Open fields exist on all ranch land--from sheep ranches in California to cattle ranches in Wyoming to horse ranches in Kentucky to dude ranches in New Mexico. Physical labor also plays a big role in the lives of ranch people, who have a variety of tools to help them do their jobs. Using the spaciousness of the ranch and the right tools of the trade you can create a pleasing ranch landscape plan.
Tools of the Trade
An ancient, abandoned plow or wagon, or old wagon wheels, make for interesting and appropriate design elements for a ranch landscape that transcends clichés. Make rusted implements and parts more personal by welding them together to form whimsical shapes, figures, animals or bugs. Place them here and there in your flower beds. Take on larger welding projects, such as arches and fences, or design such pieces and call in a professional welder to help with construction.
If welding is too big of a task, use whatever ranch pieces you have, old or new, as flower containers. Milk cans make good plant stands in a landscape or as vases on the porch, holding tall corn stalks or cattails. Transform chicken feeders, low pig troughs or old work boots into planters to give your garden a ranch touch.
Incorporate the Natural Landscape
Design a landscape plan that incorporates a distant mountain range or a nearby hay field into the view from the garden. Do this by framing the view with trees and plantings to direct the eye to the distant element from at least one vantage point in the garden. Replicate the open spaces in the landscape by creating wide swaths of plantings in your own landscape that will then encourage the eye to continue on beyond the confines of the garden. Low earth berms, for instance, can mimic the distant rolling hills.
Most ranch lands exist in arid parts of the country that are good for cattle and sheep but are at risk for fires. Check with your local extension office for fire-resistant plants that do well in your area. The "Sunset" website recommends creating a defensible space around your home with a hardscape, and with accessibility for fire fighters. Adding fire-resistant plants, such as succulents or cacti, to the space is also a good idea. The website also recommends that homeowners keep plants near the house well-irrigated. "Sunset" writers also suggest homeowners use paving or stone for paths and walkways near to the house, metal or clay tiles on buildings instead of wood, and nonflammable fencing.