Plan Your Landscape For All Seasons
Everyone wants beautiful landscape color in all seasons. One of the more common issues in the typical home landscape is a lack of interest at certain times of the year. Some people have the greatest spring yard on the block but but it fades to pure green all summer. Other yards go unnoticed all year until fall when they suddenly come to life.
If you want to avoid the off season blues, make sure you plan your landscape to look good all year round. Here are some quick ideas to get you headed in the right direction.
Identify Your Gardens
Think of your yard as a series of gardens, where each one is one specific area on your property. For example, one garden is the mulch bed by your front door. Another is along the side of your house. A third is the planting area around your patio.
Each of these areas should be something that you can take in from a single observation point. If you define on of your gardens as your whole front yard, you will find it difficult to plan what it should look like since to person would ever really look at the whole thing at once. In my yard I have a mulch bed that is the focal point from my kitchen table that sits there like a painting on the wall. I can do whatever I want with that area to cater to the view from my kitchen. I have another mulch bed in the back corner of my property that is the main garden seen from my living room.
You may have a situation where a single mulch bed circles the entire house. If this is the case, don't think of that as one garden. Rather, consider some natural boundaries like the corner of the house, a stairway to the deck,or a big window to separate them in your mind.
Once you have broken down your property into these individual gardens, jot them down and head to the next step.
Design Each One
Now that you have your different gardens in mind it is time to get into a little landscape design. Each one should contain certain things. We will assume that your gardens are not too small. If they are very small, you may omit certain things below.
Make sure you include something evergreen in each area. A low creeping juniper, a shrub like a yew, or even a spruce or pine tree works well. This is to offer green color all year. Not only are evergreens nice in winter, they provide a great backdrop for color in summer.
Make sure you include a non-plant element in each garden. This adds interest and really gives you a way to be creative. Examples would be a boulder, a rock wall, a bird bath, or a garden obelisk. Even a 4x4 with a bird house or hanging bird feeder is an option. Just one here and one there is enough. Don't overdo it.
Include something for spring in each garden. Early bloomers like daffodils and tulips are great. Other options may be shrubs or perennials that emerge with color. For example, some spireas leaves emerge red or yellow before fading to green.Crabapple or other fruit trees are also lovely in spring.
Add summer color in each area. This is the easy one, since so many shrubs and perennials bloom in summer. Solid performers like yarrow, daylillies, daisies, black-eyed susan, or columbine are all good choices. Lilacs or dogwoods are good summer bloomers too. Some shrubs and small trees also have purple leaves all season, so they add big color.
Now get your fall color included. This is where many landscapes fail. Trees are easy with winners like maples or oaks. Think about bright shrubs like spirea or the burning bush. Good flower choices include sedum and aster.
Winter is not be be forgotten. Your evergreens are part of that solution, but you should mix something else in each area as well, like red twig dogwood, birch, or holly.
If you think about at least one thing for each season in each garden, your entire yard will be showing landscape interest all year long.
Bringing Your Gardens Together
There is one thing that you should do to bring it all together. That is, you should repeat one or two things around your landscape.
For example, you can have fun with lots of different perennials throughout your yard. That makes your design more exciting and it is fitting, since different areas of your yard will get different amounts of sun, shade, wind, or water.
However, a few things should repeat to make your yard look like it was planned to work as a whole. This is a good way to repeat your favorite element or favorite color throughout the yard. You might choose to plant fall blooming asters in four different gardens for a purple explosion at the end of the year. Perhaps a repeat of daylillies to provide bright yellow flowers through summer is more your cup of tea. Whatever you choose, repeat here and there with a few of your favorites and it will tie things together nicely.
If you are on a budget you can start slow with this. By using perennials you can start to spread them around your yard as the years pass. Dividing perennials flowers is easy and will give you more color without spending a dime.
Another thing that works well in landscaping is to use odd numbers. That means, plant one, three, or five of something. This imbalance is more comfortable for people to look at and is relaxing. Planting in even numbers is best for formal gardens, such as a shrub at either side of a door. Unless you have a very formal landscape, think in odd number for best results.
One last suggestion on planting. Be very careful of lines. In nature very few plants grow in lines, and unless you want a formal landscape you should avoid them. Even a straight mulch bed can limit the appearance of lines by mixing up the plants it holds. Try not to plant a line of flowers, shrubs, or trees. Instead, consider planting three of them with the middle one offset slightly, for example. The end result will be a much softer and more natural appearance.
You Can Have Landscape Color All Year
If you pay attention to planting something for every season in every garden bed in your landscape, and you repeat your favorites and plant in odd numbers, you will easily end up with beautiful landscape color in all seasons.