My family and I moved into our current home in 2007 and for the vast majority of that time I have been converting our lawn to an organic program. I do everything by hand and while everything is a lot less green in color since we moved in, it's greener (as in healthier) and the benefits to my practice are likely impossible to calculate.
Any planned lanscaping was put on the back burner nearly from the start as we added a second child within a couple years (2009), but also because much of what was on the property was neglected and in some cases diseased. As I found out from a neighbor, the house was built in 1982 and the original owner created a very high maintenance landscape, but the woman who owned it for 10 years before we moved in did nothing to it but have the lawn mowed. I nurtured both a pine tree and a couple different cherry trees back to healthy growth, but many other bushes and trees had to be removed. In many cases they were healthy looking from the outside but were dead or drying when you looked underneath. So, what remains is often lopsided or "ugly", but when you bring something back from the brink like that they are so very beautiful...kind of like me, but without the beautiful part.
Now that I largely have the lawn under control I would like to start a plan for how to addrress the rest of the property. The number of options for what to do seem overwhelming, but I believe for several reasons that the best "theme" would be a japanese garden. Doing so would allow me to do things slowly over time, I can integrate the existing features which already include some pine and cherry trees, and perhaps most of all it's just a way to make a decision and get started! The first priority will be on where to plant some new trees and what types of trees to plant because they will take the longest to have the desired effects of shade on parts of the house and the grass that are baking in the sun as I type this. I will be doing most the work myself when I have some time inbetween childcare, sitting, and other Treeleaf activities.
So, any input from the sangha would be very welcome. Whether it's sources on japanese gardens in particular, books on samu or specific projects undertaken at monasteries or people's homes as part of practice, deciding on types and placement of trees, or whatever...I would be most grateful. These days when you put zen gardens into a search you get some gems like Richard helped me to find, but also a lot of fluff on ways to get a zen looking garden as quickly as possible. And while I'm not looking for how to do it as slowly as possible, something in the middle would be great. Any older books written on how to do landscaping before the invention of heavy machinery or directly from a zen monk would be just wonderful. Put another way, I'd love to take the practice of the kesa outside and apply it to my yard.
Any ideas folks? Many thanks in advance!