Go for a green belt around your apartment complex

By TheHindu on 23 Nov 2016 | read
Apartment welfare associations have to judiciously make use of whatever space is available and the small pockets left unused to maintain greenery, writes Swathi.V Green space: From the set-back space, one can make use of two to two-and-a-half feet for making a reasonably good plant bed in the complex. Green space: From the set-back space, one can make use of two to two-and-a-half feet for making a reasonably good plant bed in the complex.

Indoor plants grown in containers are most often taken for granted when speaking of greenery in apartment complexes. What one ignores in doing so is that a beautiful garden can as well be designed within the diminutive common space available inside the complex, be it a single block or a set of blocks.

With the compulsions of leaving stilted area for parking and a huge chunk of mandatory set-back space for manoeuvring the four-wheelers, apartments offer much lesser space for greenery. Nevertheless, a little is a lot in the spaces marked by pollution, cramped existence and lack of open spaces. “Apartment welfare associations have to judiciously make use of whatever space available in narrow strips along the boundary walls, tot-lots and small pockets left unused depending on the shape of the plot to grow trees and maintain them,” says M.M. Hussain (Ph: 9848024654), from Plants Land Nursery.

From the set-back space, one can make use of two to two-and-a-half feet for making a reasonably good plant bed, he advises. Plants of moderate growth which do not shed leaves throughout the year should be chosen for the bed. Tap-rooted ones should be preferred over those with fibrous roots, as the latter's spread may extend to the foundation and damage it.

Plants such as Grevillea robusta (Silver Oak), Polyalthia pendula (Tall Ashoka), Polyalthia angustifolia (Seetha Ashoka), or Millingtonia hortensis may be preferred for the bed along the boundary wall, so also palms such as Areca lutescens (Dypsis lutescens), or Kentia (Howeia) if there is enough space to grow them in clusters.

“The palms, if grown in clusters, will attain a height of 12 to 15 feet, and cover the wall-tops with greenery. They will also remain off the drive way apart from acting as effective barriers to noise and air pollution,” says Mr.Hussain.

Where the set-back space is more, palms such as Roystonea regia (Royal Palm), Caryota urens (Fishtail Palm), and Wodyetia bifurcata (Foxtail Palm) can be planted at regular intervals. Between two palms, various flowering or foliage varieties may be planted depending on the availability of sunlight.

“Availability of light depends on the height of the boundary wall, of the apartment building, and also of the neighbouring buildings. It also depends on the direction the planted area faces, South and West being the directions of abundant sunlight,” says Mr.Hussain.

If light is available for eight hours in a day, one can go for all flowering plants. If a little lesser than that, one can choose varieties such as Hibiscus, Plumbago capensis, Lemonia spectabilis or Beloperone guttata, and many other plants which survive in partial light conditions.

In shady areas too, some flowering varieties such as Spathiphyllum and Anthuriums may be planted, but they are expensive, says Mr.Hussain.

Impatiens in both annual and bi-annual varieties is fine for a growth of low heights.

Foliage plants may be chosen in cases of both full and partial light conditions. However, good amount of sunlight will help the plant to produce better colours and compact growth, while partial light will result in lanky growth and undesirable colours.

A large number of shade loving foliage plants such as Aralia, Chlorophytum, Aglaonema, Dieffenbachia, Ferns, Schefflera, and small palms such as Chamaedorea are available in the market.

“One can even make hedges along the driveway and cut them to shape. Where there is abundant light, one can go for shaping topiaries too at regular intervals,” Mr.Hussain suggests.

Even climbers can be grown to creep over the walls and be extended still higher through wire frames or such other structures over the wall. Vernonia, Thunbergia grandiflora, and Ipomea morning glory can grow very thick and mitigate air pollution as well as noise pollution to a great extent, he says.

Tot-lots, on the other hand, offer scope for growing lawns. If the space allocated for tot-lot gets abundant sunlight, one can go for Fescue Grass, Bermuda Grass or Korean Carpet Grass, the last, available in turf mats.

If the space is wanting in sunlight, one can safely go for Paspalum (Buffalo Grass) or St.Augustine varieties. Whatever be the grass, one should keep in mind that a lawn requires good amount of water and regular mowing. Apart from tot-lots, grass can also be grown in walkways, alternating between tiles.

“If the tot-lot patches are too large for a bed and too small for a lawn, one can opt for groundcovers such as Chlorophytums, Tradescantias, Commelinas, Pileas, and if light is plenty, some flowering plants such as Daisies, Lantanas, Cupheas and Angelinas,” Mr.Hussain says.

He cautions against seasonal plants, as they call for regular maintenance. One can opt for similar looking perennials which can do with moderate care.

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