How many times do you hit “Refresh” in a day? Sometimes the established home garden can use the same. As landscape matures, things change. Trees get taller and cast deeper shade; bushes outgrow their original compactness and places in the garden. People’s lifestyles change, and that area given over to a sandbox or a swing set may no longer be needed. Or you may have purchased an older home with mature plantings that no longer work or at least they don’t satisfy you. The time comes in almost every landscape plan when “refreshing” is the way to go.
An Objective Look
To start refreshing a garden you have to take a hard, honest look at what you have. Because changes in the garden can happen subtly over years, you might overlook the obvious, such as an increase in shade or a physical change in your garden. For example, maybe you added a deck and now traffic patterns have changed, or you took down the swing set and the focal point of your garden is now in the wrong place. Pretend you are the new owner of the house and garden you are surveying and look at it with as much objectivity as you can.
Trees and Shrubs
One of the biggest changes that can creep up silently on a garden is the growth of trees and shrubs. They not only grow taller and larger, but they can dramatically influence what can or can’t grow under or around them. Trees can be trimmed professionally to thin out branches and allow more light to filter through to the ground. In extreme cases, such as too many trees planted too close together (or that somehow just grew there), removal of some of the trees in addition to trimming may be the answer. Professional advice and service from tree experts is highly recommended for trimming and removal.
Overgrown shrubs can also be trimmed back or removed entirely if no longer desirable. As much as it hurts emotionally and as much as it can be visually unattractive for a while, a severe trimming can often rejuvenate old and woody shrubs. Early spring is often a good time to do severe trimming, this will give them the entire growing season to “Refresh” themselves and not succumb to a winter freeze. I always recommend feeding when cutting things back 30% or more. Once they begin growing again you can control future pruning.
Plants planted around the base of a tree compete with the tree roots for water and nutrients. Creating raised beds for plants will reduce this competition and can add a new feature to your garden. If raised beds are not practical or wanted, when planting under a tree or near its roots put the plants in pots and then sink the pots in holes around the tree. This, too, will reduce competition.
Almost every home has a problem area. Often it is the north side of the house, or a walkway along one side of the house, or an area behind the garage or a shed. Frequently, a simple cleanup is the first order of business. For example, once cleaned up, a dirt pathway can be spruced up with mulch or a layer of gravel and the addition of stepping stones. A north wall that never gets any sun can be brightened with containers of shade plants grouped or lined along the way. If there is an overhang, hanging baskets can be used, or they can be hung from wrought iron hooks made for baskets. Alternating tall and short containers, and varying plant types and colors can turn a formerly drab area into a new “refreshed” look!
All gardens need a focal point. A small garden needs only one, and larger gardens may need several. A focal point draws the eye to a special feature or planting and helps give the rest of the garden a more orderly look. Focal points can be as simple as one spectacular plant or planting among the others, or a feature such as a gazing globe, a water pond or a piece of sculpture or statuary. In larger gardens focal points can be created for different areas. On a patio, for example, a grouping of different sized pots can serve as a focal point, with one large pot being the center of attention. Tall plants grouped in a mass and surrounded by shorter plants can create a focal point in a garden bed, as can a contrast in color or plant type.
Ornamental features such as large rocks, a pedestal, a statue, or bench are natural focal points. A quick and easy feature to add to a bed is a bird bath or a bird feeder. An arbor trellis planted with climbing vines such as Carolina Jessamine can be an eye catching bright yellow focal point for an entire garden.
A coordinated color scheme can really pull a garden together and refresh one that may have gone stale. Use a combination of three or four colors to aesthetically tie things together. Red, white, and blue make your garden patriotic. Pink, white and green is cool and refreshing. Yellow, blue, and white are a bright summery combination. You can break the scheme every now and then when you have a great plant that doesn’t fit the “rules,” and then it becomes the “Refreshing” exception that points out what your theme is.
Refreshing doesn’t always have to be a major undertaking. Once you have a plan in place, small adjustments every year or two will keep you from having to start from scratch. Until next time…. Happy Gardening!
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.