a hobby has become a business. According to Andy, aquatic
plants are popular and have been increasing in popularity
the past 10 years. In fact, during that time they have been
the fastest growing segment in the nursery industry. Andy
shows us some of the plants intended for this area. Umbrella
Palm, Cyperus Alternifolius, is a great bog plant. It thrives
in totally damp situations as well as dry conditions. He
has placed it next to a wall because he wanted some height
to hide the wall. It will grow another foot or two and provides
a tropical look. Andy cleared overgrown bushes, shrubs and
weeds, then made a channel for the run off water to follow.
The plants help define that channel. He has curved the channel
and built up one side with mud, this gives an informal look
and enhances the natural beauty. Many of the bog plants
can be simply placed in the soil in the water and they will
start rooting. The Scarlet Hibiscus, Hibiscus Coccineus,
or Swamp Hibiscus will tolerate a wide range of situations.
It likes full sun, it's a flowering plant but once the flowers
are spent the pods are ornamental. It produces an abundant
amount of seed, thus they reproduce easily. It has a brilliant
red flower that attracts Hummingbirds and other insects.
It will grow to 6-8 feet tall and will continue to bush
out. Andy places it in a very shallow hole, covers the base,
it should be happy in this wet situation.
Pickerel Reed or Pickrel Rush, Pampaderia Cordata, is probably
recognized aquatic plant in our area. It is a reliable bloomer
and can tolerate full sun or partial shade and is a native.
Some states are cracking down on collecting these plants
so it is safest to buy them from a nursery. Blue Eyed Grass
is out of season right now and into its' dormant stage but
in early spring it will be one of the first plants to bloom.
It has 1/2 inch dark blue flowers that are a treat in springtime.
It does well in shade but the flower will be a little paler
blue. In full sun the flower is darker blue, almost purple,
It is reliable and very natural looking.
People don't typically think of trees for wetland areas.
Andy has an American Bald Cypress, Taxodium Distichum (he
thinks). This tree could grow to as much as 100 feet tall,
although in this environment it will probably be much smaller.
It drops its' beautiful foliage in the fall but will have
"knees." These are what you see coming out of
the water, they provide oxygen for the root system.
Horsetail Reed or Equisetum Hyemale is often used as a backdrop.
It is very vertical and is evergreen, has a flower that
looks like a little pine cone at the top of its' stem. It
is appropriate for wetlands although versatile enough to
be used in perfectly dry landscaping applications.
Andy creates combination bog gardens, a lot of different
plants in a small area. A homeowner could have a bog garden
in an area as small as a container. Something 10 - 15 inches
across and a couple of inches deep. They can be all by themselves
or on a deck or patio. The root systems of aquatic plants
grow quickly and that is where the filtration takes place.
The root system may be several inches thick. There are different
size roots - ranging from almost microscopic to 1/4 inch
or so. They slow down the water, take nutrients and silt
before they get into the lake. With this group of plants,
Andy plants them by simply plopping them in the mud.
One of the indications of the health of an area is the presence
of different insects or animals. Andy has found a Crayfish
or Crawdad. This is an indication that there isn't much
pollution in this area because they feed on material on
the bottom and are constantly filtering water through their
system. When working in the area Andy also saw Salamanders
and some little water snakes, which are harmless if left
alone. Some people mistake them for Water Moccasins because
these water snakes come in a wide range of colors and patterns.
We hope you've enjoyed the show. We tried to take a wasteland
and turn it into a beautiful, outdoor area for the neighbors
to enjoy. We started with a dry creek bed, placed river
stone to slow the flow of water. We created a sitting area
using old logs and other natural aspects. Curved lines were
incorporated to provide a carefree feeling. The bog area
was enhanced with interesting plants. To accent the area
mulch was used extensively particularly around the swing
located right next to the lake. This borrows a view, makes
an enjoyable area for all and makes excellent use of a space
that had fallen into decline.
Link :: Earth
Locations :: Anything Under The Sun - 770-421-1249
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