While many people do have some inanimate objects in their landscaping design (things like rocks and garden gnomes come to mind), the vast majority will have natural plants that make up the majority of their design. This only makes sense considering that naturally, our lawns have lots of life, and to remove it would just be unnatural. It also makes sense that your home, which is the embodiment of your living family, should be surrounded by life.
If you are just planning your garden and want some ideas for plants, here are just a few suggestions to get you started. These plants are easy to grow and offer you variety, color and height.
Ornamental grasses are becoming a very popular choice as accent plants or when used for mass planting. Grasses grow very tall and look majestic as they sway in the breeze. Some grasses also look beautiful in a snowy winter backdrop.
Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats(Chasmanthium latifolium) is an ornamental grass that grows in loose clumps. It reaches 24-36 inches and has a green foliage. It is called sea oats because its seedpods look much like oats.
Northern Pampas Grass
This majestic grass (Erianthus ravennae) grows 8-12 feet high and creates a fountain when its stalks bow in graceful sweeping arches. It loves full sun and does best in well-drained soil in zones 5-9. In fact, it can live practically anywhere; in damp ground, a ravine or in rocky area. Its leaves die during the frost but grow back come spring time. For more information on this see Ornamental Grasses.
This native prairie grass (Andropogon gerardii) is also called beard grass or turkey grass as its seed heads look like turkey feet. It loves full sun, well-drained soil and grows best in zones 4-10. Turkey grass has blue green stems that arch some 4 to 6 feet high. In the late summer, it has captivating spikes of purple flowers.
Perennial plants are the bulwarks of any landscape design. These are the flowers that provide a lot of the color and texture that your landscape design will need. Many perennial plants are also drought resistant and can live in many different kinds of soil.
They 'come back to life' every spring and many spread nicely, saving you money. You can also split many perennials in the autumn and plant them elsewhere in your garden. Here is a sampling of a few popular perennials. These are easy to grow and require very little maintenance.
This very popular perennial has lovely pink flowers in August that turn deep red in the fall. It loves full sun, is drought-resistant and disease resistant. It grows in zones 3 to 9 and is best suited in flowerbeds or planted as a border. Autumn Joy reaches a height of 18 inches and attracts butterflies and bees.
The Moonbeam Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam') is a must have for all gardens. It grows in zones 4 to 8 and has daisy-like light yellow flowers from June through October and green, airy leaves. Moonbeam loves full sun, well-drained soil and reaches 24 inches. Ideal for both mass planting and borders.
Yarrow Paprika (Achillea Millefolium) has beautiful red flowers from June through September that reach 24 inches and it loves full sun. Grow this in normal soil in zones 3 to 9. This is one of the best yarrows to plant as it attracts butterflies and has a spicy aroma even when picked! It spreads well and is rabbit resistant.
If you are looking for something really fragrant and a plant that spreads, Corsican mint is a great choice. This quickly growing ground cover will spread between your shrubs and flowers. It has a refreshing scent that is strongest during the rain or when it is touched.
Trees and Shrubs
For most of us, we simply accept the trees on the property when we move in. But planting new trees is absolutely the best way to bring life to your landscape.
Trees provide shade, protection from the elements and convenient homes for natural wildlife...all of which are the intangibles that really bring out the best of any design. And fruit trees offer beautiful blooms in the spring plus a delicious harvest in the fall. If you are thinking of planting fruit trees, you must find out how many frost-free days there are in your region. Fruit trees require 130 to 150 days without frost. Popular choices are apple trees, peach, plum, prune, apricot and pear trees.
Shrubs are a also great plants. They offer lovely fragrant blooms and pretty foliage. You can use shrubs in a hedge or plant them in a bed as an accent.
When we think of shade and graceful beauty, we often turn to the Weeping Willow (Salix Babylonica). This rapidly growing tree reaches a height of 30-50 feet and prefers sun to partial shade. It is the first tree to have leaves in the spring and is the last to lose them in the fall. The willow does best in zones 6-9.
Common Purple Lilac
Everyone loves this hardy shrub (Syringa Vulgaris) and associates its sweet fragrance and light purple flowers with the beauty of spring. It grows best in zones 3 to 7 and likes full sun to partial shade. This shrub is so hardy, it can survive extremely harsh winters. It grows 8-10 feet and looks best as a hedge or accent plant in a flowerbed.
Variety Is Your Gardening Key
Whichever plants you choose, make sure to create some variety. Consider using different heights and colors. And try to choose a wide selection of plants so that you will have blooms throughout the summer. Be creative. Have fun. If you don't like your planting, you can always rearrange it for the next season. Before too long, your garden could become a natural paradise.
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