Posted on June 20 2018
Do you have a green thumb? Mine isn't black but it's not green either, maybe more of a chartreuse - a greenhorn when it comes to the wonderful world of gardening.
I come from living in a condo to a small, city plot of land so my dreams though sometimes grandiose, have always needed to be scaled down. Years ago when I first started contemplating growing things outdoors, I read a couple of books about container gardening. I highly recommend starting that way. After all, a garden is a garden regardless of size. Their basic needs are the same, just different square footages with differing terrains and climates.
Here are some basic and important considerations:
- what is a perennial?
- what is an annual?
- which plants are shade loving?
- which are sun worshippers?
- which are drought tolerant?
- which are thirsty creatures?
- are they delicate and sensitive to wind?
A bit of preparation and research go a long way. Observe and make notes. What are your neighbours planting? Take lots of pictures without looking like a herbivorous stalker!
Track your sunlight from morning to evening and notice what has thrived and what has died on your own property After you've done the information gathering, it's time to design. There is no reason why you shouldn't try to do it on your own.
Remember that this exercise is really no different than planning your buffet table or decorating your mantle. Build in layers with vertical and horizontal lines. Consider which are the best viewpoints and gear your design accordingly.
Landscaping is really a combination of hardscaping and softscaping. And you should incorporate both in your design. Softscaping are all your plantings. Hardscaping are the hard materials used for walkways, retaining walls, patios, decks or edging.
If your dream outdoors involves more than laying a couple of pavers or brick edging and your DIY skills are limited in that area, you should really consider outsourcing. Badly done work will in the end cost you more to fix and the aggravation will drive you crazy!
What style of garden would you like? Most people infuse their indoor style with their outdoors. Sounds logical and obvious enough, right? You would think so. But I have found that when it comes to front yards, many people feel they need to bring out the good china and wedding stemware. Yes the frontage should have a sense of formality and arrival, especially for those who live in neighbourhoods where they need to adhere to community regulations or historical site restrictions. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't get creative or put your own stamp on it. Are you a wallflower?
Your planting needn't skirt around the walls of your house. Let passersby get close and personal with your beautiful blooms. I've seen many people plant cute, little evergreens very close to their homes, which ended up growing out of control, tall and looming and looking like they will swallow up houses and people!
Remember that perimeter decorating isn't a good idea for your indoors, so why make the same mistake outdoors? Your backyard can echo the tone of the front or you can go totally casual - hopefully leaving enough room for a produce garden full of edibles to be enjoyed throughout their growing season. We have a small herb garden every year. This suntrap southern exposure garden gets a ton of sun and heat, perfect for growing edibles.
If you're like me, consider fun ornamental objects for your landscaping, such as shiny orb, obelisks, feature furniture pieces like a funky chair or even a piece of sculpture. These items add a lot of personality and can fill awkward empty spaces. They can be striking conversation starters.
You can also combine bed plantings with urns and pots filled with annuals for a bit of colour and height variation. It's in the annuals where you're get the flashes of seasonal blooms. Your perennials and evergreen bushes are the building blocks to a varied and beautiful garden. And during those cold, winter months, green shrubs and trees will feel more cheery than dormant deciduous trees.
The more perennials you have set up, the less work you will need to do in the garden. Just purchase a few of your favourite annuals such as Petunias or Impatiens and you're ready to go! I believe that making a good first impression starts with your front door and porch. Make sure you set a welcoming scene there, with a freshly painted door, striking hardware and perhaps a chair or two or pots of flowers. If you do nothing else at the front, these small touches will feel like you're ready for visitors.
Husband and I love sitting on the porch after dinner, with glasses of the good stuff, watching the sunset and chatting with dear neighbours. Remember to enjoy your outdoor space as much as your indoors.