Landscaping and Open Spaces
Tírdhreachú agus Spásanna Oscailte
In this Category The Tidy Towns Adjudicator can award 50 marks
Appropriate planning and management of open spaces, selection and siting of native trees, shrubs and flowers for year round effect and maintenance of planted areas. Presentation of roundabouts and all grass strips.
The importance of appropriately landscaped open spaces in urban areas, towns and residential areas cannot be exaggerated, open spaces are a vital part of the urban environment, and such amenities create significant benefits for the enhancement of the quality of life of residential areas. In addition open space amenities provide opportunities for recreational / leisure activities, ecological, environmental preservation and education. Open space tends to foster and reinforce a sense of place.
A general definition of the ‘landscape’ surrounding the town can refer to its physical location / appearance such as: – mountains, hills, valleys, river valleys, bogs etc. But crucially it also includes the ground cover – trees, hedges / hedgerows, planted fields etc.
Within an urban or built-up area Soft Landscaping is a term used to describe planted areas, whether it’s grassed, or planted with trees, shrubs or flowers, whereas Hard Landscaping is the term used to describe roadways, footpaths, constructed structures, buildings etc.
Appropriate planning, presentation and management of roundabouts and grass strips outside businesses, residential areas and on approach roads is also a factor in creating a welcoming atmosphere to the town.
The landscape treatment of a town or village is of fundamental importance to the appearance and general well-being of the town, therefore planting needs to be approached in a rational and planned manner, with the objective of having a pleasant year-round effect, in a way that facilitates on-going year-round management.
In summary what is required for a functional urban environment is a high standard of layout, landscaping and design to create an attractive streetscape, while retaining and enhancing mature landscaping – including hedgerows and trees, which contribute to the character of the town.
Given the decline of some of our native species it is important to select native trees as these are more beneficial for wildlife than the more ornamental trees often seen in urban areas, native trees provide habitat for many times more species of insects and birds.
Examples of native species include Alder (Fearnóg), Ash (Fuinseog), Aspen (Crann Creathach), Silver Birch (Beith Gheal), Downy Birch (Beith Chlúmhach), Blackthorn (Draighean), Bird Cherry (Donnroisc), Wild Cherry (Gean – crann silíní fiáin), Crab Apple (Crann Fia-úll), Hazel (Coll), Hawthorn (Sceach Gheal), Holly (Cuileann), Juniper (Aiteal), Pedunculate Oak (Dair Ghallda), Sessile Oak (Dair Ghaelach), Mountain Ash / Rowan (Caorthann), Scots Pine (Péine Albanach), Strawberry Tree (Caithne), Whitebeam (Fionncholl), Willow (Saileach), Wych Elm (Leamhán Sléibhe), Yew (Iúr),
For more details about native trees, or where it is appropriate to plant them please visit The Tree Council of Ireland website
Key views of the townscape and skyline must be protected, both within the town and from approach roads into the town centre, in Newbridge there is also a need to protect views to / from the River Liffey from all areas of the town.
In Newbridge the River Liffey is one of the town’s main recreational and environmental assets the largest single amenity area is the Liffey Linear Park, which has fabulous views and prospects, and is open year round, has a mature hedgerow providing a corridor for wildlife, a wildflower area, and areas for river based wildlife. Other open spaces include an area of parkland linking residential developments at Lakeside Park, Dara Park and Highfield.
Urban environments can be sub-divided into green space, grey space, brownfield sites and private gardens and balconies.
- Green Space – includes grassed areas such as parks, hedgerows, river walks and corridors, residential green areas, private gardens etc.;
- Private Gardens – A significant area of urban green space can comprise of private gardens, garden design and the quality of the plants used can contribute in no small way to the “greening” of an area.
- Balconies – more commonly feature in high-density urban developments and provide occupants with an opportunity to plant suitable plants and flowers.
- Grey Space – includes built areas, including buildings, pavements / roads, street furniture;
- Brownfield Sites – land that is or was occupied by buildings which are now vacant, disused or derelict;
One of the very important issues relating to suitable landscaping is “linkage” or “connectivity”, each landscaped area should lead comfortably into the next, creating a pleasant walking route.
Making space for our Natural Heritage and Biodiversity in urban areas
A well-managed urban green space can provide a unique landscape which can support a wonderful diversity of flora and fauna and provide an opportunity for the urban dweller to access high quality biodiversity on their doorstep. It includes everything from mammals to birds, from seeds to trees, from domestic gardens and public open spaces to our surrounding countryside, rivers, nearby bogs and hedgerows all of which are still a feature of Newbridge.
Natural Heritage and Biodiversity can significantly improve the quality of life of people living in urban settings, as a diverse biodiversity can result in cleaner air and water, more visually attractive recreational area.
Residential areas can select sections of their green area to plant trees, shrubs and if the area is large enough create a wildflower area using native sourced seed.