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From Boring to Breathtaking ... Texture, Color Add Magic To Flat Valley Landscapes

The yard — the word itself evokes the rectangular green canvas that surrounds your new Red River Valley house like an unwrinkled tablecloth. It's the least intriguing aspect of your new Fargo-Moorhead home — and the one thing no one can miss. Outside this area of the world, natural ups and downs suggest a strategy for adding drama to the acreage that embraces your home. Here, though, with a geography dedicated to the absolute principle of "flat," the naked yards of Fargo-Moorhead await compassionate intervention. They beg for a living landscape that's sculpted and designed, that captures the eye and intrigues the senses with all the texture that nature overlooked. Enter the texture. Yesterday's rigid foundation plantings of arborvitae give way to soft, undulating clusters of shrubs and perennials. Concrete sidewalks yield to flagstone paths and pavers. Flower beds of straight lines and tilled earth give way to clumps of colored mulch to stymie weeds and conserve moisture. Unbroken planes of grass best suited to mowing break down into subtle sections adapted for family use, from child's play to entertaining. The textured landscape of 2009 is a congenial blend of colors and sizes, soft and hard, native and imported, natural and

artistic. For the first immigrant farmer in the Red River Valley, the blessedly flat land was a gift. No trees, no hills, no boulders to interfere with the relationship between a man, his plow and the fertile black soil. Those sod busters would scratch their heads today if they could meet designers like Roger Klocke, Jr., a pioneer among Fargo-Moorhead's growing corps of landscape designers who bring character to Valley yards by — among other tactics — importing boulders. Klocke, owner of Natural Environments Landscaping and Garden Elegance, uses a palette of natural materials to build height, dimension and texture from the basic foundation of a flat Fargo-Moorhead yard, adding accents with plant materials, lighting and water — fountains, waterfalls and ponds. "Flat and boring -- that's where most of the yards we design start out," he observes. "It's a blank slate. Our goal is to create an environment you'll enjoy for years

to come…areas that both please you now and add real value to your property for the future." Klocke, who considers landscaping an art and his role an artist, likes to start by sketching gently rolling pathways that create a soft, welcoming entrance to the yard. "They're inviting. They draw the eye inward," he says. He recommends natural flagstones (layered sandstone) or fired clay pavers for their soft edges and the ease with which they fit into the landscape. Undulating lines have largely replaced the unbending, right-angled outlines of paths and gardens past in today's more informal yards. High-end landscaping may incorporate raised beds to separate plantings from lawn and prevent the spread of more invasive species, as well as weeds.

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Outdoor Design & Living Guide - Summer 2009  
Outdoor Design & Living Guide - Summer 2009  

Issue 1 - Summer 2009 issue of Outdoor Design & Living Guide of Fargo-Moorhead