Better Landscaping For YOUR Home!!

'Tis time, gardening friends, that we look at our gardens with objective criticism!!  No more excuses!  Is THIS the "best" you can do?  Are you shaking your heads, "NO?"  Well, are you?  I am looking at the TWG yard, and EVEN I, see minor blunders around here!!  Let's see what we can do to improve our own garden "views!"

In landscaping, the most boring distance between two points: is a straight line!  The Wise Gardener, yours truly, cannot even THINK straight!   Most of us, (forgive us, estate owners), have just too little land around us to waste with bad landscape design!

Think of what area around YOUR home looks the most pleasing, uh, oh, now...What area looks like absolutely NO thought went into its planning.  Yes, YOU, dear reader, try it.  I did, and was pretty alarmed by what I saw.  It wasn't the worst it has been, but with a little more imagination, it WILL BE so much better, indeed!

I suggest, dear readers, a few no-fail "tips":

BD12670_.JPG (12448 bytes)1.  Use colour prudently: only ONE colour per area (or complimentary floral or leaf colour combinations)!  White makes yards look bigger, (red more intimate), incidentally.  This is NOT a "tossed salad"-effect you are creating!  All green, all white, all pink themes, etc.  You get the idea!

2. Don't think straight (lines, that is!):  Boring, unimaginative, smaller-looking!  How many paths in parks, as well as public gardens, are so inviting because they meander, and weave about!   Your landscape is a mini-park, or botanical garden; could yours be interesting enough for people to pay admission, to view?  Be honest, garden friends!  Remove those "hard angles around your various garden beds.

3.Increase the use of interesting shapes as ground-cover in lieu of GRASS!  Rocks, "chattahoochee" pebbles, wood chips, smoothed river stones, odd "signature" plants. (not too many, however!), livingNA00558_.wmf (13940 bytes) ground-cover plants, vining plants, etc.  Grass, is too high maintenance (for most people), and a horribly greedy "water-guzzler!"   (Sorry, lawn fertilizer companies, my apologies!)  Use restraint in devoting areas in your yard to lawns!  All these other under-used materials add texture, subtle colourations, are low, or no maintenance, and give a "woodsy" feel to your yard areas.  Try some of these OTHER ground-cover materials this year...You'll be a convert away from large expanses of grass turf lawns .

4. Add height, where there is NONE!  We live here in South Florida (a reclaimed swamp!)  Synonym: flat like a tire without its air!  We KNOW flat!!  Solution:  bring in what nature short-changed us on!  It's easy to create mounds, or berms, for interest in your garden.  Create these mounds with soil, mulching materials, or small rocks.  PlantBD10907_.GIF (12084 bytes) one (or a group of three shrubs) on this mound as a "focus", or point of interest.  This is "eye candy" and is a truly never-fail technique!

5. Speaking of the appropriate number of plants that should comprise a well-designed group of shrubs (or trees on a larger scale), in a garden bed, remember it's better to be ODD!  Ones, Threes, Fives, etc.  Hard to explain, but it works; take The Wise Gardener's word, and reputation on that.  Planting two of anything looks amateurish, indeed.  Try it, dear garden friends!

6. Unless a plant you are attracted to is a veritable "knock-out," use much restraint!  Buying too many "one's" of anything looksTR00703_.WMF (5094 bytes) unplanned and very unprofessional!!  Just a few "specimen" plants, in a yard go a long way!  A plan is much more professional-looking if only a few well-chosen plant types are properly utilized throughout your property! (interspersed here and there with a few gorgeous "specimen" plants.

7. Water is a treat for the senses!  Remember: a beautifully-crafted pond, a waterfall, a stream-bed or brook, an in-ground pool, or lake fountain.gif (4570 bytes) (natural or manmade!) is a garden asset, indeed!  Accent these water features with a few boulders, river stone areas, and a shrubbery and tree "frame", and you've got a magnet that will surely be the "core" of your yard!  Everyone will want to take a closer look to admire this enchanted nook.  In all water features, (of course, other than in a chlorinated swimming pool!), try you hand at stocking them with several varieties of water plants, ie: lotus, water lilies, papyrus, etc.  You might, then, wish to invest in several long-lived "finny friends": goldfish, or Japanese koi!  They are life, and you'll want to watch them move about for hours!

There's definitely many topics to cover, but this is course: LANDSCAPE: 101!  There will be more to follow in subsequent months of TWG, but these will give you all, dear gardeners, a "good start"!  Let me know what you're attempting to change...and the results.  My bet is that you'll be pleased by the difference, or my name isn't:

Paul, The Wise Gardener!
Paul, The Wise Gardener
Visit Paul's site at
Paul is a tropical plant specialist with a special love for palms & cacti.  He is a
horticulturist and gardening lecturer living in Florida. 

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