Written on February 26, 2010, by Jim DiNovo
Getting excited for spring
As the end of February nears, spring lies just ahead. We “Green Thumbers” soon emerge from a seemingly eternal hibernation to get outside and get our hands dirty. As the weather warms, we remember how landscape gardening offers a real sense of rejuvenation and excitement. To help you catch that spirit, here are a few inspirational thoughts and landscaping ideas.
Ask Yourself Critical Questions
These questions represent common goals we all have for our NH homes, but sometimes forget to re-examine periodically.
- As you man your shovels and rakes for spring cleanup, do you notice anything that you would like to change in your garden landscape?
- Do your trees and shrubs look overgrown and in need of pruning, or tired and in need in of replacements? Ask yourself, do certain Holly’s, Rhododendrons, or Cedars survive in southern NH plant hardiness zone?
- Do you need privacy and/or screening from your neighbors? Do you need an outdoor space, such as a garden patio, for yourself to retreat to and enjoy?
Develop a Landscape Garden Design Plan
Anticipation of projects like those referenced above can be exciting, but all too often, our aspirations can drown in a sea of too many great ideas and not enough knowledge about our specific site. Any motivated gardener must realize that successful landscape designs involve a logical process derived from true knowledge of ourselves, our homes and our homes’ environments.
We suggest you sit down with a notebook and outline your favorite landscape ideas. Include common landscape design themes, such as visual enhancement of your garden, the relation of interior and exterior space, circulation concerns, privacy issues, active and passive use of space and other creative preferences. Consider your physical site environment and its constraints. These can include soil types, topography, sun and wind exposure and often deer and pest problems.
Once you understand the form and function of your new future landscape or your upcoming landscape improvements, you can start the creative process of including plants, structures, a garden retaining wall, etc. You may want to use more historic railroad ties to hold up a slope, choose an evergreen plant screening that deer won’t nibble, or the use of landscape structures and sculpture to create a unique identity for your home.
Creative Landscaping Ideas for the Garden
Create a cutting garden. A cutting garden is a space in your garden devoted specifically for flowers and vegetables that can be cut to display in your home. Some of these species include roses, tulips, sunflowers, daffodils, dahlias, marigolds, iris, and lady’s mantle.
Get around limited garden space. For those of us who have limited garden space or have just started a home garden, a quick trip to any home improvement store can get you started this season. Buy your favorite perennials and herbs in inexpensive packets of seeds. Also, try a mini plastic greenhouse to get your perennial garden going. Enjoy a Sunday afternoon planting them, set them in a warm sunny spot in the house and watch them grow.
Start a pot/container garden — inside or out. Some of the easiest plants to grow inside are cacti. They don’t need too much attention and they are low maintenance. Pot gardens can include anything from herb pots and hanging baskets to urns and wire baskets. Practically any container can be used as long as it has efficient drainage. Some of the best plants for potting include: herbs, annuals, perennials, bulbs, and exotic foliage plants. Great annuals in southern NH include: Petunias, Pansies, Dusty Millers, Geraniums, Verbenas, Marigolds, Zinnias, Impatiens, and Begonias. Great perennials for Nashua, NH includes: Yarrows, Sedums, Veronicas, Rudbeckias, Shasta Daisies, and Columbines.
Making final decisions
Before you begin your projects this year, be selfish for once. Come up with landscape design goals for what you want and need in your space. But remember to be practical about landscape budget constraints and time, both of which will define your bottom-line for a landscape undertaking. If your dreams are slightly out of your price range, approach your project in a three-, five-, or even ten-year overall phasing plan. Tackle what is necessary and dream big thereafter!