Landscape Features in the Naturalized Landscape
by Don Childress
Take a walk in any North Idaho Forest and notice the interesting, other-than-plant-life features. Eighty-year-old stumps with spring board notches, 100-year-old burnt snags, beaver-gnawed stumps, woodpecker snags, logging stumps, downed timber, rotted logs, moss-covered rocks and others are all features that add interest to the landscape.
Those same features also add interest to our naturalized landscape projects. They can provide a focal point for the total landscape design or a point of interest in a planting area. Rotting logs not only provide a planting backdrop but add nutrients to the soil. Planted snags, besides adding interest, can become habitat for birds and small mammals, creating an interactive feature. Downed timber can also act as a naturalized border to a landscape area. Another functional aspect is to use hollow stumps and burnt snags to shield unaesthetic utilities such as well casings, hose bibs or electric meters. Hiding those pieces of hardware gives a much more pleasing look to the naturalized landscape.
Another feature that adds a focal point is a dry stream bed. Lucky are those who have a small stream through their yard, but for most, a hand-dug shallow ditch lined with appropriate sized river rock will serve. These “streams” can be a major feature through the whole landscape site or a small feature in a planting area. It looks even more convincing if it is placed in a natural drainage area. A beaver stump looks especially striking by your stream bed.
Large landscape rocks make very good planting backdrops and are easy to incorporate in the naturalized landscape. A hand-stacked rock wall makes a good retaining wall and gives a natural looking boundary for a planting area.
Many of these landscape features can be collected from the wild being mindful of trespass laws. State lands that have not been recently logged are a good place to start. You do need a wood gathering permit for state lands. Most are also available commercially.
I offer a number of Forest Art pieces for sale. View the slideshow below for examples. Pieces are priced individually. Contact me for more information on selection and pricing.