Your Dream Garden

by Theresa Sontag

Have you dreamed about what your garden could look like? Whenever you browse garden catalogs filled with colorful flowers, shrubs, trees and pictures of beautifully landscaped yards, the choices seem endless. Not only are you asking yourself "What type tree should go here?" you also need to consider if ponds and garden sculptures should be considered, and if so, what type! Before investing your money ordering hundreds of plants or giving up because you cannot decide what you really want, here are a few things to consider.

A common concern in landscaping is creating a lovely, private environment. While fencing can provide immediate privacy, consider a buffer strip of shrubbery between your home environment and the one next door. Many shrubs will grow quickly and act as a screen while providing habitat for a variety of birds. Consider planting shrubs native to your area because they are usually well adapted to local conditions and may provide the best habitat for local wildlife. Some other issues to consider: whether the plants have special characteristics, such as whether they produce flowers or fruits, how large they will be at maturity and how much maintenance they require to remain healthy and in scale with your yard. Check with a local nursery or garden center for recommendations.

If you always thought it would be fun to have a pond, go for it! With the variety of materials now available, anyone can have a garden pond, regardless of the size of your yard. If you have the space available, you can build one right in the ground. You can purchase a pre-formed mold or dig a hole and line it with a plastic pond liner. If space is limited, a simpler and space efficient type of pond consists of a plastic lined barrel or tub. Just add water, plants, a pump, and even fish and you have a pond for your patio. Be sure to consider sources of electricity if you intend to add a pump. Also, make sure you use caution and take security measures if small children have access to your garden and the pond. Another factor to consider is maintenance. A pond can require a lot of effort to keep it clear of algae, leaves, and debris.

If you do not want to spend your weekends maintaining a yard, turn part of it into a wildflower garden. Depending on where you live, this could be a prairie, desert landscape, or alpine garden. Check on local zoning ordinances. Some communities have not yet recognized the value of "native landscaping" and may consider this a nuisance area. If you want a more maintained yard, consider ground covers instead of grass and use mulch to control weeds in foundation plantings and flower beds.

When selecting plants, you must make sure they are adapted to your area. Consider the low and high temperatures the plant will tolerate, amount of moisture, amount of sunlight, and soil characteristics. You also need to ask yourself: Do you want an annual that will need replanting every year or a perennial that comes up year after year? Do you want cut flowers for inside your home or to give to friends?

Another to consider is native plants. They are usually better adapted to local conditions and need little maintenance. Be cautious about introducing exotic species such as bamboo or purple loosestrife that will become invasive. Some of these plants are prohibited in many states.

Above all, you should choose what you like. There is an enormous variety of plants that will provide food and shelter to a wide variety of wildlife and will give you the color and ambiance of your dreams.

About the Author

Theresa Sontag is an avid gardener. For more gardening tips and resources on creating lush, vibrant gardens, visit, Rose and The Garden!

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