Landscape Gardening -
8 Tips to Wow Your Neighbors
by Beth Gabriel
1. Planning your landscape is like painting a picture on canvas. Just like your art teacher in high school told you - have a main point of interest and add several sub points to make your beautiful landscape more interesting. You imagine it in your mind, draw sketches and fill in all the details that you've dreamed of. Keep revising your sketch until it looks like the picture you have in mind.
2. Not feeling very artistic? If you're a more 'concrete' person, try laying out garden hoses or heavy string in your yard to get a feel for how and where you want to divide up your space. Remember to think balance, not symmetry. Some people think that they have to plant trees and flowers in straight, boring rows. Tip: pick an odd number when planting trees or flowers. With flowers, plant several of the same plant in groups to make a large color splash. Better to have a few, well chosen, bold splashes of color than to have tiny spots of color spread all over a large area.
3. If you're having a hard time thinking of what your chief point of interest can be, close your eyes and think about what you like most about your yard. Is there a tall, solo pine tree, a grouping of birch trees, a rocky ledge, an old weathered fence or something else that catches your eye? If you can't find something of interest that's already in place, think about adding something that you admire from a picture in a magazine or something that caught your eye when you were driving through a beautiful neighborhood. Tip: do NOT copy something that your next door neighbor is doing. They won't appreciate it and it won't look nearly as special if both of you are going for the same effect.
4. Still can't think of a chief point of interest? What about creating a spot for a water fall? Not a pond - that's old news! With a re-cycling water fall, you don't have to worry about standing pond water or algae. Just pick some interesting rocks or boulders of varying sizes, arrange them to cascade down a slope, add plants and water. Viola! Or, how about a rock path winding through your yard? Or a rock wall of native stone to create interest?
5. If you choose a tree or group of trees to be your main point of interest, don't center them in your yard. It's far more interesting to place them a bit off center. Don't choose a huge, overpowering tree; the tree should have a good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, seed pods, flowers or fruit. Tip: while the poplar is a striking tree and a rapid grower, it sheds its leaves early and so is left standing with bare branches in early fall. The poplar makes a better choice for a backyard tree or when creating a dividing space between your yard and your neighbors. Good choices for trees are the mountain ash with bright berries, the brilliant leaves of the sugar maple or the bark of the white birch, which all add interest to your total landscape.
6. It is always best to choose trees and shrubs that thrive in your local climate. It's tempting to choose something exotic out of a catalog but you'll be unhappy if the tree you choose is not right for your climate. Trees are a big investment, choose wisely.
7. Flowering vines can also be used to create interest. Whether you choose an ivy to climb the bricks on your house or a trumpet vine to wind around an old weathered fence along side your house, both can be used as sub points to accent your main point of interest. Tip: perennial vines can be used to form a permanent addition to your landscape scheme. The Virginia creeper, wisteria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose or clematis all make excellent choices for creating interest and can be used to minimize minor imperfections in walls.
8. And for a final flair, add a colorful flag to your landscape design. Whether you choose a whimsical, garden flag or a majestic, patriotic American Flag, both will create interest and add color to your landscape. Tip: choose polyester for greatest durability of a flag that is flown daily. Choose nylon flags for flying in the lightest breeze. There are several new, flag hanger styles available if you don't already have a flag pole in your yard. The spinning flagpole mounts on your house, deck or mailbox post, and is designed to keep your flag from wrapping. And the telescoping flagpole easily extends up to 20 feet in seconds or down to 7 feet for portability.
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