The old adage, “Begin as you can hold out,” is an excellent rule to follow. One of the advantages gained by living in an area just beyond the suburban fringe is that one’s two, five, or ten acres may be developed as much or as little as one desires or can pay for. This holds whether you have built a new house in the middle of a former pasture or have restored an old one with grounds well developed but long neglected.
[Illustration: SKILLFUL PLANTING OF TREES, SHRUBS, AND FLOWERS MAKE THE SETTING
Photo by Samuel H. Gottscho. Robertson Ward, architect]
Of course, you will not lack for advice from friends and acquaintances, most of the people who have never grown anything more extensive than a window box. They will tell you that the old lawn that has withstood the tread of feet for more than a century is uneven and must be plowed under, re-graded, and a special kind of lawn-grass sown. The driveway is all wrong, too. Turn it back into lawn and build a new one winding through the field to the left where the family cow was once pastured. They are also kind enough to suggest that a plowing, grading, and seeding of this additional acre or so will give you a piece of greensward worth having. A lily pool and sun dial garden would go nicely over there to the east, and how about that hollow place over in the south corner for a swimming pool? All this and much more can be suggested but it is surprising how little of it is practical.
Even long neglected grounds seldom require as thorough a job of face lifting. A lawn free of hollows is difficult to achieve and almost impossible to maintain. Nature does not do things that way, so work with her rather than against her. It is surprising how old and seemingly worn-out grounds respond to kind treatment. Study them first before doing anything. Take stock of existing trees, shrubs and the like. Notice the contour of the land. Then make a simple landscaping plan. This, well thought out, will give direction to the eventual development of the plot of ground you have in mind. Work gradually. If you are reclaiming an old place, remember the original owner did not achieve everything in a week or a year. Nature cannot be hurried. It is true that, if one desires shade trees and cannot wait for them to grow, experts can bring full-grown ones from their nurseries and plant them in the positions you designate. Such practices run into money, however, and would hardly come within the average family budget.
Let us suppose that the home owner finds himself in possession of a house of uncertain age and between ten and twenty acres of land. Unless he is prepared to maintain a miniature conservation corps, he will not attempt to keep over two acres in active cultivation. Even with those he will not push back the wilderness in one season. The first step is a careful inspection of the grounds around the house. If they have been neglected for years, he may find practically anything