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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Making the Most of Your Backyard

I am an armchair gardener at the moment since I have no backyard. However, like the cookbooks I read in lieu of cooking, I read about developing and expanding my backyard into a nature reservoir. I love to explore the internet and collect ideas for southern living in my yard and how I would entice birds and butterflies to make repeated returns to my yard. ~~~~~~~~ The following post is borrowed from My Backyard: There are so many things you can do to create a garden retreat or enhance your existing retreat. It may take several years to get exactly what you want. But if you do something each season you will be sure to get there sooner rather than later. I find that if I skip a season I get off schedule and get further behind. Here are some great suggestions to consider when deciding what you want to do this fall: 1) Create different areas of your outdoor space for seating, dining or reflection.
  • If you don't have a backyard, do something special with the front to blend a public entry with a private retreat and create a corner courtyard.
  • Tuck a patio in an area of the garden that is quiet and peaceful. Concrete pavers will provide a sturdy floor for seating or dining.
  • Define an elevated private seating area with a pergola and flagstone paving just off a main patio.
  • Install a circular flagstone patio for dining near the back kitchen door.
  • Draw guests into the garden by locating seating areas away from the house. Use small trees or large shrubs to block the view of your home.
  • Look for spaces in your garden to create a commanding view. For example, create a narrow swath of lawn that leads to a outdoor bench and garden birdbath

2) Add Some Casual seating to a corner of your patio or deck.

  • Adirondack chairs can create a backyard oasis perfect for relaxing conversation or quiet contemplation. Add a coat of paint to your Adirondack chair and it will also add some color to your space.
  • Purchase new Adirondack chairs in the color you want. Adirondack chairs made from recycled poly lumber come in over 20 colors
  • Outdoor benches, gliders and wooden outdoor chairs can also provide comfortable seating

3) Create more privacy for your retreat

  • Soften a wood fence by adding color and texture with Japanese anemones and ornamental grasses.
  • A giant Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and Japanese maple can transition to tall evergreens to provide privacy from neighbors when you do not have a fence.
  • Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) can also provide privacy around a patio or pergola. Planting it in beds atop a timbered retaining wall will add to their height.
  • A slanted arbor planted with fast-growing wisteria will, once established, fully cover the arbor and provides a screen of privacy.
  • Sink your patio to make it feel intimate. A patio 2 feet below the surrounding grade encourages the feeling of privacy
4) Add some character to existing parts of your retreat.
  • Frame a garden water fountain or existing water feature with an arbor or pergola.
  • Soften lines of your garden birdbath by planting some Japanese blood grass and rosemary nearby. If you have only one garden birdbath then add another. Several baths in various locations in your yard will attract the most wildlife to your backyard. Some flat on the ground and others several feet off the ground is a good idea
  • Place decorative pots and urns in a pattern or randomly throughout the garden for a whimsical touch.
  • Tuck away garden art, a decorative birdhouse, or other found object to create visual appeal throughout the landscape.
  • Light a pathway to take your focus away from streetlights and unsightly security lighting. Landscape lighting or outdoor lanterns makes traversing your yard safer.
  • Incorporate large stones and boulders into the landscape to create an instant sense of permanence and age. Bury a portion of some stones to achieve a more natural look.
  • Gourds, pumpkins, orange fruits, dried hydrangeas, and mums turn a drab setting into a stunning feature. Arrange the bounty into a colorful combination. Add other items, such as cornstalks, wicker baskets, or even old garden implements

5) Small structures add a sense of scale and solidity to a garden retreat

  • A simple arbor can serve as an entrance to the backyard from the driveway guiding visitors to your pathway.
  • A larger arbor can be placed in a quiet corner. Add a small sitting outdoor bench under the arbor.
  • A small gazebo or summerhouse makes for an extravagant garden retreat. Populate the space with books, pictures and a few choice pieces of furniture for a quiet getaway.This gives you a spot to relax and entertain even during stormy weather.

6) Add a water feature or garden water fountain to enhance the peacefulness of this area.

  • The splashing water muffles neighborhood noises and creates soothing background sounds Install a series of waterfalls and water features to enhance the garden retreat with the sounds of rushing rapids or a trickling stream
  • Ponds can also add a sense of calm and serenity by themselves or with Koi fish.

7) Plant a Tree

  • Raised-bed planters with Japanese maples built into the slope makes an attractive solution when you have a change in grade.
  • A sugar maple planted near a deck provides a colorful backdrop in fall. In summer, its foliage creates a solid screen of privacy and welcome shade late in the afternoon.
  • Planting larger trees or quick-growing shrubs will create drama fast.

8) Add plantings of Perennials, Annuals, or Shrubs

  • Add fall color by planting a shrub that has awesome fall foliage. Arrowwood viburnum,Sumac, Fothergilla ,Tor Spirea , or Blackhaw Viburnum are great choices.
  • Add some spring color by planting some azaleas or rhododendrons
  • Choose flowers, foliage and shrubs that are good in winter and summer. Take the time to do the research.
  • A plant to consider is CORAL BARK JAPANESE MAPLE (Acer palmatum 'Sangokaku'). It has golden foliage in the fall, and then once the leaves are gone its vibrant red bark remains. It adds interest to the yard all winter long.
  • 'Espalier' refers to the training of a plant or tree to grow flat against a wall or trellis. Espalier has considerable merit in today's garden design. The practice was originally used in the old world to conserve space in small orchards and gardens. Today, espaliers are used for introducing a decorative accent in the landscape. More information
  • Use colorful annual flowers to fill spaces between trees and shrubs and while large plants get established. Small-scale annuals bring intimacy to the garden.
  • Japanese maples and ornamental blue fescue pick up on plant colors and shapes used near water features.
  • Keep plantings interesting all year by using a mix of evergreen and deciduous varieties. Shrubs lend structure and year-round interest to a perennial border. Incorporate them among your perennials and use them to play off one another
  • Contrast Colors- It only takes two plants to make a big impact. Yellow green and reddish purple are perfect mates because they're opposite each other on the color wheel.

Thanks to My Backyard be sure to visit and read their other interesting articles.

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