It’s prime time for Pacific Northwest Gardens so almost everywhere one looks there is something blooming or succulent new foliage unfolding. If your garden isn’t in on the party, take note of what seems lacking and take pictures when you see plants that inspire you – they might just work in your landscape design. At trip to a nursery is a good way to to see what is in season, but buying plants without a plan will not necessarily result in a sustainable and cohesive long term plan. So a little restraint can go a long way if you are looking for lasting improvements in your garden (think: going to the grocery store on an empty stomach without a shopping list).
The concept of right plant, right place is popular for a reason – successful plant selection is based on consideration of numerous factors that result in plants that thrive and a garden that has interest throughout the seasons. If your garden needs a more comprehensive renovation or if you are planning a new one, before plant selection, come practical considerations like circulation, space planning and what features you require to suit your functional needs and aesthetic desires. These factors along with site conditions will inform plant selection (think: brains and beauty).
Here are some basics to consider once you are ready to select plants for your garden:
Screening and privacy. Do you have the coverage you want when deciduous trees lose their leaves?
Structure. Is there enough evergreen color and texture to add depth and create dormant season interest?
Color. Do you have favored color palette? Are perennials and bulbs used to add seasonal color?
Repetition. What plants provide continuity, create a rhythm and connect different parts of your garden.
If you’re looking for more ideas, please contact me for a design consultation to learn about landscape design or the best plants for any spot in your garden.
Thoughtful use of plants and trees will make your garden more dynamic. Shadows and patterns created by foliage create interest, capture the eye and diffuse views. Plants can also be used to define space, provide screening, or add privacy without putting up a fence or wall that might make a space feel dark or confined.
When I am designing a garden and I want to create the feeling for more depth, I look for plants that have a growth habit that is visibly transparent or can easily be kept that way by pruning. Thinking about how plants will respond as they mature is essential. Some plants lend themselves to being manipulated by pruning (think of a clipped boxwood hedge, an espaliered fruit tree or the Japanese art of bonsai) but most plants look best if they are allowed to grow in their natural habit with only a bit of thinning and shaping.
Regular maintenance and pruning will prevent the need for more drastic measures later if plants have been allowed to outgrow their intended role in the landscape. When using plants for screening, avoid over-planting in an attempt to get quick results—you could end up with other problems later, such as unwanted shade, damage to surrounding hardscape, or encroachment on pathways, neighbors’ yards, and views.
With thousands of plants to choose from, it may seem like an overwhelming task to select plants that look good and support your overall landscape plan. Identifying the type plants you favor is a good place to start. With that information, a garden designer can figure out which ones will thrive in your garden and how those can fit into a cohesive plan.
I hope this blog post helps you get started thinking about enhancing your garden. Summertime is the best time to evaluate your landscaping and plan for the following year. If you are not a gardener or don’t have the time, you can work with a landscape designer to be able to enjoy the beauty and benefits of curated outdoors spaces.
Need more ideas? Contact me for a design consultation and learn about landscape design or the best plants for any spot in your garden.