Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
September, 2005
Regional Report

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Creating a beautiful landscape takes some planning.

Fall is a Great Time to Tweak the Landscape

Fall is just around the corner -- an excellent time to think about some new landscaping. Fall weather is perfect for planting, and even if you don't want to redo everything, adding or moving around a few plants can give you a nice psychological lift as we slide into winter.

A home's landscape is as important as its furnishings, perhaps even more so. We all desire contact with nature, and most of us want something more than the standard foundation planting with a corner tree and beds filled with ground cover. It's possible, and even easy, to get this with a little planning.

An orderly landscape is soothing and reassuring, not to mention the fact that it adds considerable value to your home and can reduce your energy cost by keeping the home cool in summer and warm in winter. MONEY magazine says you will recoup 100 to 200 percent of the cost of a landscape when you sell the home. Not bad for the cost of a few plants.

But most important is how your yard makes you feel. It's a place for peace, a getaway from a fast-paced world, a place to play and entertain.

Whether you are starting with a pristine, empty canvas or are renovating your gardens, you can have exactly what you want. This is a place to use your favorite colors and textures, your favorite plants, and even pink flamingoes in your front yard if that's what you want.

Step by Step
There are several design elements that will help you with a logical progression as you begin to reshape your yard into the magnificent image you have in your mind. First of all, think about color. We all love color in our lives, whether it be orange and brown or cerise and chartreuse. You will want to incorporate as much color as possible, not only during the growing season, but in winter as well. With the array of plants available to us, there is no reason we can't have color in four seasons if we plan well. Keep this in mind when shopping.

Next, consider what views you want to emphasize, both from outdoors and from inside the house. We can tie the outside to the inside by using similar colors and textures to create the ambience we desire.

Even though selecting plants is fun and really quite interesting, you will need to put some thought into the hardscape areas of the yard. Think about walks and paths, walls and fences, built-in planters, barbecue and fire pit, a pond and maybe even some sculpture. All of these features need to be planned for before you embellish with plants.

Also, even though it's not the glamorous part of the landscape, you will need to think about the service areas of the yard. These are the mundane, day-to-day needs, such as a compost pile, garbage cans, power tools (a mower or tiller), a tool shed, a garden shed, a dog run, and anything else you can think of that you need to run an efficient house. These areas can be successfully screened or hidden, but they still need to be accounted for.

Last of all comes the selection of plants. That's the best part, the most fun part, and a true extension of your personality.

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