Speaking from experience, homeownership can be rather daunting. You work hard to preserve your home’s beauty and function, but you also want to incorporate your own personality and style.
One of the most gratifying and practical methods of improving your home is in acquiring some expert gardening skills in order to boost curb appeal. With some careful planning and my helpful tips, you will be well on your way to becoming a magnificent presence in your neighborhood, and quite possibly start some healthy competition among your neighbors.
Let’s get started
If you have never planned out your landscaping on a large scale before, first make a diagram of your yard as it currently grows. Note on your diagram what areas of the yard receive the most and the least sunlight. Then, compile a list of the plants that are the most appealing to you, and mark where you’d like to plant them, based on how much light and moisture they need. I recommend maintaining this diagram as your yard grows, as a diary of where plants thrive.
Perennials & Annuals
Mid to late summer is a perfect time of year for splitting your perennials (plants that live for more than two years). At this point, you should have a good idea of where both the annuals and the perennials did well in your yard. You will also have allowed your plants to root, as they completed a full blooming cycle. One of the most exciting stages of gardening is creating new plants by cleaning up and splitting your perennials, and even separating your bulbs for a larger more spectacular show next year. I have personally had the most success with daylilies, hostas, and bearded irises. Each of these plants will improve your yard without costing a fortune and can be found at your local home improvement center.
Splitting your Perennials
All you’ll need is a good shovel, some decent garden soil, and a bit of sweat equity. I personally prefer to dig around the perimeter of my hosta about 2-3 inches from its leaf span, then down a full spade’s depth, around 8-10 inches deep. Pay special attention to the root ball as you work. Once it’s out of the ground, you can rinse some of the dirt off with a garden hose to make it easy to move around and split. Then, depending on its size, I normally take the shovel and split it into four smaller plants. One you have your newly split plants and bulbs, turn the soil for the new plants you’ve created so that it’s light and airy for new root growth. Once planted, water thoroughly, then hit them all with Miracle Grow for good measure. Add some mulch and voila!
The nice part about working in your yard, moving and splitting plants, is there are no hard and fast rules. Diagramming the plants response during a growing season means that your ever-evolving yard improves with age.
Mapping out your landscaping creates a professional design and can be achieved by simply using your garden hose as a free-form template. Incorporate a few trees to add interest and to provide your shade-loving plans the coverage they need. Try not to make you island too symmetrical, the interest comes from the contour, as well as the mystery created by a form that is atypical.
It’s all in the Details
Once you have things laid out the way you like, the fun begins! I always use sod as patchwork to areas that needed help first, then thoroughly compost the rest for future use. Boundaries for your island can be whatever you like: bricks, rocks, or landscaping strips. All border materials help to provide a barrier to prevent future zealous mowers from mowing down your cultivated flowerbed. I also like to elevate the island a bit as a mound with a gentle slope, tricking the eye a bit, alluding to a more abundant and mature garden. This also encourages a bit more visual interest of mixed color as your planting palette grows. Colorful mulch can also add a layer of brightness to the mix, or camouflage areas in need of some additional growth.
Variety is Key
As you become more seasoned in your gardening prowess, you will find that plant-swapping is a great way to add to your garden, without breaking the bank. It opens up the conversation between you and your friends to talk about what works and why, creating more savvy gardeners in you both.
More than just Plants
Don’t forget to add your own touch of whimsy with a bird feeder, or a gazing ball, or even just a bench to sit and enjoy your hard work!