The goals of a landscape renovation
We look out at our yards with optimism, but in most cases our visions of a glorious garden do not match reality.
Our plants can be well chosen and complimentary of each other, but they don’t look as grand as they should. Our intentions are good, but we usually do not all have the time to maintain a beautiful landscape.
Fear not! We are here to share the goals of a landscape renovation so that your dreams of garden grandeur need not fade away.
Common reasons for an underperforming garden are improper drainage, poor soil conditions, and improper plant selections. If areas of your garden get flooded with standing water, only bog plants will thrive there.
When existing soil does not provide plants with the nutrition, proper moisture and air supply they need to support healthy growth, your plants will not thrive.
When considering a landscape renovation, make sure your current drainage system connects your roof downspouts to either the storm drainage system, or (even better in many cases) to a fully developed landscape that can accommodate that water, even if that means installing a right-sized rain garden.
Here is one way to improve poor drainage. Dig a trench from the downspout to the excavated storm water pipe near the street. The trench should always be sloping downhill and be 4-6 inches wide and about 2 feet deep. Connect sections of 3 inch or 4 inch perforated drain pipe (black corrugated plastic with slits cut into it) and install the pipe at the bottom of the trench.
Then make your connections at the ends of the pipe and fill the trench to 4-5 inches from the top with a mix of 60 percent sand and 40 percent pea gravel. Finish off the last 4-5 inches with new soil. This gives maximum space in your yard to hold water for perking into the local aquifer and only the excess flows out.
To improve your garden’s soil, start by cultivating the soil that you have with first hand tools and then a rototiller. Then mix one inch of high-quality garden soil into your existing soil, and add 2 inches of new garden soil on top of that. This area of improved soil will encompass the root zone of most plants.
Lastly, add a 2 inch layer of mulch, bark, or wood chips to minimize weeds.
For lawn renovations, consider a heavy aeration followed up with spreading one-fourth inch of 60/40 sand/compost, vigorously raked in order to fill the holes. Then fertilized with a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer and a healthy application of lime to hold down acidity.
How to create a low-maintenance garden? Another element of minimizing maintenance is to procure plants with the size/shape that you need at maturity. Use a lot of perennials, and save small, specific areas where annuals can provide color.
Minimize plants like Daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and Roses that require dead-heading, pruning and containment. Include plants with attractive foliage in the mix. Also, consider reducing lawn areas by expanding planting beds.
Finally, develop year-round interest. It is easy for a garden to look great spring through summer. With planning, when fall and winter arrive, the right plants will greet you with beauty too.
There are plants that provide stunning fall color, such as the Barberry, Smoke Bush and Spirea shrubs. Also Heavenly Bamboo (not a true bamboo), Willow and Dogwood shrubs provide color in cold winter weather, with the last two great for wet locations!
Ground covers like Euonymous and many low junipers actually change color during the winter to shake things up.
Whether a wholesale makeover of your garden, or just changing one small area of your landscape, these tips should help. With seasonal clean ups and annual pruning, your landscape will thrive and your garden dreams will live on! For help with any of this, call a professional... suggestion below!Bruce Gaudette, owner of Land Hoe! Landscape Design and Construction, holds an Associate Degree in Horticulture from Edmonds Community College and industry certifications in paver and permeable paver installation. Todd Merrin, designer for Land Hoe!, holds a degree in Landscape Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.