Even though we wondered if it’d ever happen, Spring is finally – finally – here! Birds are chirping, flowers are actually blooming, and it’s the perfect time to get our green thumbs wrapped around some gardening tools, right?
It’s also time to face those common landscaping challenges that most homeowners deal with. You know … like camouflaging a bare, boring fence line or dealing with an unsightly utility box. Or maybe it’s figuring out what to do on the side of the house that gets too much sun … or the far back corner of your lot that doesn’t get enough.
Don’t worry, fearless landscaping enthusiasts – we’re here to help! Check out some of our solutions for five common landscaping challenges:
Fencing. Oh sure, fences are great to help keep pets safe or define your property, but how can you spice them up or disguise them from looking so, well … fence-like?
When planning your landscaping design in front of a fence (or any other angular, man-made structures), remember that Mother Nature doesn’t do straight lines. She does natural, gentle curves. So create your flower and plant beds accordingly. This will bring an organic feel to your manufactured elements.
First, capitalize on the vertical space a fence creates by planting taller shrubs right in front of the structure. This will help it blend in and seem more natural. Next, layer medium-sized plants to create a smooth transition for the eye. Finally, plant smaller perennial plants or decorative grasses to go in the very front.
Eyesores. Who hasn’t stared at an air-conditioning unit, propane tank or electrical box and thought, “Maybe I’ll just plant huge shrubs around the whole thing to cover it up?” Resist, resist, resist! Because the more you try to hide it, the more obvious it will be.
Instead, consider planting clusters of decorative plants with various textures in front of the box or unit, but then trailing them off to the side. Just beyond your clusters (and further away from your box or unit), add a powerful punch with a colorful, bold plant. This will create a dramatic focal point, pulling attention away from the eyesore.
If you like the idea of using fence panels as decorative screens, keep in mind that air-conditioners need additional open space around them for proper circulation as well as future maintenance. Keeping that in mind, panels can be used in creative ways that add style and color while serving as effective cover-ups. Hint: it helps to repeat the same panel elements in other parts of your yard to carry out the design theme thoroughly.
And remember: before you dig around any type of utility box, call your area utility locating service so they can come out and mark buried lines.
Shady Areas. Not all shade is created equal. That’s why you’ll need to first determine the exact level of shade in your project spot. Does your space get a few hours of sunlight each day (light shade), just a little direct sunlight (medium shade), or no direct sun at all (deep shade)? Use this information to choose the most compatible plants.
You’ll also need to evaluate what is causing the shade. In other words, is there anything you can do about it? If the shade is primarily due to mature trees, then you might be able to prune back branches in order to increase your sunlight. If pruning isn’t a possibility, then you’ll have to carefully choose species that thrive in little light.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with dense woodlands or obstructive buildings and your space is always in deep shade, then you’ll need to consider other options. You can: leave the area unplanted altogether; spread mulches or rocks instead of plants; or simply showcase decorative potted plants that can be easily rotated into the sun as needed.
Shaded areas are also great places to add hardscape elements like stone walkways or patios, sitting areas, pavers or fencing.
Full Sun. Just as you should assess the level of shade in certain areas, you’ll want to track how much sunlight other areas get, as well as the time of day it gets it. Midday sun exposure is more intense than morning or late afternoon sun, and will be less forgiving on your plants. By definition, your space is in full sun if it’s getting six or more hours of sunlight every day.
For quick solutions, consider adding shade sails, which are triangular shaped pieces of UV resistant cloth, available in a variety of sizes and colors. Retractable awnings and pergolas (prefabricated or custom) are other options that can not only provide relief from the sun, but can serve as attractive design elements, making your outdoor living space more enjoyable.
In terms of plants, sunny areas often contain dry soil. Before you plant, increase the chances of plant survival by enriching the soil with a peat moss and fertilizer combination. Next, select low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants for your full sun areas that have adapted to such conditions.
Decks or Patios. One of the easiest (and quickest) ways to transform your outdoor living space is through container gardening on your deck or patio. First, pack various sized containers with showy, easy-care annuals and cluster them in groups to add dimension and interest. Consider choosing a color theme too, which can help compliment the style of your deck, house or outdoor furniture.
If low-maintenance is your thing, select plants that require less watering and care. Succulents, for example, not only fit that bill, but they tend to be less problematic when it comes to pests or disease. Available in a wide variety of shapes, textures and colors, they can provide unexpected color and charm.
Containers filled with taller trees, bushes or grasses are also great solutions for patio or deck corners and edges, as they add definition and even privacy while creating a feeling of seclusion and intimacy. Just be sure to place heavier containers in areas that can bear the weight. Hint: containers with rollers will make moving heavier plants much easier on the back!
Spring is an exciting time to be outdoors! But when it comes to lawn and garden projects, it can also be overwhelming. If you have any questions about your own landscaping challenges, please contact us! We’d love to help.