Many horse property owners love the idea of landscaping around their horse barn but don’t know where to start.
There are plenty of resources available as to what plants/trees/flowers you should select, what to avoid as they may be toxic to horses, and how to lay out a garden for textural interest, seasonal appeal and proportion and layout of hard and soft landscapes in a space.
But here are some special considerations outside of the normal gardening practices and toxicity factors of soft plantings that you may wish to consider.
1. Is Fast Going To Last?
It is part of the modern-day culture that folks want everything to magically appear as ‘complete’ in short order and as a consequence property owners often choose plants and trees that are fast-growing. The problem with fast growing nursery stock is that often it is not as securely rooted or doesn’t have the longevity that slower growing options provide.
Carefully evaluate the overall suitability of the site location, proximity to existing structures and the timeline for soft landscaping to reach maturity, and the height and breadth that such greenery may attain before you dig that square hole for the balled-up rootstock.
Trees that are upright in profile are less likely to scratch, dent or ding high sided vehicles such as horse trailers with overhanging branches than trees with an umbrella profile.
Trees planted close to a building also pose a risk of damage to the structure as they grow and exceed the roof height and may topple in high winds or lose boughs and branches.
2. Trees and Shrubs Will Flower and Fruit
Mother Nature’s reproduction program necessarily means that trees and shrubs will flower and afterward produce seedlings, often in the form of fruit, berries, nuts, cones and other means of propagation.
Question is does the barn owner want to attract the wildlife that comes with nature’s bountiful provisions? Apples and fruit attract bees and wasps, nuts attract squirrels, and seemingly every type of shrub attracts deer! All wildlife carries with it the risk of transmitting disease to livestock. Whether it be from ticks, feces or other means of contamination.
Wildlife can also cause significant property damage if animals take up residence is taken up in the barn or underneath it.
Juice from fruits and berries can also be tracked to the interior of the building and cause paint damage to vehicles.
3. Out of Sight Should Not Mean Out Of Mind
Deep-rooting trees and shrubs should not be planted close to or over well/ town water or sewer pipes or cable/telephone lines.
4. Mulching Mayhem
It is common to add mulch to garden areas to provide a moisture barrier to evaporation of water. Certain types of wood/rubber chips and treatments they receive may be toxic to horses.
Bear in mind that high winds often lift chips/debris from garden beds and cause mulching mayhem with the ‘whirling dervish’ effect created. These chips may then be deposited in grazing areas.
5. How Much Water?
In cold climate it is a good idea to add some form of weatherproof watering system such as a frost-free faucet outside the barn that is handy for use for watering the garden all year around. Automated systems are very useful in warmer climates and can additionally save on water wastage.
Water run-off/snow melt from the roof of the horse barn on the other hand, should be guttered and taken away from the structure. Not only does this help prevent flooding in and around the barn, the high rate of discharge of excess water from a roof can make a muddy mess both on the ground and splashed onto the side of the building and will wash out soil around plants.
Some roof types may even discharge toxic water. Never use roof run-off for a horse’s water needs and risk ingestion of toxic or contaminated water.
6. Consider The Ins and Outs
The layout and materials used in the landscaping design should account for snow plowing needs in areas where snowfall is likely. Access to all building ingress/egress points will require snow removal for safety, and emergency and daily use. Consider keeping access paths at least 10’ wide, so larger equipment may be utilized if needed.
Similarly high traffic areas will require drainage solutions be installed to avoid muddy walkways during heavy rain events and ice conditions in cold climates. Planning ahead and implementing drainage solutions before laying gravel, concrete or grass can eliminate not just headaches in daily use but also prevent injury to horse and human.
7. Hardscape Distances
Paths should be wide enough to accommodate a horse being led with handler at its side.
For barns with center aisles, access with UTVs or tractors may be needed for daily chores such as mucking out stalls.
Allow enough space for large equipment to turn around in parking and access areas. The off-track for large trailers is substantial and gate widths should also accommodate even the less talented drivers!
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About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –
Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
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Grand Prix Dressage
Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.