By Marianne Binetti
I love the challenge of improving a lackluster landscape. Here are four easy design tips that work on a new or established landscape design:
Go vertical: Grow vines up a formal support; or go natural, as in the photo above white clematis clambering up a tree stump. Another way to add a vertical dimension is spot tall columnar plants, such as Ilex and arborvitae, amid a garden bed’s more rounded forms. In a small garden, simply placing a container on top of a pedestal adds a vertical layer. Moving the eye upward expands your garden view.
Create a view towards a focal point. The stepping stones lead the eye toward a weeping beech tree in this view, but you could substitute a bench or favorite shrub. In smaller gardens a sundial, birdbath, or container at the end of a pathway adds structure, and creates a naturally relaxing scene. Your eye follows open space, and rests at the focal point.
Focus on the foliage. In our Northwest gardens the broad, bold leaves of purple coralbells (Heuchera) contrast nicely with this ornamental grass’ spiky yellow foliage. Flowers are fleeting, but the foliage is forever. In the case of foliage plants, including hostas and coleus, the foliage lasts at least until the first frost.
Repetition, repetition, repetition. When you repeat the same plant or the same color in a landscape, you create a more formal and structured scene. The swirling arrangement of pink begonias in this baroque-style garden may not work in your landscape, but you can adapt the idea of repetition by using a single plant throughout the landscape. I repeat the golden foliage of lamium as a groundcover along the driveway, under the rhododendrons, and as a splash of bright foliage color in mixed containers. When you choose a signature plant for your landscape and repeat it often, you calm and control a chaotic collection of plant material. Repetition also makes choosing plant material easier.
See all Northwest Gardening Articles.