Add a New Garden -- or Two -- to Your Landscape

By National Gardening Association Editors

Take a stroll through your yard. Chances are there are places crying out for new gardens. A shady corner where grass won't grow? Plant some hosta and impatiens. A lackluster front entryway? Consider adding a vine-covered trellis and some tidy evergreen shrubs If you have a yard, or even just a patio, you have room for more gardens.

Although a professional landscape designer can help you craft the most effective designs, the truth is that anyone can create a garden. Even if a perennial bed doesn't turn out exactly like what you had in mind, chances are it's going to be attractive. After all, have you ever encountered an ugly flower? And unlike the wallpaper that looked great in the sample book but now grates on your nerves, plants are easy to move.

Design with a Purpose

Let your imagination guide your plantings. Tuck a garden bench in an out-of-the-way corner flanked by sweet-smelling flowers for a welcome retreat. A rose-covered arch at the entrance of your garden invites quiet strolls. Create a garden "room" by planting hedges to enclose an area, then add a fountain or an outdoor firepit surrounded by patio furniture. You're sure to spend many an evening out there.

Plan for All Seasons

Don't forget autumn, winter, and wildlife. Include a few plants that will provide interest once most of the flowers and foliage have faded. For example, large ornamental grasses look lovely in the autumn garden, and cast striking shadows onto snow. Plants with sturdy seed heads remain standing and gather the first snows of the year. They also provide food for winter birds. If you really want to attract wildlife, add some fruit-bearing shrubs and small trees to your landscape.

A Color Primer

Most of us have favorite colors, whether they're in clothing or home decor. Plan your gardens around your favorite colors schemes, keeping the following in mind:

  1. Pastel colors — soft pink, powder blue, lavender, and peach — set a mood of tranquility and are best when viewed from relatively close up.
  2. Bright colors — racy reds, vibrant oranges, magenta, and sunny yellow — invigorate and energize a garden. Bright colors hold up well to brilliant sunshine, and attract the eye even from a distance.
  3. Complementary colors are opposite on the color wheel and add creative energy and vitality to a garden. Examples include yellow and violet, and orange and blue.
  4. Harmonious colors are next to each other on the color wheel; examples include blue and violet, orange and red, and orange and yellow. A harmonious color scheme unifies a garden, while allowing enough range of color that it doesn't become monotonous. If you are concerned about your ability to choose colors, a harmonious color scheme might be a good starting point for you. You can always try out splashes of other colors with annual flowers.

Spring is a perfect time to refresh your landscape with new garden beds. Cool spring temperatures are ideal for helping new plants get established — as well as for the comfort of the gardeners installing them.

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