Species of the heather family (Ericaceae) lend themselves perfectly to the creation of heath vegetations, which are more or less closed vegetations of dwarf shrubs taking on the role of the herbaceous layer, with a strong spatial impact in open areas. In it, members of the heather and crowberry (Empetraceae) families may be combined with fine low shrubs, such as Salix repens, Genista spp., and somewhat taller species, such as Ulex, Sarothamnus, Myrica and Juniperus. In addition, one may establish some of the most refined and subtle herbaceous indigenous species. A number of vegetation forms may be discerned, with the characteristics and the atmosphere of:
– dry heath
– wet heath
Heath and bog vegetations are best realised on poor acidic soils: sand, poor loam or peat. The initial conditions are rarely sufficiently stable and poor in nutrients to create these vegetation types through more or less spontaneous and natural processes. The latter is possible only on moist to wet loam and sand soils still in their ‘original’ state. In this case, one may use extensive maintenance and management methods, consisting of cutting, mowing, etc. Grazing is feasible on very large areas only. When gardens and parks are concerned, the initial conditions will usually be severely disturbed or nonexistent, necessitating the creation of those conditions by artificial methods. The management measures described in the following sections refer primarily to artificially induced and guided heath and bog vegetations using the pruningweeding method. In daily practice, this method combined with the cutting-weeding method has proven to be equally successful for vegetations with a spontaneous naturalism.