Acheiving Your Dream Yard



Do you ever dream about what your yard could look like some day? As you look through garden catalogs filled with beautiful trees, shrubs, flowers and pictures of beautifully landscaped yards--complete with ponds and garden sculptures--the choices seem endless. Before ordering hundreds of plants or giving up because you cannot decide what you really want, here are a few things to consider.

Pick a style, while you decide the main purpose for your yard, such as lots of cookouts, children or just a retreat area. Then pick a focal point, such as a fountain, outdoor fireplace, or an interesting statue. Then begin to work on the overall theme of your yard.

A common issue in landscaping is creating a peaceful, private environment. While fencing can provide immediate privacy, consider a buffer strip of shrubbery between your yard and the one next door. Many shrubs will grow quickly--within a couple of years--and act as a screen while providing habitat for a variety of birds. Consider planting native shrubs because they are usually well adapted to local conditions and may provide the best habitat for local wildlife. Other considerations: whether the plants have special characteristics such as flowers or fruits, how large they will eventually become, and how much maintenance they require to remain healthy and in scale with your yard. Check with a local nursery or garden center for recommended species.

If you do not want to spend your weekends maintaining a yard, turn part of it into a wildflower garden. Depending on where you live, this could be a prairie, desert landscape, or alpine garden. Check on local zoning ordinances. Some communities have not yet recognized the value of "native landscaping" and may consider this a nuisance area. If you want a more maintained yard, consider ground covers instead of grass and use mulch to control weeds in foundation plantings and flower beds.

Look at how the mix of deep reds and rust stand out against the greenery.
Your garden should contain areas of complimenting plants but for the most dramatic effect use plants that contrast against lush foliage and some plants contrast wonderfully.

When selecting plants, make sure they are adapted to your area. Consider both the minimum and maximum temperatures, amount of moisture, amount of sunlight, and soil characteristics. Ask yourself: Do you want an annual that will need replanting every year or a perennial that comes up year after year? Do you want cut flowers for inside your home or to give to friends?

Consider native plants. They are usually better adapted to local conditions and need little maintenance. Be cautious about introducing exotic species such as purple loosestrife that will become invasive and is prohibited in many states.

Start with small combinations of plants to see how they complement each other. Look at books and garden websites for ideas, this may be one of the best tools for seeing how full-grown plants look. See a design you really like try contacting them for details on their design. Keep in mind plants in pots at the nursery rarely look the same when planted into a garden, what may look not so good in a pot can become a beautiful plant once planted and the same thing works the other way around what looks good in a pot may not look as good when placed in your garden.
Above all, choose what you like. There is an enormous variety of plants that will provide food and shelter to a wide variety of wildlife. With a little planning, you and the local wildlife can both enjoy the yard of your dreams.
"God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures". ~Frances Bacon