Constructing Outdoor Dreams: Beautifying the Exterior with Foliage



The simple desire to buy a few trees, shrubs, and established flowers instantly changes the moment you enter an outdoor nursery.  Specific botanical names and price tags can end your longing to make a purchase as soon rows of brightly-colored, small to tall foliage are in sight; therefore, return to your vehicle, drop off your wallet, and plan on taking notes or pictures of the dimensions of the plant, as well as the price.

Measuring Dimensions First!

Size matters! Of course, a Dogwood, Maple, or Weeping Willow are beautiful trees in any season; however, most often when we admire a thriving tree in its environment, we do not take into account the room or environment it requires to flourish.  If seeking to add dimension to your property, it is wise to consider not the size of the tree during planting, but its mature height and width.

Ask yourself:

  • Will the limbs or height of the tree prevent natural sunlight from reaching other plants, shrubs, or trees? Consider staking out the circumference of the intended width and choose a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety.  While a standard tree may extend 30 to 50 feet, a dwarf will only achieve six to 12-feet in height.
  • On the tag, information will include not only the measurements of the tree but the requirement for watering and hours of direct sunlight. Is the set location on a slight hill or close to a rain spout? The placement is vital to both survival and its ability to thrive.
  • If you have an area with strong southern afternoon sunlight, a tree or two may aid in providing you shade. In years to come, you’ll appreciate the well-conceived plan of providing shade to the back porch or kitchen windows!

Flowering trees are stunning in the spring and fall season; however, consider planting a pair of dwarf apple or pear trees.  While you will continue to admire the beauty of the limbs and the flowers, which will provide you with fruit, a tree reaching seven-feet may better suit your needs and size requirement.

Check the health of the sapling by looking first at its branches. Choose one with a single leader, or center branch, and even spacing between limbs.  Multi-trunked trees require pruning to determine which leader is the strongest.

Alternative to Shrubs

Shrubs have a distinct purpose of creating a hedge based on your efforts to maintain height levels.  While the evergreen promise of shrubbery has its appeal, the work needed is a setback.  In place of a wall of greenery, consider a more welcoming alternative, such as tall and wide flowers like peonies, lilies, Russian sage, Veronica, or purple coneflowers.  Perennials require little maintenance and will flourish year after year.

A note on native flowers:  Exotic plants, while mysterious and beautiful, have the propensity to take over the growth of native flowers, while eliminating a food source for birds and other winged flyers.  If choosing an exotic plant, consider planting it in a container.  (Potted plants add height to a yard, patio, or path.)

Landscaping in Hard to Grow Locations

Every yard has a challenge.  Typically, the corners or rocky or hilly locations are perfect for a unique scene.   A “berm” adds interest and height to any landscape.  While you can redirect drainage, foot traffic, or create a privacy, the foliage is both eye-catching and a focal point.  Want to add a water feature? Well, here is your chance to design a real rock garden with flowers or, perhaps, a dry creek leading into a small pool of water.

Planning is the key to beautifying the outdoors with tall trees, full shrubs, or brightly-colored gardens.  Measuring the size and width of foliage in advance will allow the plant to reach its full magnificent potential.

 


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