When incorporating colorful plants, trees, and shrubs in your yard, large outdoor spaces create both challenges and opportunities. Since everyone needs a little help occasionally, we’ve put together a quick and dirty Do’s and Don’ts guide to help stimulate innovation, generate fresh ideas, as well as tips on how to hide less attractive parts of the yard or outbuildings.
Don’t: Think of your large yard as one space that needs to be filled with flowers, pots or plants in a single style. Single dimensional gardens can be uninspiring and lack character. Plus, single dimension outdoor space limits use, not to mention beauty and charm.
Do: Think of your yard as ‘rooms without walls or ceilings. This approach lets you designate functional zones, facilitating creativity. Add space dividers with planters, even benches, to carve out cooking and outdoor dining areas, relaxing nooks. You can even tuck in raised planters for vegetables in a corner of the yard. For a fun focal point, add a labyrinth/maze that culminates with a fountain in the center or large urn filled with colorful flowers.
Don’t: Use only one size or style planter for your space. Even if you love a certain style planter, when overused it will soon lose its appeal for both you and your visitors. Select planters that are relational in size with the space they will inhabit.
Do: Mix planter sizes and styles compatible with functional areas and their surroundings. Select unique decorative planters on porches, entryways, and as tabletop accents. Incorporate different rounds and squares, varied heights, as well as choosing varied materials for different areas of the yard. Use hanging planters on posts or hung from trees, railing planters, even window boxes to add variety.
Don’t: Use only ‘green’ plants or one color planters. One color planters or single variety blooms become a bit predictable and it’s less effective in separating functional areas besides.
Do: Use different planter colors and blooming sequences to maximize diversity throughout both the yard and the season. Depending on your region, you could intersperse faux foliage with live foliage, annuals with perennials in conventional planters or window boxes. Mix and mingle flowering ground cover with variegated vines or ivy to add some variety.
Don’t: Use foliage of the same height.
Do: Add dimension and the illusion of space with trees and shrubs of different heights. Incorporate other landscape features, including hardscapes. Layering creates more interest to any outdoor space.
We recommend three layers of plants, with trees and shrubs “at the back,” shorter shrubs and bold grasses in the middle ground, and dwarf shrubs and flowering plants in the foreground. Layering makes visible those plants that might otherwise be less so without it. Plus, each layer will get optimal sun and rain exposure.
Don’t: Leave ‘dead’ or unsightly areas exposed.
Do: Use planters and foliage, real or artificial, to hide problem areas such as downspouting, mechanical equipment, even to hide power boxes. It’s easy to hide unsightly portions of the yard, patio, or a yard building with colorful flowers, vines, and trellises.
If living in four-season areas of the country, incorporate a combination of seasonal blooms with artificial foliage to camouflage electrical outlets or outdoor pipes.