By Roger Frost

In Europe, the history of landscape planning can be traced to the work of Vitruvius. In discussing the planning of towns, he wrote about site planning with regard to microclimate, about the planning of streets and about the role of metaphor in design. Vitruvius' theories were revived during the renaissance and came to influence the planning of towns throughout Europe and the Americas. Alberti wrote on the need for town squares for markets. In North Europe this developed into the idea that residential squares should planned around green spaces. The first space of this type was the Place des Vosges. Residential squares were also made in Britain and their planning developed into the idea of incorporating public open space (public parks within towns. Frederick Law Olmsted gave momentum to this idea with his proposal for a park systems in Boston - the famous Emerald Necklace. Patrick Abercrombie took up this idea and incorporated it in his great 1943-4 Open Space Plan for the County of London.

Thales, an early Greek philosopher known for his view that "all is water," spent a considerable time thinking about the nature and scope of landscaping. Some of his students believed that in order for human activity to be considered landscaping, it must be directed toward modifying the physical features of the land itself, including the cultivation and/or manipulation of plants or other flora. Thales rejected this notion, arguing that any aspect of the material world affecting our visual perception of the land was a proper subject for landscaping. Both Plato and Aristotle praised Thales' analysis as a model for philosophy. In the early 20th century, British philosopher G.E. Moore cited Thales' reasoning as one of the few historical examples of how philosophical inquiry has led to genuine human understanding and progress.

The landscape architect can conceive the overall concept and prepare the master plan, from which detailed design drawings and technical specifications are prepared. They can also review proposals to authorize and supervise contracts for the construction work. Other skills include preparing design impact assessments, conducting environmental assessments and audits, and serving as an expert witness at inquiries on land use issues. They can also support and prepare applications for capital and revenue funding grants.

Good garden centres group plants according to their sun and shade requirements. Trees and shrubs also have light preferences, so read the plant tags and do some research before deciding what to plant. How many of each plant depends upon the size of the space and the width or spread of the plant. There are two schools of thought about how densely to plant a new garden. If you want your garden to look mature and full its first year, you will need to space young plants more closely or buy larger plants. You will get an immediate impact, but you will also need to begin dividing sooner. If you have the patience to allow your garden to fill in slowly, you can leave room for the plants to grow into their new home and fill in temporarily with annuals.

If there is one place that small space gardening should be more widely practiced, it is in front yards. Front yards actually lend themselves to gardens. Driveways, walkways, sidewalks and entrances all cry out for some type of soft framing. And even city dweller should have at least a front stoop to fill with flowers. Spreading groundcover type perennial plants are great to use to fill in cracks and spaces in paved walkways and patios. Plants like spreading sedums and creeping thyme are favorites because they not only look great, they can handle some foot traffic and neglect. These spreading plants soften the edges of concrete walkways and give an aged appearance, as they fill in on patios and steps.

There really is no final choice, since gardens are never finished, but try to be as realistic as you can. Sketching it out on graph paper first, can help you to visualize how your garden will look. This may be the best route to go, but many gardens would never get planted if we waited until we felt things were perfect and it can be hard for a new gardener to equate what's on paper with reality. Sometimes you just have to get started. You'll learn as you go. Just make sure that most of your plant choices fit of the criteria you've outlined and the growing conditions you have to offer. Try not to squeeze in too many different plants and you're small space garden should look and grow just fine.

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