When thinking of a beautiful home, it's not only about the architectural design or color palette. A garden can be just as essential when creating an appealing aesthetic. Explore some of the current trends and discover a new way to shape your garden this spring.
If you live in an urban setting and only have a small space to garden, a few rows of salad greens or a small herb garden in your yard or deck is fun and easy and will add flavor to your meals without too much work. Using large colorful containers on your deck and planting tall grasses is becoming very popular. These same containers (if they are ceramic) inside your home in a south facing window will give you enough light for herbs. Peppermint, lavender, lemon verbena, chamomile, thyme, rosemary, and bergamot for a touch of orange flavor will provide you with a variety of flavorful teas as well. Outside, growing salad greens is fun and easy. Planting on the south side of your house or property with 4-6 hours of sun will get reliable results.
Growing Native Plants and Grasses
If it’s your landscape you’re thinking of, there are many reasons to plants trees and shrubs that are adapted to and are native to your area. At home in Northern California, we’ve planted manzanita for their beautiful red bark and glossy green foliage. Madrone trees are especially nice looking with their shiny brown bark and bright green waxy leaves. California Redbud will also grow well on your property and are beautiful in their right with attractive red flowers in the spring. Also, consider replacing some of your lawn with native ornamental grasses. Your local nursery or a master gardener should be knowledgeable about specific drought-tolerant choices. Buy spring transplants rather than starting from seed to be assured success. Attractive and serving as a backdrop for flowers, a hardscape (rocks) will add interest in front of tall grasses can be soothing and stunning!
Gardening for the Butterflies, Birds, and the Bees
People are more aware that in the past 20 years the population of the butterflies, especially monarch butterflies have decreased almost 90%. A similar trend is seen in bees and to a lesser extent birds. These species are essential to pollinating the fruit trees and many of the vegetables that we enjoy and depend on for our health and wellbeing. Planting vegetation that attracts these insects is a good thing we can do for the environment. Avoiding using chemical bug sprays and weed killers is another “must” that is the primary cause of the decline in pollinators. Without pollinators, there will be fewer fruits and vegetables. Look online for companies that sell pollinator-friendly flowers and plants. An excellent source for an amazing choice of flowers is anniesannuals.com.
Give Your Garden some Curve
Winding flowing paths bordered by beautiful pollinator-friendly flowers blowing in the breeze will make daily visits to the garden a joy. A permanent planting of low flowering shrubs; lavender, native milkweed, or berries can frame an area or curvaceous path exquisitely. Pleasant to smell, they will attract the local avian, butterfly, and bee population too. Colorful plumes of tall upright or drooping grasses waving in the wind also can excite our senses with the different textures of perennial grasses being a potential highlight and bird attractant. You might include in a few dwarf Japanese maples or delicate dogwood trees for color, a sense of depth, and light shade at the beginning or end of this path to provide a welcoming canopy. The different dappled light that these trees bring and beautiful soft atmosphere to corners and some shade for placing a bench. Flowering dogwood, Japanese maples, or Crape Myrtle are good choices.
Small Water Features
An adequately situated small reflecting pond with a waterfall leading into it can be a focal point of the landscape or a place to “get away” for you. This can include a carefully constructed three-tier waterfall with each layer dropping six inches or more. The liners for the pond and waterfall should be a waterproof material such as EPDM rubber.
You can get a similar effect with a small Japanese style pool. Water can be run into a bamboo “pipe” that will just drip or flow into a ceramic pot, an old cement sink, bathtub, or a large wooden bucket. The overflow can be directed into a drip line that irrigates some water plants like pickerel rush, cardinal flower, cattail, or one of the many types of reeds.
Create an Outdoor Dining Area
Dining spaces outside the house have traditionally been located on a deck or next to the house on a patio. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a trellis or tree covered dining spot in your beautiful garden? It certainly would give you a good reason to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in a serene setting. Your meals could take on a more romantic feel, or it may become the perfect setting for entertaining guests at dinner. You may want to surround the area with large colorful ceramic or wooden planters filled with bright flowers and a combination of taller plants such as Japanese maples or perennial grasses. Planning is the key to this permanent setting. The path or walkway leading out there should be smooth possibly outlined with small solar lights. There are many ideas that you can find on Pinterest or DIY Network. Using crushed granite would be my choice of materials, as a result, will be beautiful, smooth, and long-lasting. A fire pit or a soothing small fountain placed nearby will add to the charming atmosphere.
Easy and rewarding is how I would describe succulent gardening. Cactus and other kinds of succulents are easy to grow, beautiful to look at and grow well indoors or out. When purchasing these plants, select a grouping that has complementary colors and varying shapes. Succulents are plants that store water. This makes them popular in small arrangements inside your home as they don’t need to be watered as often as other houseplants. Even some vertical garden fans use succulents on interior walls of their home for their eye-catching appeal and low water use needs.
Succulents have roots that do not like to live in soil that is always wet. Make sure the pot or container has light soil (a planting mix with perlite) with good drainage. At least a half day of sunlight is necessary for the plants to thrive. Watering them well but once a week at most will help them flourish. Water directly onto the soil around the base of the plant. Keep the leaves dry. Although succulents can handle warm temperatures (up into the 90s), they will often suffer when the temperature dips below 40 F.