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Gardenscape On A
|Many of us flip
through garden magazines, all the while thinking that it takes
years, a professional, or tons of money to landscape the gardens
featured in the glossy pictures. This isn’t necessarily true.
You can design a breathtaking garden and be the envy of the
neighborhood by following some of the following tips.
Know What You Like and What Works
Drive around your neighborhood and see what’s out there that grows well in
your zone. You can jot down what you see on index cards, so they
are organized and handy. Start gathering page clippings from
magazines and collect some pictures of the designs that interest
you. This can help you decide what garden style you like. You’ll
have an easy reference for plants and placement too.
Select Location and Color
Next, look at your notes and clippings and choose the color scheme you‘d
like to have in your garden. Don't forget to keep in mind if
you’re designing and planting in shade, sun, or partial shade or
partial sun. Are you looking for something bright and vibrant or
something more calming and soothing? Consider starting with a
foundation of shrubs and accenting with some perennials, bulbs,
ornamental grasses, and annuals for more seasonal color.
Perhaps, you want all flowers. Decide on a shape that
compliments your house style. Straight styles give a more formal
appearance while curves give a more informal feel. If you don’t
feel confident selecting colors, you can use a color wheel to
help pick contrasting and complimenting colors.
Budget and Create a Plan
Decide how much you are able to and want to spend on your new garden. Do you
want to start with a foundation and add to it gradually? If so,
start with purchasing your most expensive plants and shrubs
first. Use these as a focal point for your garden. Start
watching for sales and discount plants at garden centers and
nurseries. Tell everyone you know that you’re starting a garden
and would love it if they could give you divisions of their
perennials or seeds they have saved from their garden. Let
family and friends know that you have a wish list of plants that
would be the perfect gift idea. If you have access online, do a
search for seed swaps. Many gardeners love to help a new
gardener. Many are willing to send seeds for the cost of postage
or will trade for something else that you may have that they are
looking for. A great resource for free items is
http://www.freecycle.org Look for a group in your area, join the
group, and post letting the group know that you would be
interested in garden plants and seeds. You may get lucky and
find that a member of the group has already offered some plants
up for grabs. Don’t forget to ask your local garden club when
they are having their sales too. You can also start some plants
from seed yourself. Many seeds are very easy to direct sow and a
little can go a long way.
Here’s a partial list of easy to grow seeds:
Don’t forget if you decide to sow into containers, there are many
inexpensive containers such as yogurt containers, milk jugs, egg
cartons, and plastic ice cream buckets. You can also call your
city and see if they have free mulch available. Don’t hesitate
to strike up conversations with your neighbors while you’re out
for a walk. You never know, the topic of gardening may come up
and they might be more than happy to offer you some seeds or
Now you’re ready to design. You can sketch out your idea beforehand. Keep
the following in mind as you design.
Scale- Judge the size of the area and choose plants that aren’t going to be
too large, too wide, or too small for the area. Keep in mind the
plant’s size when it’s met it’s mature growth.
Balance-Don’t place your plants where one area is too compacted with plants
and another area is too airy. Try and achieve a good balance of
small, medium, and large plants. Balance offers visual
stability. It can be created with space between plantings or the
visual weight of your design. This can be created with lines so
that your garden is pleasing to look at from all angles.
Focal Point- Your focal point will be the area that your eye is drawn to
first. This can be your prized flowers, tree, or shrub.
Rhythm- This is visual flow. The eye wanders throughout the entire garden
design, but comes back to the focal point. It can be achieved
with repetition and contrast.
Harmony-Unity- This is when plants have a way of appearing connected and a
part of one another. This can be achieved with color, texture,
groupings. Unity is lost when your plants look too separate or
your color choice makes one plant look lost amongst the rest.
Color- Color impacts the entire design process. Use a color wheel if you
don’t feel confident selecting colors that go well together.
If all of this is too confusing and overwhelming, check out some garden
catalogs. Many have suggested designs. It’s also best to place
your containers out and arrange and rearrange where you want to
plant them before you start digging.
Accessorize (homemade garden art)
To add some interest and whimsy to your garden, consider some homemade items
or trash to treasure works of art. Ideas such as making your own
stepping stones, garden markers, terra cotta bird baths or toad
houses, painted rocks and pavers, and fun wind chimes are simple
projects that can add a lot of interest to your garden area.
Look around for unique items you could add to your garden such
as milk cans, wooden chairs, ladders, tricycles, wagons, trunks,
roofing shingles, mailboxes, or even dressers. The sky is the
limit on what you can create. Use your imagination.
There you have it and you didn’t have to hire a pro, spend thousands of
dollars, or take years to achieve a pretty garden. You won’t be
a new gardener for long. Soon, it will be you sharing starts,
cuttings, seeds, divisions, and tips.
About the author:
Sara Noel is the Editor/Publisher of
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