Create That Lovely Garden You've Always Wanted

by Timothy Eisden

Are you one of those people that dream about what their yard could look like some day? While you browse through gardening catalogs packed with pictures of beautifully landscaped yards, beautiful trees, flowers and shrubs--complete with ponds and garden sculptures--the options seem to go on forever. But before ordering hundreds of plants or giving up because it's hard to decide what you really want, here are a few things to consider.

Relatively common in landscaping is the issue of creating a peaceful, private environment. Although fencing can provide immediate privacy, think about a buffer strip of shrubbery between your yard and your neighbor's. A lot of shrubs will grow quickly--within a couple of years--and act as a screen while also providing habitat for a variety of birds. It's a good idea to plant native shrubs because they're generally well adapted to local conditions and often offer the best habitat for local wildlife. Also worth considering: whether the plants have special characteristics such as fruits or flowers, how large they will eventually grow, and how much maintenance they require to remain healthy and in scale with your yard. You may want to check with a local garden center for recommended species.

Perhaps you always thought it would be fun to have a pond. If that's the case, why not try it? Looking at the variety of materials available, anyone can have a garden pond, regardless of the size of their yard. If you have a lot of space, one option is to build one right in the ground. It's possible to purchase a pre-formed mold or dig a hole and line it with a plastic pond liner. A simple type of pond consists of a plastic lined barrel or tub. You only have to add water, plants, a pump, and even fish--and you have a pond for your patio. Make sure you consider electricity sources if you're thinking of adding a pump. It's also very important that you use caution and take security measures if small children have access to your yard and the pond. Another factor to consider is maintenance. A pond may require a lot of effort to keep it clear of algae, debris, and leaves.

You can avoid spending your weekends maintaining a yard, by turning part of it into a wildflower garden. Depending on where you live, this could be an alpine garden, desert landscape, or prairie. Remember to 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, it's always best to choose those that are adapted to your area. Think about both the minimum and maximum temperatures, amount of moisture, amount of sunlight, and soil characteristics. 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?

Usually, the best option is to use native plants. They are better adapted to local conditions and don't require too much maintenance. Be cautious about introducing exotic species such as purple loosestrife that will become invasive and is prohibited in many US states.

Most importantly, choose what you like. There is a huge variety of plants that will provide food and shelter to a wide variety of wildlife. With a little planning, you and the local wildlife can both enjoy the garden of your dreams.

For more info and gardening tips please visit The Landscaping Ideas Blog, and The Lawn Maintenance Blog.

About the Author

Timothy Eisden runs two blogs related to gardening. The Landscaping Ideas Blog, and The Lawn Maintenance Blog.

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