Archive for

Decorating With Landscapes – The Most Popular Artwork on Earth

Landscapes are the most universal subject and the best selling genre for art around the world. The term landscape in Chinese comes from shan shui and consists of the characters for mountain and water. In the West, American landscapes have evolved significantly over the past few centuries.

The earliest landscapes in colonial America were either backgrounds in portraits or rural images painted for Europeans interested in the New World. By the 1820s, the vast landscape of America had come to represent the boundless promise of America, the opportunity for prosperity and the presence of God in nature. As America became more settled, artists also depicted homey scenes of farms and rolling hills.

More recently, images of landscapes have been the focus of a number of studies (Ulrich, Simons and Honeyman, 1979,1986, 1987) that have demonstrated that nature scenes reduce negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness. Views of nature also produce positive physiological effects such as reducing muscle tension and blood pressure. Studies that track brain activity suggest that more alpha frequency brain activity (wakeful relaxation) occurs during nature exposures.

Research in hospitals has shown that landscape and nature images reduce the need for pain medication and increase recovery rates for patients. Other studies of individuals in confined settings such as students, prisoners and those in high stress work environments indicate the same positive effects from views of nature, whether these are actual views through windows or artistic images of nature.

The symbolic meaning of landscapes is related to the natural elements present in the scene depicted. The earth is symbolic of physical matter and the body. The earth is feminine, as in Mother Earth and Mother Nature. The colors associated with the earth are brown, green and other earth tones such as rust, sienna and umber.

The sun is the most basic symbol in landscape art and is the simplest-usually depicted as a circle. The sun is the source of warmth and represents the psyche. The sun is symbolic of spiritual illumination or wholeness. The colors associated with the sun are yellow and gold. The sun is the masculine principle and is related to time.

The moon is usually represented as less than full and is symbolic of the hidden aspects of life. The moon also has sinister connotations and is related to the unconscious dream world. The colors associated with the moon are yellow and silver.

Water is also a significant element in landscape art. Water has always been symbolic of the highest good in life and the source of life. Agricultural people have worshipped water in the form of rivers, clouds, mist and rain. In the West, water is symbolized by the colors blue, teal and aqua. In the East, the colors black and navy blue symbolize water.

Other specific elements associated with landscapes are mountains (symbols of strength and inspiration), rocks (symbols of safety, protection and refuge) and trees (symbols of strength and courage).

When it comes to decorating your home or office, the ongoing popularity and proliferation of landscape art gives you virtually unlimited choices for decorating your home with the most popular art on earth.

Irrigation and Landscape Design

In designing your backyard landscape, you should think about the irrigation system that will be used to water your plants and trees. Will you be using hoses above the ground or will you want below ground water sprinklers installed. You have to also take into consideration the water bill and in that respect you should learn when and how to water.

Mow your grass at a higher length so that it is longer. There is some controversy about whether this is helpful in saving water but it is better for the health of the grass as longer grass has stronger roots and is then more drought resistant. The grass should be mowed to a length of three inches. Aerate your lawn regularly as this will help the water get through the compacted soil and it also provides air to the roots of the grass. How often you should aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass you have and whether or not you remove lawn clippings. Dry spots are an indication that your lawn needs aeration.

Do not use as much fertilizer, as fertilizers help the lawn to grow and there is more usage of water with higher growth. Apply only the minimum amount of fertilizer needed. You can also apply fertilizer in small doses more frequently. Use a fertilizer dispenser to distribute the fertilizer evenly and you will not waste any of the fertilizer. Avoid the chemicals used in toxic fertilizer injection methods as they may be blown into neighbor’s yards or children may play in the wet grass and be subjected to it. If you add about a two or three inches deep layer of mulch: wood chips, almond hulls, decorative rock, etc. you will reduce the amount of water you use and reduce the number of weed in your lawn.

You can save water by reshaping your backyard landscape. If you shrink the size of your lawn, you will save water since the lawn takes more water than plants or shrubs. If your irrigation system is close to the house of near fences, reduce the size of the lawn in those places as the irrigation water spraying the house or fence can cause problems. You can use low growing plants with drip irrigation between the fence and the house.

If you would like to have a small garden area with plants that use a lot of water, then set it in a shady area where the wind will not get at it. High water plants will use less water when planted in a shady area and where they are protected from high winds. Because of the emphasis on water conservation, many water providers in dry areas of the country are giving coupons, rebates and discounts to purchasers of irrigation equipment. Some will even provide the equipment free of charge to their local customers. You should ask you water provider about these discounts, etc. before you purchase any irrigation equipment and ask about freebies also.

Floral Garden and Landscape Toupees

English Ivy is a wonderful groundcover and makes a home look lovely, lived in, and comfy. There is a problem, however. Ivy can kill trees and other plants. It can also cause extensive damage to foundations, siding, and chimneys. An alternative is what I call “Landscape Toupees.”

Some people might call fake flowers and foliage an abomination. I call it creative and colorful. They are economical and save time as well. You don’t need to fertilize or water, and they can be reused.

You usually only see silk and plastic trees and flowers for inside usage, and it is true that they will not last quite as long outside as they do inside. But, these delightful faux flowers and artificial vines look beautiful and will probably get you through several seasons.

My Landscape Toupees allow me to sculpt and cover problem areas in an instant. We have down spouts that look cold and ugly, but with plastic ivy strung around them, they take on a great look. One window in our living room looks out onto a downspout. Now, it looks out onto an ivy covered architectural feature that has color and charm.

You can also use fake vines to hide cables and wires. Some vines have small attachments so you can loop them on hooks, or a staple gun can give you fast placement, which reminds me of hair plugs.

We bought some decorative and expensive grass last year that is taking a while to flourish. I purchased some darts of grass leaves and threw them into brown clumps of grass for shocks of healthy green. As the grass matures and takes hold, I will migrate the darts elsewhere. Since people don’t expect plastic in gardens, they take them at face value. They expect them to be real, and so they are real.

Landscape Toupees are a great decorative tool for your yard and garden. You don’t need to be ashamed of using fake foliage. Use it as you need it, and improve the outside of your home quickly, and economically.