• Sandi Manna

With Good Choices You Can Have Your Dream Garden. Part 5 Work With Nature

Are you struggling with an awkward space? Did you inherit a messy design when you purchased your home? Does your garden miss the mark for your lifestyle? Maybe it requires too much maintenance for your schedule. If you answered yes to any of these, don't give up. The right changes can transform even the worst outdoor space into a dream garden. In this series you'll discover the key things it takes to transform a nightmare into a dream. You'll learn what to take into consideration and how to enhance the views from within, and beyond your garden. You'll get tips for creating a landscape that's colorful all year long (yes, even in the dead of winter), without overdoing it. In this 10 part series, we'll discuss the different points that professionals take into consideration to create the ideal landscape.

So stop stressing over your garden and start enjoying it!


• Mother Nature really is pretty amazing. She has a solution for just about any situation there is. There are beautiful perennials and shrubs for any condition you have, and if you work with nature, rather than fighting it, you will end up with a garden that is more authentic and requires much less maintenance making it all the more enjoyable.

• Size Matters

You may have an expansive space, or you may have a small space. Work within the size space you have and utilize plants accordingly. You don't want a huge shrub to swallow up your garden and be the only thing in it. Likewise, if you have a large space, you want larger plants that look appropriate for that size. In this picture we have a very large landscape that really turned into a private park. Trees shrubs and even larger perennials (3-4' in height) make up the majority of this garden. It would be underwhelming and confusing if we had filled the garden with a bunch of smaller sized perennials and a handful of shrubs. The plants graduate in height with the smallest in front and the tallest naturally being in back. By selecting plants that are appropriate to the size area you have to work with, you'll create a proportionally sized garden that fits comfortably within your space and looks like it belongs.

Be Sustainable

If you're planning a landscape in an area that gets hot, beating sun all day, plan on plants that

don't need as much water - like lavender. This is a snippet of a landscape we installed in lieu of a lawn for a client that didn't have the capabilities of watering a lawn. If you don't have the ability to water a garden well, be wise in your selection of plants. How much time do you have to devote to weeding? The more full your garden is with plants, the less room there is for weeds. If you can weed it, pull the weeds and avoid spraying. Avoid plants that require a lot of maintenance...like roses. There are many varieties of sustainable roses and plants that are just beautiful. With research and careful selection, you can have an incredible landscape that is also sustainable. Think about natives. After all, they're used to the crazy climate we have here in Connecticut. Know your conditions, and look for the plants that will acclimate well to those conditions.

Work within your conditions

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but for all the money the various grass seed companies spend on marketing, there really is no grass that grows in shade. Also, if you have blistering sun and lack the ability to water, you may want to consider reducing the size of your grass by installing a garden. Gardens need less water than lawns. Don't be fooled into thinking there is no plant for your condition. We have planted in dry shade and also wet sun. We had a client that had a natural spring under their lawn and the grass was always wet and soupy. We installed a garden with plants that required a fair amount of water. It turned out fabulous and our clients were happy. Sun, shade or something in between, Mother Nature has a solution. If your sunset is in the front, create a sitting area in your front landscape, or create an oversized stoop and put a couple of chairs on it. If you have a hillside, don't just settle for creeping juniper.

Don't let convention saddle your ideas, often times what we see is a quick fix and it's not as well thought out as it could be, so some of the appeal the area could have just isn't there. If thought is put into it, the most challenging area can be stunning.

• Create Environmentally Unique Gardens

By designing unique spaces and filling them with a variety of plants rather than just planting what you see in your neighbors yard, you create an environmentally diverse area that will bring with it a variety of beneficial wildlife such as bees and butterflies. Different biological conditions will bring about different flora and fauna that add their own touch to any garden. Shade gardens can be brilliantly colorful with their bright foliage. Wet areas can be planted to absorb water. Hillsides can be landscaped with plants of varying height. Ponds can be added to attract frogs that will eat insects such as mosquitoes. Many yards can have more than one condition. Consider that the strong point of that area and play to it. If you don't want to plant a wet area, you can create a pond or a gazing pool. The sky is the limit so don't let your creativity be constrained.

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